Dear Public Servant,
You have already been long embarked on a mission to bring a political agenda to the municipal, state or national stage. This path seems sometimes long and always arduous. As a political student, spectator and sometimes participant (as a voter), I thank and commend you for choosing this area of service. Having served in this nation’s military for years, I recognize the presence of the costs in many areas of your life. Thank you. Do not grow weary in this endeavor – see it through. If you are headed into the November general elections, it seems that God, who rules both the realms of the Church and the State, may prosper your path and place you into a position of influence. That is exciting! As you continue your work toward that end, I wanted to write you; even to begin a conversation with you.
First, it is not necessary for you to agree with me that God rules both realms or that He is the one who may grant you success: this is what I believe (and, as a local talk show radio host says, “you’re welcome to it”). We have for too long judged someone by virtue of his adherence to a religious manifesto (Christian or Secular). The Founding Fathers saw something different. Theirs was a commitment to found a country in part for religious freedom. That really means something, namely, folks should be free to follow the dictates of their conscience. (At what point did we lose this view?) Surely their expectation was that men and women of principle (including religious principle) would bring those into governance. But not so that they could pursue a Christian or Secular nation (any more than a French nation, for example).
It seems to a large degree our public servants have lost their nerve. Is it because they have navigated away from principles that lead to good government? “Principles? Like what?” Some would say biblical principles; others secular ones. Something else. How is it that our nation has prospered over this 200 years with such a varying degree of religious belief and practice? Has it been by force of arms that one group prevailed over another? How can men and women of legitimate and real differences govern and be governed together?
This is one of those questions that has never been more important. Scads of young people and other disaffected voters acted in 2008 to usher into political power those who were different than the status quo. Maybe it was the Democratic Party platform that persuaded these voters; maybe not. In fact, “hope” and “change” and whatever people annexed to those concepts is what won the day.
This is part of the reason for my letter to you: it is likely that God has prospered your path towards elected office irrespective of your religious beliefs. That is, in spite of them rather than because of them. This is important for you to consider. Long many have held that we need more Christians (or non-Christians) in public office simply because the broader goal of politics must surely be a Christian America (or Secular America). I urge you to search the Bible and you will see that God has no such goal as a Christian or Secular America. No. His goals are far different when we start to consider what He has revealed to us in the Bible. Nor must this encourage those of you who think that secularism should reign. Neither is true.
I asked earlier how we have succeeded in forging out a national history that has involved men and women of almost every political stripe? How are we to govern and be governed in our climate of uber-partisanship? It is not wrong to answer that question by exploring what the founders initially saw as the pathway to governing. Do we think that we alone live in a time of discord? Let’s not be so arrogant as to think that our fathers wouldn’t (or didn’t) understand precisely the pressures to govern a disparate and independent people. Surely, at the headwaters of our founding there were more factions than today!
So, secondly, the Declaration of Independence speaks of several concepts that can guide us and, I hope, you as well. These are summed as the “laws of nature.” Among them: distinction-making, decency, self-evident truth, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, justice, safety, prudence, definitions of evil and patience. Each of these concepts drawn from the laws of nature were enshrined in our national origins.
Distinction-making. You ask, “Where is that in the Declaration?” It is the Declaration. This document (as every document like it) is where distinction-making either takes place or is recorded. The colonists categorize in the Declaration the ways in which the Crown acted tyrannically. These included such things as making laws that were too difficult to obey, calling convocations in locations that made attendance impossible, quartering standing Army troops in peace, etc. Experiences and burdens that all could agree where not necessary or right. We wrongly fear distinction-making today. We eschew calling nations to account for harboring terrorists, for calling out greedy capitalists, for dressing down corrupt government officials or even for equal treatment. Yet, we cannot govern if we fear making distinctions. For these things must be done.
Decency. Turn on the TV and seek examples of decency; ask congressional staffers about examples of decency. Indecency is rampant – even having touched the White House in years past. Decency, according to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary is that which is “morally praiseworthy.” We go astray if we ask “whose morals?” (We continue to prove my first point.) Language, dress, decorum and vocations that advance honor to all men are decent. That means prostitution, crime, corruption, immodesty, pornography, violence and vulgarity are not honorable and should be restricted by law. For whom do these things produce decency?