Beware of Government without God (Colossians 1:16-17)
In spite of the fact that America was founded on Christian principles, our Pledge of Allegiance describes America as “one nation under God,” and our capital in Washington, D.C. is replete with Biblical references inscribed in marble, politicians with an anti-God agenda are trying to remove God from our government. The latest in a long list of egregious examples, is the fact that the main criticism politicians on the left make against Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett is that she is a Christian. They live in dread that, if approved by the Senate, her decisions on the Supreme will be influenced by her Christian beliefs.
Because of what my readers are seeing as they watch the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Judge Barrett and the ugly responses of so many people when President Trump was afflicted with the Corona Virus, a lot of them asked me to dust off an article I wrote a long time ago and update. This is the updated version. It is based on the Scriptural guidance found in Colossians 1:16-17: “For by him all things were created, in Heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
For politicians to attack Judge Barrett for living according to her Christian beliefs is utter hypocrisy. If we aren’t influenced by our most deeply-held beliefs, why have them. Further, every politician attacking Judge Barrett because of her religion is influenced by their own religion. Unbelievers may claim to have no religion and to worship no God, but in making this claim they are either fooling themselves or trying to fool you. Secular humanists and atheists are just as religious as you, me, or any other believer. The difference is that they worship the god of self rather than the God of Holy Scripture. Everything they think, say, and do is influenced by their religion of self. Their problem is not with religion per se but with the Christian religion.
For decades, secular humanists and atheists have been successful in their efforts to remove God from all aspects of life in America. With rare exceptions, prayer in schools, before high school football games, and at the beginning of public meetings is a thing of the past. Displaying Bible verses on the walls of your offices is now taboo. Recently a Christian with a pro-life license plate—a plate issued by the state of Florida—was told to remove it from her car or she could not park in the lot where she worked. There are many other examples of how secular humanists are pushing God out of our lives, but perhaps the most telling example is what we see happening in politics.
We see Supreme Court nominees and political candidates have their lives torn apart by unproven accusations, innuendo, rumors, and outright lies. Paid-thugs, posing as university students, incite riots to prevent Christians or conservatives from speaking. Members of Congress are stalked by protestors yelling profanity and making threats. Pro-life marchers are attacked by abortion advocates. Political candidates, including minorities, are labeled “racists,” “bigots,” and “misogynists” for failing to toe the line of liberal orthodoxy. Campaign rallies devolve into fistfights between supporters of competing candidates. In short, politics in America has devolved into a gutter sport characterized by excessive partisanship, character assassination, personal animosity, venomous discourse, increasing polarization, name calling, smear campaigns, and even violence.
There are those who claim politics has always been a gutter sport and that the incivility and hostility associated with it in the 21st Century have always been part of the process. I am quick to admit there have always been bad actors among politicians and the people who elect them. After all, with apologies to Abraham Lincoln, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is, in reality, a government of sinners, by sinners, and for sinners. But in years past, the darker side of human nature was always constrained by society’s broad adherence to Christian values. Unfortunately, as America has drifted farther and farther from its Christian roots, there is less to constrain the sinful behavior of people.
Politics has descended into the gutter in this country because America has drifted away from its Christian roots. Remove the root cause of a problem, and you remove the problem. Return America to its Christian roots and you will, at the same time, introduce integrity, grace, and service back into all aspects of American life. Most of the problems currently plaguing American society would quickly go away if all Americans subscribed to the teachings of Holy Scripture or even just to the second part of the Greatest Commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.
When people fret over the low state of politics in America and wonder what is happening to our country, my response is always the same: “Why are you surprised? This is precisely what happens when people turn their backs on God.” Our Founders understood that without a strong moral foundation—the kind that comes only from God—the democratic form of government they envisioned would soon fall prey to the worst inclinations of human nature. They were right and this is exactly what is happening in America right now.
The drift of Americans away from God did not happen overnight. Rather, it has been a slow but steady process that began long ago; a process that is easy to catalog. It can be seen in the declining number of people who profess Christianity when polled. For example, approximately 71 percent of Americans profess to be Christians as of this writing. That sounds like a lot, but it is down from 86 percent as recently as 1990. To put the declining number of professing Christians into perspective, compare the 71 percent from today with the 99 percent during the days of the Founders.
Another way to gain a perspective on America’s drift away from God is to consider what has happened in higher education in this country. The earliest colleges and universities in America were Christian based. Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts is considered by many to be the flagship university in this country. Founded in 1636, the university is named after an early benefactor, John Harvard, a minister who bequeathed his library and half of his estate to the institution. Harvard’s original mission—one that no longer even resembles its current mission—was to train ministers.
Most of Harvard’s early graduates became ministers. For years the college’s motto was “Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, which is Latin for “Truth in Christ and the Church.” This motto has since been shortened to just one word: “Veritas.” Harvard no longer accepts Christ or the Bible as the source of truth. This same movement away from Christianity has occurred at most of America’s institutions of higher education.
One of the benefits of getting along in years is that you gain a perspective that can come only with age. Although there are several excellent studies available which document such things as the decline in church attendance, the number of churches that close down every year, and the percentage of young people who leave the church, you don’t need to rely on dry statistics for evidence that America has drifted away from its Christian roots. Just look around you.
When I was a youngster in public elementary school, we began each day by reciting the Lord’s prayer and listening as our teacher read a passage from the Bible. When we got in trouble, our teacher made us copy pages out of the Bible or memorize a Bible verse and recite it in front of the class. Try to imagine these things happening in public schools today. In high school, I played football. Before every game a local pastor prayed for both teams, a practice that has been challenged as unconstitutional so often that most public schools have stopped it. While in high school, if I visited the home of a new friend his mother or father would usually ask me “Where do you go to church?” Notice, they didn’t ask if I went to church, but where. There was no question that you went to church.
Perhaps the most striking evidence of America’s drift away from its Christian roots can be seen in the everyday behavior of everyday Americans. Think of all the behaviors you observe routinely now that violate the second half of the Great Commandment in which Christ told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. These behaviors include rudeness, incivility, road rage, school shootings, workplace violence, vulgar music lyrics, character assassination in politics, rampant profanity, epidemic cheating, Internet “flaming,” cyber-bullying, sideline rage, gratuitous sex and violence in the movies, on television, and in computer games, and lest I forget, abortion on demand. These types of things would not be seen or, better said, would not be so commonplace in a society that was close to God. They were either non-existent or rare during my childhood.
Try to square these types of behaviors with the teachings of Scripture. Ephesians 4:32 admonishes us to be kind and compassionate to one another and to forgive each other just as Christ forgave us. 1 Peter 3:8 admonishes us to love one another and to be compassionate and humble. Colossians 3:12 tells us to wrap ourselves in compassion, “kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” People who internalize these Scriptural lessons do not engage in road rage, workplace violence, school shooting, Internet “flaming,” character assassination, cyber-bullying, routine profanity, cheating, sideline rage, or any of the other manifestations of Godlessness that are now so common in American society.
The farther people stray from God, the more they are guided by the worst inclinations of human nature. This fact is what has led to the politics of destruction that now threaten the future of democratic government in America. If you are concerned about what you see in politics, the public square, and everyday life in America, remember the great commission. It is only by leading people to Christ that we will turn our country around. Beware of government without God.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.