1. "The children of Issachar . . . had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." (1 Chronicles 12:32.) It is important that we understand the position of America.
It is my conviction that America has been under the judgment of God for over a generation. While we may tend to view the significance of removing Scripture and Christian prayer out of our public life as relatively insignificant, it is my conviction that God cursed us as a nation when we did it.
God does bless and curse nations; Abraham's physical descendants were not permitted to possess the Promised Land until "the sin of the Amorites . . . reached its full measure." (Genesis 15:16.) Pagan Rome was not permitted to annihilate the Jewish state until that generation fulfilled our Lord's warning: "Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!" (Matthew 24:32.)
One cannot reject the manifest recognition of God without dire consequences. Isaiah 3:4-10 and Romans 1:21-32 spell out elements of that curse. Romans 1:21-32 depicts a spiral into pleasure that becomes increasingly demented, perverse and pervasive. Homosexuality is rampant and becoming increasingly dominant in American life and law, because our righteous God is giving us the just fruit of our public repudiation of him:
"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools . . . Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator . . . Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:21-28.)
It is because God has cursed America that on June 26, 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled six to three that Texas' anti-sodomy laws were unconstitutional on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause in Lawrence et al. v. Texas. It is because we are under the judgment of God that the United States Supreme Court refused on May 15, 2004, to hear and overturn the Massachusetts' supreme court's ruling in Hillary Goodridge & others vs. Department of Public Health & another, the court case that has now legalized homosexual marriage. Among other reasons, because of the Interstate Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, (Article I, Section 8.) the implications for this ruling will impact all fifty states.
Almighty God has released the flood of depravity that is coming on the American people.
The nineteen-sixties began with the removal of recognition of God and ended with massive contempt for authority and tradition. 1961 marked Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, 490 (1961), where state religious test acts were ruled unconstitutional. The decade went on to Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), where state approved prayers in public schools were ruled unconstitutional and then on to School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963), where school sponsored reading of the Bible was ruled unconstitutional.
What also happened in or as a result of that watershed decade?
1.1. Reflecting the removal of the wisdom of the framers of the United States Constitution, America not only removed the religious basis of its morality, but also the basis for the effective transmission of knowledge as well. The Northwest Ordinance, (July 13, 1787) stated in Article 3: "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." One notices the federal government's rationale for public education and the specific priority assigned to religious instruction, which under the original American system would have varied from state to state: "religion, morality, and knowledge." The United States Congress passed this ordinance during the time that the Constitutional Convention met (May 29 through September 17, 1787). This is the same Congress that approved the United States Constitution and sent it down to be ratified by the states.
1.2. In many parts of the country, particularly those places with large minority populations, the public school system buckled under federally mandated integration. Desegregation ought to have taken place -- there were and are enormous inequities in American life -- but the destruction of neighborhood schools and forced busing in order to achieve racial balance has terribly impacted public schools in many places, and the most severally impacted element in American society has been the African-American community, where the level of literacy has plummeted in the past forty years.
1.3. Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society," while noble in its stated intent, has had a devastating impact on the nuclear family among the poorest people in American society, as males have been forcibly removed from the home.
1.4. June 27, 1969, saw the riot at the Stonewall Bar in New York City, where the homosexual confrontation with American society began. This riot was part of a larger sexual revolution that dethroned moral absolutes with such things as Episcopal priest, Joseph Fletcher's 1966 publication of Situation Ethics: The New Morality, and legitimized the fictions of Alfred Charles Kinsey. The intellectual apostasy begun in the American church in the early days of the twentieth century fully aided and abetted this revolution; had this ecclesiastical ethical insurrection not taken place in the nineteen-sixties, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) could never have begun America's holocaust of the innocent on January 22, 1973. That moral revolution has also made possible the inclusion of females in combat roles in the American military.
1.5. America lost its first war, Vietnam, where 58,000 young Americans, to say nothing of others, lost their lives for absolutely nothing. Back in the sixties, I told a ROTC senior, "When you are dying in Vietnam, remember my words, 'I am dying for absolutely nothing.' The Vietnamese lack the religious foundation to function democratically, and America lacks the political will to win there. Sooner or later, we will pull out and allow the North Vietnamese and Vietcong to take over." As the supply pastor of a small Presbyterian church, I also had to bury a young man who was killed there; he left a wife and a child. How dreadful!
