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And (if) My people, who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. II Chronicles 7.14 NASB
First of all, then, I urge men I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all that are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and dignity. I Timothy 2.1-2 NASB
Let me say, at the beginning of this essay, that I believe in American Exceptionalism. I believe that the democratic experiment begun at the First Continental Congress, and which continues till this day has been uniquely successful. I believe that only one of the passages above applies to this exceptionalism. The other clearly does not apply. This distinction is the point of my argument. I believe that our inability to make this distinction will result in our ceasing to be a distinct people. We will become just so many other voices added to the angry cacophony of denominational protest.
The United States Supreme Court will deliver a ruling on Gay Marriage this year, and although I have long ago stopped trying to predict what the Gang of 9 will do, I strongly suspect their decision will light up your twitter accounts, and explode all over your Facebook pages. The Court’s decision will certainly provide Christians with the opportunity of communicating in very un-Christian ways and at un-Christian decibel levels. It promises to be a win/win for Satan – unless we take a breath ahead of time and refuse him his pleasures.
I want to firmly communicate that the first quote above has nothing to do with the United States of America, or any other modern nation state. That Old Testament promise was given to Israel. If it applies to anyone in modern times it applies to Christians. The United States is not called by God’s name, nor is it identified as God’s people. Can we please stop misapplying this passage and others like it? Can we stop expecting God to keep promises He doesn’t make, to be in relationships He never intends?
The second passage explains how our country is exceptional. We are commanded to pray for our rulers. We are to do so that we may “lead a tranquil life in quietness and dignity.” Our nation has fulfilled this prayer as no other has in human history. For this we should thank God. For this we should thank every man and women who works to make this blessing possible. Every service person, every police officer, every first responder, every public servant that provides our “domestic tranquility,” often at great risk, deserves our constant gratitude. We are blessed to live in the United States of America and should say so.
I believe that our democratic experiment has been uniquely successful because of the Christian influence of the First and Second Great Awakenings. Saying that Christianity has had a positive influence is not the same as saying that America is a Christian nation. It isn’t, it will never be, and God has never called us to make it such. The Apostles went out to save souls, not to save the Empire. God has told us that we reside on earth as aliens (I Peter 1.1), and that our citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3.20). Paul exercised his full rights as a citizen of Rome to further the gospel, not to reform the Empire. We should follow that example.
I came to this understanding here, at Manassas. Men like Bill Booth, Paul Johnson, and Bill Powers, among others – men who have devoted their lives to serving this nation - have always reminded me that God is in control, that His Kingdom is always victorious, and that whatever happens I should stop hyperventilating. I thank them, and with this essay hope to share the same message with you.