America’s Perilous Situation and How We Got Here

The political climate has become extremely divided, hostile, and in some cases violent. The hypocrisy in the accusations thrown around is unbearable. “He is such a liar!” As opposed to whom? “He is so corrupt!” As if the other candidate is not? “He is so evil!” Ah, but it is here we need to ask ourselves, how did we get here?

As Americans, we should be disgusted with both political parties. Both parties have lied to us, both parties have accepted money from lobbyists, both parties have had scandals, and both parties have individuals walking free, yet guilty of crimes the average person would be imprisoned for. We can complain all we want to, but do we, the American people, not bear much of the blame?

I hear people on both sides accusing the other of being liars, all the while ignoring the lies spoken by the candidates they support. I hear people accuse candidates and officials of being “Hitler” or “Nazis,” all the while fully endorsing abortion on demand. I was sickened a few years ago when one particular candidate’s platform was nothing less than a celebration of death. Yet, as a society we want to label candidates as “evil” when our own hearts are void of compassion for the most helpless and innocent?

Oh, let me not ignore the great hypocrisy of Hollywood, those who like to “instruct” us in morality and decency, although many of whom practice neither. Ricky Gervais is correct when he stated that those at the Oscar Awards ceremony are in no position to lecture on such things.

Again, the question must be asked, how did we get here? Consider the following passage:

Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’ And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit….Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts. ~ Jeremiah 2:5-8, 19 (ESV)

We, as a society, always want to point fingers and shift the blame, but do we not bear much of the blame? Consider the last election, for example. How did our main choices come down to Hillary and Trump? We can state our negative opinions of either of these individuals; however, society rejected candidates who have more integrity than either of these individuals. Why? What hypocrisy we must own whenever we accuse others as being “evil,” “immoral,” and “liars” when we reject those who are righteous and persons of integrity. What hypocrisy when we condemn persons as being “immoral,” yet idolize actors and musicians who glorify the raunchiest acts of immorality. What hypocrisy when we accuse others of being “evil” when our own lives are godless and self-indulgent.

Let us not think that the church is guiltless. Consider another passage:

The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. ~ Ezekiel 22:25-28

Many who profess the name of Jesus Christ, too, are guilty of condoning, applauding, and promoting behaviors and practices that God condemns. Furthermore, pride, greed, and various forms of immorality are known to be condoned and/or “whitewashed” among both Catholics and Evangelicals. There are many churches who make no distinction between what is holy and what is profane, and instead of seeking to be true to the Scriptures, many want to simply “agree to disagree,” lest they appear as “judgmental” or “divisive.”

I believe America is in dire straights. Although many will mock, I believe God has already begun judging America (read Romans 1). How did we get into the situation we presently find ourselves in? We have turned from God (and I mean, specifically, the one true God of the Bible) and have rejected His Son Jesus Christ whom He sent to redeem us. More and more society vehemently denounces and opposes God in nearly every sector. Increasingly our society condones what God condemns and scorns what God commends. Even in many churches preachers are casting doubt on the Scriptures and adapting to the world’s philosophies and code of “ethics” instead of what God reveals. Thus, we as a society are guilty of great evil.

I hear people crying, “Trump is ruining our country” or “Biden will destroy America!” But let me be clear, neither man is America’s savior, nor is either man to blame for her path to destruction. Only God can heal our nation, and this can only happen if we, as a nation, repent of our wickedness. Otherwise, not the best of our cunning and strategizing will prevent God’s judgement.

Will God choose to grant further mercies for America? I do not know. However, Nehemiah’s prayer is quite instructive for us, as he humbled himself, confessing the sins of his nation, as well as his own sins and those of his father’s house:

O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded. ~ Nehemiah 1:5-7

We can choose to try to erase history rather than learn from it. We can choose to mock God’s judgment, but it has already begun. Woe to us if we choose to “take our chances” and refuse to repent. We are already walking a thin line, and it is getting ever closer to snapping. What do we have to lose? Far more than we realize.

Polarization and the Stripping Away of Our Humanity

On their album, Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd has a song entitled, “Us and Them”. The lyrics begin with, “Us and them / And after all, we’re only ordinary men.” This reminds me of a part in Homer’s, The Iliad, when Hector, the noble hero of the Trojans, was home with his family before his upcoming dual with Achilles, the champion of the Greeks.

While the book celebrates the Greek warriors, this scene takes us into Hector’s home, loving on his family, although knowing he might not return to them after the fight. What struck me about this, when I read it in college, was the reality of persons in war. On each side are dads, moms, sons, and daughters. The vast majority do not want to be there, but are there because of duty—for “love of God, King, and country.”

While their cultures might be different, their humanity is very much the same: intellect, emotions, passions, dreams, ambitions, love, affections, fear, etc.

One of the dangerous consequences being recognized, due to modern technology and social media, is polarization. While technology is not fully to blame, it has, indeed, confounded matters. No longer is it simply disagreeing or being divided. It has become demeaning, demonizing, and dehumanizing enmity. We have the Left/Right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, black/white, etc. Mind you, I am not at all promoting pluralism or ecumenicalism, nor am I endorsing complete individualism and autonomy. However, we are becoming a society that strips away the humanity of persons who are not like us and/or who do not think like us.

Some foundational doctrines in Christian theology concerning people are: 1) Created in God’s image, 2) original sin, and 3) Redemption.

First, all people are made in God’s image, and He has placed us in the time and place as He sees fit.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. ~ Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us. Acts 17:26-27

Second, the suffering we see in our world is rooted in original sin; that is, because the first couple sinned, sin is now passed on from generation to generation. We often view racism, violence, perversion, etc. as the problems; however, these are merely symptoms of the “spiritual disease” each of us is infected with.

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” … For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:10-12, 22-23

Third, God has a genuine love for fallen humanity and has made redemption possible for all people who are willing to repent of sin and believe on His Son.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ~ Romans 5:8-10

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

Although sin has distorted our desires and perception, it has not eradicated our humanity and worth to God. Yet, how easily—especially with social media—we can slander and demonize others. Regardless of ethnicity, color, or beliefs, we are all but ordinary people. We work, play, love our families, and want to survive. Mind you, none of this is meant to ignore crime or injustice; however, we can be so malicious, injurious, and even murderous with our tongues and posts. The distance from verbal harm to physical harm is not far at all. In fact, Jesus explains:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

We are also told,

No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? ~ James 3:8-11

Yet, consider the way people slander, accuse, and dehumanize others on social media. How brutally nasty people can be towards others whose views are different. Too often a distinction is not made between the person and the view. So, going straight for the jugular, so to speak, honest dialogue is not permitted and the person’s humanity is trampled on. As a result, there is no consideration that the other is a person with a past full of various experiences. Furthermore, this is someone’s son, daughter, parent, etc. Dangerously worse still, God’s image, love, and redemption are denied a person. In the end, such polarization makes us like beasts, monsters, and devils ourselves.

We can fight to the death for our opinions, perceptions, and convictions; yet, the Bible tells us:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Strangely, whenever we seek to dehumanize others, we dehumanize ourselves, too. Sadly, the more our climate becomes polarized, the more our humanity is stripped away.