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Memorial Day in the twilight of a great republic

052916_2029_1.pngFour months after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Lincoln dedicated a national cemetery where many of the fallen Union soldiers were buried. At the dedication, Lincoln gave a speech for the ages, the one we now know as the Gettysburg Address. The speech is short, but the conclusion is one worth revisiting this Memorial Day weekend:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I read this speech with heaviness of heart this year. It seems like the nation that Lincoln describes is slipping away. It seems less a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” than it is a people of the government, by the government, for the government. As the people decrease, the state increases. And the people have decreased in virtue, historical awareness, and commitment to ordered liberty “under God.”

The 2016 race for the presidency is a direct reflection of our current malaise. As a nation, we seem to have embarked on a Commodus-like decline. Out of all the people who campaigned for president this year, the two major parties have selected candidates that are not qualified for the office they seek. Both of them have disqualified themselves on moral grounds. As such, neither of them represents the best of our traditions, but they do seem to reflect what the nation has become. And this is much more distressing than the candidates themselves.

It is the conceit of great nations to think that things will always be as they have been–that national greatness is automatic and assured. But this is alas only a conceit. As God warned Edom of old,

The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’
Though you build high like the eagle,
Though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.
-Obadiah 1:3-4

God raises, and God brings down. We have nothing but what we have been given. And we are closing our eyes to providence and history to pretend otherwise. If you think national greatness can never be undone, remember that Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, and countless others all indulged the same conceit. We will be great as long as God wants us to be. As Lincoln himself acknowledged in his Second Inaugural Address, “The Almighty has His own purposes.”

A Christian citizen’s duty is not to predict the secret movements of providence but to pledge himself to the welfare of the nation (Jeremiah 29:7). For us, it means first and foremost Great Commission witness at home and abroad. But it also means that we understand that “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). And so we pledge ourselves to the good, the right, and the true even if we are the only ones doing it–even if our countrymen despise us for it. And we do so because we love our neighbor and our nation. And in doing so, we bear witness to the fact that here we have no lasting city, but seek a city which is to come (Hebrews 13:14).

So on this Memorial Day, I am remembering the words of Lincoln, but even more the words of scripture. I don’t want those dead to have died in vain. I want this great experiment in ordered liberty to survive. Perhaps we are in the twilight of a great Republic, but perhaps not yet. But if it is, I won’t let it go without a fight. I hope and pray you won’t either.



A one-legged man trapped inside a two-legged man’s body. Amputate?

At the heart of the transgender revolution is the notion that psychological identity trumps bodily identity. In this way of thinking, a person is whatever they think themselves to be. If a girl perceives herself to be a boy, then she is one even if her biology says otherwise. If a boy perceives himself to be a girl, then he is one even if his biology says otherwise. Gender is self-determined, not determined by the sexual differences that the Creator has embedded into every cell of our bodies.

Have Americans thought through the implications of believing that one’s psychological identity should trump one’s biological identity when the two seem to be out of sync? I am doubtful that we have. Continue Reading →


President Obama: Accept Transgenderism or Else

By the time you read this, the news will be all over the country. The New York Times reports that President Obama has released a letter directing every public school in the country to recognize and accept transgender identities. In particular, the directive has to do with bathroom and locker room use. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the report:

The Obama administration is planning to issue a sweeping directive telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.
Continue Reading →


Is there a difference between male and female?

This is not intended to be funny. It’s intended to reveal that as a culture we have become completely unmoored from reality. These college students are not outliers. Many young men and women have been weaned on the idea that there is no difference between men and women.Yes, there may be biological differences, but those biological differences have no necessary relationship to one’s identity.

These students have drunk deeply from the well of propaganda flowing from the gender studies department. As a result, they don’ t know the difference between male and female, and they don’t seem too concerned about it.

This is the unraveling of a civilization. The downstream effects of this confusion will not be happy for us. What you are seeing here is a willingness to abandon reason and common sense in order to prop-up fictional identities. To put it in theological terms, it’s “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). It’s evicting God’s revelation about the way things are in order to ensconce an anthropological fiction.

But at the end of the day, water will wet you. Fire will burn. Two plus two still equals four. There are things that do not change no matter how much the sexual revolutionaries might wish them away. The only question is how long our culture will go along with their fictions.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion…” -Gen. 1:27-28


A majority of millennials reject capitalism

The Washington Post reports on a survey indicating that a majority of millennials reject capitalism:

In an apparent rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy, a new poll shows that most young people do not support capitalism.

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

The report goes on to say that it is difficult to interpret exactly what this data mean. It seems clear, however, that this represents a signficant shift. Taken together with the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, has run a viable campaign for the Democratic nomination, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the ground is moving beneath our feet.

Albert Mohler comments on all this on his daily podcast “The Briefing.” You can download it here or listen below.

Mohler argues that many millennials are bereft of a basic economic worldview. They don’t like the way things are, but they don’t have a plan or view beyond that. Furthermore, there is a basic misunderstanding about what a free market economy is and how it operates. All of that adds up to rejection of capitalism on the one hand and to ad hoc government imposed solutions on the other.

Eugene Peterson and Bono talk about the Psalms

From the YouTube description:

This short film documents the friendship between Bono (lead musician of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home. Continue Reading →

This is not the right side of history… University of Washington edition

The video above came out last week from The Family Policy Institute of Washington. It began making the rounds over the weekend after David French posted it at National Review. It is a stunning look at the way college kids think (or don’t think) about the moral revolution that is upon us. I offered brief remarks on Twitter, which you can read below. Continue Reading →

Following-up about porn-use among young men

Last Monday, I wrote at length about the TIME magazine cover story concerning porn-use among young men. The response to it over the last week has been overwhelming. I thought there were several items worth mentioning here.

The author of the TIME cover story is Belinda Luscombe, and she took issue with my characterization of her reporting. In the comments section, she writes:
Continue Reading →

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