The courageous founders of our country knew full well the likely result of their bold declaration of independence. Often persons say, “Let’s hang together” to encourage friends to stick together on an issue. This challenge to cohesiveness is said almost flippantly. When first uttered by one of the signers of our Declaration of Independence it referred to being executed for what they were signing and continued: “Let us hang together or we will hang separately.” The first “hang together” was a metaphor for being united, the second to execution.
They were not lacking in resolve nor naïve regarding the result. At great cost they gave us our liberty.
These immortal words by Thomas Jefferson are inscribed in the Jefferson Memorial in our Nation’s Capitol: “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure if we have removed from the hearts of the people belief that those liberties are the gift of God?”
In our rush to purge our institutions of public reference to deity we have removed from the hearts of many any belief in God from the hearts of many people.
We have sewn to the wind and now we are reaping the whirlwind. It is an exact axiom, you reap what you sew. I know it is a mute issue, but it is reasonable to assume that if the thousands of youth rampaging in our streets had been schooled in the morals, ethics, and spiritual values that sustained our nation for years their present conduct would be less violent. A sense of history would enable them to accept the merits and faults of the history of our past leaders. They would have been made aware that nations that have forgotten where they came from have been destined to repeat the mistakes of the past. That being true today’s conduct is preparing the stage on which even greater failures are made more likely to play out.
Churches have done little to enable the pending crisis to be avoided. While many, actually perhaps most have had pulpits ablaze with honey and spice and all things nice. There was a day churches permeated the community. Now the community permeates the church.
The question is, is there a large enough remnant to bring us back? It is marginal. As a nation we appropriately prided our self for coming back from natural and cultural problems. It is wonderfully true we have, BUT....
Churches and other houses of faith that have compassionately heralded the clarion call or faith, virtues and values are growing.
The nation was founded on Biblical values. Today there is a systemic denial of these values. Even those Founders who were not Judo/Christians knew those values and espoused them.
Perhaps America has reached the tipping point, I pray not. If in the forthcoming election we elect the candidate of the wrong party we may well have gone too far.
There have been three previous occasions when it appeared America had gone too far. On one occasion the president called out the national guard.
Like it or deny it there was one human employment of divine power that turned it each time. The nation united, that is, they decided to hang together in prayer and historically those seasons of prayer and the turning of the nation were in rapid succession. What other options are there?
The Rev. Dr. Nelson L. Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.