Okay, we’ve dodged the bullet, for the moment. Congress has approved a necessary stopgap to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. There won’t be a default or a run on the dollar this week, which would have wreaked havoc worldwide.
But until and unless we sober up, honestly face our problems, and deal with them responsibly, we will remain in an untenable position, bordering on chaos.
Just this Monday, for instance, the Pew Research Center released a survey on public attitudes towards the budget debate. Only two percent of the American people said they approved of the government’s behavior. Let me repeat that, because you may think I misspoke. Only two percent of the American people approve of the government’s behavior.
This is one of the most chilling statistics I’ve ever seen, because representative democracy only works at the consent of the governed.
What this debate has demonstrated is that America is deadlocked in a titanic ideological struggle. The danger is that without responsible leadership, deadlocked societies can descend quickly into chaos. And chaos can easily lead to tyranny.
As you have heard me say many times, and it bears repeating again and again, ideology is a man-made formulation: It is the enemy of true conservatism, which is governed by revealed truth and the wisdom of those who have gone before us. And it is certainly an enemy of the Gospel which rest on revealed propositional truth.
Allow me to quote one of my favorite philosophers, Russell Kirk. “The attitude we call conservatism,” he wrote, “is sustained by a body of sentiments rather than by a system of ideological dogmata . . . the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than chaos. . .”
Folks, I see no biblical warrant for the two positions being embraced in Washington today — a total refusal to raise taxes on one hand; a total refusal to cut government spending on the other. They are both based on man-made ideology.
Is it too much to hope for — as a very well written letter signed by Christians for a Sustainable Economy argues — that our leaders correctly identify the problem (the debt, which the Bible certainly speaks about), put aside narrow political interests aside, and lead for the long term?
Maybe it is. I really wonder if our leaders have the moral and political will to stop spending our money and stop plunging us into further debt. Their behavior has made an unimpeachable case for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. I see no other way.
When I was a Marine officer, what I worried most about was taking care of my troops. I don’t know how congressmen and senators go to sleep at night if they’re paying more attention to K Street lobbyists and political ideologues than they are to the well-being of the American people.
The agreement reached this week in Washington only bought us some time. We can only hope and pray that for such a time as this, God will raise up His people to speak about biblical truth, wisdom, prudence, and justice, and to spurn ideologies of the left or the right.
It’s the only way to break the ideological stranglehold and avoid the chaos that can lead only to tyranny.
God help us.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: August 3, 2011