All my life I have heard the idea propounded that, “One can not legislate righteousness”. And in the deepest, truest sense of the word that is so. What that statement means of course, is that true righteousness begins in the heart of a person, or a people – and works its way to the outside. Meaning that, if one has to be “made” or “forced” to keep a law that renders one “right” or “righteous” or even “moral” from the outside, then it is all pretense and a bogus sham! And doomed to failure eventually.
Over the years this concept has been demoted to - “One can not legislate morality”. This is perhaps not as true a statement. Obviously we can. And have. The rub here is that there is a profound difference between true righteousness and mere “morality”. Righteousness is defined purely by God's measures and is measured against His own Character. While Morality is determined by man's sense of “right” or “wrong”, however twisted or moved away from God's standard those cultural “mores” might be!
Cultures, and the mores which develop from them, are built more on human “natural”, or fallen, bents and tendencies – and do NOT necessarily, therefore, adhere to God's standards for proper and holy – a.k.a. “acceptable to Him” - behavior! This difference can create a wide divergence which leads to this much prophesied time in which we live, in which “a man does what is right in his own eyes” - regardless of what God may think!
The fabric of human “morality” is woven from the thread of religious pretense. As long as it “looks right” then it must “be right”. Whether it is a mere shallow veneer or foundational rock-solid material makes no difference in that criteria. It is therefore easily swayed, altered or eradicated according to the whims of the majority. People are herded like senseless sheep in whatever direction the rest of the crowd seems to be going. Churches are full of people who have a white veneer of “socially acceptable” behavior – which is now being downgraded to “politically correct” behavior - and yet their hearts are increasingly narcissistic in nature, and, therefore becoming more and more Godless in behavior as well.
One blatantly obvious example of this tragic hypocritical religious pretense - in live action - is the many “jailhouse conversions” which have become somewhat popular among the law-breaking crowd. Usually a religious performance of pure pharisaism, in which an inmate manipulates the “powers that be” by suddenly aligning their behavior with known religious patterns, so that they can get out sooner due to “good behavior”. But then, once out, they become twice the hellions they were before they got incarcerated! Some have admitted that they deliberately blow probation, because the pressure to “sin”, or fall back into old patterns, is too great “on the outside”! And a great many of them would rather forgo their freedom - just to escape the responsibility of taking care of others, or themselves, in a responsible manner! Unfortunate but, all too often, true!
The bottom line of this tragic reality is that this nation has ceased to build Godly character! It has ceased to produce productive, mature, caring grown-ups! It has, instead, produced generation after generation of increasingly narcissistic, lusting, fretting, whining, lazy, gluttonous, sloth-like creatures who are entitlement oriented, spoiled brats - addicted to everything from electronics and food to alcohol and major drugs – both legal and illegal, blind to all but their own needs!
The Reverend Billy Graham, and the many prophetic voices before him, and since him, have preached against this moral pretense for decades on end! They have noted the obvious decline of any real cultural “morality” because of it, despite all the “Laws” that could be made to uphold it! They were, of course, also speaking against, the sin which causes that basic immorality - which lurks deep in the hearts of all of mankind - which can not be merely legislated away, or forced into some kind of decent behavior. Sin is a deadly virus, which must be expunged by something more powerful than mere Law – it must be entirely displaced by the Love of a Holy God. But for that to happen, the work must be done more-so in the homes and the pulpits of any nation, than in its government – though that work must also be supported in government too, if righteousness is to have the freedom to continue anywhere!
This nation is in a state of utter decline – morally, financially, intellectually and physically! And it is not because one party or the other has behaved irresponsibly! Rather, it is because the whole kit and kaboodle of us – by and large – have chucked true righteousness and God's Holy standard out of the many stained glass windows in favor of a flesh pleasing, sin-catering, idolatry ridden, religious veneer behind which we can hide from our true selves!
So that this nation – which we once knew – and on which we could once depend - which had her great moments – which once stood for liberty, or at least, pretended to – has finally died from an infectious disease of selfish individualism – in which a collective conscience can not thrive! We became a nation of #1s! And in allowing that singular travesty we produced several others! Largely we forgot how to care for anyone but ourselves. Let's face facts here! Our young are slaughtered - with no sense of shame or hesitancy - but proudly - for the furthering of our own “rights”; while our elderly are chucked away in “facilities” - being hastened in their decline - to make room for the next wave! While, sadly, those eagerly, or even hesitantly, facilitating their premature departure remain completely blind to the consequences which they may be laying out for themselves! Remaining in steadfast denial about how soon those “crops” which they are planting may manifest back to themselves! We have not regarded history, and are therefore condemned to repeat it!
This is the lot of unredeemed mankind! So how could it happen in a supposedly “God-honoring” nation?! The obvious, but selectively overlooked, truth is that GOD is NOT what we've been honoring! We have honored a myth about Him which we adjusted to suit ourselves! We have honored a religious system which pretends to exalt Him – but which obviously exalts only our own fleshly ideas of how He should be honored – regardless of HIS thoughts on the subject! Right!? We have profoundly, utterly, and repeatedly MISSED HIS MARK of RIGHTEOUS, HOLY, LIVING! Deceitfully, pridefully, stubbornly, rejecting His Standard as “Legalism while prating on about our own dumbed down versions of it – too many to even contemplate – dividing ourselves up by them accordingly!
