Hosea 8:7 For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it.
Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
If the fabric of the grand American experiment isn’t actually torn, it is certainly looking a bit frayed around the edges: George Floyd’s thuggish murder at the hands of police officers, rioters and looters running amok around the White House, all while elected officials engage in endless hand-wringing, virtue-signaling, blame-shifting, name-calling, self-protecting, base-pandering blah, blah, blah.
To any sane observer, however, the problem with America is obvious, and it’s not inequality, it’s not racism, and it’s not white privilege. It’s not the poor, and it’s not Wall Street fat cats. It’s not white supremacists, and it’s not Antifa. These are the symptoms, but the real disease runs much, much deeper. The real problem with America is the problem of US, its own citizenry, the building blocks of the American experiment have begun to crumble. What’s more, the ideals of our founding Fathers, the constitutional glue which once held us all together has dried up and begun to crack. It no longer provides the cohesive force to bring e pluribus unum. We have sown to the wind and now we must reap the whirlwind. I fear that it’s more than just our cities that are ablaze this time; the foundation itself is burning.
Precisely, what has gone wrong?
First, it seems to me, we have sown to the winds of secularism only to reap the whirlwind of godlessness.
What is secularism, but the idea that life in the public square can (and perhaps even should) be lived without God. It is to believe that a nation can rip God out of the heart of its civic discourse and continue on, business as usual, without suffering any real loss in terms of the good, the beautiful, and the true.
Having read the history of the mad terror of the French Revolution, we really ought to know better. Godlessness in principle always leads to godlessness in practice. Once, Americans were free for religion. Now, by a hellish sleight of hand, many proudly proclaim their freedom from religion.
With this one move, the Liberals have swept our Constitution (which serves as our King and highest earthly Magistrate in the Romans 13 sense) off its theological foundation and have disconnected all our rights from their heavenly origin. Rhetorically, it’s checkmate; the conservatives just haven’t realized it yet. In a secular world, the Preamble to our Constitution no longer makes any sense. How can we claim an inalienable right to privileges endowed by a Creator whom few believe in anymore? Checkmate indeed.
David sums up my concerns most clearly when he said, “The wicked strut about on every side When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.” (Psalm 12:8)
Second, we have sown to the winds of relativism only to reap the whirlwind of meaninglessness.
Relativism is the idea that nothing is really true – at least, not at all times, in all places, and for all people. Instead of truth, all we have now are social constructs and power plays. Social constructs are the words and rules humans use to play the game of life. In a secular world, we make these anchor points up for ourselves. And while, they have no higher, transcendent authority of their own, they are useful ploys in the games people play. Games in which the strong abuse their position to oppress the weak. What’s more, with no more meaning than table manners, such rules can be changed at will, and no one can make us stop, at least no one to whom we must listen.
We cannot deny, relativism certainly has its upside. As Aldous Huxley once remarked, ‘I have reasons for not wanting the world to have meaning. And those reasons are mostly sexual and political.’ But there is also a downside: The same logic that renders sin meaningless also renders life meaningless, detaching our choices from meaning, dignity, and purpose, not to mention the identity and responsibility of the person making them.
Without God and His authorial perspective on human life, what are we? Highly evolved apes? Mud that thinks? Biochecmical machines? A mysteriously conscious soup of random chemicals? But how can meaningful reason arise from random chemical reactions? And besides, who really cares what fizzing chemicals think about anything?
Former generations answered these deeper questions of identity, meaning, and purpose by looking up to the Creator, and in so doing, learned to see nature properly, alive with His glory. By contrast, the relativist only knows how to look down to a “Mother Nature”–a landscape, as barren as it is cruel, where might is right and only the strong survive. As William Murray once observed, “Humanism or atheism is a wonderful philosophy of life as long as you are big, strong, and between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. But watch out if you are in a lifeboat and there are others who are younger, bigger, or smarter.”
