God Bless America

Tomorrow is the 4th of July. For those who love liberty, who appreciate the sacrifices of our American founders and our contemporary patriots, who believe in the ideals for which America stands, it is a day of celebration. It is a day to sing, “God Bless America.”

However, for a growing number of younger Americans (especially younger evangelicals), this statement may be a source of embarrassment.  They point to the many problems which existed at the start of this nation and throughout much of its history and to problems which continue to exist to this day. The treatment of the indigenous Indian tribes (who themselves migrated to North America), the horrific African slave trade, and the onset of greed and crime related to the gold rush are just a few of the tragic situations which developed for a variety of reasons. These are important parts of our history which typically were glossed over in favor of placing America only in a pristine light. The criticism that American historians ignored our collective culpability in these situations is valid, but the critics also risk making the same error by ignoring what is right about America, and ignoring how far we have come in just a short 200+ years.

Yes, we continue to have problems of an insidious nature. For example, instead of a state-sanctioned racial slave trade we now have an illicit sex slave trade which operates within and outside of America. Pornography feeds the demand  for this conduct. Thus, it is not simply a few in America who fuel its engine, it is a vast number of average American households who allow pornography to enter their homes, spreading the blight throughout their families. People use their liberty to place themselves in bondage to addictions, and place sex slaves in bondage  to their pimps and slave traders.

It is remniscient of the complexity principle, this acknowledgement that while there is evil which must be confronted, repented, confessed, and changed in a nation, there also can be much that is good and right. It is necessary to confront the evils of our past, but not at the expense of revisionist history that casts aspersions on the principles of liberty and justice which make America great. Likewise, we must confront evil in our contemporary setting, sifting what is contrary to our principles from that which upholds them.

I often hear people talking about how American Indians should continue to harbor anger toward their European interlocutors who usurped their landrights. As someone generations removed from the founding of America who carries Cherokee blood mixed with a concoction of Irish, German and the like, I am reminded that none of that makes any difference in God’s economy, where “there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11 NASB). Besides, what am I to do, have my Cherokee part take my Irish part out to the back alley and beat him up?

We live in a day which allows us to stand arm-in-arm, unapologetically, with neighbors of every race and creed, giving thanks for America and the liberty she affords us. Each week (in the workplace, marketplace, and through apartment outreaches to children and their families) I interact with adults and children from all over the world who speak many languages, worship according to their religious upbringing, and maintain cultural traditions from their respective birth nations. It is a beautiful blend of diversity having at least one thing in common: the liberty we share as citizens of the United States of America, or sojourners therein.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, President Obama’s pastor for many years, chooses to respond to America by saying, “God Damn America.”

I choose, rather, to say,

God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above;

From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.
God bless America,
My home, sweet home.

(Lyrics by Irving Berlin)

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4 thoughts on “God Bless America

  1. Excellent post. Americans who curse their country have not traveled the world. We have our errors and faults, but as one who has traveled the world – our blessings far out weigh what we have done wrong, and unlike most of the world, we admit our faults and do what we can to admit them and make them right, as much as is humanly possible. (indeed, they can never be truly erased or made right, but we at least own our errors and wrong doings) By and large, America does more for other nations – even those who have (and still!) hate us, and that is the sign of a Great Nation. I am so proud to be an American, even with our faults (in spite of them, not because of them) I could bust. We at least are working, struggling on our faults. That is more than can be said of many of the places I have been who have simply accepted who and what they are – or even defend their evil as right. Amen. May God Bless America!

  2. Great comment, Karl. I have not traveled much of the world, but I have taken pains to learn about it. I get the impression that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and those who agree with him wish to fundamentally change what America is. Maybe that is why the current administration, whose leader was long nurtured by the Rev Jeremiah Wright, campaigned on the message of change and now administrates with a message of political correctness, making friends with tyrants (or so Obama thinks; they are likely laughing at him and America) while turning its back on our allies (Israel, for one) and bullying America’s own citizens.

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