Monday, June 20, 2016

Trust Not In Princes

At my age, I’ve lived through quite a few presidential elections, and it seems this year the anxiety level of Americans has reached unprecedented heights. People are very nervous right now because it looks like our choice is going to be either the most dishonest person ever to run for president, or the most narcissistic person ever to run. (And that is saying a LOT, considering the type of personality that is drawn to run for the office.) If folks even bother to vote at all in November, I suspect they’ll be holding their noses as they make their choice.
I read and listen to a fair amount of political commentary, especially from Christian pundits, and quite frequently over the last few decades I’ve noticed a recurring theme: the commentators insist we must elect a godly president, one who will restore biblical values to our nation.

Now, let’s be clear, I am all for biblical values being restored to the good ol’ US of A. In the past half-century we as a nation have drifted so far from God, we’ve actually reached a point where the Seven Deadly Sins are now promoted by our culture as good things, that is, as the proper attitudes to have in life. Pride, anger, covetousness, lust, envy, greed, and sloth are no longer shameful behaviors to be avoided, they now are celebrated and rewarded. I’m convinced a nation cannot survive consecutive Me Generations. But that is exactly what we have. First, Baby Boomers abandoned God and were convinced the Universe revolved around them (or I should say, “us”); then Generation Xer’s came along; and now the Millennials, all intensely self-absorbed. So yeah, I’m all for our country returning to godly, biblical values before we collapse into a pathetic, exhausted, toxic heap.
But the thing is, so-called godly values are not imposed onto a society from the top down. They come from the bottom up, regardless of who the leaders are. Godly values are formed in each individual human heart, and then permeate a culture at the grass roots level.

The psalmist said it quite well in Scripture: “Better to take refuge in the LORD than to put one’s trust in princes” (Psalm 118:9).

Year after year, election after election, American citizens put their trust in princes, or rather, in politicians. If only the right person takes office, we are told, everything will be fine. In my lifetime, I can think of two US presidents who were not bashful about professing their faith in Christ, one from each political party. The first of these two men presided over a very uninspiring four years, which included a prolonged hostage crisis, and is often called the “worst president in modern history.” The other got us involved in two questionable and costly wars and exploded the national debt.

Having godly people in office doesn’t really matter much if a sizable percentage of the population is lacking in virtue. Conversely, if the rulers are creeps, but the citizens are virtuous, it will be difficult for the leaders to implement too many rotten policies, as the people won’t stand for it. (This, of course, only applies in representative republics, our current form of government. If we end up with a dictatorship—not unthinkable anymore, I’m sad to say—then all bets are off.)

This November, cast your ballot for whomever you think is best: either the female reincarnation of Richard Nixon, except with a higher level of paranoia and a longer enemies list; or the man who embodies five of the Seven Deadly Sins—six, if one of the Deadly Sins is “goofy hair.”

But most of all, cast your ballot for the Lord and ruler of the Universe, Jesus Christ. As the psalmist said, it’s much better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in mere mortals. And if the Lord has deemed that the good ol’ US of A has reached the end of the line, and a cultural and economic meltdown is going to be the price we pay for abandoning Him, then we’re all going to need to be really close to Him. He’ll be all that we have left.

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