God & the USA: can our circular arguments deliver us from judgment...
(TB: This piece by Dad (Joe Bayly) originally ran in his "Out of My Mind" column in Eternity magazine back in August, 1970. That's three years prior to the slaughter begun in our nation by Roe v Wade.)
Is God concerned with nations, or only individuals? Is the state subject to moral law?
My favorite spot in Washington, D.C., is the Lincoln Memorial. I like to visit it at night.
One Sunday night last May, I walked up the long steps in the warm darkness, and came out into the great open space before that compassionate white stone, the statue of Mr. Lincoln.
Some oddly garbed students, probably left over from the previous day’s demonstration at the Ellipse, stood silent before the statue.
On the left-hand wall, carved in stone, is the Gettysburg Address. I walked over to read it. I remembered how my second grade teacher didn’t believe me when I said that my grandmother shook hands with President Lincoln after he spoke. But she did; she was a little girl who lived just outside Gettysburg.
Then I walked to the opposite wall and read his Second Inaugural Address. The students were there, reading it..."'Woe unto the world because of offenses? for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.'  If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'"
Disturbing words. More disturbing than yesterday’s demonstration . . . Is God concerned with nations, or only with individuals? Is the state—the United States—subject to moral law?
Jesus is coming back. The mess our nation is in doesn’t concern us Christians. We’ll escape all judgment.
But what if that isn’t for 200 years?
Look, the Jew is back in Palestine, there are earthquakes all over the place, wars and rumors of wars. It can’t be 200 years.
What if it is? The Bible is pretty clear that God judges the nations.
That’s Old Testament. And Israel was a theocracy, which the United States isn’t.
A lot of Christians treat our nation’s history as if it were. And react as if critics of the government were touching something holy.
Well, the Apostle Paul in Romans 13 says that "the powers that be are ordained of God." So we ought to realize we’re not exactly pleasing God when we criticize our government.
Does that "powers that be" include all government?
Russia and China and Poland? Should Christians in those nations accept what their government does as something holy?
No, because it isn’t. It’s atheistic.
Then our government really is a theocracy.
No. But let’s get back to where judgment is found: in the Old Testament. And there God judged His own nation.
He also judged other nations: Syria and Egypt and Babylon, Edom and city states like Sodom and Gomorrah.
But we’re living in the New Testament age, the age of grace.
Do you mean that God's different today, that He's gone soft? Will He let the United States get away with things He didn’t let Egypt or Babylon or Sodom and Gomorrah get away with?
I mean that God deals with individuals today, not nations.
So the United States really is above God's laws. We Christians can relax whatever happens. Amos isn’t profitable to us for doctrine and rebuke. The United States is even better than a theocracy—But what about Rome? Its downfall was after the New Testament was written. And France. Russia.
Nations fall, even today.
Even the United States?
Let’s go over to the Jefferson Memorial.
It's closed for repairs. Sinking into the ground. Do you remember Jefferson's words, "I tremble for my country when I remember that God is just."
He wasn’t a Christian.