Identifying America’s Golden Calf
Henry Van Til is credited with saying, “Culture is religion externalized.” In other words, the culture of a nation is a reflection of their view of God. The two cannot be separated.
If “culture is religion externalized,” then what is America’s god? It is the State. From the cradle to the grave, Americans look to the State as their savior in all things and the State gladly obliges. The American golden calf, the State grows in power as more and more citizens cast in their earrings to its cause – “This is your god, O America, that brought you out of the land of England!”
Our lives are verified by the State with a birth certificate and an assigned number. We are funneled through government-run education and taught, not how to think, but what to think. If parents want to train their children instead, they must jump through flaming government hoops and fill out reams of paperwork, obviously based on the assumption that the government owns your children but they may let you borrow them from time to time. Christians, do I have your attention now?
We can only drive once we pass their test, get approved insurance, and commit to paying for cars and roads for the rest of our lives. You only rent your car from the government (if you don’t believe that, just don’t pay the annual car tax).
You are told what you can put in your body, from medicines to drinking ages, banned drugs to soon coming “fat” taxes and no-toy Happy Meals. Our sons must register for “selective service” which is code for the military draft, so they government may send them off to another undeclared, unconstitutional foreign war against a nation that poses no threat to us. Again, the assumption of it all is that the government owns your body. Christians have a major disconnect here. Most are supportive of the wars and the war on drugs, but against government telling them what they can eat; missing completely that one automatically grants the other.
We are given currency that is based upon unjust weights and measures, pay over half of everything we earn to the government, and are required to pay into a federal retirement plan that will not be there when we need it. If you ever get to your Social Security, it will come with the requirement that you have little to no other income, though the money is yours. In other words, the government steals from citizens for their entire lives.
In the last decade, the State has subverted justice in the name of “safety” and “national security” – restricting privacy, speech, and liberty in frightening ways. They wantonly grope men, women, and children – indignity suffered in the name of protection.
God warned Israel about these same things. The people demanded a king and Samuel was distraught by the request. Israel had, if I may use the term, “small government.” Ruled only by God and His commands, Israel was now to substitute God for a king.
1st Samuel 8:7 says, “And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” G.K. Chesterton once noted, “If men will not be governed by the Ten Commandments, they shall be governed by the ten thousand commandments.” God warned that Israel would suffer the same.
The text continues with God telling Samuel to pass along a final warning to the people. 1st Samuel 8:10-18 says:
So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.”
In other words, when people uphold the State (any kind of government) as a god, they will suffer. Israel wanted a human king like every other nation had (note the similarity to the American drift towards a welfare state, envious of the socialistic entitlements that other nations “bestow” upon their citizens). The results would be disaster.
Israel’s sons were taken to war, their servants (in many cases, these were like employees, symbolic of wealth) would be taken, and their wealth would be taken. Samuel was responsible to tell the people God’s Word and, in this case, to specifically warn them about the danger of having a king. Families would be torn apart by war, lives would be stressed by having less money and property, and the people would become slaves to the king.
Does any of this sound familiar?
America is no different. Early in our history, we revolted against tyranny and established, not a theocracy, but a government based on the biblical model of fewer laws, smaller government, and greater freedom. Thanks to pastors like the Presbyterian “Black Regiment,” who took up the role of Samuel, the cry for liberty went out in the colonies. Unlike Israel, however, the Americans heard the cry and the revolution was successful.
The Need for a New “Black Regiment”
Now, however, following an age of apathy and indifference, the cry must go out again. America now has a king. Our sons and daughters are sent off to wars at the whim of Washington. Our bodies, lives, property, and money are treated as the government’s own playthings; theirs to do with as they please.
Sadly, the Black Regiment has disappeared as well, with too few pastors willing to warn of an ever-encroaching government. Oh, there are pastors who speak up, but the content of their message reveals that they do not wish to do away with the king, only manipulate the king. They don’t want liberty; they want Church of England, “pastor-approved” tyranny. They want morality legislated, but only if they like it.
The “Moral Majority” will support pro-war candidates because they claim (in direct contradiction) to be “pro-life.” They will demand government control of speech, if it’s offensive to them. They will support government’s control of what citizens put in their bodies as long as it’s on their “unapproved” list. In other words, they support everything they claim to despise in the other party. The Christian voice in America, far from being another Black Regiment, is merely an extension of the Republican Party.
This is not helpful because it simply gives America more of the same. God warned Israel, through Samuel, that government would abuse them, their families, and their wealth; and allowing government to engage in those abuses is not acceptable simply because you voted for the abuser. How sad that Christians will support wars and all other forms of tyranny, as long as they were started by a Republican.
As a result, Americans have been tyrannized by Democrats and Republicans because both parties have been granted unlimited power. When a liberal President begins legislating morality that Christians don’t like, they don’t vote for someone who will put an end to legislating morality, they vote for a “conservative” who will legislate other morality. The cycle continues until every aspect of life is government controlled and few even notice.
For example, Christians approve of the “War on Drugs” but not the wars on tobacco or obesity. In addition, to avoid gay marriage, Christians are willing to let the government define marriage rather than getting the government out of marriage completely and letting the Church reside over the institution God ordained.
To put this all together, the State is America’s golden calf and the Church carries much of the blame for it. Christians (pastors in particular) have abdicated their responsibility to speak up, washing their hands of the matter and proclaiming it to be merely “concerns of the world.” And, as Plato warned: “The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
Most of the Christians and pastors who have spoken up, do so with more of the same big government tyranny and intrusion, rather than echoing the truth of Samuel’s message. To all of them I say, frankly, “Thanks for nothing.”
America does not need any more of that kind of help. What America needs from the Church (and I pray God will grant it) is another Black Regiment who will once again sound the call for liberty.