It is with a reflective pause that I approach this Fourth of July, 2013, for it seems to me we have never before faced so many threats to our freedoms as Christians and to our freedoms as Americans, as part of a culture steeped in a Judeo-Christian ethos.
The encroachments have been small and sliding, one here, one there, hard to trap, painful to face, difficult to define, control, and challenge. The most recent – the Supreme Court’s definition of marriage – has, I believe, harmed the traditional family and thus has harmed the Church, two pillars of our society. The answer perhaps is to change the naming, the wording, and call marriage “traditional marriage” and not simply marriage to separate it from other forms, for polygamy and incest will soon follow (there is no legal argument against either now). Either way, the government has decided to no longer support the traditional family as a vital institution in American society, one to be encouraged for the sake of the country.
Of course the family has been assaulted for many years, at least since the 1960s. The birth control pill divorced sex from procreation, and redefined marriage. We wanted our sexual freedom without responsibility. We wanted to marry and not necessarily have children. These desires naturally led to the right to kill those children in the womb. When we fell out of love, when the bliss settled into everyday reality, we embraced the chance to deny our marriage vows.
I have been divorced, and I know the heartache and trials that preclude, include, and result in divorce. I do not defend easy divorce – we must take stock seriously any act that threatens the family.
Yes, I pause each year and count our freedom-losses as we approach Independence Day. The Founders knew the importance not only of faith and family, but of free speech, and the harnessing of free speech is part of that freedom-loss count. For language has been vandalized, truth has been put on trial, and in many cases Christians have been muzzled, afraid of offending.
If we deny our Judaic-Christian ethos, what have we as a nation? What rights, what freedoms are left to protect?
I read recently an article by Mary Eberstad, a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, that was most encouraging. She believes that when we hit rock bottom and realize that the government cannot possibly afford all it promises, that it cannot replace the family as a social institution of caregivers and educators, passing on the values of our society, that the government will wake up and support the institution of family once again. We pray this will happen sooner than later, at least the realization, and that there will be an America still to protect and an institution of family still to revive.
So this year, I celebrate the freedoms we have left, which are many. Conservatives and Christians – Christian conservatives and conservative Christians – can still speak out. We can still meet in the public square. Our voice can be still be heard, even if faint, often muzzled and, more effectively, ridiculed. There is time, but the clouds gather. The pulpit is threatened, print is threatened, public education is threatened.
As a Christian, I believe what the Church says is true: God wins in the end. But I love my country, I love my culture, I love the freedom and creative energy of Americans. I love that someone like my husband, a “poor boy from East Oakland,” as he has often called himself, could rise in a major corporation through sacrifice and hard work.
But the values of sacrifice and hard work are part of this body of traditional values that is dying. Without marriage and the family this treasure will not be passed on to the next generation. Many of our public schools no longer teach those values or where they came from. They no longer teach American History, World History, the History of Western Civilization, the past that shows us what makes civilization civil. And what does make civilization civil? The Judeo-Christian heritage upon which our Founders founded our nation.
Many have fought for these values, many continue to fight around the world. Martyrs die daily for their faith. Soldiers lay down their lives.
We celebrate these men and women, and our Founders and our freedoms. We raise the flag on the Fourth of July. But we also kneel in prayer as never before.
Here’s to thee, America the Beautiful!