Something really important is missing in these presidential debates! While watching the second presidential debate last week, I muttered to myself, “Whatever happened to sin?” To be sure, the candidates have to grapple with many serious issues, but there is a core issue of national interest that is being totally ignored. It’s found in the Proverb that says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”
History has proven the truthfulness of that biblical saying. The moral fabric of a people will always be a—if not the—deciding factor of whether its nation stands or falls, and that fabric is woven from either righteousness or sin. In the end, of all the center stage issues of campaign platforms—the economy, military might and strategy, education systems, gender equity, foreign policy, insurance care and so on— none of them will be the ultimate determinate of any nation’s greatness. Those who take a purely secular view of history point to such things as contributing to any nation’s rise or fall, but historians who also look at the moral health of a nation often see indisputable evidence that spiritual decay corresponds to a nation’s decline.
Those who ponder and worry about the moral state of the union believe there is an elephant in the room. While so many “rah-rah” about this candidate or that policy, we wonder, “Are we going to pretend the elephant of sin and righteousness does not exist? How long are we going to avoid looking at and discussing this core issue?” Can we afford not to have a national focus on the moral state of the union?
“Oh, but you have to separate church and state,” some will say, “and you’re talking about religious issues!” This isn’t about church and state. It’s about right and wrong. Can we really separate national morality from the well-being of the state? Morality is at the core of any nation’s character, and its character will determine its fate. There is no true separation of righteousness and state, or sin and state—however you choose to word it.
One of our greatest presidents prophesied, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abraham Lincoln had a clear sense of how internal moral character was tied to the health and security of the state! He also once said, “My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
How radical he would be viewed as today! It’s strange to consider any candidate today standing up and saying, “Let’s talk about sin and righteousness!” That would ignite a political firestorm that would doom his election chances! Why, talking about sin and righteousness would require bringing God and His Word into the picture, and many would call that extreme, radical even! What does that say about how far we have already pushed God into the background?
It may be too late for any one person, such as a president, to engage the nation in serious discussion of righteousness and sin, and even if such a person rose up, would we listen? It is not too late, though, for individuals—for you—to bring God into the picture and deeply consider this issue of righteousness exalting a nation and sin bringing a reproach. Because what is true for the nation is also true for the individual.
For Life, Hope and Truth, I’m Clyde Kilough.