If you have watched the news recently, you likely have seen the stories of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan after twenty years of conflict. The images that came from the airport at Kabul were as shocking as those from the Vietnam era–and even more so. Desperate people clung to airplanes as they sought to escape the Taliban.
Of course, now we are seeing the Genesis 3 game, “Blame the Other Guy.” President Biden blames the Afghans for “lacking the will to fight” (though in fairness they have been fighting for 20 years–and much longer before we came on the scene). The Republicans blame the President (though in honesty and fairness, the withdrawal was announced by former President Obama and the deal was brokered by former President Trump). In the midst of the wrangling, people have been forgotten about.
This isn’t a post about the Taliban, American politics, or even specifically about the fall of Afghanistan. Rather, this is a post about the bigger and deeper issue that lies beneath–the loss of America’s moral leadership. That statement may shock you, and it both should and should not shock you.
Almost since the founding of this country, America has lauded itself as the great moral leader of the world. America will do what’s right. America will protect the interests of those who are weak. Yet, that moral leadership has been slowly deteriorating. No one event can be said to cause the decline. Though the so-called “religious right” like to assert that America was a “Christian nation,” that has never really been true. Founded on Judeo-Christian principles? Certainly. Christian (as in ‘submitted to Christ’s leadership’)? Never. But I digress…
What we have seen is the result of leadership not submitted to Christ. That is not a political statement. That is a biblical statement. Human nature will always seek life apart from God, and part of that is a loss of a moral compass. It was once said of America and democracy that American democracy was the great hope of the world. Even countries that disagreed with America at least trusted her. Now, America doesn’t keep the promises she made. President Biden said that Afghanistan had lost the will to fight. Could it be rather that America has lost the will to fight? (And not just in a military sense.)
I have long said that there will be a day of reckoning, where the church will have to choose between continuing to Americanize the gospel or be the church and preach the Gospel of Christ. Recent events highlight the fact that this day is coming sooner than perhaps we’d like. Make no mistake, the country that has lost moral leadership on the international level has already lost moral leadership at home. With that, we will see the nation turn against those who claim the name of Christ.
What must the church do? Prepare. We are directed to live our lives in such a way as to give no reason for the world to substantiate any accusations against us. We cannot do this as long as we look to politics to solve problems. We must stop allowing our political viewpoints to dictate how we view Scripture, the church, and others. Instead, we must thrust ourselves onto Christ alone and let Him inform our conscience and our worldview. And I daresay that His worldview will be shockingly different than those who have mixed politics and Christianity. As I wrote in an open letter some time ago, the American church has hitched herself to two horses, the horse of America and the horse of the gospel. These two are fundamentally incompatible with each other. It’s time for the church to decide on which horse she will continue to ride, because to ride on both is no longer possible.
[Read the full text of “The Church in America: An Open Letter“].