Is America a Christian Nation? Several years ago, this question popped in small group. That day, in an upper room of my church, answers spewed out and filled the room with passion and conviction.
“We most definitely are!” said a powerful, short-haired lady. “And the day we stop being a Christian nation is the day this county goes to Hell in a handbasket!” She went on to explain how Christians weren’t doing enough in the political arena, and how too many Christians are afraid to step up and make the difference “we were called to make” in this nation. As far as she was concerned, the American Christian was too fine with compromise.
As I sat there imagining what it must be like to arrive in Hell in a gift-wrapped handbasket laced with black and red ribbon with little flames on them, I shuttered. I startled at the realization that, while going to Hell was pretty bad, going to Hell in a handbasket, was worse. Much, much worse.
And then I began thinking about this notion of America being a Christian nation, and decided that I, respectfully, disagreed with this upstanding woman in our church.
And I still do. America is not at all a Christian nation. Not even a little.
One Nation Under Who?
The first of the 10 commandments (the one I believe Jesus does the least amount of tampering with in his own answers to questions about laws and such) is simple. “You shall have no other gods before me.” The ten commandments are important because they are probably the most cited source of pre-American, biblical legislation by those who disagree with my assessment of America’s Christian brand. It is, for them, a basis (one of many) from which our forefathers drew the constitution.
The importance of “putting no other god before” God cannot be overstated. In fact, the first three commandments communicate the value God should have in our lives. It’s beyond safe to say we do not at all subscribe to this command as a nation. We are a country governed “by the people, for the people.” And as such, we are given the right to follow after any god(s) we choose, as long as we do not disrupt the laws of the land. For me, this is the precursor to every one of my “Christian nation” arguments. If God is not first, if we have not chosen to legislate the love of God with our heart soul, mind, and strength, then we are not at all a Christian nation by it’s truest definition. Not even close.
Christians, as I would define them, are those who have decided to follow Jesus Christ’s lead in going all out to love God and Man; the former being the most pertinent for our conversation. Jesus rephrased this commandment the day he was asked to reveal the greatest law. His answer, loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, is meant to be the primary starting point for Christians.
Not only is this type of love for God absent in our constitutional make-up, it’s absent in the modern day American society. We are capitalists. We are tolerant. We are a country allowing any god, any opinion, any lifestyle. As such, America cannot be characterized as a religious nation of any type.
But that’s the way it should be.
God created us with freedom and freewill because mature love must be chosen. Mature love is not forced or coerced, and is not the product of crammed in rhetoric or religious legislation We have to willfully surrender to love, to choose to let it overtake the inborn, inner momentum to protect and love ourselves above all else. Only then, can we love God the way Jesus intended… with our heart, soul, mind and strength.
So is America a Christian nation? Absolutely not. And frankly, I think God likes that way. After all, he’s already got a kingdom in the works…
Do you believe America is a Christian Nation? Why or why not?
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