It’s perplexing to be an American right now. It’s difficult to express. There’s so much to be outraged about. Then also, there seem to be so few legitimate avenues to make things better here.
Part of it has to do with identity. Usually we’re not just “Americans”. There will be a word or two in front of that. It could be “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Conservative”, “Progressive”, “Christian”, “Gay”, “Male”, “Female”, “Trans” or “Straight”. Or African American, Hispanic American, Asian American or Native American. Once upon a time these secondary delineations were in subjection to the first sense of identity, of being citizens of this country. But no more.
Jesus said, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mark 3:24) And most likely not since the 1860’s has that thought rung so ominously true for the USA. At the time of the final fall of Israel to Babylon around 586 BC, the foremost prophet of doom back then, Jeremiah, said to the Jews, “Let us search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts in our hands unto God in the heavens.” (Lamentations 3:40 & 41)
Now and for recent years, there’s been a time of deep heart-searching for many Americans. I can make this personal. What’s my identity? I could say “Christian” but that leads into another of the perplexities of these times, “What do you mean by ‘Christian’?” The basic fabric of our language has been so skewered by competing narratives that our very vocabulary has to be explained nearly every time we try to say something.
For me, “Christian” has been within what can be called Christian discipleship. Specifically, I lived 37 years of my adult life abroad as a missionary in dozens of countries. So immediately most folks would conclude that I’m a Conservative, Republican, straight male. They’d be right about being a straight male. But then it really gets into the tall grass with the subject of “Conservative Republican”.
Some are already bristling. On the right hand and on the left. I probably already lost those on the left when I said I was a Christian disciple and a missionary, a straight white male. What could be worse, right? Hasn’t Christianity been the fount and fountainhead of all that’s gone wrong in the last few hundred years? Racist, misogynist, colonialist, patriarchal bigotry is the overriding evaluation of Christian influence on the world from a Progressive viewpoint. And that’s the predominate paradigm within the present Democratic party in the USA.
Ironically, I grew up in a deeply liberal (for those times) Democratic family in Texas. I actually planned on a career as a Democratic politician up until I was nearly 21. Then a powerful near-death experience propelled me out of atheism and into an embryonic acknowledgement that there actually is a spiritual world, both here and in eternity, that is inhabited by both good and bad spirits. I wanted to be with the good ones. A few months later some teenage Christian “Jesus People” showed me the plan of salvation through Jesus from the New Testament. That was the beginning of my life as a Christian disciple.
But as I’ve had to ask my still-Democratic relatives today, “How can I be a Democrat in these times?” I’m not pro-abortion, I’m not gay and these have become the litmus test and gate passes to the present Democratic Party.
Because of my Christian faith and world view, I’ve begun working in the past months with some teachers and parents locally who’ve become appalled at the present condition of schools in the greater Austin area, which are reflected in many other schools across the USA.
Under the guise of “SEL”, (social emotional learning) an indoctrination is being brought into the curriculum of schools across American that comes from a far leftist, gender-fluid, virulently anti-Christian foundation. Just giving some highlights of the utter vileness that I’ve seen going on in local schools would be a whole article in itself and I won’t go further about it here. But I have been speaking at local school board meetings and trying to do what I can.
My friends are almost all Christians, not all white but extremely determined to try to do what they can to turn the tide of perversion and indoctrination that’s going on in schools just a few miles from me. So the conclusion? “Mark, you’ve become a Conservative Republican!” Well in these matters, my views and heart certainly correspond to their view on this subject.
Except, most of you know what just happened three days ago at a school in Uvalde, Texas, 200 miles from me. An 18 year old Hispanic male bought an assault rifle on his 18th birthday and ended up killing over 20 people at a Uvalde elementary school.
Shocking? Sadly, not overwhelmingly so for most Americans. This kind of thing has pretty much come to be the order of the day in our times. Is there outrage? Of course. But for many there also has come a growing sense of impotence and resignation against this kind of recurring holocaust.
And the perplexity grows. Can I turn now to my new Conservative Christian friends to share my grief, my outrage and to band together with them to try to change things?! Well, no. Why not?! Well, um… the official line of the Republican Party is basically utterly pro gun. This is one of the most entrenched positions that is held by Conservative Republicans across America. No gun laws, no gun restrictions, just nothing.
The screaming irony is hard to match with words. Christian, conservative Republicans hold the views I do that sexuality should be the realm of parents to teach their children, not the prerogative of Progressive doyens of multigender confusion. But then when it comes to free and open immediate access to assault rifles which have no other use at all besides killing people [not rabbits, not deer; just people], then my Christian conservative companions are instant in voicing their view that there is nothing that can be done or should be done to limit guns. That’s just all there is to it.
Do I turn back to the Democrats then? In this case, centrist Democrats as well as the Progressives unitedly and for decades have called for some kind of legislation and initiative to try to make gun violence not as easy has it has been.
So it’s a real dilemma. My first allegiance as far as I am concerned is to the Lord and His rule which will ultimately come to this earth. But I really don’t find any political group here and now that has a monopoly on the justice and judgment of Jesus of Nazareth.
As for my country, state and community, I often just feel checkmated as to what direction to take. It reminds me of what I have read of World War I, where the troops were extremely dug in on both sides of no man’s land and this lasted for years in a stalemate of the armies while daily 10’s of thousands of young men died in battle. Today we have deaths through abortion on the one side, allowed by the Leftists and Progressives. But also we have deaths through gun violence which the Christian Conservative Right continues to ignore with all their strength. And while Left and Right enhance their intransigence, the killings continue on year after year.
Well, I like to end things on a happy note. But I’m finding that difficult. I don’t want to come across with some trite, shallow Pollyanna-isms. This whole situation is a real Gordian Knot, an enigma for minds and hearts small and great in these times.
If nothing else we can pray. We can stand on the certainties we have in the Lord and the values that were the foundations of this country over many decades, which served us well for so long. Maybe an ending thought could be what an ancient king prayed in his nation’s great dilemma, “Lord, neither know we what to do. But our eyes are unto thee.” (II Chronicles 20:12)