The real key to our strength
We live in a pain-plagued, tumultuous, dangerous world. Last night’s presidential foreign policy debate highlighted some of the areas that are currently, and seemingly always, simmering or bubbling over with tension and violence. Our role as a country, as one of the candidates pointed out (can’t remember which), is as a keeper of the peace, and great wisdom fortified by wise counsel is needed to properly administer that role.
To be a peacekeeper requires strength. No playground bully will back down without some threat to his power or ability to harass. It also requires diplomacy. But diplomacy in weakness is ineffective. You can achieve some objectives with just strength, but it’s best to have both. As good ‘ole Teddy Roosevelt said (one of my favorite quotes ever), “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”
Strength is found in a highly-trained, robust military as well as a healthy, robust economy, as both candidates agreed on. But there is one thing we are largely neglecting, something that would enable us to be not just peacekeepers but real peacemakers. Our strength and influence on the world stage would grow exponentially if we were once again a nation that forthrightly and unashamedly acknowledged God and his providence, and was known for our dedication to virtue and righteousness in dependence on him.
How would that make us strong? Primarily because God would be empowering us and using the USA to achieve his goal of reconciling the world to himself. But also because godliness signifies to the watching world an inner strength and fortitude that when exemplified by the citizenry at large becomes a force to be reckoned with. French statesman, historian, and social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville is well known for his nineteenth century work Democracy in America, in which, after touring the country, he recorded his observations on what made this still very young nation so great. “Upon my arrival in the United States,” he wrote, “the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things…Religion in America…must be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country; for if it does not impart a taste for freedom it facilitates the use of it.”
He is also widely attributed to have observed: “I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
The goodness de Tocqueville observed wasn’t simply a general sense of goodwill to your neighbor or fulfilling one’s commitments. It was true Christian morality, as he elsewhere in his book stated. It was behavior borne out of a sincere trust and faith in the God of the Bible. And even though, as he writes, “Each sect adores the Deity in its own peculiar manner…all sects preach the same moral law in the name of God.”
We will never have the positive influence for peace in the world that we could have unless and until we return to our religious roots and as a nation align ourselves with the true God. We are weaker than we once were and might yet be because we have drifted from our sure confidence in him as our provider, guide, and protector, and in our commitment to religious freedom have glorified the rights of the atheist, Muslim, and witch…we have effectively assigned them more weight than the God whose hand was all over the founding and growth of our great country.
We have got to stop allowing the unbelieving complainers to deter and distract and dupe us into thinking we cannot truly be a nation under God. Our relationship with him, personal and national, is too important to disregard simply because someone might be offended. If the Bible is true, it needs to be supported, upheld, and proclaimed. If it is not, it should rightly be discarded.
If we want a stronger United States of America, we need to spend at least as much effort investigating the claims of Christianity and the Bible as we do making sure that no atheist’s child is forced to listen to a prayer.