The Space Between

MosesThumbDeana Chadwell
Here we are, thoroughly into the 21st century and America finds herself up against the greatest dilemma of her 237 years – what do we believe? All of the problems we now face swirl around that question and the corollary storms that spin off from it. Whether we discuss going into Syria, legalizing drugs, funding abortion, redistributing wealth, mandating health care, authorizing the Keystone pipeline, or supporting gay marriage, our core beliefs, or lack thereof, determine our stance. Despite the prevarications of progressive teachers and professors, this country was designed for a believing, God-fearing people; freedom is not possible for those who will not control them selves.

What we believe no longer looks like what the founders believed. The main difference is that religious belief has been relegated to merely a matter of what we do or don’t do on Sundays, to a club we join, or a man-made phenomena on the order of the spells cast in fairy tales or local legends that have been enhanced and embellished beyond all recognition.

We seem to assume that chronologically speaking, man happened and then he invented God. Therefore people think that a belief in God is just fanciful nonsense and that the 1st Amendment is meant to protect us from such silliness. It never occurs to those enmeshed in those assumptions that God may actually be real or that those of us who show up for church on Sunday morning may be there not because it’s a club meeting, or an old crusty habit, but because we know deep in our bones that God is more solid than the pews we sit on.[pullquote]It’s becoming evident that the “neutral” ground on which we try to operate our public machine is nothing but quicksand and we’re sinking. Our nation is not what it should be.[/pullquote]

Our founders knew of God’s actuality and very few questioned His sovereignty in their lives. They varied in how they understood Him, but the evidence is overwhelming, from both personal and public writings, that these men found God to be fundamental in their lives, and in the well-being of this new country they were creating. They would be shocked today to see that we have relegated Him to nothing more than a frill, tucked tidily away in our vest pockets, for use only on special occasions, or worse yet, treated as something to mock and jeer at, some nonexistent being with whom to be angry.

But why has our national viewpoint on this key issue changed? We can place blame on many different shelves: public schools and the assiduous effort at removing God from the curriculum – if a child studies for 12 years in an environment where God is never mentioned, might he not come away with the idea that God is not very important? ; the unquestioning assimilation of both the “scientific” and educational systems of Darwinian evolution; our ungrateful response to our unheard of prosperity; the breakdown of the family – I could go on. It’s becoming evident that the “neutral” ground on which we try to operate our public machine is nothing but quicksand and we’re sinking. Our nation is not what it should be.

How do we know what a nation should be? And according to whom? Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that God is real, and has made us for a purpose. If that is true, He owes us instruction, explanation, encouragement, and He owes it to us on both a personal and a national level. We need an instruction manual. Well, I’ll be darned — we have one, and this manual addresses both personal and national procedures and practices. Of course we can’t talk about it in public schools. We can’t display parts of it in public places. Why ever not? It is from the Bible that the founding fathers derived much of the plan for our government.

I can hear you shouting about the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
I’m not advocating the making of any laws or suggesting that we establish a national religion, only that more of us look honestly at the overwhelming evidence – both historic and scientific – that God exists, and start conducting our affairs accordingly. I am pointing out that there is no middle ground here, no politically safe no-man’s-land on which to stand. We are either a nation that tries to follow the rules for national freedom presented to Moses in the 20th chapter of Exodus or we are working against Almighty God. On the off chance that He might be the reality of realities, that seems a precarious position to be in.

Having taught in public schools for nearly 30 years I am well aware of the impact this false separation from God has had. In an attempt to offend no one we fail to teach anyone. We have created curriculum so devoid of truth that fewer and fewer students are willing to bother to learn it. We have taught, instead of the traditional, national Christian perspective, a progressive, secular humanist religion in which the basal tenet is that there is no absolute truth, thereby erasing all moral standards, all reason for learning or caring about anything. And then we wonder why our kids do drugs instead of homework.

If we take God out of public life we effectively denounce Him. Things never went well for Israel when she tried to do that. Check out Leviticus 26. The five cycles of national discipline delineated there were designed for Israel, not the United States of America, but Israel was designed to be the prototype of nations. (By the way, can you explain the continued existence of Israel without the existence of God?)[pullquote]We have taught, instead of the traditional, national Christian perspective, a progressive, secular humanist religion in which the basal tenet is that there is no absolute truth, thereby erasing all moral standards, all reason for learning or caring about anything. And then we wonder why our kids do drugs instead of homework.[/pullquote]

Can you imagine this country if most of us humbly and regularly recognized God’s glory and wisdom, if most of us did not covet our neighbors’ possessions, if we avoided adultery, theft, lying?What would it be like if we respected our parents? What if murder* was truly rare – even in Chicago? Would this not be an unbeatable nation?

These issues are not really a matter of law; we have laws against theft, and murder, and legal consequences for lying under oath (though we have presidents who do so). We have laws for sorting out the results of adultery. But laws do not suffice. Treating those instructions for national behavior as real, as true, as necessary must come from the heart of individual Americans; that choice can’t be coerced.

