How hard many of our forebears worked to fashion this nation, and for a significant portion it was done to carve out a place for ‘religious’ freedom. Not a freedom from but a freedom for the practice of religion as they were led. We threw off the shackles of British monarchy, forging that sense of ‘independence’ which is ingrained in the national psyche.
Yet isn’t it curious how we are still so infatuated with ‘royalty’ judging from the amount of press the British royals seem to command even today. But our ongoing ‘experiment in freedom’ has cast us upon hard times. In out devotion to the idea of being unshackled by external constraints we have become much like those Paul warns about in Romans 1. Wise (or blinded) in our own eyes sight and clarity is lost.
I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. -Jeremiah 10:23-24
We were never perfect, there have been flaws all along in our political experiment called the ‘United States of America’. But we were once more civil and at least more externally honorable, and there was a sense of community generated in the ‘melting pot’. The old adage ‘if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything’ has never been so true. The generation that lived through the Great Depression and fought 2 world wars was tagged as the greatest generation. It seems from this vantage of hindsight that they lived for purpose over pleasure. But they constructed a material affluence the likes of which the world has never before seen. And with that came a throwing off of constraints. Pleasure has replaced purpose as the ‘summum bonum’ (highest good) in life.
The morass and tension in which we now stand has no political solution. Politics follows culture. Democracy without character ends up with rule of the lowest common denominator. We need character and purpose which is hard to summon up in a post truth relativistic world. (Dare I assert, demon possessed). But that is our calling, and our true way out.
Back to the infatuation with royalty or monarchy. Israel wanted a king. (Read 1 Samuel 8 for the back story). God’s caution was that in so doing they have rejected Me (God). No human is a reasonable substitute for God: king, president, governor, political affiliation, self. Enthroning Jesus upon His rightful throne is the answer. He will replace our perceived pursuit of pleasure with a restored sense of purpose —- which interestingly will yield a deeper pleasure. And as for democracy, it will rekindle a measure of righteousness in the people, the deme (Greek for the voting population of a city state) making us better equipped for limited self rule, akin to the limited dominion God commissioned humankind with through Adam.
A friend, T M Moore posited the following observations in a meditation on Jesus standing before Herod. Apropos for July 4 methinks:
How should we balance our duties as citizens with depending too much on political solutions to the nation’s ills? We do not need politicians to prop up our mission or deliver us from the scorn and threats and machinations of those who do not like us. Yet this is where we turn, time after time. We prefer the ear of politicians to the ear of God, and the power of the State to the power of the Spirit, operating with faith. We are fools, and friends with the likes of Pilate and Herod (v. 12); and we do not follow the path of our Savior when we put our wellbeing in the hands of government. Better we should simply ignore the politicians, refuse to endorse any of them—at the same time being careful to fulfill our Constitutional duty as citizens—and press on with our agenda of saving souls and nurturing them in the fear and holiness of the Lord. Like Jesus, we should not try to avoid affliction or persecution, but continue our mission despite such hindrances, trusting God to use our faith to accomplish His Kingdom ends.
Return to Jesus and He will grant us peace, else we face the fate of all who rebel. The freedoms our forebears forged yet grant us such privilege.