Monday, February 21, 2011

Christian Nation? Oh, I Seriously Hope Not

I’ve spent the past two and half years reading the Bible everyday on a plan that allows me to read it in its entirety within one year.  My current readings involve the prophecies that entail just before the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Israel, or as it was called, the nation Judah.  There is extensive accounts on what happened and while there certainly are things that are left out, what is made clear by the various prophets, chief among them Jeremiah, is that Jerusalem is going to fall because of their collective decadence.

I bring this up because so many Christian leaders out there have claimed that the United States of America is a Christian nation.  To many, this means that the nation was founded as a kind of soft theocracy and that religion needs to be as much a part of government as anything else is.  The fact of the matter is, I seriously hope that they are flat out wrong in their assessment of the United States being a Christian nation and my reasons for this are because of my Bible current readings.

By and large, the prophecies would condemn the Israelites for their apostasy or rather their idolatry.  The prophets often compared it to prostitution (the ESV uses the word ‘whoring’ a lot) where what they were doing was what God considered the equivalent of one of the oldest professions.  Granted, some of the religions they ‘whored’ themselves to did involve actual prostitution, but by and large they were just simple sacrifices made to other gods whom God has explicitly told them not to worship.  The prophet Isaiah has a funny observation about this where he talks of a man cutting down a tree and using half the wood to build a fire and the other half to carve an idol.  The man then bows to the carved image and claims it to be his god.  Isaiah concludes by asking, “Isn’t this odd?”

But if you read some of the prophets’ writings carefully you’ll notice something.  It took me a little while to notice myself actually.  The prophets condemn not only the blatant idolatry of the Israelites, but also the fact that they still pay homage to God in their own practices.  In other words, not only do they worship other gods, but they continued to worship God with offerings he would not accept.  Hosea goes over this in great detail for the Northern Kingdom, which rapidly degenerated into idolatry following the schism brought about by Solomon’s foolish son Rehoboam.  And yet they kept many of the traditions and festivals that God had handed down to them through Moses.

My point in all this is that if we are suppose to be a nation like ancient Israel, that is one set aside for God’s glory, then we are due for a severe punishment by Him.  This is because the United States has become a decadent nation where the mere mention of the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, is met with hisses and groans.  Where lust is considered a virtue, where adultery is considered a right, and where all kinds of sin are justified in the most frivolous and illogical ways.

I am a firm believer in freedom and liberty and I have no desire to see any part of God’s codified into law, largely because of the potential for such things to be abused by the powerful, but at the same time I believe that a truly free society allows others to fall on their consequences.  If a women engages in prostitution, for example, we shouldn’t pity her if she ends up over 40 without any good looks and no job skills.  Likewise, if a man ends up addicted to drugs, we should not pity him when he winds up on the streets begging for money.  As the saying goes, their sin should be on their own head.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that the vast majority of Christians pay lip service to their beliefs.  Many believe that God is like the gods of old, where favors are granted when you have faith in Him.  Regardless of your faith, God still will allow bad things to happen to you.  God is a very complex individual, as I’ve found while reading the Bible in its entirety.  But this simple fact should be obvious to even non-believers because of all the stories that are told of Him.  Most importantly, it should be pointed out that there is no such thing as fairness in God’s Will.  Of course, if life were fair, then we’d all get what deserve (best Babylon 5 quote, a show written by an atheist).

I know that the founding fathers of this nation were by and large God-fearing individuals with few exceptions.  Many had strong Christian beliefs but this does not mean that this nation was founded to be a Christian nation.  It is definitely a unique nation in that it wasn’t founded by conquerors, wars, or revolutions, but merely established by people who wanted to be left alone from the government.  They acknowledged and accepted the beliefs of others.  Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian himself but he wrote the Declaration of Independence and was probably one the greatest Presidents this nation had.

In the course of time, this nation will be no more and humanity will move on to something else.  This is not a prophecy on my part nor something I hope for, but merely an observation on the course of human events as played out in the past.  I have no belief in this nation being set aside for the glory of God anymore than I believe that I have fairy godparents watching over me and granting me wishes.

Of course, if I’m wrong in my beliefs, which I could very well be, then you’d better hope you don’t have to eat your children when the wrath of God comes.

1 comment:

  1. As the saying goes, their sin should be on their own head.

    I liked this until I read the paragraph ending with that sentence. Liked everything after, as well.

    Maybe your tune will change when you get to the New Testament...


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