Even more important than following the instructions for national freedom is the establishment of a personal relationship with God, which is not something that can be accomplished by following the rules. The one commandment that is most important is to merely accept the free gift of an eternal, unbreakable connection with Him; the free gift is perfect Christ’s effective payment for our imperfections. The wages of sin is death. We sin; Christ died so that we don’t have to. Then He rose again.

But isn’t that intolerant? No. Isn’t this religious oppression? No. People are going to do what they are going to do; we are free will moral agents. I am not telling anyone how to behave or what to think. I’m telling you what God wants you to do. I know what He wants because He wrote those commandments on stone right in front of Moses. He even made Moses a second copy. Then, He sent His son to die for you. You choose.

But know that the consequences for that decision will be suffered by all of us. The huge gap between what Americans believe and what is actually true is getting wider and wider. Soon the space between will be so wide we won’t be able to see each other anymore. As Abraham Lincoln said, “ United we stand, divided we fall.” And falling will be really ugly.

* “Kill” in the 6th commandment is the Hebrew word ratsach which means premeditated murder or murder in the heat of anger. It is not a prohibition against all killing.
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Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com. • (921 views)

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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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4 Responses to The Space Between

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    what do we believe?

    As they say, you had me at “What do we believe?” Everything stems from that. And it would make an interesting exercise to list what we believe these days. I feel qualified to list some of these beliefs, but by no means all of them.

    I’m actually shocked at the mundane, even vapid, things that it is commonplace for people to believe. And it’s not so much a matter of whether these beliefs are subject to proof. It’s the nature of the beliefs.

    I was stunned when debating a while ago with a person who works in a science lab. He told me there was no such thing as truth.

    The things people tend to believe these days are small, dark, petty, vacuous, and sometimes downright stupid. Man must be a noble creature with noble thoughts or he is a mere rutting animal.

  2. Brad, I like your statement about the nature of our beliefs. So true. Proof has nothing to do with it. Reason and evidence play a part, but when it gets right down to it we either choose to believe or we don’t and if we don’t, it leaves us vulnerable to every shallow idea that swims by.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      First of all, Deana, you are a wonderful writer. Thanks for letting me share some of the fruits of your own terrific blog. Anything I can do to help publicize your site, just let me know. If you have any books to sell or anything like that, I’ll put up a free advertisement. Glad to help.

      I fear that what we believe now is not anchored in anything as time-tested as the Bible, or even our relatively recent (if you can call 200 years recent) Constitution. I fear that most people’s attitudes are developed by the vapidness of our pop culture, particularly television.

      Man is a creature who can be formed into so many things — and deformed as well. It is part of our nature that we are open to culture. We are malleable to some degree. This is good. It is part of the basis of our freedom and our ability to enjoy (enjoy!) making moral choices.

      For all the bad publicity that making moral choices usually gets, it is part of what raises us above the animals. And I’m not talking about a “goody two shoes” type of morality. We’re all sinners. We all put our pants on one leg at a time. I mean that the thrust of one’s life can either have noble pursuits (but not necessarily grand or showy pursuits) as a part of one’s life or — gasp — one can do what so many people are doing today, and that is living a life of sloth, gluttony, and a perverse misuse of their own minds, filling them with the garbage produced by our culture instead of, well, maybe reading a good book.

      The thoughtful American has been superseded by the ego-gratifying one.

  3. faba calculo says:

    I remember once hearing someone say on (I think it was) C-SPAN’s Washington Journal that the US was like a fusion of Columbia and Sweden, as a large part of the country respond like Colombians in religious surveys, while the minority of highly educated people respond more like Swedes. This was some decades ago. And that strangest thing he saw in this was that the Colombian masses and the Swede elite were almost completely unaware of each other. Looking back over the years since then, I’ve often thought that the big changes I’ve seen can be boiled down to one thing: they are now aware of each other, and they don’t like each other much at all.

    That said, I recall one more thing. Back in my more religious days when I was reading books on witnessing to members of cults such as Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses (for such is how my evangelical Christianity saw them), I read a pair of books called How To Rescue Your Loved Ones From Mormonism and How to Rescue Your Loved Ones from Jehovah’s Witness. The books followed identical patterns in which, first, a great deal of proof texts were given for why the cult in question contradicted the Bible and Christianity, but ended in a chapter called “Can This Marriage Be Saved”. That chapter dealt with whether or marriage of one evangelical Christian and one cultist can survive. The answer was, yes, as long as both partners wanted it to.

    I think, from here on out, we can expect to remain a deeply divided country, as I don’t see either the Colombians or the Swedes going anywhere else any time soon. But as long as both sides don’t stop emphasizing their will that the country remain whole over their desire to have their own way and be right, the nation itself is on firm footing.

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