by ProfDave, ©2021
(Dec. 3, 2021) — “When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3. Does that sound like the world we live in – or at least Fox News? I have no idea how progressives deal with it, but it makes this old curmudgeon dizzy. It would seem that everything is falling apart and our leadership is intentionally doing the wrong thing at every turn. Everything!
The foundations of Western civilization, of the USA, of Christianity, of marriage, of family, of children – all seem to be crumbling. We have even lost our grip on the difference between boys and girls!
We have lost the value of children – who are the future of humanity and of whatever values we espouse. No longer image bearers of God and of our hopes, they have become expendable and preventable side effects of our pleasure. We no longer believe they are worth the investment of heart and treasure to raise them. Not enough are being born to sustain our population and those being born are being raised by the state, corrupted by social experiments and mesmerized by media that doesn’t really care. Too often they are spoiled with electronic escapes or condemned to hopeless dependency. The foundation of a happy and healthy childhood seems to be crumbling.
The foundation of the family is crumbling, too. If children are not worth the trouble, what is the point? The hostility of adolescents to their parents has become a cliché. Commitment, beyond the lease, is optional – though we do need help with the rent. Are two or more individuals living together a family? The nuclear family – a man, a woman, and their offspring – is under attack and the extended family has lost its significance for most of us. The ties between parents and offspring are often broken or tenuous. Progressives tout “the village” but mostly they mean the government, not the neighbors. The foundation of stable families seems to be crumbling.
There is merely a hair’s breadth between the foundations of family and of marriage. Without a solid marriage, the family is unstable. Divorce has been common for generations. Unmarried parenthood has become endemic – more than 50% of live births in many communities. Same-sex “marriage” is a distraction whose impact is debatable. At the bottom is the decoupling of sex from reproduction, relationship and marriage. “You can get it all and not get hooked.” Equally basic is the loss of serious commitment to the marriage vows. We have forgotten the “till death do us part” covenant. The foundation of marriage seems to be crumbling.
How about the church? It is supposed to stand against the gates of hell, isn’t it? To be exact, the gates of hell cannot stand against the Church of Jesus Christ. Is the Western church of the 21st century that church? While still the majority “faith” in America, it has been bleeding adherents for some time. Its faith in its supernatural message and methods has eroded. It looks more and more like the world around it, valuing popularity, success, entertainment and wealth above “making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe what [Jesus Christ] taught you.” Too many religious organizations are doing nothing that could not be done if God were dead. As the culture sheds its Christian veneer, the church compromises. Behold, Jesus stands outside the church doors knocking. The foundations of the church seem to be crumbling.
The USA is crumbling. The foundations of the nation – any nation, really – are its children, its families, its marriages and its faith. We see a loss of direction, of moral consensus, and of unity. We are more divided than at any time since the Civil War, with issues as deep or deeper than slavery: what it is to be human, to be male and female, economic systems, social structures and the place of conscience in public life, not to mention the Constitution itself. To many of us federal policies seem so systematically wrong that we wonder if ruin is not the objective. Meanwhile, our health (mental and physical), our economy, the legitimacy of civil and political authority all seem to be crumbling.
“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3. Western Civilization seems to be crumbling, for all the things discussed above. If religion is the soul of a civilization, the West has clearly lost its soul and Europe is farther down the slope than America. Secularism, having overwhelmed the Judeo-Christian heritage, embraced Fascism, then Marxism, and is now challenged by Islamic immigration. It does not look good!
So what can the righteous do? Before I make suggestions, read the next verse (Psalm 11:4): “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them.” The Lord in His temple. He still holy. He is eternal – He does not change. His holy nature tells us what is holy. What is right is forever right, no matter which way the world goes. What is wrong is still wrong.
What do we mean when we speak of God in His holy temple? We know that God is holy, holy holy (G=H3), but what does that mean? We have no clear conception, except that God is pure and perfect in every respect. He is transcendent – beyond us. He defines what ‘right’ and ‘good’ and ‘love’ are – in other words, most of the things we are not. That makes our human frailty and wickedness all the more glaring.
God’s love and concern for children has not changed. You would be better off dropped into the ocean from an airplane with concrete overshoes than to harm or corrupt even one little one. In the end He will restore and avenge.
The Almighty built the perfect design of the family into the human race – and we thought we could do better. Heterosexual monogamy was His plan before time began and it will be His plan after time ends. He has not changed His mind. He has not come out with a family 2.0 to fit the 21st century. The way He designed family is the way it works, then, now and always. The same goes for men, for women and especially for marriage. The more conditions change, the more His holy standard remains the same – total lifetime commitment, mutual nurture and mutual responsibility.
