The United States
The Ten Commandments
Is America really a Christian nation?
One thing I always hear is how the United States is a "Christian" nation. But are we really?
Please don't get me wrong. I think the U.S. is the greatest place on earth. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Our country has done more to alleviate suffering, and promote human rights around the world than any other nation on the planet. Our standard of living is the envy of countries around the globe. We've established programs to help the poor and disabled. We've sent billions in foreign aid to other countries. We are, overall, a good nation. But are we a Christian nation, as many like to claim?
Well, to answer this question properly, we first need to establish what exactly is meant by the term "Christian." Webster's 21st Century Dictionary defines "Christian" as:
Hmmm. Well, a nation, as an impersonal entity, cannot be "a believer in Christ," so that one's out. Does the United States pertain especially to "believers in Christ, or to their churches?" Other than allowing us the freedom to worship (which applies to the other religions as well), not really. The 'establishment of religion' clause in the first amendment pretty much prevents anything beyond that. So that leaves the last definition: "Consistant with the teachings of Christ, especially regarding charity or salvation." OK, so what did Christ teach?
Well, most people will tell you that Jesus gave us the two Great Commandments. 1) Love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. So, from this perspective, is America a Christian nation? Let's take a look at them individually.
Hmmm. Well, Christ also mentions the Commandments in various places in the gospels. So, just for kicks, let's take a look at them, and see how the United States stacks up. I'm going to go in reverse order from what they appear in the Bible.
#10) Thou shalt not covet. To covet means to want something that doesn't belong to you, but belongs to someone else. Well, we've got kids killing other kids for nothing more than their shoes. Car theft, and burglary are rampant. Marriages fall apart due to affairs by one spouse or the other. In business, big corporations do whatever is necessary to take other companies' clients, business, and trade secrets. I think covetousness is a basic part of American society. You know, "Keep up with the Jones." And the latest catch-phrase, "Show me the money!"
#9) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. In other words, don't lie. If there's anything I've learned in my past employment, it's that the easiest plant to grow anywhere is the "grapevine." If it weren't for gossip (which oftentimes is little more than lies), I think a lot of companies would just shut down, because their employees wouldn't know how to communicate with each other! And even if a story starts out true, by the time it's been retold 6 or 7 times, there's usually very little truth left to it. And I'm not even going to start on all the allegations that have been made against people for various crimes ranging from rape, to murder, to incest that have been proven false. I'm afraid there is a lot of "false witnessing" going on in our society.
#8) Thou shalt not steal. This goes right along with #10. In today's society, if someone "covets" something that belongs to someone else, they usually get it by stealing it. Every day you can read in your local paper about break-ins, robberies, car thefts, and muggings. Some foreign tourists are even afraid to come to the U.S. for this reason.
#7) Thou shalt not commit adultery. Are you kidding? If it weren't for adultery, I don't think there would be any soap operas! I'd almost bet that you couldn't watch a single episode of a popular soap opera without seeing at least one instance of adultery. It's become a staple for the entertainment industry because people will pay to see it! Today, if adultery were to disappear, I think the entire entertainment industry would collapse overnight! And on top of the actual acts of adultery that are taking place, Christ said that if a man even looks at a woman lustfully (and vice versa), he has already commited adultery in his heart. This just multiplies the amount of adultery in our nation.
#6) Thou shalt not kill. A recent study found that teenage
males in the United States were far more likely to be murdered than in
any other industrialized nation. I think the ratio was something like 9
to 1. Car jackings and hostage situations often end in loss of life. We
have more than our share of serial killers. Abortion is legal, and
"assisted suicide" is gaining in popularity. Depictions of violence and murder rank only behind sex in our entertainment industry. Not only is murder rampant in our society, now we consider the depiction of murder to be "entertainment!"
#5) Honor thy father and mother. There is an overwhelming lack of parental respect on the part of the children of this nation. In some cases children have sued to "divorce" their parents. Adult children have accused parents of sexual assault and misconduct, even though many times these later prove to be false allegations and sometimes blatant lies. And ever so slowly, the government is trying to take away the parents' ability to properly discipline their children, while at the same time, making it so the parents are held responsible for their childrens' actions. In many cases, parents are even afraid of their children. I'm afraid this commandment went out the window about 30 years ago.
#4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. According to this commandment, we are told to rest on the seventh day, just as the Lord rested on the seventh day after creating the earth. We are told not to do any work. In the Old Testament, a man was once put to death just for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. Now, of course, the Sabbath has lost its meaning for many people, and the weekends (both Saturday and Sunday) are the biggest days of the week for many retailers. And in those retail stores, there are people working because they have no choice. In order to support their families, they either have to work on Saturdays and Sundays, or risk losing their jobs. So much for resting on the Sabbath.
#3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. I don't think I even need to comment on this one.
#1) Thou shalt have no other gods before Me; #2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. . .Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them. I put these two together, because they go hand in hand. These two commandments are broken on a regular basis in our culture, both intentionally and unintentionally. For those who do not believe in God at all, or perhaps don't believe in the God of Israel, then breaking these commandments is automatic. Anything they place high value on in their lives becomes their "god," and their possessions become their "graven images," or idols. However, many people who do believe also break these commandments, although they may not realize it. For example: Suppose you decided you were going to read your Bible every Sunday afternoon. In this way you could learn more about the Lord and His ways. But, when football season came around, you decided to watch the game instead of read your Bible. Guess what. You've just put football before God, and the the TV set has become your idol. Now, of course, this is a very specific example, and would only apply if someone had decided to make that particular commitment (i.e. reading the Bible on Sunday afternoons), but it applies to many different situations. Any time you've made a commitment to the Lord (either to serve Him in some specific way, or to read His word, or to pray to Him), and something comes up that causes you to say, "Well, I'm going to do this other thing. I'll (serve, read, pray) later," you've just put that other activity in front of the Lord. As I said, this is commonplace in today's society.
After looking at all this, I'm afraid there is only one conclusion we can come to. The United States is a powerful nation. We are a nation that respects the rights of the individual. America does much to help the poor, and other nations. Overall, the United States is a good nation, but I'm afraid we can no longer call ourselves a Christian nation. At one point, we may have displayed many of the same values and virtues that Christianity cherishes, but not anymore, at least, not as a nation.
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