Okay, fine. Let’s stipulate for the sake of debate that America is a Christian nation. “Christian” means “little Christs.” If that’s the case, then it seems we Christians should be well-known for doing the things that Jesus did and that He commanded His followers to do, such as:
- See strangers and invite them in. (Matt 25:35)
- See the hungry and feed them. (Matt 25:35)
- See the unclothed and clothe them. (Matt 25:36)
- See the sick and care for them. (Matt 25:36)
- See the prisoners and visit them. (Matt 25:36)
- Jesus explicitly said that only if we faithfully do those things would He would acknowledge knowing us. (Matt 25:45-46)
- Break with religious tradition to give special grace to sinners (Luke 19:1-10) and women (John 4, John 12:1-8) and sick people and outsiders (Samaritans, Luke 10).
- Scandalously violate religious system rules in the name of richly showing God’s love. (Mark 3:1-6, Matt 12:10, Luke 13:10-17, John 9:16)
- Be reconciled to our brothers in faith – even if we disagree with them. (Matt 5:23-26, Matt 18:15)
- Give to whoever asks of us, period, without questions about their fitness for that gift. (Matt 5:42, Luke 6:30)
- When our political enemies or oppressive military compel us to walk a mile carrying their burdens, cheerfully walk a second mile too. (Matt 5:41)
- Love our enemies, even those that despitefully use and persecute us, praying that God would send the blessings of rain and sun on them. (Matt 5:43-48)
- Don’t lay up treasures for ourselves. (Matt 6:19-21)
- Give to the Lord privately, not ostentatiously. (Matt 6:1-4)
- Don’t judge others. (Matt 7:1-5)
- Do unto others that which we’d have them do to us. (Matt 7:12)
- Don’t fear others that can only kill our body. (Matt 10:28)
- Beware the leaven of the religious system. (Matt 16:6)
- Despise not the little ones. (Matt 18:10)
- Bring in the poor and needy into our midst. (Luke 14:12-14)
- Give back to the government the government’s things. (Mark 12:17)
- Tell our followers to put away their swords, and go peacefully with the authorities even when we know we’ll be tortured to death within the day. (Matt 26:52)
But right now, there’s not much of that love and justice and sacrifice going on.
Regarding charity and caring for the poor and needy and oppressed, many conservative Christians – explicitly those who say we’re a Christian nation – disagree with the government doing all those things, saying the church should do them, and welfare and public health care should be cut or eliminated. But frankly, those things are not being done well by the church either. In fact, many Christians despite objecting to welfare assume that their taxes will nonetheless cover those needs – and then proceed to fuss that their taxes are too high. Or they give (even generously) to their church, which in turn only uses about 10% or less of their money (1% for many megachurches) for real missional giving, and just a fraction of that to local needs.
And anything that looks like personal surrender, or letting our “rights” be trampled in favor of showing sacrificial love, or submitting to vaccination and masking mandates, or generally trusting God to defend us instead of defending ourselves – it’s just not happening. People are prepared to go to civil war with their fellow countrymen – in many cases actually arming themselves for the conflict – over their outrage over the fairness of elections, or hatred for their political opponents. And even if the church isn’t doing those things, it’s not speaking out against them either.
We can’t have it both ways. If we’re a Christian nation, we should be doing ALL the things Jesus said to do, and demonstrating ALL the things He demonstrated. All of them.
Otherwise, the peculiars of our founding, and whatever Christian beliefs the founding fathers may have had, are utterly irrelevant. Remember that the young United States of America established slavery in the Constitution, but nobody argues we’re a slavery-based nation today. What we are now, how we have mutually chosen to act together, is infinitely more important today than how we started out 250 years ago. And right now, I challenge anyone to argue that we’re a Christian nation in principle or in practice.
So the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade – so what, if the government – or worse, the church – isn’t practically, helpfully, tangibly loving every one of those women and infants? So we have laws against racism – so what, if people of color are routinely killed and oppressed by the government itself, and the white church says “WHITE lives matter; the police are doing their job?”
