The following is lifted from a recent novel:
“Tim, how are your classes coming along?”
“I’ve got the kids working on a Better Government assignment. Everyone is reading the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Then we’re going to brainstorm how to tweak our government.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident,” Kristen said. “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Jack was impressed. “Not bad. So, why can’t liberals admit that our country was founded on spiritual principles?”
“It doesn’t fit their narrative,” Tim replied. “You know, our Founding Fathers were like fish that don’t know they live in water. They were so immersed in a Judeo-Christian ethos that the existence of a Creator was never in question. It was on this firm, cultural foundation that a secular Constitution could be built.” Tim paused and adjusted his glasses.
“On the contrary, progressives would prefer to focus on the term self-evident in the Preamble. These intellectual elites think they can drain the water—in their eyes the oppressive traditions, authorities, and religious dogmas of the past—and replace it with secular enlightenment. They believe abstract reasoning can address all societal problems. If they could just impose the right mix of laws and regulations on the ignorant populace, then they could achieve secular nirvana! Problem is, they collapsed our ethical foundation, so we now have coercive law resting on the shifting sands of moral relativism.”
“I get it,” Jack said with some satisfaction. “Our current politicians are fish living in different waters, the swamp!”
“That’s right,” Tim said. “And they’re surrounded by swamp creatures: lawyers, regulators, lobbyists, activist celebrities, journalists, and rich donors. The so-called cultural elites of our time. But here’s the irony; these same secular elites who want to control your thoughts and behavior have given you a free pass on morality. Want to hook up? No problem, you’re free to have premarital sex. Oops, got pregnant? Don’t worry, you’re free to get an abortion. Tired of your marriage? That’s okay, you’re free to get a divorce. Kind of bored? No big deal, you’re free to visit porn sites, gamble, or fog your brain with marijuana. These are self-centered wants, not virtues.”
“What’s with the newfound religion?” Jenny asked. “You’re not suggesting we make those choices illegal, are you?” She looked at her old friend with new eyes. Was his worldview changing?
“No, but some cultural taboos might help,” Tim replied. “We used to have internalized codes of conduct, but that common ethic has been gutted and replaced by what?” Tim let the question dangle before continuing.
“It’s the same with our politics. Many partisans now believe the end justifies any means, regardless of the damage done. They view government as a weapon to be wielded, not limited as our Founding Fathers had envisioned. Some are political arsonists. They fan the flames of racial and class discontent and then demand government action to extinguish their media-amped firestorm. All in the name of social justice.”
“There’s nothing wrong with social justice,” Mary De Vries said.
“Of course not,” Tim agreed. “It’s a lofty ideal. But the means of achieving that goal can be disastrous. Just ask the people of Russia, China, Cuba, and Venezuela how top-down edicts of what’s just and fair are working for them. It’s a very slippery slope that can drag everybody down. No, fairness and justice are best enacted at the community level by individuals who consider it a societal norm, a virtue.”
“Tim, what you call a societal norm is what Christians would call having the law written on our hearts,” Pastor DeVries said.
“I think people of faith and agnostics can agree on that one,” Tim said. “But I’m afraid that identity politics in this country has hardened hearts. It’s become adversarial and vindictive. I’ve never seen our country so polarized and pessimistic.”
[J. P. Redding, Off Grid]
While it’s not a very distinguished novel – it’s the author’s first, so cut him some slack – but the passage above has a lot of resonance. It calls to mind John Adams’s statement:
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
A “moral and religious people” would not countenance the theft of an election. Should some evildoers among them contrive such a theft, the greater majority would rise in righteous wrath to put things right. And I believe that will be all for this morning.