A national sin is to be distinguished from your personal life. Each of us is a son of
Adam, born in sin, and each of us has personally offended the Almighty. We understand that Jesus died for our sins. We pray the prayer of confession each week. We take comfort in individualizing the absolution that is pronounced to us by the priest.
But we also participate in a body politic, a corporate existence in which we act together. In the OT we find the people of God sinning as a people, promoting abominations vastly greater in scale than that of individuals, sins that become embedded into the structure of society. These included sins like idol worship and the construction of what the Bible calls “the high places.” The oppression of the poor registers high in the OT catalog of sins and there are many others. These are the kind of sins to which the prophets of the OT call attention over and over.
I tell my students that there are three great sins in America today. I didn’t get this out of a book; and maybe your list would be different than mine. But here they are: 1) the national sin of abortion, which was legalized when I was 11 years old in 1973. Number 2) national debt; it is unthinkable that people personally acquire overwhelming amounts of debt. This often happens, sometimes by design, sometimes by a turn of circumstances. But I am referring to something different. On a national scale, it is an immoral thing that the whole country is drowning in debt that is at once intentional as it is avoidable. We are told that the nation’s deficit is now approaching $18T, but the truth be told the figure of unfunded entitlements is somewhere north of $200T. That means that our representatives have made promises to whole classes of people for entitlements that cannot be paid. These entitlement promises encumber our posterity without their consent or participation. Someday, the sky above is going to fall in the form of political upheaval or economic calamity – or both. Nevertheless, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will inherit a country that is economically wrecked. I know you can’t imagine what that looks like, any more than the ancients believed that Babylon or Nineveh, or Solomon’s temple for that matter, could fall. They did; we can.
And the third national sin is 3) gender confusion. History is full of examples from Sodom to Rome to the French Revolution that homosexuality evidences the twilight of a civilization. But these three sins, dominate the entire West – not just America – and they have one thing in common: they all militate against life. Abortion is the taking of a life; national debt chokes the life out of capital formation and economic activity that is essential to the development and use of life-sustaining resources; and gender confusion is the complete narcissism of self love that is by definition sterile and anti-life. It’s no coincidence that a nation committed to the murder of the unborn is also addicted to debt. These two things are connected at the deepest level.
It is this third sin that I determined to address today as I sat in front of my television watching the analysts and pundits argue about what the Supreme Court had just done this week. The clincher for me, I guess, was watching the President in the afternoon lead a Charleston congregation in the singing of Amazing Grace at the funeral of Senator Pinkney in memory of the nine who lost their lives in the recent shooting at Mother Emanuel Church. Later that night he retired to the White House which was shown last evening bathed in the soft, rainbow-colored lighting of the gay coalition. The contrast could not have been more stark.
I thought of King Saul, that terribly conflicted individual who knew enough of the grace of God, and who appears in the record as alternately sorrowful for sin, and yet determined to resist the spirit when it suited him. At the end of Saul’s life, we find him – a deeply conflicted individual – meeting secretly with the witch of Endor in a scene that clearly published where his ultimate allegiances were lodged. This week, it was clear to me that our political rulers have officially pitched their tents on the grassy plains of Sodom, in the shadow of the mountains of Gomorrah, identifying with the loving intolerances of those would assault the very angels of God in their quest to suppress the dissent of one man, Lot.
As a young child of 11, I remember the shock of the Roe vs. Wade ruling against the unborn. I want to be sure that I bear witness to the youngsters a generation later, so that they feel the shock of what has happened to our country. Forty years ago, my generation was determined to enthrone the fundamental right of promiscuity, and the absolute – not equality – but sameness of men and women. In my generation they recognized that obvious testament to differences between men and women was pregnancy, which changes a woman’s personal history forever, and teaches her fundamentally that she cannot live for herself. Abortion was the great eliminator of the last and final difference, and made it possible for women to be like men; intimacy with no responsibility. Forty years from now, the moral unraveling in our society set into motion by unbelief, may likely be stronger. It might well be more difficult for you to be a faithful Christian, than it has been for me.
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