“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3 King James Version
Western culture is undergoing a paradigm shift. It is only fitting that those of us who are not shifting with it mourn the passing of the old paradigm
This paradigm influenced every area of our public and private life. It determined our form of government, provided the foundation for our laws, affected the way we saw the world, treated our neighbors, and spent our time. It gave us hope for ultimate justice, patience in pain, motivation for going on, restraint where opportunity offered license.
Its passing is the result of the conscious and determined efforts of a vocal, empowered minority permitted by the apathy of the majority.
Our Biblical heritage, which once dominated our mentality, our morality and our motives, still permeates American society like the fragrance of a woman who has left the room. We still speak of “the handwriting on the wall,” “turning the other cheek,” “raising Cain,” “the good Samaritan,” “seeing the light,” “nothing new under the sun,” “a drop in the bucket,” “my brother’s keeper.”
We still apply the principles of the old paradigm as if the new paradigm had not made them obsolete. We act as if human beings are unique and precious, not just another animal at some point along an evolutionary journey. We still find theft and betrayal and murder, which may be virtues in other cultures, abhorrent in ours. We live, in short, as if we could keep the values of the old paradigm indefinitely when the foundation is gone. Like cartoon characters running off a cliff, momentarily supported by nothing, we won’t realize it was holding us up until it’s too late.
We are the generations Scripture prophesied would be “holding a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.” Our forefathers’ documents are on display in temperature-controlled vaults–while we forget that these were men who sought Providential guidance in wording those documents.
Those men emphatically intended that our Christian values and beliefs inform our government and culture. In the very first Amendment to the Constitution, adopted in 1791, they forbade the government to impose any religion on the people or interfere with the free exercise and expression of their personal beliefs.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution
They would have been appalled to know the citizens of the nation they founded would shut the Ten Commandments and the Bible as a whole, along with prayer, out of public discourse or legal and governmental proceedings.
Most of the early immigrants to this country came from countries where the state dictated the church. They came here to have freedom of religion–not freedom from religion.
Their experience was almost exclusively with the Judeo-Christian faith but they knew that underlying all justice are the basic tenets of the Ten Commandments. Honorable men with an amazing tolerance for views that might be at variance to their own, our forefathers established a government with freedom of speech, where these alternate views could be stated publicly, and freedom of religion, where people could worship according to their individual conscience.
For these freedoms, they vowed:
“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States…
” — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
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