Lately, there has been much discussion about whether or not America is a “Christian Nation”. Some are sure that it is, some are just as adamant that it is not. The term has sometimes been elevated to the status of a magic phrase whereby merely attributing it to America somehow assures us of God’s protection and blessing.
However, can America rightly be called a “Christian nation”? The answer to this question hinges on the definition we assign to the phrase “Christian Nation.” The simple definition of what it means to be ‘Christian’ is “one who has given his life to Jesus Christ and follows Him”. Let us use that definition of a Christian and look at the issue.
America is not a “Christian Nation” merely because the founders of our country may, or may not, have been Christians. Living in a nation founded by Christians does not make one a Christian any more than standing in the garage makes one a Corvette.
For America to be a “Christian Nation” in any real sense, a majority of Americans would have to be true followers of Jesus Christ. Judging by the consistent moral decline in both public and private affairs, this would not seem to be the case. It appears that most Americans live by their own standards instead of God’s.
Therefore; if the individuals of our nation live according to the rule of self (doing what is right in their own eyes) while refusing to honor and obey the God who created them and presently sustains them, how can America possibly be legitimately called a “Christian Nation”?
Many people say and sing "God bless America" while living as if God does not exist. His existence means little or nothing to their daily lives. They give lip service to God as if they love Him, but spend little or no thought on Him at all. God is certainly not seen as King, Creator, or ruler to be worshipped. As Paul Copan writes in his book, Is God a Moral Monster: “ We’ve gotten rid of the God who presents a cosmic authority problem and substituted controllable gods of our own devising…If we take God seriously he will most certainly mess up our lives, make us uncomfortable, and even disorient us. The atheist has it almost right: humans regularly do make gods in their own image. Yet the biblical God isn’t the kind we make up. He refuses to be manipulated by human schemes.” (pp. 192-193)
America will only be “God blessed” if individual Americans will give their hearts and lives to love and serve God. If we do not realize that God deserves our worship, love, obedience, and devotion we will continue the downward moral spiral that we are currently experiencing. We will become a nation where anything goes…a nation that thumbs its nose at God, His Son, and His rule. In addition, we will suffer the consequences of our actions.
As America becomes less and less a God-fearing people, the moral climate of our society continues to cheapen. Josh McDowell presents some sobering statistics in his book Right from Wrong, where he records that every day in America:
• 1,000 unwed teenage girls become mothers
• 1,106 teenage girls get abortions
• 4,219 teenagers contracted sexually transmitted diseases
• 500 adolescents begin using drugs
• 1,000 adolescents begin drinking alcohol
• 135,000 kids bring guns or weapons to school
• 3610 teens are assaulted; 80 are raped
• 2,200 teens drop out of high school
• 6 teens commit suicide (McDowell, p. 6)
While these statistics were compiled in 1994, these situations have only worsened in the years since. Without adherence to God’s unchangeable moral standard, human behavior automatically degrades to a substandard which is ultimately destructive in nature.
God will not allow us to rebel against Him forever. We cannot ignore God and expect Him to tolerate our rebellion indefinitely. Jeremiah 18 has much to say concerning how God deals with nations. God does not bless or curse a nation arbitrarily; He deals with each nation in accordance with how they respond to Him. God, through the prophet Jeremiah, spoke these words to the nation of Israel: "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.” (Jeremiah 18:7-10 NASB)
James 1:17 tells us that the character of God is the same today as it has ever been. Although God dealt with Israel in a special way, He still deals with nations today as He did in the Old Testament times. Again, Paul Copan writes, “What’s more, we moderns shouldn’t think that severe divine judgment was only for biblical times, as though God no longer judges nations today.” (Copan, p. 160)
Even the church, which should be spreading the news of God’s love and our responsibility to Him, has lost much of its zeal. Christians have allowed the pursuit of the American dream to eclipse the priority of their relationship with God. Craig Groeschel writes: “In churches, normal is lukewarm Christianity, self-centered spiritual consumerism, and shallow, me-driven faith. God has become a means to an end, a tool in our toolbox to accomplish what we want. The majority of people claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (p. 19). Many Christians have usurped God’s rightful place as ruler in their lives and are actually living selfish lives while proclaiming to love and serve God.
More and more, America is disconnecting itself from the God who not only created us, but also created the standard by which we should live. This standard is not merely an arbitrary list of rules and regulations we must follow in order to boost the ego of a selfish deity. The rules and regulations that God provides stem from His great love for us and they are designed so that we might, through a relationship with Him, live the fullest, most satisfying life possible. In other words, these standards are not meant to be oppressive, but rather they are given to us that we might experience true freedom.
We must wake up and take seriously our predicament, both as individuals and as a nation. We should humble ourselves before God, follow Jesus Christ, and seek to live as He wants us to live.
Only then will America actually be a “Christian Nation”. Only in this way will God truly “bless” America.
Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, Baker Books, 2011
Craig Groeschel, Weird, Zondervan, 2011
Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler, Right From Wrong, Word Publishing, 1994
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