Based on the evidence of both past experience and current events, I am bound by rational conviction to reach the verdict that the GOP offers no prospect but repeated bitter disappointment to those like me who seek the revival and perpetuation of constitutional, republican government in the United States. I suspect, though, that despite my head, my heart continues to hope that the GOP’s flavor of the week presidential nominating process will reveal some candidate who represents, in word and fruitful deed, a forthright articulation of American principle and common sense. For America’s sake I may still hope that some such GOP candidate will rouse and convince my spirit enough to justify the triumph of hope over experience. After all, as the Frenchman said, “The heart has its reason that reason does not know.”
By now everyone knows how deeply I share the belief, prevalent among America’s founders, that this reason beyond the purview of unaided reason is an aspect of what reflects, in our human nature, the being and authority of God. So when I heard about Rick Perry’s prayer rally in Texas, the irrepressible impulse of hope naturally led me to take an interest. Even after Perry’s unprincipled reaction to New York’s abandonment of natural right in regard to the family (i.e., its recognition by law of so-called marriage between individuals of the same sex), that pesky voice of hope urged me to wait and see. As I can personally attest, God has time and again put earthen vessels to good use, and by His grace made up the deficiencies of our human understanding. We need only be willing to give up our hearts to Him.
So I was primed to pay attention when I received an email from AFA’s Tim Wildmon on Wednesday about the prayer rally. “Last Saturday,” he wrote, “Texas Gov. Rick Perry led our nation in prayer at The Response in Houston, Texas, where an estimated 32,000 Christians were gathered. In his opening remarks, Gov. Perry openly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ.” Tim asked me to “take a moment to watch the video of Gov. Perry’s prayer.” So I did:
Because sincere prayer comes from the heart, we are justified in assuming that prayer reveals the true priorities of the one who prays. Perry says, “Like all of you, I love this country deeply. Thank you all for being here. Indeed, the only thing that you love more is the living Christ.” With this remark he is clear about the first priority of his audience. But (should we assume inadvertently?) he stops short of clearly stating his own. (He doesn’t say, the only thing I love more is the living Christ, though that is clearly implied.)
He then proceeds to mention people who are especially on his heart as he speaks: “those who suffer, those afflicted by the loss of loved ones, the pain of addiction, the strife that they may find at home, those who have lost jobs, who have lost their homes, people who have lost hope, those who cannot see the light in the midst of all the darkness.”
Though Tim Wildmon says that Perry “led our nation in prayer,” what most struck my heart about Perry’s politically correct, social-justice listing of the afflicted is the absence of any reference to those who are in anguish because of the nation’s moral and spiritual plight. He speaks of those who have lost loved ones, but says nothing of those who are killing the innocents whom by God’s will they ought to love; or those who grieve as America incurs God’s wrath by sanctioning the “right” to slaughter of millions of innocent nascent children. He speaks of the strife in homes, but says nothing of those stricken with grief, and exposed to the loss of natural rights, as well as moral and spiritual death, because of America’s promotion of so called “gay rights” and the ongoing abandonment of God’s provision for the home and for decent family life. He later prays for people who risk and lose their lives in our military, but says nothing of the impending spiritual assault that threatens our military personnel as they are forced to accept the open practice of homosexuality in their ranks.
Later in his words, Perry alludes to the mercy that awaits those who come to God with repentant hearts, broken and weeping on account of their sins. Yet in his oration, (from the Latin orare – to plead or argue for a cause, to pray) he carefully avoids specifically acknowledging the nation’s sins. He carefully avoids any account of them that would inspire our hearts to break on their account, and in that brokenness surrender to God’s will.
People can pretend if they like that this avoidance of truth is somehow required by political prudence. But in the American Declaration of Independence, the progenitors of the American Revolution identified our Creator as the source of human rights. They said that “to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” The acknowledgement of the Creator, the maker of heaven and earth, is therefore the first principle of the American republic, and the sine qua non of our existence as a people entitled to self-government.
Instead of reminding people of these truths, Perry completely omits any reference to them. Instead he uses formulations that suggest that, though God’s will superintends salvation, it implies no standards for political choice and action. He quietly implements the specious notion that politics and faith operate in completely separate spheres. He acknowledges the God of mercy and salvation, but studiously omits the truth – that he is the God of justice, too.
Yet justice is, or ought to be, the primary concern of a political leader. It is, as President James Madison said, the end or aim of both government and civil society. Anyone sincerely committed to restoring the principles and integrity of America’s republic would never omit to remind people of faith that America is founded on the acknowledgement of the fact that the Creator of heaven and earth and all humanity is therefore the source and rule for all that is just.
There is no doubt that boldly reminding people of this fact must these days surely incur the wrath of the forces bent on driving God from His rightful place as the Sovereign of the sovereign people of the United States. But that is the difference between leaders who trust in and serve God in their pursuit of political goals, and those who simply seek to call on his Divine power (and the votes of the faithful) to serve their own political ends (as did the rulers of old when they called on ancient pagan gods to buttress their authority.)
I’m surely glad that I did as Tim Wildmon requested. Otherwise I might have missed the check in my spirit that prevents me from being taken in by another version of the same old GOP con. I might have mistaken Gov. Perry for the pray-ers’ answer and given in to the temptation to ignore the voice of reason and experience once again.