“ONE Nation, UNDER GOD...”?! Are you kidding me?! We can't get behind anything with a unified mindset for five minutes! We have become the biggest bunch of squabbling, quarreling, sand-box-hogging brats on the planet! And how many of these varied groups of religious pharisees are the precise result of a “church split”!? And most of those divisions happened over some earth shaking disagreement such as what color the damned carpet was going to be! Foolishness gone to seed! And we expect, from these horrific realities to produce a nation which can then claim to be, “One Nation Under God – with Liberty and Justice for all!”? That is highly illogical, and undoable. As we have more than proven.
No. The America who once almost believed those ideals has died a horrible death at the hands of selfish individuals who care more for their personal rights than any thing else! Who are so self-absorbed that they can not see that this selfish fixation on their rights – precludes them from being able to actually have any! God has set this irony, this paradox in place - in which those who seek only their own life will lose it all (since real life is suffocated by selfishness); but those who lay down their own life to give life to others will find life in abundance (since real life, by HIS definition, thrives in selflessness)! This self-serving, barbaric, “In-it-for-#-ONE!” attitude, therefore, is the leading cause of death in this nation, as well as the death OF this nation! And most sad of all, to me, is the fact that it wasn't cultivated by “those nasty heathen out there” - it grew from the heart of every religious community in this now God-forsaken nation! “God forsaken”, since they have left God's Law to make their own version of it. Face if folks, we've tossed God's calendar, recreated His priesthood, and trashed His feasts in favor of our own ridiculous religious rituals. Lifeless. Dead. Worm-breeding messes. We have pushed Him aside, and we have done anything BUT “Honor Him”!
He has left our nation! After being steadily refused by those who called themselves by His name – watching as we allowed our own government to enact laws which went against His Word – simply because it didn't rattle our reality (yet) – allowing Him to be pushed out of schools, courts - and eventually even “church” in the name of “relevance” ! While deceiving ourselves that this was the way to “draw more people to Him” - when in reality we've just been building ourselves bigger kingdoms! Not seeing that all of this sinful, self-deceived behavior was turning Him away! Foolishly thinking that He was there all the time – supporting our blasphemous, idolatrous behavior!
And now, without His life, we, as a nation, as a free, God-fearing people, have died. We are dead men walking. A kind of zombie-like creature, without much heart, soul or mind. Zoned out on drugs or electronics or some mental/emotional “syndrome” which is a clear curse of sin, barely surviving – and bent on satisfying our urges – no matter how ungodly they are, or what they may cost anyone eventually. While pretending to serve the Anointed ONE, who paid the ulitmate cost to deliver us from those curses and deceptions!
This is what our flesh has created. Congratulations. This is what we have “voted in” by our choices. This is the crop which what we have sown has produced! And if we expect to have anything else we must now begin to weed out the deadly crop which is coming up! We must be willing to work - to plow up the grounds of our lives - and plant different seed! We must cry out in repentance! Begging God – not for revival – as that ship has sailed, and we sank it just off the coast - but for resurrection from the dead! Fall is over and we are in winter – very a long winter – an unnatural winter – a, “always winter but never Christmas!”, kind of winter! From which there will be no spring – if we do not repent! If we do not fall on our faces in search of His mercy – which is just behind His presence! We must desire again the Presence of Almighty God!
We must stop building Him strange altars, upon which we then burn strange fire which HE has NOT commanded! We must simply find His standard and obey it – out of grateful LOVE! We must stop quibbling over what we do not understand - and simply, humbly, line up with what we do understand! We must learn to value life, and to LOVE OTHERS MORE THAN WE LOVE OURSELVES! We must grow His Character and the Chutzpah which comes with it! We must. For if we do not, then we will soon be forced to mourn our nation in tragic finality – as her remains are laid in the ground of martial or sharia law – and the remains of the few, truly faithful ones, will be laid right beside her pretty soon after!
We can NOT serve God and Man-made, Material Gain! We can not follow spirit-man and fallen, flesh-man. We DO have a God-given right to choose! But we must also be willing to see and admit that so far we have “Chosen poorly”! And we MUST CHANGE! Repentance is nothing but a 180 degree turn – to move back toward God, a return to His path - which we left! We must come back to God – to His Word – HIS Ways – and His ideas of Holiness and righteousness. We must. Or it is, as they used to say, “...all over but the crying”.
Is there any hope left for America? Not to the “left” nor to the “right”! There is HOPE ONLY because HE is the Resurrection and the LIFE! But we must find HIM and get IN HIM, if we expect to benefit from that magnificent reality – because no one gets into the presence of the Father except through Him! We must stop trying to legislate righteousness and BECOME righteous for a change! Now THAT is “Change” I can embrace!
~ Selah & Shalom, Chavarim! 8/10/15