On Wednesday, November 9, most Americans will wake up in a state of disgruntled relief. We will have chosen our next president, and we will be relieved because the campaigning will have finally come to an end. After virtually two years of a so-called election cycle, it will be done. We will finally be able to allow the epidermis layer of our anxious soul to rebuild itself.
As I write this CN missive, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that on November 9 either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be celebrating. Probably Hillary, but even as I write this, the FBI has announced that its investigation of emailgate may not be over after all.
Yes, on the morning after Election Day, the sun will come up and life will go on, but, dear fellow disciple, we live in precarious times. Sin is avenged by its own success, and we, the American people along with what is broadly called “the West,” have been very successful in our pursuit of those things that God hates. We have been sowing—and we continue to sow—the seeds of our own demise.
The West, you see, is losing its vitality. We have grown tired, bored perhaps, and we are suffocating under the weight of our own materialism, erotomania, and greed. As George Weigel puts it, the West has lost its story. Here is how he describes our world:
The progress promised by the humanisms of the past three centuries is now gravely threatened by understandings of the human person that reduce our humanity to a [collection] of cosmic chemical accidents: a humanity with no intentional origin, no noble destiny, and thus no path to take through history.
Weigel is right. Our belief that matter is all there is, that there is no God, that there is no authority in the universe, no heaven, and no hell—these convictions have led us to believe that nothing is sacred and that nothing really matters. This moral lassitude comes with a price. A high price. Things fall apart. Consider:
We have become a culture of death. We are seeing this at both the beginning and the end of life. State after state is legalizing assisted suicide. Five allow doctor-assisted suicide as I write, and several more states may be allowing suicide after the election. Establishing suicide as an option reflects a certain cynicism about life as well as our belief that we are the masters of our own destiny. If there is no God who has numbered our days, what compelling reason is there to go on living when death seems more desirable?
John Stonestreet tells a story from Canada where physician-assisted suicide is legal. A pastor had three people in his church diagnosed with cancer. The first question each of them was asked by their doctor was Do you want to be euthanized?
In Europe doctors are euthanizing the mentally ill. In the Netherlands children are allowed to end their lives with a doctor’s prescription. Switzerland is the tourist capital of the world for physician-assisted suicide.
At the other end of the spectrum of life is our merciless slaughter of the unborn. Yes, it has been almost 44 years since the passage of Roe v. Wade, but this election cycle has revealed a more calloused view of the unborn than we have ever seen.
Do you know about the Hyde Amendment? Forty years ago Congress passed this amendment—something of a political appeasement—three years after the passage of Roe v. Wade. The Hyde Amendment prohibited the use of tax dollars to fund abortion. For the past four decades, the Hyde Amendment has pretty much been off limits in presidential election cycles, meaning no one from the DNC challenged Hyde. All of that changed in this presidential election. During the primaries, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders seemed to be trying to outdo each other in their call for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment. That means not only would these candidates support the killing of the unborn, but both would want to use your tax dollars to pay for it.
There was a moment in the third presidential debate that took my breath away. Donald Trump pointed out that, if given the opportunity, Hillary Clinton would place no restrictions on abortion. In fact, the controversial Trump explained that Clinton would allow partial-birth abortion right up to the moment of delivery. Trump said that Clinton would allow abortionists to rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. I wasn’t stunned that Trump made the accusation. The shock came when Hillary didn’t even flinch. She didn’t back down. She merely said Trump was using scare rhetoric.
We have become a culture of unrestricted sexual freedom and diminished religious freedom.
The sexual revolution of the 1960s is in full bloom, but we are approaching the winter of our discontent. Any conceivable sexual appetite is thought to be appropriate and therefore to be protected by law. We laugh at the notion of pre-marital virginity and consider sleeping around to be a natural part of life. Then we are shocked when our political leaders act accordingly. We are also horrified at the thought that some sexual preferences should be restrained. Those with same-sex attractions are considered a minority in the same category as African Americans or Native Americans. Therefore disapproval of such behavior is said to be equivalent to racism.
This collision of sexual freedom and religious freedom was inevitable. Do you doubt me? Go ask Jack Phillips, the baker in Colorado who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious convictions. In the end, Phillips lost his appeal to the higher courts, lost his business, and then was fined for standing by his conscience. Go ask the Little Sisters of the Poor or the photographer in Texas or the fire chief in Atlanta. Their stories are like Jack’s.
We have become a culture of debt. One curiosity about this election cycle was the candidates’ relative silence about our nation’s indebtedness. In a word, our fiscal liability is staggering. The numbers boggle the mind of this math-challenged pastor, but suffice it to say that our national debt represents about 75% of our Gross Domestic Product. And our politicians don’t seem to want to talk about it.
We have all seen the cynical bumper sticker on the back of a humongous RV: Spending my kids’ inheritance. That is exactly what our country is doing! Collectively, we are borrowing from our children and our grandchildren. Future generations will be forced to pick up the pieces of our generation who spent what we did not have so that we could enjoy what we were not entitled to. Our national debt betrays us as we—quite literally—steal from the future.
In a movie trailer for the horror film The Fly, the come-on was Be afraid.… Be very afraid! Is this the time when Christians should be afraid? Very afraid? Certainly there are ample reasons for us to be concerned. But afraid? I think not. You see, we know who is in control. We know how this story turns out. I like Max Lucado’s prediction concerning what we will see on November 9:
I know exactly what November 9 will bring. Another day of God’s perfect sovereignty. He will still be in charge. His throne will still be occupied. He will still manage the affairs of the world. Never before has His providence depended on a king, president, or ruler. And it won’t on November 9, 2016. “The LORD can control a king’s mind as he controls a river; he can direct it as he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1 NCV).
Lucado is right. Regardless of how the election will have turned out, God is still sovereign. The nations are but dust relative to the power of our God (Isaiah 40:15). Besides, Jesus is coming again. Our prospects for serving God have decreased zero percent since the morning of November 9.
We can wholeheartedly celebrate the truth that God’s kingdom is not and will not be shaken by the world events. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton have taken our sovereign God by surprise. What happens in the United States, the Middle East, China, Iran, Syria, or Uruguay will not impact at all God’s plan for the ages, nor will the plans of the wicked thwart the providence of our Provider (Job 5:12)! So, as Psalm 95 commands, Come let us worship and bow down! Let us kneel before the LORD, our maker! He is our God! He is the great King, the One who is above all gods. And since this is true, we truly have absolutely nothing to fear.