Many Christians in America have an idea that they want to preserve some type of “Christian America.” They generally point to America’s past as a “Christian nation” and to some Christian golden age in America.
While such sentiments are nice, they are also misguided and false. I want to look at both the positive points and negative points in trying to return America to a “Christian Nation”:
1) It calls for a higher ethical view – when people call America back to be a “Christian nation,” it is a call for better morals. Like it or not, loose morality concerning sexuality does harm a society. It holds a greater potential to break up the nuclear family, which leads to other negative side effects. It lowers self-control as it promotes the idea of, “Get what you want when you want it.” How often are the corrupt in society often linked to dubious sexual deeds? These connections are not a coincidence (though sexual immorality doesn’t always lead to other types of morality); when there is a moral failing in one aspect of life, other parts are to follow.
2) It calls citizens to recognize God’s authority over life. God is real and because He is real we must recognize His commands on our lives. Calling for a Christian nation means we are calling for people to come into a relationship with this very real God.
3) Such a view does bring hope of one day returning to our Judeo-Christian principles. The view of freedom and rights as absolute and protected by the Creator rather than subjective and given to us by the government is one of these principles.
4) This causes us to look positively upon the good aspects of our history. Our desire for freedom was good. Our willingness to go to war to stay unified and to free the slaves was good. Our venture into WWII was good. The fact that the system allowed for Africa-Americans and other minority groups to stand up, demand freedom from segregation, and receive it shows the goodness of the American system. We should never forget that America has done a lot of good things. We are a very free and very prosperous nation; anytime we shoot a criticism at the United States, we must remember that we’re doing so while benefiting from her prosperity. Though criticisms are good and needed, we must never forget the positive elements of America that has brought about goodness to the world.
5) The American people are amazing. Americans are divided most of the time, until attacked, then they’re united. When Americans are united, nothing can stop them. Traditionally, Americans have been individuals, but of a community mind; I’ll do what benefits me AND the community. If the two are in conflict, traditionally, one willingly sacrificed the individual desires for the good of the community. This wasn’t forced upon the person, the person simply did it. The American people are very good people and have always been good people.
1) There has never been, nor will there ever be, a “Christian nation.” Not only can we not create such a nation, even if one existed you wouldn’t want to live in it. One fact that many people ignore is that Christian goals and governmental goals are often biblical, yet at odds with each other. The goal of the government is to protect its citizens and hand out justice. The goal of a Christian is to be at peace with all, be sacrificial, and to live a life of grace to all humans. These two goals are at odds with each other, but both are Biblical goals. It’s not the job of the government to display the love of God, thus a Christian nation simply cannot exist.
2) Even if we ignore the above, America wasn’t a Christian nation. We killed off the Native Americans. We enslaved African-Americans. We goaded Mexico into war so we could take their land. These are not the actions of Christians. Certainly we all sin, but we don’t all commit genocide. None of this erases the good that Americans have accomplished, but it keeps our heads out of the clouds and reminds us that we do have a dark past.
3) Our very foundation is against Scripture. Paul tells us in Romans and Peter tells us in his first epistle to submit to our governmental authorities. To drive this point home, Jesus tells us, concerning taxation, to render unto the government what belongs to the government. Thus, revolutions are hard to justify, especially over taxes; yet that’s exactly what we revolted over. So America’s foundation has been against Scripture from the get-go, thus making it difficult to say it’s a “Christian nation.”
4) Many of our founders weren’t even Christians. Though some were certainly Christ-followers and we will fellowship with them in Heaven, others were Deists. There are references to “God” and “Jesus” in many writings, but for the traditional Deist, “God,” and “Jesus” mean very different things than they do for most Christians. For instance, Thomas Jefferson referred to the man Jesus, but denied His miracles and resurrection. So it is important to look for references to miracles when reading the works of the founders. If miracles are left absent or denied, then the founder is most likely a deist. One cannot be a deist and a Christian, because to be a deist means to deny the divinity and resurrection of Christ.
America is and always has been a work in progress. We shouldn’t strive to make America a “Christian nation,” because this cannot be done and should not be done. Instead, we should strive to make America a nation of Christians, one that acknowledges our rights come from God, but that there is a disconnect between the government’s role and the role of a Christian.