Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lawlessness Does Not Produce Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

There are many reasons to be alarmed by the events occurring in the United States these days.  People kill law enforcement officers as if it is a good thing.  People defend brutal gang members as if they are heroes to be celebrated.  People advocate for transgenderism as if it is a cause for celebrity status rather than a grave mental illness to be dealt with properly through mental health channels.  People fight for the right to murder unborn children as if life is primarily about convenience, my convenience.  People even resist border security as if, somehow, protecting residency and citizenship is an evil process.

It is easy these days to dismiss these trends as a by-product of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS):  All on the left are opposed to Trump, and will be opposed to anything he suggests.  He could speak on behalf of providing safe homes for all children in America, and people would stand against the idea, simply because he spoke it.  While it is true that TDS has forced the left into a lot of awkward and short-sighted positions which they will come to regret, many of their strongest positions are not new.  Many of  these positions have been articulated and defended long before Trump took office.  The harassment and killing of officers started years before Trump took office.  The debate over border security has been cycling since the 90's.  The abortion debate has been echoing through our civic and academic halls for decades.  These debates are not new.

What has changed is the organization and intensity of those who oppose enforcing lawful behavior.  We as a nation have prospered because we have governed ourselves according to faith and tradition and social convention.  We have looked for it in the Bible, the Constitution, and many other written documents. Collectively, these documents promote orderliness and lawfulness standing as a deterrent against the treachery of men, and man's tendency to act in brutal self interest.  Our nation has been successful and prosperous and powerful, more than any other nation in history, because we have valued the rule of law above the whims of man and the temptations of the heart.  We need to interpret recent events, not primarily as an attack on the conservative right, Donald Trump, or even the United States of America, but as an attack on the practice of running our great nation according to the supremacy of faith, justice, and the rule of law.

In some ways, it is the great debate of all time.  Will I be happier in the long run if I always do what I want and what feels good in the moment?  Or will I be happier in the long run if I act according to beliefs and principles which supersede the pleasures of the moment?   Those who advocate for unchecked self expression are intoxicated by the lie that all self expression leads to happiness, and that orderliness and long-term thinking only lead to frustration.  The tensions surrounding appropriate police community relations or defining healthy border security are like the tension within a middle school boy discovering porn for the first time: torn between the rush of immediate pleasure and the destruction of violating what was intended by the creator.  Those who advocate for lawless behavior have perpetuated the falsehood that tension can be eliminated by declaring porn to be a good thing, thus eliminating all guilt.

The problem is that this solution does not account for the realities of man, how we were created, and how our nation was created.  We as a nation will not be better off by declaring open borders and minimal police presence to be the new norm.   Like porn, this would provide an immediate rush, in this case coming from the self-congratulation over helping others.  Eventually, however, reality sets in.  The real guilt of violating what is intended cannot be dismissed.  Borderless nations and safe communities without police protection are no more real than the relational maturity of a porn addict.  They just look appealing to those who don't want to be constrained by the annoying inflexibility of the created order.

The last 50 years has been a clear move toward lawlessness: throwing off conventions which have served us well for hundreds of years.  We have rushed into condoning lawlessness, and being guided by its impulses, as if our greatness as a nation grew out of our lawless behavior and rebellious self-expression.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The existence of our nation as a world superpower is a clear and unambiguous statement: we will all be better off if we act creatively and intentionally within the bounds of truth and order and rightness.

As a nation, we are not locked in a battle for the Republican Party, the conservative right, or the TEA Party.  We are fighting for the right to be governed by the rule of law, by defining our national protocol according to truths and principles which have stood true for millenia.  The evangelicals did not come out to vote for Trump because they thought he was a beacon of moral virtue.  They knew the truth.  They voted for Trump because he stands for important elements of returning our nation to its roots.

Secure borders and a strong military.  Equal opportunity for all and consistent punishment for violation of the law.  Strict interpretation of the constitution and freedom to manage one's own life.  We as a nation are fighting for movement back toward tradition and virtue, and away from license and self-gratification.  Toward values which have stood the test of time, and away from modern concepts which condone the perversion of "all behavior is equally valid".  Toward the rule of law, and away from lawlessness.  Toward an America that is strong, safe, and prosperous, and away from an America that is dangerous, fearful, and economically divided.  We want to get back to the way that America has operated to the envy of the world.  And we want to get away from the whims of the few who resent order and restraint and the power that comes from subjecting ourselves to consistent enforcement of what is good and right and just.

I hope and pray that America is paying attention.  Those who promote lawlessness are selfish and short sighted.  They do not care if they destroy America and all its greatness.  Like the middle school boy with porn,. they only care about immediate gratification.  They do not care about truth, reality, and the constraints of the created order.  They are willing to destroy America for the pleasure of feeling good for a brief moment.  If we as a nation stand up to the bullying of lawlessness, we can continue to thrive as a nation and be the envy of the world.  If we let ourselves be bullied by lawlessness and the rush of rebellion, we will slide into oblivion and decay, unable to manage ourselves or be a force for good around the world.  May it never be.

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