Isaiah 3:4 warns: "I will make boys their officials; mere children will govern them. People will oppress each other -- man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the base against the honorable." When I think about Isaiah's curse that God will "make boys their officials," I think particularly of President Clinton's satyriasis that was so clearly like that of an early, post-pubescent male. But I also think about the policies of our leaders outlined above and how we have come now to become involved in yet another ground war in Asia.
Therefore, according to "our place and calling," (Westminster Larger Catechism, 108.) we must repent corporately and individually for America's choice publicly to reject the recognition of God from our public institutions and the removal of his Moral Law as the self-conscious foundation for our jurisprudence.
We must acknowledge in the prayers of our pulpits that God would be altogether just if he allowed hundreds of thousands of young Americans to die in combat for absolutely nothing, our social and economic infrastructure to be destroyed by terrorists and our nation fall to a foreign power. We must plead God's mercy in Christ for ourselves, our apostate churches and our civil authorities, using Ephraim's plaintive plea, "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God." (Jeremiah 31:18.)
2. We must pray for our leaders, as we are instructed: "I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." (1 Timothy 2:1, 2.)
If Saint Paul instructed seventh decade, first century believers to pray for the pagan civil authorities over them, including the infamous Nero, how much more ought we pray for President George W. Bush, a man who appears to be an Evangelical Christian?
We should pray that we are able to "live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness." A fundamental part of that petition is that God would use the civil authorities so that we may advance the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ without being hindered by others. We should pray that we may not only share Christ and his Word openly and worship freely, but that we may also go about the business of life Christianly without opposition. We must pray that civil government would do its two-fold work effectively not only by restraining evil, but also by protecting the structure of society so that those who "do right" may enjoy the fruit of their labors: "to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right." (1 Peter 2:14.)
I could write a number of pages about the specific things for which we ought to pray regarding our civil authorities, but focusing on the Iraq situation, I will limit myself to it and the "War on Terror."
We should petition our heavenly Father for the sake of our King and Savior that he would give our President to be separated from "counsel of the ungodly" and given the grace of humility that he may have the wisdom to lead the United States. We should pray that if he has made unwise or evil decisions that he would be given the grace effectively to repent of those decisions and lead our nation in acts that are appropriate to such repentance. In my own view, it was a legitimate response to the attacks on our nation on September 11, 2001, to invade Afghanistan and remove the Taliban. The invasion of Iraq is another matter entirely, far less clear-cut.
After the end of the Vietnam War, our government began a policy of downsizing the American military until the Iranian, Shiite, Islamic revolution humiliated us under President Carter. Ronald Reagan ran on a platform of increased military might and put his policies into effect soon after becoming President. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the fragmentation of our old nemesis, the Soviet Union, the first President Bush continued that downsizing after the First Gulf War, and this proceeded apace under Bill Clinton.
Other changes took place under President Clinton, including farming out many aspects of government to semi-private agencies. As this has continued under George W. Bush, we now rely more on private corporations and on National Guard and Army Reserve Units than we have in the past. Much of what happened at Abu Ghraib reflects this. The commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Janis Karpinski, was not Regular Army but an Army Reserve brigadier general. Indications are that the soldiers who carried out the sexual humiliation of the imprisoned Arabs were not simply sexually perverse simpletons with time on their hands; these abuses too closely reflect tactics Israel effectively developed in torturing Arabs, especially as they worked with the remnants of the non-Israeli, Maronite militias. There are indications that both CACI and Titan corporations have some connection to the Israeli Mossad and Shin Bet security service.
I have said that to say this: "Shock and awe" military technology cannot replace "boots on the ground." The Iraq invasion took place far too quickly; there was no more imminent threat to our nation coming out of Iraq that demanded such immediate action than there was from any number of other states. Had our President followed in the footsteps of his father and taken time to build a larger coalition, especially one that officially included most Muslim states, and had he taken time to supply our military personnel adequately with matériel, I do not think that we would be in this bloody quagmire on May 23, 2004.
The failure to build a larger coalition stretches our military forces very thin. This past week American troops began to be moved out of South Korea in order to send them to Iraq -- given its nuclear program and its proximity to Communist China, (the one nation-state -- as over against transnational terrorist networks -- most likely to threaten the United States a decade from now.) North Korea poses a much more imminent threat to our national security than did Saddam Hussein. And the Iraq invasion, done as it was without adequate preparation, lessens our ability effectively to deal with these transnational terrorist networks, such as Al-Qaeda. My opinion is that we unwittingly followed Osama bin Laden's script when we did so, but I am a private citizen with limited knowledge, wisdom and intelligence, so whether or not we were foolish to invade Iraq, especially when and how we did, we are there now, and the situation is very, very volatile, and foolish moves will have enormous, unpredictable consequences. A precipitous retreat can spell disaster not only for our nation but for the whole world.
