The eruption that has occurred about DACA strongly indicates that for many in the country Trump can do no right and Obama could do no wrong. It is not about legal or illegal, it’s about Donald Trump and Barack Obama. Hillary Clinton did not lose because people disagreed with her policies, but because she was a woman. Apparently the election was not about the direction of the country, but about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The mayor has declared Chicago a “Trump-free zone.” There are sanctuary cities and states that have legalized marijuana in defiance of federal law. (There is a delicious irony in effectively claiming states rights when we are busy tearing down confederate statues.) There is no right or wrong, legal or illegal, better or worse. There is only me vs you, him vs her, us vs them. Post-modernism has us by the throat.
Why is the press coverage of the Trump presidency as it is? If there are no values, there is only the personal. There is only my view and your view, there is nothing to compare our views against to determine which is better. Everything is reduced to a popularity contest. We like DACA – it’s “nice;” who cares if it is illegal. We don’t like trying to fix this illegality because that’s “mean.” We are one small step short of mob rule, but due to post-modernism we think mob rule is somehow democratic and law is an antiquated concept designed merely to encode the desire of the mob. Now that we have the internet where our opinions can be instantly made public and counted, who needs such things as law?
The saddest thing about this mournful state of affairs is the role modern American Christianity has played in its development.
On this morning’s show the host said that of his con law students only the Mormons anymore understand references to Joseph interpreting Pharoah’s dream. The stunning part of that anecdote is not that unchurched don’t know the story, but that his creedal Christian students don’t know it. (“Creedal Christian” is Mormon-speak for more traditional Christian denominations – the ones that follow the various creeds.) This anecdote is indicative of an American Christian church so New Testament-centric that even the most basic of Old Testament stories are not discussed or understood. If the average American Christian does not know the simple seminal narrative stories of Genesis, or the rest of the Pentatuech, then how do they have any understanding the Law as it is laid out in those same books – the Law that Jesus said He came to fulfill? And if we don’t understand Old Testament Law, how in the world can we understand American law?
Is it surprising that if the average American church, one that typically brand’s itself “come as you are” (because that’s what the marketing data says works), no longer holds up the basic standards of what it means to be a Christian, that the basic standards of what it means to be American would be jettisoned? If the church does not think the Law matters, why should the average American think the law matters? Somehow we have come to understand God’s love for us in spite of our sin as doing away with the idea of sin – but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s cheap grace to say, “Oh you’re not really a sinner,” but it is amazing grace to say, “You are the chief of sinners and I love you anyway.” It brings me to tears to think how shallow we so often make God’s love out to be.
Sadder still is the fact that when we are loved in spite of our shortcomings we try to overcome them simply to be worthy of the love we enjoy. When our shortcomings are simply overlooked we wallow in them like barnyard animals. We are not called to tolerate sin – we are called to love it to death.
The rule of law in this country hangs in the balance. It does so in no small part because much of Christianity has chosen to ignore the law instead of fulfill it. Like so much else that is wrong in our nation right now it is up to the church to lead us out of the mess.