“Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian... this is a Christian nation”. United States Supreme Court, 1892
There are certain defining principles which dictate human behavior and determine the course of our lives. These principles will guide us and determine our future whether we adhere to them or choose to deny they exist. In this world of moral equivalency, we have all but lost the true understanding of them.
These principles are mercy and justice.The American Heritage Dictionary (1) defines mercy as, “Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency. America has long been known for its mercy. These words penned by Emma Lazarus were engraved on a bronze plaque and affixed to the inner walls of the pedestal on the Statue of Liberty to announce to the world this country’s benevolent nature.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
We have all heard these words, but given the current social climate of our country they have come to mean something entirely different. We’ve forgotten that to truly have mercy, we must also have justice. To truly experience freedom and liberty, laws and morality are paramount.
And so, we come to justice.
Thomas Jefferson said, “Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Justice is one characteristic of God that we tend to overlook. Justice is a scary thing when you’re on the receiving end. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” This “fear” is usually explained away as being “reverence” for God. But I believe the fear of God is knowing that He is big enough and strong enough to take me out anytime He desires measured with the understanding He is just and merciful and would never do anything outside of those attributes. When other nations have the awareness that America will stand on the side of right even if it means taking them down, they quickly develop a respect for our strength and leadership that transcends their desire to defeat us... nobody wants to disappear off the face of the earth.
If God is just some caring, loveable little fuzz-ball who does nothing more than dole out hugs and candy, then we have no need to fear Him. And if we have no need to fear God, then the morals and standards we espouse as Christians and as Americans are worth no more than the paper on which the Bible is printed. Like it or not, this country was founded on a belief in God as the single, sovereign Lord and Creator. The Founders believed there was no other God, and there was no other moral code upon which to base Government, except God’s Word.
The principles and beliefs they followed to write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were based in large part on the Ten Commandments and the spirit of the Biblical definition and nature of God. Although The United States of America was founded as a free nation, the Word of God was used to form laws that were then used to assure individual liberty. It takes a moral fiber and a structure for self judgment to create the atmosphere for freedom. History shows that if a civilizations’ moral compass is lost and replaced with moral equivalency -that being where morality is a personal thing to be decided upon by the individual- then a people will descend into lawlessness and eventually anarchy. The natural path of government then is to institute control through the form of a dictatorship or some other harsh government rule. Freedom does not exist in a vacuum. It takes effort and a willingness of a governed people to act within the guidelines of a relatively ordered environment. When there are no rules and no justice is meted out, there will be no true freedom because the strong will rule the weak.
Which brings me to this…
This United States has been both admired and vilified by the world’s governments for its entire existence. For our short history we have remained a free nation because we believed our ideals were superior to other nations and we were not afraid to defend those ideals with military might. I believe that we became the world’s superpower because of our Christian foundation. Because of our devotion to God as a nation, He also blessed us with overwhelming strength. America endeared itself to the world because, like God, our strength was measured by mercy. God and it has kept us strong for 200 plus years. But the Grand Experiment, no matter how successful it has been seems to be coming to an end because we have forgotten the faith of our Founders. Are we now destined to descend into the grave of forgotten civilizations?
We have given up our moral superiority out of a belief that all paths are equal. We have convinced ourselves that we have no right to be the world’s leader because all other beliefs and all other forms of government are as good as the one we have chosen, only different. We have elected officials to our government and to our courts that do not believe in God’s Word or that there even is such a thing as a morally supreme ideal. In large part, our own justices no longer decide cases based on what is right and wrong, only what is deemed correct given the situation. They do not judge based on moral absolutes because they do not believe in the God who created them! Yet the United Stated Supreme Court in 1982 stated that, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of The Redeemer of mankind. It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian... this is a Christian nation”.
Abraham Lincoln was never one to shrink from speaking about God or moral absolutes. On the subject of Bible he stated, “All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated through this Book; but for the Book we could not know right from wrong...” Because of the inability to correctly identify what is right and what is wrong we will give up our freedom and the worlds oppressed will soon cease to have a champion. As Christians, we will always have a Champion to fight for our cause… Jesus! He is our answer and He is the only path to true freedom.
God’s nature is and always will be peace through strength. But for America, strength is quickly becoming a page in the history books.
*Without justice, we will lose mercy. Without strength we will lose peace. *
*“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven... but we have forgotten God. It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” *Abraham Lincoln.
*(1)(n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. *Retrieved August 24, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mercy