We should pray for our Commander in Chief to wage war effectively against those who truly threaten our nation. The focus of our prayers should be for the quick and total defeat of those in Iraq who are an actual threat to us, the preservation of human life where at all possible, and for our military forces to be able to return to other tasks quickly.
3. Living in a modern, liberal, democratic republic under a constitution that guarantees a number of basic freedoms, including the freedom of speech, believers have the right and pastors have the responsibility, biblically to evaluate the policies of our government, but we must never "adhere" to our nation's "Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." (i.e. "Treason," as defined by Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution.) And we should beware of bringing abusive and railing accusations against those whom God has placed over us to lead us. If even the Archangel Michael did not dare to speak abusively even to the devil, (Jude 1:9.) how much more careful ought we to be of slandering those whom God has put in authority over us.
Under this point, I will throw out a sketch of what I would do were I the President of the United States, with sufficient control of both Houses of Congress and the Federal Judiciary to proceed unhindered. Of course, this is exceedingly far-fetched, but it does form a basis of how I think believers might pray for God to direct the hearts of those whom he has placed over us. (Proverbs 21:1.)
3.1. Following the examples of Judah's best kings, as well as Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, I would get on my face before God, confessing my sins and those of my people. Following the example of Israel's wisest king, I would confess, "I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties." (1 Kings 3:7.) I would ask for wisdom to know God's will and the grace to do it.
3.2. I would seal America's borders and systematically expel all illegal aliens; I would focus on the expulsion of all foreign born, Muslim visitors, especially unmarried males who did not have a compelling reason to be in the United States. Every branch of government within the United States should profile certain types of foreign people, so as to protect the Constitutionally mandated rights of actual American citizens.
3.3. In a systematic and orderly way, I would remove everyone in my administration who had loyalty to the welfare of any nation other than the United States or who put his or her personal or corporate welfare above the interests of the nation. I would see to it that those who had broken our laws, including those of the Geneva Convention -- no matter how high up in the chain of command they were -- were prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
3.4. As quickly as possible, I would remove all females from combat roles in the United States military.
3.5. While continuing to support the state of Israel, I would serve public and private notice to Israel and the Arab world that the United States will no longer unquestioningly support all of Israel's policies.
3.6. In an orderly way, I would cease to support Arab dictators who violate the basic human rights of their own people, no matter how friendly these tyrants appear to be to the United States.
3.7. I would cause the anti-Christian, secularist, hedonistic Crusade of the formerly Christian West against Arab culture to cease and would do what I could to encourage true Christians to do the only thing that can bring freedom to the Muslim world: go there as missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3.8. I would do what I could to lessen America's sixty year reason for meddling in the Arab world, going back to 1943, when America first stationed our troops in Arabia under President Roosevelt: our dependence on their oil. I would do this slowly, but steadily, by developing America's own oil fields and working to reduce our heavy need for oil -- among many other ways, by means of tax incentives for alternative energy sources and against private vehicles that get poor mileage, as well as by working significantly to increase mass transit systems in American cities.
3.9. In the War on Terror, I would unshackle the less savory elements of the American Intelligence community, empowering them to take that war in a very personal, private and painful way not only to those engaged in terrorism, but also to those who are associated with it or profit from it, including foreign political leaders, manufacturers and bankers. (This point and the next are the only ones about which I have real scruples. Not to be overly influenced by William James, but assassinations do cost far fewer lives and much less money; they minimize the disruption to the lives of our own citizens and tend not to destabilize other nations so severely as do wars.)
3.10. As quickly as possible, I would install a tough, puppet regime in Iraq and move American military personnel to more secure locations within the country, trying to maintain a measure of pressure to keep the country either from becoming Balkanized, on the one hand, or a bastion of intolerant, Shiite rule, on the other. But as soon as I could do so without jeopardizing the national security of United States, I would arrange for the complete removal of American forces, even if Iraq were left in a shambles, with on-going civil conflict. That is terribly sad, and it would have far worse consequences on the Iraqi people than did our abandoning the South Vietnamese thirty years ago, but I see no other way, not even with the significant involvement of other nations. (Written on May 22, 2004.)