Friday, July 5, 2013

America the Beautiful, the Rebellious, the Independent

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States

The fourth of  July is an interesting holiday to be part of, after having lived overseas for four years. I remember one of the first Independence Days that we visited America, after having moved to China, was quite shocking. In church, we sang only patriotic songs, instead of hymns or worship music. It was like a slap in the face..."HELLO! You are  in AMERICA". Even the sermon was about fighting for our dwindling liberties. I've tried to write about my "American" feelings before, but have worried that people would find me un-American. In honor of my freedom of speech, here are my thoughts on America and how I think she just needs to get over herself. 

Included above is the first part of the Declaration of Independence. This section is followed by many complaints which prove the injustice of the British government, and closes with no uncertainty: the patriots will separate from England's tyranny because of the listed offenses, with the rationale that it is their basic human right to do so. 

Even Willow could understand this thought process: I don't like what you're doing in my life, therefore I will separate myself from you, and do as I wish. 

America is a country that is founded on rebellion. We romanticize it with the word 'revolution', but it does not change the fact that the former colonies rejected the authority of their government by throwing off their ties to it. They fought for the right to be independent from their authorities, and won in the process. It's an amazing story and a watershed event in world history. I was recently reading a book about the American Revolution where the author made the point that England set themselves up for the war. They built the American colonies with people who were free-spirited and independent souls--sometimes even criminally minded. From the outset, the colonies saw themselves as separate; brave pioneers in a wild land with their own sets of rulers. The colonies themselves were viewed as separate, microcosms of government. It was not until the American Revolution that the colonists forced themselves into a united front; previously separated by different ideals and goals, they had been unable to pose a threat to England. 

Anyway, my historian husband would be better able to write about this. I'm no expert. However, I do see this trend of rebellion very strongly in the USA today. It is no wonder that a country based on a fierce loyalty to independence and rebellion is fraught with bi-partisan politics and animosity. Enough history.

One thing that I find the most frustrating about Americans is how 'either or' everyone is. Either you are a liberal or a conservative. A republican or a democrat. A Christian or a 'tolerant' citizen. Pro-life or Pro-choice. The debates are endless and the solutions never quite match up to anyone's hopes or expectations. Regardless of issue or outcome, there's a mentality of inadequacy, "we're making progress, but it's not enough!".  When people refer to the founding of this nation as a reason to despair (i.e. "This country was built by protestant men on Christian principles and the Bible! Look how far we've fallen now!"), I get annoyed. 

I'm sorry. America is not God's country. Americans are not the 'chosen people' of the Old Testament. And why do you expect a country founded on rebellious, albeit justified, attitudes to continue in a peaceful-everyone-agrees-with-everyone fashion? This country is constantly changing, constantly moving in one direction or another and its glorified-romanticized-propaganda-filled history will not save it. 

A president cannot save it.
The government cannot save it.
Social programs cannot save it.
Tolerance cannot save it.
Money cannot save it. 
Memes cannot save it.
(I hate memes, by the way).

Even if this country was run by people who governed using Biblical principles, it would still be a fallen government.

Even if this country was run by people who did everything the way you wanted it to be, this country would still fall apart. 
Even if we wave our flags of patriotism, pray for our troops, and declare "God Bless America!" this country will never be some special pearl in the desert that God loves more than any other country. 

There's nothing wrong with wanting God to bless America, and in fact it is a very good thing to strive after Him in all facets of life. But God's heart is for people, not for America. Furthermore, if the whole country did somehow become Evangelical Christians---it would not save them from bankruptcy, wars, suffering, or any form of injustice. This is because we live in a sinful world, and even the 'best' of humanity is incapable of creating a perfect society. 

The statement "Our country is falling apart because we turned our backs on God" reminds me of the heretical 'Prosperity Gospel' message which promises only good things will happen to those who truly follow Jesus. 

Hello?! God never promised bad things wouldn't happen to us or that we would be able to handle and cope with all the suffering in life. But He did promise that he would always be with us, even to the end of time, and that there is nothing we cannot endure while He is at our sides.

What I see through all the media footage that reflects our broken nation, the incredible debt, the bi-partisan bickering, and corrupt political campaigns is a people that long for a Savior. They want someone that can fix this brokenness. They want an ideal that can work out for everyone's benefit.

They want a society that's economically stable, politically peaceful, and ultimately safe for all of its citizens. The good news is that there will be a place on earth like this someday. But it's not America.

It's not America!

I find hope in these 'desperate' times because it reminds me that while America has great freedoms (some have diminished, while others have increased), it cannot last forever. America is not the 'new heaven and new earth' that Jesus will reign over. In fact, all our longings for a perfect administration, flawless laws, and ethical systems should point our hearts forward to a time when we will be ruled by a King--not only in our spiritual lives, but on earth as well. Someday, we will live under the perfect, loving, and completely just dominion of a Benevolent Monarch who died and rose again that we may have freedom in His name.

He will rule over His children in a perfect way. His subjects will not be separated by language, country, or political ideologies. Instead, we will be united by one thing: His redemptive work on the cross! 

 America is not God's country.
As Christians, our citizenship is in heaven, and not in any country.

Happy Fourth of July, America. May you enjoy your hot dogs, fireworks, and patriotic feelings. Remember that they are just a shadow of the loyalty and protection we can find in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ! I am so thankful to have been born in America, where I was free to believe in Christ. This should never be taken for granted! 

May God bless America; not because the nation deserves it or even has a desire for it, but that He would continue to use America for His Kingdom's cause. If that means taking away everything America has idealized, or removing the freedoms that once characterized it, so be it. May God be glorified in all things.   

Also, thank you to China (in case you're reading this) for teaching me how to look at my country through different eyes. 


  1. Julie, I agree with most of your well-written post, but some of your sentences ring of hopelessness that I don't understand.

    It almost sounds like you're saying a God-fearing America would be no better than a godless America.

    The fact that sin eliminates the possibility of perfection doesn't mean things couldn't be much, much better than they currently are.

    "May God bless America; not because the nation deserves it or even has a desire for it, but that He would continue to use America for His Kingdom's cause. If that means taking away everything America has idealized, or removing the freedoms that once characterized it, so be it. May God be glorified in all things."

    Amen :)

    1. I don't intend to sound hopeless, but I suppose am attempting to address those that often mourn America as not being the "God loving country" of some yesteryear. My point is that, even if we all strove for a God-centered country, it would still be inundated by frustrations and inadequacies. This is nothing to despair about, but ought to remind us that we weren't made for this world, and will someday rejoice in a place governed by Christ! thanks for the feedback!

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  3. Standing ovation, Julie! I love this post so much. No decade or period of America's history has been perfect but people tend to look back with rose-colored glasses. (Slavery, segregation, etc.) Such a good reminder for us to wait eagerly for our heavenly home.

  4. Julie, Nathan made a comment that related to this and he had some very annoyed parents. Good read! Thanks!

    1. Hi Emily! That's really interesting that parents were annoyed by his perspective. Did they not want him sharing it in school or something? -Julie

  5. Ironically enough, living in England has helped me grab a much clearer picture of America and given some balance to it all in my mind. I so appreciate this post because it eloquently summarizes a lot of the things I feel but don't say. Love it, girl!