In fact, it’s blatantly obvious to those outside the church that those who call themselves “little Christs” are not doing what they say. “The majority of those in the first three categories” (those who are not engaged Christians) “said they view Christians’ behavior as a barrier to faith, with more than two-thirds of them saying Christians are known for saying one thing and doing another. A majority of respondents in those first three categories also said Christians care only about stopping abortions rather than caring for mothers and their children.“
For much of my Christian upbringing, I was frequently warned not to pay attention to what the world says. “They’re liars, they’re antichrist, and they’ll try to deceive you at every turn.”
But it’s clear to me now that the world is very aware of the American church’s shortcomings, and it’s increasingly unwilling to ignore them. Perhaps in the mid 1900s, enough of the country was nominally Christian that it was too unpopular to say such things about the church, but no such filter exists today, and the world around us is quite willing to call out our hypocrisy. They don’t mean it for good, to be sure. They use it as an excuse to ignore God. But that doesn’t mean it’s false. In fact, I firmly believe that many of those calling out the bad behavior are actually hoping to help others avoid being trapped in a broken and deadly false system. They don’t see that there is truth lurking underneath it – but they’re absolutely right about their warnings. The church IS truly broken in some very obvious ways.
In the totality of the Bible, God frequently used the Gentile nations to judge His people, sometimes to utterly devastating effect. God didn’t shy away from completely uprooting His people from their homeland to break their pride and bring a rod of correction. Babylon was a type of many things in the Bible, many of them things to be avoided at all costs. But it’s also a type of God’s refining fire, used explicitly by God against a godless Jerusalem and Mount Zion. Read Isaiah 10:5-6 (5 Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation, 6 I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury” – Israel being that “godless nation”) and Jeremiah 51:20 (to Babylon “He says, ‘You are My war-club, My weapon of war; and with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms.'”) and Jeremiah 25:8-9 (“8 “Therefore this is what the Lord of armies says: ‘Because you have not obeyed My words, 9 behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these surrounding nations;'”) and ask yourself, how close are we to this today?
It may give us a great feeling to believe that America is a city on a hill, a light to the nations, but those promises about a hill and a light were written to Israel, and even they were repeatedly uprooted from their homeland – the very people of God, from the exact land that He explicitly gave them – for failing to live in righteousness AND justice. If God would do that to those He very explicitly called His own, if you believe that America is a modern-day manifestation of Israel, be very keenly aware that God will not shy away from uprooting us as well for the very same failure. He’s not bound to anything on America’s behalf: He instead has made it clear that His name will be honored on the earth, and He will not ignore sin forever, no matter who it is.
So I say this: if you want to call America a Christian nation, then you’d better own ALL of Scripture about the topic, and be very humble and diligent to follow ALL the Lord’s commands, not just the ones about prosperity and blessing, and to know all the prophecies about Israel and God’s dealing with His holy people. Because you don’t get the benefits without the sacrifices and chastisement that go along with them. God the Father is more than willing to bring correction rather than overlook corporate communal sin, because His oft-stated goal is a people after His own heart, that accurately reflect His entire nature of goodness, righteousness and justice, and love.
Consider Galatians 6:7-10, with corporate Christian America as the target, instead of you as an individual. The word in Gal 6:7 “whatever A PERSON sows” is anthrópos, Strongs #444, which can be an individual man or human being, but also is used to refer to mankind as a group. And verses 9 and 10 emphasize the plural, using the word “we” and “us” several times. With this in mind, read it as if spoken to America:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A nation reaps what it sows. The nation who sows to please its sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the nation who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
And anticipating a response, I don’t think our national “sins” of homosexuality or abortion or cultural decline are the issue. God repeatedly addressed His people’s failure to be just, how it treated the poor and oppressed and stranger and alien, in literally over a thousand verses, both Old and New Testament, and nearly always addressed that at a national, corporate level, and repeatedly tying Israel’s future to those specific issues.
Consider Rev 3:15-17, to the corporate church in Laodicea, not to individuals:
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
And Rev 2:4-5, to the church in Ephesus, again to the corporate church, not individuals:
But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place — unless you repent.
God will not be mocked – either by us as individuals, or us as a nation. So if you think we’re a Christian nation, then go ahead and own it. All of it. Every last verse of it.