"Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen" (Deuteronomy 10:20-21).
In the late 1960s, the television show Star Trek ran an episode that was meant to be a parable. The Enterprise had encountered a more or less duplicate Earth, with this exception-instead of a modern civilization, the crew observed two warring tribes, the Yangs and the Coms, slowly exterminating one another.
Captain Kirk, accompanied by his usual helpers, landed in what should have been "North America" and "the United States" to investigate. To make a long story short, it turned out that on this twin Earth the Cold War had gone hot, so that the Yangs were all that was left of the Yankees, and the Coms were all that was left of the Communists. Both groups has slipped into an utter primitivism, so that the hunted Yankees, living in the wild, had adopted a way of life very similar to that of the American Indians when the first European settlers arrived, included medicine men, totems, and secret words of power.
The original point of this story, in the 1960s, was the pious hope that World War III and a nuclear exchange could be avoided. And, so far, in the intervening years, that hope has come true. What's interesting on this Independence Day, however, is the fact that we did not avoid another kind of war-an internal war of traditional Americans against revisionist Americans, a spiritual war of vain and arrogant human beings against God Almighty.
Both God and the devil are in the details, and in the details of that old television show an unintended prophecy was made. The totem of the barbaric Yangs' medicine man was a tattered American flag. His secret words of power were the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, reduced to an ignorant, illiterate jumble, in which the words "We the People" had become the gibberish "Wi plan ista."
And this is the unintended prophecy: our moral and cultural disorder, based in our growing national alienation from God, is much more likely to reduce our beloved flag to a totem for savages and to transform our Constitution into useless gibberish than any foreign enemy, than any technology of modern war. In our contempt for God's Word and Commandments; in our contempt for the family, for the marriage bed, and for the innocent life conceived there; and in our contempt for the hard lessons to be learned from the history of Christendom and from the history of our own nation, we are already more primitive and more barbaric than the imaginary Yangs of the 1960s.
When I say "our," of course, I mean for us to think of ourselves as a single nation, under God, rather than as a collection of disconnected human atoms with no interest in anyone but themselves or a loose association of Pontius Pilates, who wash their hands of any responsibility for whatever their government or their neighbors do. As a nation, we are being dragged farther and farther from God and from God's protection every day, and the real question is, are we resisting this hijacking of our nation as well as we can, so that there is no doubt that we are, at least, being dragged kicking and screaming?
Those who would expel the God of the Bible from American life have been and remain well organized, but can the same be said of us? The typical enemy of God (and do not doubt that the celebrity, media mogul, politician, judge, or plain neighborhood slob who rebels against God's truth and righteousness, and would deny them to others is God's enemy) lies awake nights thinking of ways to fight against God's kingdom and to undermine the faith and morality of his neighbors. On the other hand, can it be said of us that we lie awake nights thinking of ways to serve God and his kingdom or to support our neighbors in the divine obedience that gives eternal life? The practical results say "no."
But we do have an alternative to watching helplessly as our nation sinks into barbarism. We can get help, and that help is the Lord God Almighty. We can begin what amounts to a counter-revolution in our very own homes and with our very own families by begging him for the restoration and renewal of a submissive awe and wonder before the Almighty and Eternal God: namely, for that gift of the Holy Ghost that the Bible calls "the fear of the Lord." When we, and our parents, and our children, and our husbands and wives have received this gift and cultivated it, we will be able to begin keeping again the commandment that God makes both for individual persons and for nations: "Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name."
George Washington once predicted that if the oath "so help me God" every became meaningless, our nation, our government, and our system of justice would crumble, and his prediction has been proven true before our very own eyes in our very own lifetime. But decay into the modern Sodom and Gomorrah need not be the end of the American story. When we fear God again, we will be grateful to God again, recognizing that every good thing about ourselves and our nation is his doing alone. As Moses reminded another rebellious people: "He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen."
God can save us if that is his will, and all of our lives, publicly and privately, should be dedicated to seeking God's good will for our nation's conversion and for its rescue from self-destruction. The more we love the United States of America, the more we must love God, who is the sole surety of a person or a nation.
A place to start, today, is with an experiment. On this Independence Day, as you hear praises heaped upon the United States of America, take each of those praises in turn and prefix it with "God did this." Some of those praises will be consistent with the God of the Bible and his promises. Those are the things for which we must thank God and for which we must fight. On the other hand, some of those praises will be unimaginable as the work of God, since they will praise actions or states of life that we know God has forbidden in his commandments. These are the sins for which we must beg forgiveness, and it is against these things that we must fight.
Continue this experiment for a while, and you will discover in quite practical terms the nature of a real and true patriotism. What God wills is the only health of a nation, and those who resist God, whatever they say about loving their country with their mouths, hate their country just as much as they hate the God who made it: "Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen." In other words, Happy Independence Day.
(WRITTEN BY LOU TARSITANO)
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.)