Saturday, January 16, 2021

Cultural Resiliency

How are we doing, America?

Apparently some think that a good way to answer that question is by asking, “What scares you most about the coming year?”

Things people fear:

Frank Luntz summarized:
  • “They're afraid.”
  • “They're petrified.”
  • “They're nervous that the country won't be the same America that they remember.”
  • “They're nervous that the social and the cultural aspects of the country are changing.”

When liberals hear such resistance to social and cultural change, they conclude conservatives are racists who “don't like black and brown people.” This is not correct.

America is changing in multiple ways, and there is a lot of nuance to how those changes work out. Changes in the racial composition of this country are not the same as changes in its ideological composition.

Some conservatives argue that when people come to America from places less free than America, they supposedly make America less free, bringing their ideology with them. Nonsense. This reflects a misunderstanding of freedom and people. We were made to be free, and political freedom is one manifestation and blessing of that destiny. (Eternal salvation is the ultimate manifestation of freedom, and political freedom is ultimately about being free to tell others, of any color, about true freedom.)

Fear of “losing America” is not the only reason people voted for Trump. Yes, some are fearful and want to halt the country moving in the wrong moral direction. Others saw the hopeful, optimistic, positive, forward-path-charting President Trump that embraced America's history and potential in the future. This was most commonly seen in his speeches on patriotic holidays. Contrary to the teaching of The 1619 Project, America was founded on good ideas like freedom and separation of powers (consistent with Isaiah 33:22), and has been working toward perfecting its union around those ideas ever since.

Periods of freedom and prosperity have been not been common in history. This has led some to develop ideas about exceptionalism and greatness. To be clear, America has not been great because America is America. America has been great because, first, God has bestowed his blessings on us, and we have honored Him and been grateful to Him in the past. Humbly adopting His principles has shown their goodness and usefulness. These are not permanent national attributes. We have no reason to think that rejecting Him and His principles will not also lead to Him removing his favor from us.

Before America, the other example of God's principles of freedom at work in a nation would be in Israel, the nation on which some believe America was modeled. God chose Israel to be a blessing to the nations, and one of the ways He did that was by giving them His Law. The Law does not save, but it points to the Savior, and provides for an environment of freedom in which all people can learn about the Savior.

Freedom and its principles are for all people in all cultures at all times. That is why to some of us a fear of a changing culture is misplaced. There are a lot of ways the culture and the people that make it up can change and still demonstrate the universal usefulness of and need for freedom. Some Christians correctly point out that we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). This is true, and we should also remember that even while we are one, the people of eternity are representative of “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” There are still at least 12 tribes in heaven. Freedom is for everyone.

The good principles on which America is founded will endure because they come from an enduring Source. This is true even as they will outlast America. We see what this can be like from the history of Israel which can be told in three major displacements: Egypt, exile, and the dispersion, the current displacement. Being displaced can make people feel lost and like they don't have a country anymore. And yet even for Israel, the promise endured and can be seen in God's faithfulness to kings' descendants after the nation was removed to exile such as we see in Daniel. Some faced suffering for living in freedom in a hostile environment.

I don't share the concerns of my fellow conservatives about racial demographic shifts. Adding states and citizens is not a threat to freedom. At one point some people in Poland talked about their country becoming the 51st state. Freedom is for everyone.

I share the concerns of my fellow conservatives about the ideological shifts in our nation. I don't want to be forced to pay for abortion nor do I think it should be legal. It's a major problem. We've been tragically losing that fight thousand of times each week for decades, and I don't think that is without consequences for the nation. God could allow America to fall over that.

Losing a country is not the worst that can happen. Losing your soul is. Telling people about the Savior is most important, and I think efforts to preserve political freedom toward that end are good and helpful. I don't, however, fear political failure because I know Who has all these things in His Hands, and that He is good and has a good plan.

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