Church & State
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1
Two remarkable speeches were given this past week. First, Mike Pompeo, our Secretary of State, spoke to the American Association of Christian Counselors. In this speech, he spoke openly of his Christian faith and his need to pray and ask the Lord for direction as he makes difficult decisions on a daily basis. Second, Bill Barr, our Attorney General, spoke to the Notre Dame School of Law to warn the audience about the decline of belief in God in America, which is leading to an increase in militant secularism. The predictable response to these speeches was angry rhetoric from secularists claiming that government officials have no right to bring religious speech into their work! They’re (apparently) alarmed that someone might listen to their speeches and consider afresh the reality of God. Amidst a seemingly endless stream of news related to the moral and religious decline in America, we should give thanks that we have two leaders that will openly state that America needs to look the Lord for answers.
There is a significant and growing divide in our country between religious and secular people. People who ascribe to a secular view of the world believe there is no actual (real) God. Belief in a divine power is foolishness to them. They typically believe that people are born basically good and blank slates. People can become whatever they want. Moral constraints are cultural, not absolute. In the absence of God as the recognized moral authority, Barr is correct to warn us that the void will be filled by the government. We see this in America where the Supreme Court is becoming the final decision maker on what is morally right and wrong, leading to an intense political power struggle over who fills the court (and then gets to play the role of God).
Those who look at this chaotic situation and know there must be a God, also believe they have a soul. They know there is an eternal aspect to who we are. The reality of your soul is part of why we long for justice and have a sense of moral right and wrong in the first place! Barr is again correct to point out unapologetically that so many of the moral struggles that plague our society have their seat in the soul. The answers to rising suicide rates, rising STD rates, the epidemic of drug addiction, and family breakdown are not just economic and clinical – the root of these problems is in the soul. The answer to these struggles begins with recognizing that we are under the moral authority of God. We are not free to do whatever we choose without consequence. We must instead hear the encouragement of our Secretary of State and pray daily, asking God for moral strength and wisdom to live in a way that is pleasing to God.
I encourage you to hear these voices speaking for God. If you struggle with these issues but know that you have a soul and know that there must be more to the moral order of the world than endless political struggle – I urge you to keep seeking and read about the life of Jesus in the Bible. As you read the words of Christ you will know why people were amazed by how he spoke with final authority – not like the leaders of their day or ours (Matthew 7:28-29).