The pundits of radio and television speculate that we are now at a great turning point in America's life. The apparent deep divide politically makes many skeptical that there is any way back to balance in our life, back to compromise, cooperation, civility, kindness, and grace.
An historian this Sunday evening reminds us that at Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration three major competing philosophies had won credence: Fascism in Italy, Nazism in Germany, and Communism in Russia. They all had great appeal at the time, leading to political scares as various intellectual leaders confessed to having embraced communist ideals.
We are unclear about the spirit and truths that have given us democracy. What is clear historically is that our founding fathers were largely men of serious Christian faith, and that they recognized a distinctly Christian vision motivating the Pilgrim-Puritan generations just before them, and it was those Biblical visions that had fed their sense of purpose in the world of the new community they had been fashioning along the eastern seaboard towns and cities that had been growing there.
There was little talk of faith, or morality, or of God in the shouted slogans of the protests outside the Supreme Court last week, or outside Senator Collins of Maine's Washington office. Rather, their themes were immersed in the language of rights and defiance between the sexes in our country today.
A sexual revolution in the 1960's had undermined the traditions and institutions that gave a place for sexual life, and the bearing of children, and the creating of families in marriage, and marriage itself based in the life of the Church and the foundations of the Bible.
The great cry was for freedom as personal independence, even for "wife-swapping," and other forms of unfaithfulness in marriage. Sex was assumed to be an experience open to all people from their teens on. Along came the idea of consensual sex. The lines of forced sex blurred, and young people began to take what they could get.
Order was gone. Commitment was gone. Vows and promises meant less. Many decided not to marry at all. Until not only marriage began to topple, but other kinds of promises, and business went secular. The door opened wide for greed - and also for lust. Enter then Harvey Weinstein, and others to follow.
Our world now, in modern America, is one of who knows what is right or wrong? We hardly know what ethics or morality is.
The pathway back to order and decency, honor and faithfulness, is the same pathway Jesus offered when He invited young men on a beach to "COME, FOLLOW ME."
We will do well to think through the how of that, and for some, the why. Challenge the Church to do its work of showing us how, of bringing us into the disciples of life again, the way of faith again, the life of love again. The "HIGH WAY" - of integrity, and order, and honesty, and faithfulness.
It can be done. The Church can help. That's its work. To point out the life of love. Of sacrifice. The great Teacher is already there for us. He is JESUS - as modern a man as there ever was.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES