Several years ago, a relatively unknown preacher named Jeremiah Wright was thrust into public view as the pastor of the church attended by then Senator Barack Obama. Among other things, Reverend Wright became known for his sermon including the phrase ‘… God Damn America…’ This generated a lot of heat and very little light among the public.
I’ve seen portions of the sermon on video. I have not seen the entire sermon, front to back nor have I ever heard Reverend Wright preach. So my perception is limited to portions of the sermon; I reserve the right to be wrong about the totality of the sermon. However, it struck me that Reverend Wright was not so much calling for God to condemn America, but warning that God will condemn America for corporate misdeeds and misconduct. As I recall, Reverend Wright’s premise for the condemnation of America was the racist attitude of the ‘white’ population – a premise with which I do not agree so much. However, I have to agree God has in the past condemned nations and countries for failing to live by God’s standards. I must also agree God will not support the United States if the United States rejects God’s law and protection.
I’m currently in the process of reading through the Bible. I’ve taken to reading it through continually. (I used to read it through in a year, but found I finished prior to the end of the calendar year. So I just started over and kept reading.) I am currently in the book of Jeremiah the prophet – curious coincidence – and just finished Isaiah the prophet. This is not happy reading for one who loves the United States next to God.
From Jeremiah (the prophet, not Wright) Chapter 9, verses 12 and 13:
I said, “Who is wise enough to understand why this has happened? Who has a word from the Lord that can explain it? Why does the land lie in ruins? Why is it as scorched as a desert through which no one travels?”
The Lord answered, “This has happened because these people have rejected my laws which I gave them. They have not obeyed me or followed those laws. 9:14 Instead they have followed the stubborn inclinations of their own hearts. They have paid allegiance to the gods called Baal, as their fathers taught them to do.”
In context, this passage is dealing with the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah (the southern kingdom of what was once Israel) by the Babylonian Empire. The short version is, God had chosen the Jewish people – the descendants of Abraham, Issac and Jacob (known as Israel) – to be His Chosen People. God established the Jewish people as both a nation and a country roughly in the area now defined as (modern) Israel. For nearly seven hundred years, the inhabitants of that land had largely ignored God and God’s law. As with most people who deal with God, they had ‘better’ times of obedience and ‘worse’ times. As a nation, they finally offended God so much He decided they needed another lesson. Cue the Babylonians.
So what does this have to do with 21st Century United States?
This country was founded by people who were nearly exclusively Christian believers. Even among those who were not strictly Christian – Thomas Jefferson comes to mind, although his views changed with time – trusted the teachings and morality of Christianity. Whereas it was not constituted as a ‘Christian nation’ in the sense of having an official state religion, it was founded and grew as a nation of Christians.
Since the late 1950s, that status has been changing.
The late 1950s and early 1960s marked the start of a secularization of the United States. It was a subtle and minor change at first, some in the guise of ‘individual freedom’ and some in the guise of ‘modern thinking’. Much of the ‘individual freedom’ activity came in the form of sexual license; the ‘modern thinking’ part was to ignore traditional standards of sexual propriety. In other words, the concept of God and God’s commands were relegated to a subjective or secondary position. This wasn’t universal, of course. However, it was widespread and rather addictive. The resultant rise of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases – pre AIDS, by the way – was attributed to not indiscriminate sexual activity but to lack of ‘protection’.
The concept of ‘If it feels good, do it!’ became a common excuse for any behavior which included – or emphasized – immediate gratification. Nor was this all sexual in nature; ice cream and junk food sales demonstrate a growth in the accepted belief that ‘now’ was more important than ‘later’. The Biblical sin of ‘gluttony’ was abandoned in favor of ‘good living’.
The multitude of rather minor and petty actions taken include lying about one’s age – or the age of child – to get into movies for a lesser price. This sort of practice may seem rather innocuous, but it demonstrates the attitude of ‘I am entitled to…’ in the common thinking. Shoplifting also increased in volume and scale.
I’m not going to try to detail every change at every turn, but the attitude of the typical American has changed from being respectful of others and other’s property to being somewhat unconcerned about others and in many cases spitefully envious of other’s success.
In other words, the typical citizen is not intentionally criminal in intent, but enured to ‘situational ethics’ and a lack of truthfulness.
In short, as a country, we have departed from honesty and honor and settled for ‘works for me’ and ‘everyone does it’.
Is this not the same indictment God presented against Israel? Both prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah speak of a general dishonesty, disregard for others and a lack of respect for God.
Even now, with problems of all sorts and shapes and causes, people mostly ignore the root causes of the problems.
Poverty is not caused by a lack of motivation and labor – it is caused by ‘bad luck’, some other malevolent influence or anything which removes any personal responsibility from the impoverished.
Sexually transmitted diseases are not caused by indiscriminate sexual conduct; it is caused by lack of condoms or perhaps governmental secret plots.
Guilt, hatred, paranoia and all other forms of mental imbalance are not caused by repeatedly ignoring reality and pretending one’s own fantasy is the reality, they are caused by lack of proper medication and ‘repressed’ sexual desire.
The evils of a society are not caused by evil intent, they are caused by improper distribution of wealth and old fashioned ideas of morality.
Looking at the United States in the year 2012, seeing the coming devastation does not require a prophet; merely anyone who can read history and see what is happening.
This country, the United States of America, needs most of all to face up to God as God. This country, and every inhabitant, needs to allow God in their lives on a personal and constant basis. This country needs to live with God as Lord of individual lives, and as the author of all liberty and justice.
Is God going to damn America? I’m not a prophet and I do not speak for God – other than the plain message in the Bible. But I’d say it doesn’t look good for the home team right now. Just to clarify things, this does not make me happy. Which is why I’m sounding the alarm.