God’s plan is to have a people who would work together building His kingdom called the church – His body on earth. Notice, the church is not a building or a denomination, it is a people of God in all times and places. They like to meet in buildings and organize their efforts in congregations and denominations, but that is not what the church is. Christ – second person of the Trinity – gave Himself for the church universal on the cross and is perfecting her to be His bride in heaven. The Lord is in His holy temple perfecting His holy bride.
The children, the families, and the marriages are not expendable. Society cannot survive without them. The USA and Western civilization are expendable. The true church will endure, as promised. The church of Jesus Christ thrived when Rome crumbled and it will go on when the West crumbles, too. God is in His holy temple. The world does not go well, but the Kingdom comes.
The Lord on His heavenly throne. The USA is a constitutional republic, but the kingdom of God is not. God is not elected, nor is He a constitutional monarch. He made us; he owns us. He is absolutely sovereign over all – and He is sitting on His throne. He is judge and jury – and Jesus Christ has offered to be your attorney. We stand accused of highest treason against the Sovereign of all things and multiple wrongs against other citizens. Our society stands accused of destroying its own foundations. How do we plead? It is the right of the Almighty (and He always does what is right) to condemn me to outer darkness forever. My only hope is to appeal to the blood of Jesus. It is His right to remove His blessing from the institutional church, the nation, and the West, condemning them to disgrace and oblivion – the garbage disposal of history.
“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; His eyes examine them” (Psalm 11:3-4). The Lord not only occupies the standard of rightness (the holy temple) and the judge’s bench (His heavenly throne), but He is watching every thought and deed.
The Lord observes. When we even think about aborting or abusing a child – our Judge is watching. When I look at a sex object – He is up there shaking His head in disappointment. He sees every tear of the rejected spouse. He feels the pain of the broken family. He hears all the garbage that is broadcast on screens and in schools, K through graduate. His heart aches for the damage it does to the innocent and the not-so-innocent. He sees it all. He is watching – and not from a distance.
The Lord observes what is going on in the USA and in Western civilization. He sees the hatred, the greed, the lust, the racism and the narcissism that is in our hearts, our politics, our economy and our culture. He sees our efforts to banish the Cross and the Creator from public life, Jesus Christ from polite conversation and His commandments from our moral framework. It isn’t like we are trying to hide our hostility, is it? We cannot.
The Lord “examines them.” He actively pokes and prods and tests us to expose our deepest intent and potential. The Almighty numbers the hairs of our heads. He knows every atom of our DNA, every synapsis of our brains, every thought in our minds before we think it and every pulse of our limbic system. He knows what we are made of. The marvelous thing is that He still loves us. We can stop pretending that we are good, but start being thankful that we are loved.
What can the righteous do? It is a rhetorical question, but there are answers. Nothing? Yes – God is holy, just and fully informed. He will take care of all the evil in our world in His good time. Something? Yes – the biggest thing they/we can do is be righteous – with a lot of help. Don’t be part of the problem! That may be easier said than done. The influences of a godless and morally compromised culture seep into our bones, our assumptions and our churches. We hate being ridiculed, being out of step, being marginalized. So we shut up, compromise and become part of the problem.
How is God going to use Jesus-followers? Remember, God is not a Republican, or even a conservative. The question is whether conservatives or Republicans or you are on His side. The same goes for Democrats and Socialists. He has people in different parties.
What are God’s people to do? Like the early Christians they are to live humble lives of sanity, doing the right thing in public and in private. With divine help they can show culture what right marriages, right families and right child raising look like. They can give a reason for the hope that is in them with gentleness and respect. They can speak the truth in love – even to power. They can refuse to give in to fear and hatred. And, if given the opportunity, they will glory in the privilege of suffering for the One who suffered for them.
Historically, we have been here before. In the first century a few hundred simple Jews and fellow travelers in the back corner of the mighty Roman Empire were filled with the Holy Spirit. Without any other power, office or influence – and under enormous persecution – they turned the Roman Empire and Western civilization around. How? By doing the right thing in their private lives, serving their neighbors, and dying well under persecution. The moral and cultural state of the Empire was far worse than ours. In fact, Rome did not survive its decadence. But Christianity did. God can easily do it again. So what can the righteous do? Repent of our compromise, be righteous (with God’s help), plead for God’s mercy on our neighbors and stand by for God to use us to turn things around.
David W. Heughins (“ProfDave”) is Adjunct Professor of History at Nazarene Bible College. He holds a BA from Eastern Nazarene College and a PhD in history from the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Holiness in 12 Steps (2020). He is a Vietnam veteran and is retired, living with his daughter and three grandchildren in Connecticut.