- - Sunday, December 6, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” — Psalm 111:10

Every day until December 25, we will be besieged by commercials ticking down the shopping days left until Christmas.

It’s a magical time of giving and getting gifts, but it should really be a celebration of the Lord’s greatest gift to us — sending His Son to die for our sins and be the light of the world.

For whatever His reason, God has especially blessed America. Our country was founded on a continent rich with natural resources and stunning beauty. God gave our Founding Fathers wisdom and insight about human nature, which enabled them to write a Constitution that made us the freest and wealthiest society on earth and has preserved our God-given rights for more than two centuries.

But instead of appreciating God’s blessings and striving to follow His principles, we are heading down the road to destruction followed by so many earlier civilizations. The virtuous, industrious culture bequeathed to us by the Pilgrims and Jamestown settlers is being corrupted by the same values that destroyed Rome and Greece: collectivism, selfishness and hedonism.

In the Bible, the Lord lays out the principles of liberty and prosperity: living by His laws, respecting private property, encouraging commerce, and expecting us to work to provide for ourselves, that we might also be able to help others in need.

But in America, God’s emphasis on personal responsibility and industry is being supplanted by the collectivist notion that government is responsible for our well-being. Rather than bestow personal charity, too many of us expect the government to take care of the needy. We’ve become selfish demanders rather than gracious givers.

Collectivism caused the fall of Rome. Shortsighted emperors and politicians sought the favor of the citizens by providing free wheat, oil and meat. Free food became a “right” of citizenship. Rome inevitably ceased to be self-sufficient in food production, and became dependent on food imports from North Africa. The people became dependent on the dole, public debt mounted, and the currency was debased. Meanwhile, the people were seduced by evermore extravagant spectacles. Does any of this sound familiar?

At the same time, Romans lost their willingness to place the welfare of the nation above their own. Men selfishly refused to join the legions, forcing Rome to fill the ranks with foreigners. Eventually, the military became too weak to hold the frontiers, and the empire that once withstood the onslaught of Hannibal’s mighty army was overrun by minor barbarian tribes.

Americans, too, have allowed our sense of what is morally right to be corrupted. Our society has fallen into what the great Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin recognized as early as the 1940s as a turning toward a sensate culture that devalues marriage, family and the deferred gratification that makes both possible.

When licentious Greece was conquered by a Roman army, the Romans noted that Greek men had become “effeminate.” Greece was done in by a generation of men not masculine enough to defend their homes and families. God warns us that we will suffer the consequences of our behavior.

It’s impossible for God to forget us, but He can and will withdraw his blessing from us if we refuse to obey Him. Our dysfunctional, irresponsible government has run up a debt so massive that it threatens to swallow us whole. Our president is hollowing out our military and weakening our position in the world, while aggressively importing Middle Eastern immigrants in ever greater numbers.

God tells us He sets the rulers in their places, and Barack Obama appears to be God’s warning shot across our bow. If we continue to forget and disobey God, our nation will go the way of Rome and Greece.

We didn’t get to this place overnight, and getting back on track won’t happen overnight, either. The battle will need to be fought in one heart, one family, and one neighborhood at a time.

We can begin now by placing God where He belongs — at the very center of our Christmas celebration.

J. Kenneth Blackwell is a senior fellow and policy board member of the American Civil Rights Union.

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