What should be our response to Godlessness in America?
If you are a true Christian who loves God with your whole heart and hates sin with your whole heart, then you are increasingly dismayed at the increasing godlessness in American society. Many Christians in recent years have realized that America’s early history was steeped in a high form of biblical Christianity. Godliness among our leaders continued until the beginning of this century.
In the 20th century, we have become, as Dr. Francis Schaeffer put it, “a post-Christian nation” not because of the superiority of the enemy, but because of the default of the Church. Some Christians have adopted a fatalistic view of the future. Their view seems to be: “We are predestined to fail; Society is predestined to get worse and worse.” The only strategy for resistance to increasing godlessness then becomes to “run up our bills for the anti-Christ.”
Since the 1970s, however, many Christians have realized that the reformation of society is necessary. These people have been comprised of mainly two groups: liberals and conservatives. These two groups are distinguished by their political affiliations and their view of the infallibility of the Word of God. Evangelicals who want to change America include the conservative Pat Robertson (representing the Religious Right) and the liberal Jesse Jackson (representing the Religious Left).
But there is a third group: those Christians who believe it is their responsibility to challenge the anti-Christian character of society and culture, not with a political agenda, but with the Law of God. This smaller, yet fast emerging group sees it as an obligation to seek to change society in ways that will bring it into conformity with the moral Law of God.
If we want to build a society without abortion, without homosexuality, with family values and with godly schools, then we are wasting our time if we adopt any other strategy besides the standard of God’s holy Word. The plan for rebuilding a society includes the following priorities: (1) bringing a significant portion of the population to personal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, (2) the advancement of the kingdom of God through the preaching of the Gospel and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, and (3) the application of biblical Law as a standard to all areas of life.
The failure among liberal and conservative Christians to change America has been due to a popular, yet false, idea which views the moral Law of God as primitive, sub-Christian, anti-Christian, and irrelevant to contemporary Christian ethics.
This ideology has come in the form of the separation in our minds of “sacred vs. secular” and suspicion directed at Christians involved in social and political activism. These prejudices have led many Christians to abandon any attempt to influence government and society. This continues to be the norm today, with the notable exception of so-called “family values” issues like abortion, school prayer, home-schooling, and homosexuality, but even then rarely is a Christian voice heard except in protest.
If we want to rid our nation of abortion, and other ungodly evils, then our agenda must be larger than that. Our goal must be nothing less than a Christian nation ruled by God’s moral laws.
We can begin by laying emphasis on the Church’s “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13,14) functions in society and calling the Church to repentance for her neglect of these God-given duties. We must challenge our fellow Christians to reengage the society daily.
We must fight against the tendency to (totally) privatize our Christian faith. There is, of course, a vital private side to the Christian faith as all Christians would agree. The Puritans, for instance, would have called this “experimental religion” while Roman Catholics call it “spiritual formation.” This is an essential element to vital Christianity. If it is not there, then faith is dead. Yet when Christianity is reduced to purely individual, personal spirituality, an important aspect of Christianity is lost. There are also the outward demands of true Christian piety – the obedience to the Law of God.
We must seek to utterly destroy the anti-Law spirit which pervades churches where the teaching of “cheap-grace” is the norm. In many churches, even the suggestion that Christians have an obligation to keep the moral Law is considered an attack on the teaching on grace. In our day, the Church must return to teachings on (1) the grace within the Law, (2) the role of the Law as standard in the Christian life, and (3) the relevance of biblical Law to society.
In this call for Christian political and social action, however, we need to keep the emphasis squarely on the Word of God and not the agenda of any political group! Therefore, we must advocate the implementation of biblical Law in modern society and the Law’s prescribed sanctions.
What would such a “Christian America” look like? The following are some elements of a biblical Law approach to civil law and order:
1. It obligates government to maintain just monetary policies, thus prohibiting fiat money, fractional reserve banking, and deficit spending.
2. It provides a moral basis for elective government officials.
3. It forbids undue, abusive taxation.
4. It calls for the reduction of the prison system into a system of just restitution for victims of crimes.
5. It forbids the release, pardoning, and paroling of murderers by requiring their execution.
6. It forbids industrial pollution that may harm people or destroy the value of other’s property.
7. It punishes malicious, frivolous malpractice suits.
8. It forbids abortion rights. Abortion is not only a sin, but a crime, and, indeed, a capital crime.
9. It commands the nation to welcome foreigners and legal immigrants.
The believer’s calling to be a transformer of society has always been standard in historic Christianity. Every believer has been given the charge to be salt and light in society. We must take those salt and light functions seriously. The Christian’s ethical responsibility to the Law of God extends beyond the simple personal observation of those laws. More than just obeying God’s commandments personally, the Christian is expected to promote the keeping of God’s Law in society.
More than just being involved in a few “hot-button” issues, biblical Christians must develop a comprehensive bibical worldview which can explain exactly how God’s Word can be applied to changing society on all levels.
Source: K.L. Gentry, God’s Law in the Modern World, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1993.