As another election cycle heats up, we are once again being bombarded with campaign ads urging us to vote for this or that candidate because—you guessed it—the fate of the country depends on it!
Yet if recent trends are any indication, it is likely that no matter which political party we entrust with power, the level of corruption and negativity will remain unchanged or even worsen.
Shouldn’t that give us a clue? The solution to our nation’s problems is not political or partisan, because the problems are not political or partisan. They are spiritual and moral. Our political dysfunction is merely a symptom of a more serious disease.
In 1798, John Adams wrote a letter to officers of the Massachusetts Militia. In that letter he identified the Achilles heel of our nation’s strength:
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. 1
Read that carefully: Human passions unbridled by morality and religion. That’s where we’re at as a nation now, and we are paying a steep price for our liberation. The coarseness and conflict that permeate our culture, including our politics, flow out of deeper wells of spiritual depravity: pride, envy, greed, lust, selfishness. We are rapidly ceasing to be a moral and religious people, so our form of government—being “wholly inadequate to the government of any other”—is gradually breaking down. Our political fortunes will never recover until the character of our people recovers.
That’s why I’m a preacher, not a politician. What our nation needs is not more political grandstanding, but amazing grace. At the moment, sadly, not many are interested in that solution.
1 John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 9. 9/25/2014. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2107#lf1431-09_head_222.