In 1984, a Christian poet and dissident from the
Soviet Union wrote a book, “Talking about God is Dangerous.” The wall
has fallen – and our angry culture is building a new one. Freedom for
one is liberty for all…let’s be civil and wise, but never give way to
censorship of ideas. Disagreement is not intolerance and choosing moral
and religious values does not make folks, “phobes.”
Debating our deepest differences with civility is the heart of ordered liberty. My Muslim friends regard Jesus as a prophet…I regard him as God, crucified and risen for my salvation. We disagree. I do not regard Mohammed as a prophet, but I respect my Muslim neighbor’s right to disagree with me. Atheists find my convictions quaint or even dangerous. I disagree with their arguments…and we can be friends. My biblical sexual ethic is at odds with many – and we can make the world a better place together caring for the vulnerable. But please do not castigate my ethics as intolerant.
Will we continue our historical progress toward true toleration or retreat to oppression and castigate anyone not sharing our precise language? I am confident that a free market of ideas produces much better fruit than a world of self-appointed, politically correct marshals waiting to pounce.
Let’s get to work and make our world better, one conversation at a time.
Courage and humility must find active expression as we confront enemies determined to destroy our cherished freedoms. Here are three more strategic insights for this long conflict:
One: We must repent of and repudiate all historical and present forms of oppression, including any divisions of class, gender, race, religion or political opinion. We will not always agree and should freely debate on all matters eternal and temporal. But we must want for all others the liberties and opportunities we desire for ourselves.
Two: We must humbly reaffirm our enduring values and offer genuine hope for better days in our neighborhoods and nations. Politicians must cease posturing and begin working for the common good. Moms and Dads need to place their children’s needs above their own and nurture their marriages. Local churches can commission their members for value creation in all domains of work.
Three: As we engage (tearfully) in military action, we fight to win without reducing our ethics to the dastardly ones of our opponents. We limit civilian casualties as best we can – yet we cannot tie the hands of troops with actionable intelligence. This will be very difficult, but necessary if we desire victory in hearts as well as military success.
The hardest parts of this conflict are the intractable attitudes of our enemies and the long, patient actions needed for victory. This is why character matters. Zealots cannotultimately win if met with greater moral/spiritual as well as military/political forces. Onlytrue humility can forge this better future.
July 4, 1776: Only John Hancock signed the Declaration that day – others would add their names on August 2 and beyond. John Adams, a rather dour fellow at times, was effusive that Independence be celebrated with great fanfare.
Here is my 4th of July tribute as a dual citizen of God’s Kingdom and our nation.
Rejoicing and Repenting
I rejoice in the greatest experiment in virtue-based liberty and I repent for past enslavement and oppression.
I rejoice in freedom of conscience and religion, with a free market of faiths and ideas and I repent for misguided and unjust actions in the name of any religion.
I rejoice in equality and opportunity and repent that we squander these privileges with momentary pleasures.
I rejoice that citizens have a say in their nation’s destiny and I repent from my apathy that forfeits this honor.
I rejoice in the many nations that make up our one nation (E Pluribus Unum) and I repent that the First Nations (Native Americans) were oppressed instead of embraced.
I rejoice in brave soldiers defending freedom and I repent that they often serve poor leaders and policies.
I rejoice in our compassion for the needy at home and abroad and repent for the destruction of life in the womb.
I rejoice in our Constitution and I repent that so few know it well.
I rejoice that God has blessed America and I repent of my lack of gratitude for so much mercy.
A Republic will only be as free as its citizens are virtuous. May we renew the covenants: first with Christ and then the Constitution. May we remember that governments exist to protect, not bestow God-given rights.
May God bless America…and every nation – for God loves unconditionally and judges without partiality.