Some Republicans still actually believe like George Washington that religion and morality are indispensable supports to the continued blessing of God on the nation. They would echo his sentiments, often repeated, that we are dependent on the aid of our Creator who so obviously helped in the beginnings of America.
Some Republicans still actually believe like Lincoln who when asked if God was on his side responded by saying that he was much more concerned that he was on God’s side. They would agree with Lincoln that it is true that the nation is blessed whose God is the Lord.
Some Republicans still actually believe that God is active in the affairs of men and that when a nation adopts measures which are evil He will not ignore it. In other words, they fear God. They do not want the nation to receive the judgments that have happened to other nations who have received the consequences of iniquity.
Some Republicans still actually believe that deTocqueville was right when he observed that America is great because America is good, and if America ceases to be good it will no longer be great.
But some Republicans don’t care about what God thinks. As long as we can have a good economy and are safe from external threats, they are happy to go along with the cultural decadence that has been widely accepted in contemporary America. As long as we have prosperity and security they are fine.
Years ago Pat Buchanan addressed a Republican convention and stated that we were in a culture war. He was roundly condemned for being so divisive. Even though they continued to have a pro-life plank, the party insiders didn’t actually mean it. The party adopted a big tent philosophy that welcomed the Log Cabin Republicans (a homosexual group) as well as heralded openly pro-abortion women like former New Jersey Governor Christy Todd Whitman. Bob Dole even offered to escort those out of the party who did not agree that such elements were a good addition. Apparently the big tent stretched so far to the left in the battle for the culture that it excluded the influence of those who held to Biblical moral principles.
The new stance of the party was enticing enough for Michael Bloomberg to switch parties and join, at least while mayor of NYC, so there was a Republican mayor* who said he has enjoyed marijuana, was divorced and then brought into his home a domestic partner, supports abortion, same sex marriage, and the list could go on. Who said Republicans do not have New York City values?
While the Republican leadership was constructing a new kind of fabric for their edifice, the libertines continued their crusades against morality. This has brought three responses. First there are those who advocate the abandonment of traditional values. Second are those who give lip service to conservative morals but who do nothing of substance to stop the slide into decadence. In a sense they are practicing a sort of de facto atheism. They act as though God just is not involved if He does exist. Yet at the end of almost all their speeches they use the phrase, “God bless America.” They seem oblivious to the truth that God does not bless evil. That is not even on their radar screen.
The third group is made up of those few who actually do hard things politically to try to stop the rush. They still believe what Jesus said when He gave the timeless injunction, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” These are the ones that make the Washington insiders agitated and wish this so-called religious right would just go away so we can get to the real issues like prosperity and security. These are often classified pejoratively as wanting to impose a theocracy.
But was America founded as a theocracy? Were Washington and Lincoln really religious whack-jobs because they had a sober view of Divine Providence? Did we live in a theocracy when there was prayer and Bible reading in public schools? Or were these expressions of a people who had a collective reference point that was mutually understood regardless of religious denomination? That original consensus has been deliberately altered. Things that were practiced since the early days of the nation have been declared unconstitutional and un-American.
So far this discussion has focused on Republicans. Democrats are similar, except as a whole they are just farther down the road. No Republican convention I remember eliminated God from their platform and took three voice votes to finally have Him controversially reinstated to the boos of what may have actually been the majority. But in actual practice the Republicans are not far behind.
Why is this significant? Because Christians are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. In America the government is unique in that it is by the people. Rendering to Caesar means exerting whatever influence we have, since we are part of the people. Rendering to God means we cannot ignore His ways while we do our part as citizens.
We cannot downplay either duty. Regardless of our political party affiliation, when we cast a ballot, call our representatives, voice a concern, we cannot act like practicing atheists. We must act realizing that we will give account to God for every thought, word, deed, and vote. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17a).
But what if we lose? William Wilberforce in working in Parliament to eliminate the slave trade in England lost for years and years. Yet he did not compromise his godly principles. Encouraged by the advice of John Newton, he continued to raise the issue because it was a righteous cause. After decades, he finally succeeded and the deplorable practice was outlawed.
Not everyone who stands for righteous positions is successful like Wilberforce was. Some tirelessly labor for right causes and suffer never-ending defeat. But did they really lose? The ballot may say so, but when they stand before the Judge of the Universe and hear the words, “Well done,” they will have won far more than what a compromise for an earthly victory would have earned them. We are not necessarily called to be successful, but we are definitely called to be faithful.
Here is how our Lord put it. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10b). Politics and party affiliation are no excuse for being unfaithful to God and His principles, ever.
*(Bloomberg has since become Independent)