If the meaning of life really is no more complicated than survival, how can such a worldview ever hope to lay a foundation strong enough to condemn racism, police brutality, and murder? Are these things not to be expected in such a vicious world? Not only is secularism devoid of any coherent answers to such questions, it is also awash with contradictions. While it rightly and instinctively knows enough to condemn the murder of Mr. Floyd, it can find neither the language nor the will to condemn the cruelest of all euphemisms: Planned Parenthood (which is alone responsible for the death of over 13 million black and brown Americans. Let that number sink in: There are around 40 million African Americans living in America. We have killed 13 million in our abortion mills. Don’t these black lives matter?). On top of this, the secular Left also remains uncomfortably silent when police officers and business owners are butchered in the mayhem of a riot. Has it no foundation for acknowledging the value of every human life?
In such a world, I suppose we should not be surprised by riots. The real shock is that they don’t happen much more often.
Third, we have sown to the winds of equality and liberty only to reap the whirlwinds of anarchy, misery, and bondage.
Egalité, Liberté, Fraternité have always been the watchwords of liberalism. The only virtue one needs to join this merry band is tolerance.
At first glance, these words sound almost Christian, and they are. (Liberal politics has always been the bastard step-child of liberal theology.) The latter grants society freedom from God (the real God who reveals Himself), and the former grants us freedom to deconstruct words that He Himself defines.
So for the liberal, egalité mandates equality of outcome. Gone must be any and all oppressive class distinctions separating rich/poor, owner/employee, haves/have-nots, citizen/illegal immigrant. It’s the every child gets a government-funded-trophy mindset written in large blocks letters over a culture.
Liberté represents the gospel of personal autonomy and the freedom to cast off any and all oppressive authority.
Fraternité means the brotherhood of those willing to go along with the new rules of the game. These and only these will be tolerated. The liberal’s motto back in 1789 might have been crude, but it was to the point: “We will strangle the last king with the guts of the last priest.” And when they ran out of guts, they wheeled in the guillotine. We have our own guillotines for dealing with system-buckers. The decapitation levied is financial, not literal, but the effects are just the same.
To understand the way Liberals view the world, you have to realize that they view everything through the lens of oppression. To the liberal, those who cause oppression are villains, and those who react against it are heroes. Such logic appeals to us all, if we are honest. Think of Mel Gibson’s character in The Patriot- or for that matter Mel Gibson’s character in BraveHeart . We all understand his blood lust for revenge. At times its excesses trouble us when he takes a few too many swings with the hatchet, but we don’t condemn his rage. Most of the time, if we are honest, we revel in it and cheer it on.
The Liberal has a similar axe to grind with his country. By his reading, her history is a story of oppression not liberty, and she is not the hero but a villain. If I can play with the opening lines of A Patriot’s History of the United States, “Is America’s past a tale of racism, sexism, and bigotry? Is it the story of the conquest and rape of a continent? Is U.S. history of white slave owners who perverted the electoral process for their own interests? Did America start with Colmubus’ killing all the Indians, leap to Jim Crow laws and Rockefeller crushing the workers, then finally save itself with Franklin Roosevelts’ New Deal?” From the Liberal’s understanding, the answers to all these questions are yes, yes, yes, and YES!
Do you see now, why Liberals struggle to condemn the looting and burning of businesses and even the murdering of police officers by rioters. The rioters are the heroes in their story. America’s police are the villains–not as individuals, to be sure, but as an entity, they are (we are told) shot through with endemic and institutional racism. Thus the hatred for the phrase, “All lives matter!” From the Liberal’s perspective, they most definitely do not: The lives of the oppressed weigh far more in the balance than do their oppressors.
How should the Church respond to this kind of thinking? Isn’t God the bondage breaker, the friend of the alien and the stranger, the One who sets the captives free?
- First – We should, in the first place, unreservedly condemn the evil of racism and the wickedness of slavery as an institution. This was a terrible blindspot in the eyes of many of our Baptist and Presbyterian (and Founding) fathers and it has brought a great reproach on the Church. We must never tire of saying this unequivocally as often as our black and brown brothers need to hear it. Seriously, as often as needed.
- Second, we should also affirm the unity of the Human Race. We are all sons of Adam, lost and undone by his choice, born under the wrath and curse of God, and yet equal partakers of the image of our Creator. We are also all the same color–the color of melanin. Some of us just have less of it than others. The idea of black, brown, white, and yellow races, etc., is the real social construct, and we must not relinquish its definition to the world.
