5 Ways the Church is Failing America, and How We Can Change

On this Fourth of July weekend, it's time to take stock.

By James Robison Published on July 2, 2015

On this Independence Day weekend, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disastrous marriage ruling that ignores God, natural law and common sense, it’s a good time to take stock. Our nation is heading in the wrong direction and some of the responsibility lies with the church. The so-called religious “nones” (referenced in a recent USA Today article) are on the rise, and some are predicting that America will inevitably slouch its way toward secularism the same way Europe has. Still, there is hope — and that hope lies with the church.

Our founders understood that the freedom experiment they were embarking on required the care and guidance of the Creator. And both they and the pilgrims who preceded them to these shores in search of liberty understood that liberty must not only be pursued, but, once established, jealously guarded.

Too few of us today understand this. The church has been silent too often and the pulpits too often un-prophetic to inspire repentance and the restoration of foundational principles. Let me touch on several areas that should deeply concern all of us:

1. The ever-increasing size and control granted to the federal government by the voters and representatives in Washington

Our leaders protect the power of their positions by promising what only God and true charity can provide. People are being taught that they can depend on the government rather than God. Politicians have become comfortable taking people’s resources and disbursing them at will. We are not better for it, but weaker.

I care deeply for the poor and helpless, but the nation’s approach to the problem is making matters worse. Voting for promises that sound compassionate is counterfeit charity. Only active, voluntary involvement by caring people can produce progress. If those caring volunteers are churches acting thoughtfully and prayerfully, so much the better.

2. The rapidly growing federal debt along with the inevitable rise in taxes

These spell economic bondage that will seriously erode hopes of sustained national recovery and stability. The job market will not be spared. The ability for those who struggle to move forward will be drastically limited. If we can act responsibly now and begin to live within our means, we can limit the damage and restore economic hope. If not, we shouldn’t imagine that the laws of economics and the lessons of history somehow don’t apply to us. Extravagant spending beyond our means can’t and won’t go on forever. There will be a day of reckoning. If that’s not a lesson for the pulpit, why are the Proverbs full of warnings on the subject?

3. The lack of involvement on the part of Christians in the public square

I have emphasized for many years the importance of Christians being inspired, informed and involved. A great percentage of active church members, even in evangelical and Catholic churches, are not even registered to vote. Many who are registered never vote. Those who do vote are not always well-informed. An uninformed electorate is dangerous. They are easily manipulated. We need to understand the principles that made us great and that must be preserved or restored. This is a major reason we launched The Stream website.

4. The misinterpretation of founding principles

We must understand that rights come from God, not from government or politicians. We have been granted God-given rights as our founders outlined in the Declaration of Independence. The government’s role is to protect those rights, not to create or redefine them. “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,” our founders declared, and “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”

The founders also said we have the right the pursue happiness. We don’t have a guarantee of happiness. We pursue those things which can bring success and happiness. It’s not something automatically given to people; it is something we must seek on our own. As Christians, we find fullness in life by pursuing the source of life, living as free and responsible persons. We don’t wait for someone to bring it to us.

People who live off the sweat and planning of others tend to be inadequate caretakers. This mentality is on the rise in our society and only God can change it.

When our founders and those seeking the “promised land” established this nation, they understood that freedom requires responsibility. This is not being communicated in our nation and the church has failed to make it clear. Many professing Christians have participated in this terrible downward progression.

5. Our failure to vigorously champion the value of all human life or the crucial importance of the family

How can the church not effectively address the tragedy of abortion? We must help people recognize the significance of life. The church is the most effective influence on earth working to strengthen the family and helping people understand the absolute value of human life.

At the same time, we have lost the importance of the family unit, and there is an all out assault on marriage. We are being pressed to call something natural that is deeply unnatural and disordered. Same-sex marriage is not only contrary to all biblical truth, but it runs in direct opposition to nature. Nobody wants to talk about the dramatic levels of physical and emotional pathologies that accompany these sexual arrangements, but churches need to. This trend is more than an assault on marriage. It actually violates the first institution established by God — marriage between one man and one woman. It is also an assault on the picture of Christ coming for His bride, the church. It is an attack on the importance of this sacred relationship that leads to the fruitfulness of the marriage relationship with beautiful offspring, the core strength of every flourishing society.

Faithful Presence

It isn’t the church’s role to endorse parties or detailed political platforms. But it is the responsibility of the church to address foundational principles, principles that so often today are ignored or misunderstood in the political realm. Read the book of Nehemiah where he led the people of Israel to restore the walls of Jerusalem. In the truest sense of the word, this is what I believe God is encouraging all of us as ministers and believers to begin doing in our nation. All of the Old Testament prophets warned Israel concerning the consequences of forsaking the moral boundaries God commanded them to keep in place as walls of protection.

As Nehemiah built the walls and called the people to confess their sins, he reminded them of the cause of deterioration in the walls. “Our ancestors were proud and stubborn and paid no attention to God’s commands,” he told them. “They refused to obey, and did not remember the miracles that had been done for them. Instead they became stubborn and appointed a leader to take them back to their slavery in Egypt” (Nehemiah 9:16). History repeats itself. For many years now our nation has chosen many a leader, from various walks of life, who have worked to tear down our moral walls brick by brick.

As Christians, we are to love the people in the world, but not be controlled by the ways of the world. We are not to be in bondage to the world’s systems. Much of the population and the church live in bondage. Believers are not living in the freedom that God offers. Unless the church begins to live in freedom and in the fullness of God’s Spirit, and to be a courageous light to those in darkness, we won’t be able to help this nation rebuild the walls necessary to maintain the freedoms we have enjoyed.



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