Is America still good? Noah Webster, commonly referred to as the “Schoolmaster to America,” described the word good in his 1828 dictionary as “Having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, or the qualities which God’s law requires; virtuous, pious; religious; applied to persons, and opposed to bad, vicious, wicked, evil.”
Alexis DeTocqueville, the French Diplomat who wrote Democracy in America, once said, “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits ablaze with righteousness did I understand the secret to her genius and power. America is great because she is good. When America ceases to be good she will cease to be great.”
DeTocqueville & Webster understood the key foundational block to our democracy that we have forgotten today – that moral goodness undergirds the foundation of our country. The more I see comments from our President like I read this week (comments below) the more I realize that as a nation we seem to have spiritual AIDS, where our “anti-bodies” (church) fail to distinguish between good & bad, therefore rendering them useless to fight off disease.
From the mouth of our President at an LGBT fundraiser in NYC this week:
– So Pride Month is a time for celebration, and this year we’ve got a lot to celebrate. If you think about everything that’s happened in the last 12 months, it is remarkable. In nine more states you’re now free to marry the person you love – that includes my two home states of Hawaii and Illinois. The NFL drafted its first openly gay player. The U.S. Postal Service made history by putting an openly gay person on a stamp – the late, great Harvey Milk smiling from ear to ear.
– When I took office, only two states had marriage equality. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia do.
– But because of your help, we’ve been able to do more to protect the rights of lesbian and gay, and bisexual and transgender Americans than any administration in history.
– We repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” because no one should have to hide who you love to serve the country we love.
– I lifted the 22-year ban on people with HIV traveling to the U.S.
– Before I took office, only one openly gay judge had been confirmed in history. We have 10 more.
– …we stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts and argued alongside Edie and Robbie before the highest court in the land.
– I’ve directed my staff to prepare for my signature, an executive order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Moral goodness is key to our health as a nation. It grieves me to hear our highest elected official state such things that are contrary to “having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, or the qualities which God’s law requires.”
So what are the churches whom DeTocqueville described to do now? Matthew 7:5 provides the answer: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
In my opinion, if the Church leads the way in goodness the nation will follow. I find it interesting that nearly every time I write or speak I end up referencing 2 Chronicles 7:14. So I’m going to end with that verse, once again, as our way back to goodness in America.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”