Death by Natural Causes
“Such is the natural and inevitable tendency of the best constituted governments. If Sparta and Rome have perished, what state can hope to endure for ever? If we wish to form a durable constitution, let us, then, not dream of making it eternal. In order to succeed we must not attempt the impossible, nor flatter ourselves that we are giving to the work of men a stability which human things do not admit. The Body politic, as well as the human body, begins to die from its birth, and bears in itself the causes of its own destruction.” (Rousseau, Social Contract, III.11)
America will fall. England, Germany and China will also for that matter. It is natural for the body to decay and die; the same is for the body politic. No nation will live forever. The above quote from Rousseau—of whom I am not typically a fan—is a really helpful catalyst for thinking through where we as citizens and Christians find our hope and security. The fact that so many people, and among them Christians, are surprised that a nation can ‘shutdown’ is a little daunting.
We are right to think that a government should protect its citizens and their interests. The issue is how far do we think that a political system can do this job, and how effectively. Where is our trust and sense of security coming from? American government? This should not be the case.
Like all bodies, our political body will grow old and pass away. If it did so tomorrow, where is your hope? Where is you treasure? Where is your firm foundation? We are Christians before we are Americans. The government may fall one day, but the Church will not.