Saturday, September 27, 2008

America's Role in World Politics

Last week I heard a prayer offered on behalf of our upcoming election. The prayer asked for national guidance that we would select the man who would lead America in such a manner that "it would rise again to be the most powerful nation on the face of the earth."

Many people, including me, had a problem with that, especially a number of non-Americans in the congregation at that time! Personally, I'm thinking about petitioning the elders to supply barf bags in the song book racks.

I probably don't need to offer any comment on that prayer -- the blatant nationalism, the subjugation of God to our national agenda -- these are clear. On the other hand, why not?

A little more subtle assumption of this prayer is that America has LOST its prominence! How interesting. Darn it, W, how could you let that happen? You need a louder rattle on your sabre! Maybe you should take that $700,000,000,000 (gotta stop -- running out of zeros) and spend it on more military might! That'll show those turds who's boss! Obviously you've been spending way too much time at the negotiating table and not enough where it really counts! Obviously the last eight years have been a miserable failure. Go figure -- W dodged his military service (for the most part). What we need now is a seasoned war hero! Let's hit 'em with a little McPain! (Or would that violate the Geneva Convention's definition of torture? O, wait -- we don't care about that. Sorry, my bad.)

I could go on, but it's Saturday morning, and I've only had one cup of espresso (so far).

But, another assumption: God WANTS the U.S. to dominate! Well, aren't we the most righteous, most just, fairest nation of them all? Mirror, mirror, on the wall. . . . If we would just actually look into the mirror we would see that such claims are preposterous. In fact, I doubt that ANY nation should make ANY claim to "righteousness." Almost by definition, nations pursue self-interest, and national self-interest always comes at the expense of the self-interests of other nations. In fact, "self-interest" itself is nowhere near any Christian virtue! Events in the history of our westward expansion could be cited here to debunk the "righteous nation" claim, but let's not go there. Would God want us to dominate the world? I can't imagine why.

Third assumption: that God might actually answer the prayer! We just ASSUME God is on our side -- because of our righteousness, I guess. Let's see, going back to the thoughts of the previous paragraph: "No one is righteous, no not one." "All our righteousness is like 'filthy rags'" (if you don't know what the "filthy rags" refers to, look it up -- pretty gruesome analogy). So, we're just asking God to underwrite our national agenda. (Sarcasm begins here.) So, of COURSE he'll do that! I mean, clearly we're God's chosen nation -- the ones God wants to bless! We're such great people, and he wants us to spread the gospel of democracy to all the world, right? So, we have the mandate to spread democracy even to people who don't want it or don't understand it, and if they resist, well, we have the God-given right to cram it down their throats, wrapped around the barrel of our guns if necessary. (End sarcasm . . . for now.)

"But what about Romans 13?" I can hear someone asking. Doesn't that state that God puts all governments in place? Therefore if we win a battle or war, it's because God wills it. And since we indeed have been the most powerful nation on the face of the earth, that's God's tacit endorsement of our nation and its agenda of world domination.

I've written on this in a previous post, so now I'll briefly comment: no. It doesn't mean that. If anything, it shows that we are in the position of the nations in the OT that God moves around like chess pieces on a board in order to maintain relative peace in the world. Being utilized by God in that sense says absolutely NOTHING about our alleged "righteousness." In fact, since God uses all things to work for good, it means he can even turn evil into good. And it's not that God causes evil things to happen, but that he can take the evil that humans create and perform on each other to somehow work for general good. So God can take the evil inclinations of a nation and use them for his own purposes. I mean, if nations are going to do evil anyway, why not try to bring some good out of it?!

Finally, there is the assumption, built onto the previous assumptions, that helping the US attain world domination is inherently Christian -- something Christians should endorse (because it is clearly God's purpose and work) and in which they should participate.

On the other hand, if it is truly an inherently evil and selfish goal, and merely one more example of God using selfish national interests to somehow keep relative peace in the world, then Romans 13 cannot be used to validate Christian participation in such enterprises.

Funny how "freedom of religion," as one of our "basic rights," can turn us into warriors for the Prince of Peace. Ok, not so funny.


Sammie said...

okay you are my hero. the end.

Sammie said...

I'm not exactly sure who wrote it, but I got it from Phillip Yancey's book "Prayer."

Lucky said...

Well said.

berlin said...

This is very well said. America has potentials of doing great good to the world community, and the potential of being a model for many nations, if there isn't such an attitude of "God bless America, and nobody else" which tends to divide and alienate.

katie said...

Thank you for being a sane voice in a multitude of insanity.

Divine_Contemplative said...

Hey Chip - I love you so much. I'm praying for you.

Divine_Contemplative said...
This comment has been removed by the author.