Has God Given Over America?|
It is not difficult to see that the United States of America is in a state of moral decline and decay. Of course, this assumes that morality is viewed in terms of the Bible, which all Christians should uphold as God's standard for morality. In those terms, it is certain that America is steadily moving away from compliance with God's will and into a state of rebellion against our Lord and Creator. This moral and spiritual slide has been ongoing for several generations now and has accelerated as it progressed. It may be cliché to call this decline a slippery slope or a rolling, growing snowball, but these figures rightly represent how America is losing its moral traction and increasing in its depravity.
The process of moral degradation such as we now see in America is explained in the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans. We could identify some specific, contemporary reasons for the present state of decline in America, but this passage from Romans gives us the spiritual insight to see the more fundamental causes for our nation's loss of morality. The content of Romans 1:18-32 should not be viewed as the record of a single series of events from history, but rather it is a process that has been repeated many times. Paul was explaining the depravity of the Gentile peoples, and the process he described had occurred many times in many nations, kingdoms, cultures, tribes, clans, and families. This same process has occurred many times since Paul's writing, and we see it working again in the world today.
In Romans 1:18-23, the Scripture shows that the fundamental cause of moral decay is rejection of God. Despite all of the complicated theories and psychological models that attempt to explain man's behavioral problems, the Bible's simple answer is that man's trouble comes from his rejection of God. These verses show that mankind as a whole, nations as separate parts, and all individuals have the knowledge of God's existence available to them even in nature so that no one should deny Him. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (v. 20). Even so, many men inexcusably deny God, refuse to honor Him, and fail to give thanks unto Him. In rebellious pride, man falsely professes wisdom and becomes foolish as he exchanges the glory of God for the practice of idolatry. Indeed, America has walked through this process and come to a state of idolatry, which is the exaltation of anything or anyone above the self-evident God and Creator of all things.
The outcome of this process is described in verses 24-32, where Paul said that "God gave them over.” In these verses, we see the outward effects and consequences of the rejection of God that was explained previously. As we read these verses, let us keep in mind that every instance of moral depravity described is evidence that God has been rejected by man. Therefore, as we see these things in our own nation, we can be certain that the rejection of God is the root of it all. Every time this process has unfolded throughout history, man's rejection of God has led to God's rejection of man. In times past, "God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (vv. 24-25), and man plunged headlong into idolatry. Certainly, we see this in our nation as men serve the objects of their desires rather than God. Among the Gentiles, "God gave them over to degrading passions” (vv. 26-27), and they defiled themselves with homosexuality. This scourge has fallen heavily on our nation as the so-called "sexual revolution” has led many men and women to this lowest form of degrading passion and violation against nature. Historically, when "they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind” (vv. 28-32), and man overflowed with wicked deeds that issued from his depraved heart (Matt. 15:19). We see all of these sins in our nation today, including the sin of those who "give hearty approval to those who practice them” (v. 32).
This leaves us with several questions that we should seek to answer. How far has our nation proceeded down this path of degradation? Sadly, it is quite evident that our progress is extensive. There is not one sin mentioned in Romans 1:18-32 that cannot be found in America today, and most of them are common. Can our nation reverse this process? The answer is a resounding yes, but historical precedent stands against us. God is full of lovingkindness, forgiveness, and mercy, and He will be merciful to a nation that repents (consider Nineveh in Jonah 3:1-10). However, very few nations have ever done so, and our nation does not appear to be on the brink of repentance now. Has God given America over to these things? Again, the answer is evidently yes, but it does not have to remain as it is now. We are plagued now by impurity, degrading passions, and depraved minds, but all of these can be abolished in our land if individuals will turn to the Lord (consider 1Cor. 6:9-11; 1Thess. 1:8-10). Notice that civil government cannot make this happen, for it must be the work of God through individuals who resolve to return to Him through the gospel of Christ. Regardless of what may happen to our nation, let us keep in mind that Christians are citizens of heaven (Phil. 3:20), and our fate is not tied to the United States. God will show us the outcome of these things in His time, but in the meantime let us pray for our nation, its leaders, and its citizens "so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1Tim. 2:2).
Stacey E. Durham
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