Last Sunday, I attended church to worship the Lord — or so I thought.
Mea culpa: I’d forgotten it was the weekend of Veterans’ Day. Ergo, we worshiped the American government and its hired killers instead. The pastor asked all vets to stand while the congregation, which supposedly follows the Prince of Peace, vigorously applauded them. “Thank you for your service,” a man down the pew from me hollered. But isn’t such gratitude backwards? Shouldn’t vets be thanking us? After all, our money fed, housed and clothed them and their dependents.
I frequent this church when I’m visiting family in its “economically depressed, rural [area].” The parishioners are precisely the sort of population on which government cynically preys: first, politicians and bureaucrats destroy prosperity with taxes, licensing laws and endless regulations; then, they dangle such incentives as “free” travel (i.e., paid for by others) and incredibly generous bennies (also paid for by us) before kids whose opportunities they’ve annihilated. Voila: cannon fodder! You might think said fodder would despise the State and its enforcers in the military. But based on what I witnessed Sunday, they and their families are too busy hugging the chains that bind them to harbor any resentment.
Much of the congregation cherishes ties to the military. Each time I’ve visited, I’ve marveled at a large poster with photographs of “active service members” and a plea to “pray for them” emblazoned across the top. Oh, I do, for sure: I beseech God to convict them for agreeing to slaughter, plunder and rape in aggressive wars of empire. However much they may wish otherwise, the Feds’ agenda does not nullify the Ten Commandments.
After slavering over the vets, everyone but yours truly rose to pledge their loyalties not to Jesus Christ but to the American flag “and the nation for which it stands.” I hoped that none of the devout, Bible-believing Christians reciting an avowed socialist’s sentiments knew the purpose and history of Francis Bellamy’s Satanic words. Ignorance is damnable but not as much so as informed support of communism.
When they finished promising the Feds their allegiance, they did the same to the Christian flag (I guess no one recalled the Lord’s warning against serving two masters) and then to the Bible. These good Baptists would dismiss as “way too Roman Catholic” the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, if they’ve even heard of them. Yet they blithely drag nationalism and its “Christian” imitations into their service.
Alas, this assembly is far from unique. It is the rare congregation now that doesn’t promote rabid nationalism, which they mistake for patriotism, ahead of godliness.
Meanwhile, conservatives bewail the loss of the culture wars, the decline of the family and America’s horrific degeneracy. But should we expect anything less, given the Church’s idolatry of the State? Like the Christians at Ephesus, modern believers have left their first love to genuflect at government’s feet.
How far we’ve fallen from the early Christian martyrs! These saints suffered gruesome deaths rather than bow to the Roman Emperor as a god. They set examples all of us should emulate: when their government commanded them to violate Scripture and venerate another deity in addition to Jesus Christ, they refused.
Ditto for believers living under the Nazis’ regime. We cheer Corrie ten Boom and her family or Dietrich Bonhoeffer for defying politicians to save lives.When earthly rulers contradicted Heavenly precepts, these heroes proclaimed with Peter and the apostles, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
To their eternal shame, though, American Christians act as if that verse reads, “We ought to obey government rather than God.”
Most of them would also scoff at the idea that we have long confronted the same quandary as did our counterparts in Germany or ancient Rome. And yet governments at all levels — municipal, county, state, federal — have ordered us to violate Biblical strictures for decades. Tragically, we have almost always acquiesced rather than show the fortitude and independent thought of our fathers in the faith. Then we blame our cowardice on a bizarre and spineless “patriotism.”
For example, bureaucrats now require the impoverished to steal by accepting medical insurance their neighbors subsidize. Equally appalling, said insurance pays for killing innocent children before birth. Yet far from preaching against such evil, many alleged Christians claim it is our duty to endorse such robbery and murder.
Indeed, we could expand from Obummercare to anything that taxes finance. Taxation is morally indistinguishable from theft since it extracts money by force. The government’s thieves are often armed with degrees in law rather than knives or guns; they dress better than your average mugger and they cloak their crimes in euphemisms. But they are thieves nonetheless. Their plunder buys any “benefit” or “entitlement” that politicians promise us.
Yet there is no concerted Christian outcry against such obscene larceny and, so far as I know, never has been in American history. In fact, just the opposite: many Christians condemn those who protect their assets from the IRS as sinful.
And forget the Golden Rule when it comes to local taxation and that sacred cow, children. Let the school board propose yet another levy, and a parent’s only concern is whether he personally can afford more taxes. If so, he votes for it (though no Christian has any business ever voting for theft, let alone at higher rates).
But what about the elderly widow down the street? Can she spare an extra $100 annually to pay for Jeremy’s football games and Deidre’s Spanish class? If you’re a Christian, shouldn’t her worries and welfare have figured into your thinking? Are you doing unto those on a sparse budget as you would have them do unto you were your wallet as empty as theirs?
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve,” the Bible admonishes. Outrageously, most of the American Church chooses government, not God.
— Becky Akers