What issue is missing from the 2016 election debates?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted August 15, 2016

The Bible indicates that God holds nations responsible for the collective behavior of their citizens. Moreover, because they will not survive into eternity, nations are judged by God in the here and now. The Bible also describes the criteria by which nations will be judged in simple, easy to understand terms. When judgment comes, no one can claim to be surprised.

The American people know that something in the United States of America (USA) is very wrong, and the tenor of the election debates of both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party reflect it. The presidential candidates are arguing about how to fix an overweening executive, a paralyzed congress, a legislating judiciary, a weakening military, an inept foreign policy, a disintegrating infrastructure,  a broken health care system, illegal immigration, incompetent schools, extreme income inequality, the ubiquitous use of drugs, overflowing prisons, racism, the debasement of our currency and the consequent escalation of prices, exploding student debt, the exportation of jobs, political corruption, business corruption, polluted water sources, climate change, the size and incompetence of the federal government, and its engagement in a seemingly endless series of wars – to name just a few.

Unfortunately, while all of the above are real problems, they are symptoms of a lethal malady, not the malady itself. The candidates can argue about these symptoms week after week, but they will not serve the nation by doing so. They need to address the malady itself.

The malady is an integrated combination of apostasy and moral degeneracy.

First, let’s look at apostasy. This nation was initiated by Christians who took their faith in God seriously. That faith was clearly expressed in Christopher Columbus’s diary (1492), the Mayflower Contract (1620), Governor John Winthrop’s sermon on the Arabella (1630), the proclamations of national fastdays by presidents John Adams (1798), James Madison (1812), and Abraham Lincoln (1863), President Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day prayer (1944), and countless other national and state documents. As recently as 1956, the U.S. Congress voted to put “In God We Trust” on the country’s currency. Moreover, our legislative sessions, public events, and school days started with prayer and ended with invocations of God’s blessings on America. Since then we have banned prayer at public events and in our schools and tolerated the endless attempts by an atheistic minority to purge the public square of all mention of or indications of our allegiance to God.

Second, let’s look at moral degeneracy.

Let’s start with the Federal Government. The founders of the USA recognized the Biblical truth that men are depraved and unable to resist the temptation to exercise dominion over others, and consequently they crafted a constitution that was designed to thwart the agglomeration of power by the federal government and to prevent the concentration of its power in the hands of a few. The founders knew, however, that the future of their experiment was uncertain. When he was leaving Independence Hall and was asked by a lady what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had produced, Ben Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”[1]  For 175 years, we managed to keep it, but then things began to go awry. The nation’s leaders (presidents, congressmen, and justices alike) increasingly disregarded the U.S. Constitution, which they had sworn to uphold, and began transforming the U.S. Government into the largest, most profligate, and most aggressive bureaucracy the world has ever seen. Now the USA is the epitome of a juggernaut that rolls over, not only its own citizens, but the people of other nations under the arrogant misperception that (a) its political structure, which is largely disregarded by its leaders, is appropriate for all peoples, regardless of their national history, and (b) its commercialism, which is transmuting the planet’s resources into an ugly heap of cheap[2] consumer products, and (c) its culture, which exhibits all the characteristics of a cesspool, must be imposed on the entire globe.

Do you think I exaggerate calling our culture a cesspool? I invite you to look in the mirror at ourselves. We now engage in behavior that would have horrified the vast majority of our county’s early settlers:

1 – We are inattentive to the triune God of the Bible. Read commandment #1 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:2-3.

2 – We worship other gods, such as Mammon and the god of Convenience. Read commandment #2 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:4-6.

3 – We engage in profanity,[3] blasphemy,[4] and obscenity,[5] all of which are abhorrent to God. This torrent of filth emerges from the mouths of our presidents, congressmen, justices, military commanders, corporate executives, professional athletes, etc., as well as ordinary men, women, and children. It can be heard in our homes, schools, workplaces, streets, theaters, etc. and on our radios and TV sets. It is ubiquitous in the land. Read commandment #3 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:7.

