Morality and Politics in America

John Adams said a long time ago, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” And the conservative Edmund Burke said, “What is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” Here are some similar insights Alexis de Tocqueville shared in his book, Democracy in America*:

“Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

“Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”

 “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

“When a nation[‘s] well of public virtue has run dry: in such a place one no longer finds citizens but only subjects.”

 “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

“A nation cannot long remain strong when every man belonging to it is individually weak.”

“What one must fear, moreover, is not so much the sight of the immorality of the great as that of immorality leading to greatness.”

“So religion, which among the Americans never directly takes part in the government of society, must be considered as the first of their political institutions; for if it does not give them the taste for liberty, it singularly facilitates their use of it.”

“Religion is much more necessary in the republic.”

“In order that society should exist, and a fortiori, that a society should prosper, it is required that all the minds of the citizens should be rallied and held together by certain predominant ideas.”**

“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot… How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie be not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? and what can be done with a people which is its own master, if it be not submissive to the Divinity?”

No matter who ultimately gets elected, if what Adams and Tocqueville said were right, and I think they were, it’s only a matter of time before a pretty significant downfall of America. Many moral dominos have fallen, and I don’t so much mean abortion and gender confusion. I mean the more common and prevalent lack of virtue, which has precipitated more visible concerns. Now the only truth that is readily accepted is that there is no truth, only what is right for the autonomous self. Those were dominos. Those have been falling. 

America needs: revival. Not of the Republican Party, but of people set on fire for the true Savior. Revival is what would make people “moral and religious,” as Adams spoke of and which our Nation rests or topples on.

Whatever happens, Christians trust the One who has the government on His shoulders. The One who is “called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” The One of whom it can be said: “Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Whatever happens, Christians can trust that God is very adept at using a remnant for His good purposes to highlight His glory and goodness. Perhaps America won’t be saved, but perhaps millions of Americans will be?!

*As an aside, I think it is interesting to note what Tocqueville said about wealth in America remembering that Scripture says, that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Many have “noted the American obsession with work and the restless quest for the “almighty dollar” (Tocqueville, Democracy in America). Tocqueville also said, “The love of wealth is . . . to be traced, either as a principal or an accessory motive, at the bottom of all that the Americans do” (Ibid.). As well as, “One must go to America to understand what power material well-being exerts on political actions and even on opinions themselves, which ought to be subject only to reason” (Ibid.).

**Such as the reality of objective truth actually existing.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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