- Third, we should also pray earnestly for brown and black America. Many of our fellow countrymen and women are trapped in appalling neighborhoods, single-parent homes, with poor schooling, and have little obvious opportunity to escape. Even when they try, many of their brothers accuse them of acting “white,” betraying their black heritage, and of becoming an “Uncle Tom.” To compound their pain, they often do receive disproportionate attention from Law Enforcement Officers. Are there disproportionately high numbers of unarmed black men killed by police officers yearly when compared to those killed who are white? No, there aren’t. Are there disproportionately severe prison sentences given to black men when compared to those given to white men for the same crimes? Yes, there are. There are clearly real injustices that exist in our nation. Yeah, I’m a fan of Ben Shapiro as well, and I enjoy some of his one line zingers as well, but we should remember that although his logic might be representative of conservative ideals, he isn’t a Christian. To Shapiro’s often repeated point- Yes, the data points don’t lie, and facts don’t care about feelings; but Christians care about feelings, at least they should. As God gives us the opportunity, we should lean in hard to support our black and brown brothers. Pray in particular, that God will raise up godly mentors for many of the young black men who struggle to find their way in fatherless homes without tangible, credible role models to follow.
- Fourth, I think the Church needs tremendous wisdom before she buys into the whole notion of “White Guilt,” “White Privilege,” and “Institutional Racism.” The fall touches every culture in different ways. The same holds true for the gospel. God is not an equal opportunities Creator. Some men are more privileged ( the biblical word is “blessed”), enjoy greater gifts and talents, and experience the kind hand of providence prospering their efforts more than others do. This principle knows no racial bounds. God’s glory glows through the noblest parts of Black and White America and in different ways. We each, too, have our own ways of radiating the selfishness of Adam’s choice. We are all, furthermore, subject to the reaping and the sowing logic of life. As the saying goes, “Be Careful: You make your choices and then they return the favor. You become what you repeatedly choose to do.”
With that in mind, there is simply no life to be found in endless rounds of blame-shifting, complaining and grumbling. By contrast, many a man has arisen Phoenix like from the fires of affliction–they don’t have to lead to the gutter. Joseph faced disadvantage and betrayal at every turn, but he escaped bitterness by turning to God and the truth, “My brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good!” My black and brown brothers would be better served if all their politicians and preachers inspired them with this kind of message. Instead, too many prefer to shackle their community’s soul to bitterness with, what Churchill called, “A philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” This only feeds the endemic angst and despair, which I believe, poses a much greater danger to the culture of black and brown America than any injustice they might face from racists. Is not the grace of God able to make us all more than conquerors through Him who loved us? Or is this just a promise for White and Black Americans who have already risen to the top of life’s heap?
In the final analysis, there is a pathway to true liberty, equality, and fraternity, but it is only found in Christ. Outside of Him, there is only bondage, misery, and division. More than anything, this is what terrifies me for our nation. Upon the recommendation of one of my friends(you know who you are), I did a little experiment and switched back and forth from Fox News to MSNBC several times over a thirty minute span. The contrast was enough to make my head spin! Listening to the rhetoric coming from both Left and Right of our country, I am hearing a lot more of the murderous and bitter resentment that stained the darkest days of world history, and not so much of the light and liberty that marked our own war against oppression in 1776. May God have mercy on us all.
For the church, I close with words from Al Mohler~ “Christians must not only confront this storm with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must do so with full faith. Our hope does not rest with temporal political victory though it understands the importance of politics; it rests in the One who sits at the right hand of the throne of God; it rests with the One through whom all things were created. Our faith is in the One who was nailed to the cross, rose from the grave, ascended into heaven, and established His unchallenged rule over the cosmos. Death is defeated, and the head of the serpent crushed. The attempt of secularism to usurp the rule of the Son of God amounts to the height of human folly. Nothing will prevail over our God. Nothing can withstand the power of the gospel.”
Amen. Whatever our political persuasion, in this, I trust, we can all agree.