4 – We ignore the Sabbath. Instead of honoring the Lord on His day, we engage in both work and every form of play. Read commandment #4 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:8-11.

5 – We warehouse our elderly parents in old-age homes and have even legalized and promoted their euthanasia. Moreover teachers in our government schools advise children to disregard what their parents tell them and adopt politically correct attitudes and behavior. Read commandment #5 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:12.

6 – We murder our babies in their mothers’ wombs, and we have even legalized and promoted their murder both here and abroad. Read commandment #6 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:13.

7 – We engage in fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and even bestiality[6] without fear of corrective censure, let alone legal penalty. Read commandment #7 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:14, substituting “sexual impurity” for “adultery,” because all of the foregoing are abhorrent to God.

8 – We steal from one another in every form imaginable. For instance, we cheat on our tax returns; we take home supplies from our workplaces; we refuse to pay our employees living wages, let alone compensate them for working overtime; we inflate our working hours; we pad our expense accounts; we loot stores during rowdy demonstrations; and we steal from one another at the point of a gun. Read commandment #8 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20:15.

9 – We bear false witness against one another by gossiping and by issuing false reports of every kind. Read commandment #9 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20: 16.

10 – We are covetous, always wanting more, and we promote covetousness in others with advertising that is designed to render them discontent with what they have and to buy things that they don’t need. The worst offenders here are the federal and state governments (e.g. the lotto) and big businesses, which spend tens of billions of dollars each year on advertising. Read commandment #10 of the Decalogue in Exodus 20: 17.

Some of our leaders have issued warnings to us, but we have failed to heed them.

Consider what President Abraham Lincoln wrote in his call for a national day of prayer in 1863:

…it is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us:

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Even more important, God has issued warnings in his Word, the Bible, but we have failed to heed him, in whose almighty hands lies our destiny. In Deuteronomy 28, God issued a charge to the nation of Israel, which was chosen by God to be an example to all other nations. If you read the chapter in its entirety, you will note that Israel’s fate will be determined solely by its people’s faithfulness to God and their obedience to God’s commandments – not by any attributes of their own, such as effective governance, sound money management, quality education, military might, efficient production, successful marketing, or creative art and architecture. God governs the fate of a nation by manipulating every aspect of its life that affects its health and prosperity, such as the harmony or disharmony among its people, the amity or belligerence of its neighbors, and the weather to which it is subject. Nothing lies outside his control. The first two verses state:

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.

The next twelve verses tell how God will bless their faithfulness. I find verse 6 the most poignant: “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” That means that God will bless the nation regardless of what its people do or how well they do it.

Then comes verse 15:

But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee.

The next 52 verses tell how God will curse their unfaithfulness: Again I find verse 19 the most poignant: “Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” That means that God will curse the nation regardless of what its people do or how well they do it. If you read down the list of the ways in which God will curse the nation, you will find the USA suffering from almost every one of them. That should serve as an alarm bell to us; it is the sound of the Tocsin of Doom.

The presidential candidates are neglecting the only topic that will affect the USA’s future – its apostasy and moral degeneracy. They need to stop talking about ameliorating the symptoms of these maladies and start talking about the need for repentance and prayer. The hour is very, very, very late.

I leave you with a final thought. The author of Hebrews wrote: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” [7]

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] Franklin’s remark was overheard and recorded by Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the convention.

[2] Cheap in every sense of the word.

[3] Profanity is the misuse of God’s name.

[4] Blasphemy is the willful degradation of God’s name, either by word or by deed (e.g. the creation in 1987 of “Piss Christ” by Andre Serrano, its funding in 1986 by the National Endowment for the Arts, its citation in 1987 by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Arts, accompanied by an award of $15,000, and its display in 1989 by the Brooklyn Museum in New York City).

[5] Obscenity is the misuse of references to bodily parts, functions, and excrement with the purpose of being shocking and repulsive.

[7] KJV Hebrews 10:31.

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