Well, folks, this is it! Tomorrow we will vote to elect a new leader for our nation; a person who will guide our consolidated union of fifty states forward into a time of uncertainty, looming recession, and declining ethical and moral values in our world. Each vote is important; each vote matters; and everyone’s voices need to be heard in this important matter.
As a pastor, I cannot stand in the pulpits where I serve and lecture my congregations on whom they need to cast their ballots for; that is unethical as well as illegal (according to IRS regulations for churches that hold a tax-exempt status; this has been in effect since 1954). People also hold fast to the long disputed idea of separation of church and state as the Founding Fathers of our nation ascribed to; one of the staunchest defenders of this framework was James Madison, also known as the “Father of the Constitution”. He is most recognized as quoting the following about the subject: “Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).” Or, to break in down in simpler terms: Madison believed that the two subjects did not need to interact with each other that much; the more they did, the more muddled things became and the more at odds people would be with one another.
Now, don’t get me wrong about this! I really believe that we need to have a foundational aspect to our government; a cornerstone on which to gauge everything from a pure moral and spiritual standpoint. And that can really only be with God. Because the great leaders of our nation’s history understood that if we didn’t have anything on which to base the creation of this great nation on, then things would really melt down in a hurry. There would be chaos without focus; instead of a coming together, this nation would have blown apart at the seams. And, to put it bluntly, that great stabilizing influence was (and continues to be for those who choose to accept) our Father in heaven.
John Adams put it best when he said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Or this quote, on the day that the Declaration of Independence was approved by Congress: “The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principals of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”
So, one might ask, “What in the world does this have to do with our presidential election coming up?” My friends, it has EVERYTHING to do with it! We were, and still are, a nation founded under God. We’re supposed to be indivisible; unbreakable; unshakeable; even in the midst of turmoil at home, or even in the world. And, yet, we have strayed far from the original intentions of those who wanted this nation to be a shining light for others to see; a hope for a globe at war with itself. Instead, we are a people split apart; divided among ourselves; and it is so prevalent in this election cycle. We have the major candidates slinging mud at each other and their respective parties; it’s all about looking good no matter what the cost.
My question is: Where are the issues that we need for them to discuss? It’s not about sound bites for the mass media; there are real problems with our economy, our justice system, and with our nation as a whole. There is still racism, hatred, and mayhem all around us, and we are doing nothing to solve them. We would rather gloss it over with nice-sounding “themes” of economic stimulus packages or creating new jobs for America than face the music–the song lyrics that tell us that all is not right in our country.
I do agree with both McCain and Obama on one very important thing, and it’s the underlying riptide that we are facing in the United States.
We need change.
Change in a big way.
But we don’t need the kind of change with more taxes, or bigger government, or cutting back retirement benefits for those who deserve it, or even change achieved through socialized medicine. The kind of change I’m talking about doesn’t come out of a bill passed through Congress; or a law put into practice after being signed on the president’s desk. It’s not the kind of change that can be switched on and off like a light bulb, dark and foreboding one moment, and then shining brightly the next.
No…the kind of change we need is from a spiritual aspect, like the Founding Fathers knew we needed so desperately at the creation of our country. It’s a change that occurs within the hearts of men and women when they turn from their wicked ways, and pray, and seek His face. A change that will heal our land and pull together the torn fabric of our society; a change that will show us how to love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as you would have them do unto you; a change that doesn’t come from the will of man but entirely from the will of God.
One last quote; this one is from Thomas Jefferson. He wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Folks, the change has to start by admitting to ourselves that we need God in our land; and then allowing Him to be Lord over everything in our lives.
As a people; and as one nation.
Please vote for the person tomorrow who will do the same.
Richard is a regular monthly columnist for the Linn County Leader, and is also pastor at Bear Branch, Purdin, and Pleasant Grove UMC’s in north Missouri. You may reach him via his blog at https://sliceofhome.wordpress.com or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.