The Christian’s Responsibility to Government

By Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., founder of Liberty University

Note: The following is a sermon originally written and presented by Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr, founding pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church, and later published in the “Baptist Fundamentalism ’84 Sermons” book.

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

Perhaps George Orwell was thinking of this when he wrote his now famous novel 1984 as a warning to future generations: Are prevailing ideologies leading us just as surely to the state of total tyranny that Orwell portrayed?

Orwell’s 1984 world is without written laws, where an uncontrolled thought is a crime against the state, where liberty is translated into license. Logic is transmuted into the mere repetition of a programmed thought. Unalienable rights granted by a Creator have been eliminated, for if there are no laws to protect them, there are no unalienable rights.

Are we so far from this situation?

“Political language,” wrote Orwell, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” The Thought Police of Orwell’s novel did not shoot or kill dissenters, they “eliminated” them. People who did submit to the authority of Big Brother were not sent to concentration camps, they were sent to “Joycamp.”

Statistics now reveal that 1.5 million pregnancies were terminated last year. Many doctors casually refer to “problems arising from disposal of products of conception.” The news reports often carry stories of homosexual campaigns for civil rights. Is the fiction of 1984 so far away?

In his July 4, 1914, address, President Woodrow Wilson declared, “Liberty does not consist in mere declarations of the rights of man. It consists in the translation of those declarations into definite actions.”

As Americans, and especially as Christians, we must translate our words into actions, or the nation in which we have been blessed will not remain as we know it for our children and future generations.

Christianity demands that we take an active part in declaring liberty for mankind. Christ said that we “are the salt of the earth.” Salt does no good if kept in the saltshaker on the shelf; it must be applied to the meat to preserve it. As salt, we must actively rub into the affairs of the world, not merely sprinkle our efforts on the surface or stay on the shelf. We must take an active part and involve ourselves deeply in the political process for, after all, what affects America will affect us all.

In what practical ways can we act to preserve our nation?

First, I believe that we need to get our own affairs and families in order. A 40 percent divorce rate threatens to chip away at the family, the foundation of our nation. Your first priority as a Christian man should be to make sure your family is being led and fed spiritually. A true Christian home is one where the husband and father submits to the lordship of Jesus Christ. In that home, the wife and mother is in submission to her husband and to the Lord. The children are obedient to both the parents and, in turn, the parents are dedicated to bringing up those children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This kind of home honors Christ and presents a powerful testimony before an unsaved world.

The Scripture teaches that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. He “loved the church, and gave himself for it.” A husband who loves his wife will not treat her as a second-class citizen but will honor her. Among the outside influences that seek to destroy the home is the Women’s Liberation movement. Many times the Christian home, with the man as the spiritual leader, is viewed by feminists as a put-down to women. Not so. Just as each member of the Trinity is of equal power and value, so the husband and wife are equal. But as two of the members of the Godhead willingly submit to the third, so the wife is to submit to her husband. As a two-headed creature cannot live, so a two-headed home will experience strife and confusion. Let us respect and honor the plan God has made and let our homes be examples of heaven on earth.

Second, our personal lives are also to be examples. With pornography, the drug mentality, situation ethics, and immorality surrounding us and even being piped into our living rooms via television, we must be vigilant to keep our lives clean. “As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” In order to change America we first have to change ourselves.

Why should we act to preserve our nation? Because we can do it, and “him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” The congregations of the churches of America constitute the largest single minority bloc in America. According to a recent poll, 84 percent of Americans still believe that the principles of the Ten Commandments apply today. I sincerely believe that a large majority of America’s citizens are patriotic people of integrity who believe in decency and are willing to sacrifice to restore America.

General Douglas MacArthur said, “History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse or a progressive national disaster.”

Obviously, when a country becomes sick morally, it retrogresses in every other way. We have seen America facing serious problems regarding economics, defense, and effective leadership; however, I feel that there is a movement surging to turn the tide.

This tide—of abortion, the so-called women’s movement, homosexuality, pornography, and other evils—must be addressed by every clergyman and Christian in our country. These issues were moral issues long before they became political issues.

The Liberals who scream “separation of church and state” and “you can’t legislate morality” should stop to analyze their own rhetoric. It is important to remember that the wall between church and state has been scaled from the government’s side and not from the side of the Church.

The government (the Internal Revenue Service and the Supreme Court) invaded private schools and told them they must prove in advance that they are not guilty of racial discrimination or face the loss of their tax exemption.

The government has banned voluntary prayer in public schools.

The government has allowed the killing of innocent, unborn babies at the rate of 1.5 million per year since 1973.

The government says sex education must be taught in school, but without teaching moral values, so that a child never knows the importance of saying no.

The government is you—what you do with your vote.

Regarding the legislation of morality, all legislation is the imposition of one person’s morality over another’s. People who steal and murder will find that they do not have the freedom to steal and murder in the United States. Stealing and murder have been excluded from the Judeo-Christian value system upon which our laws are based. It is a system that has worked for more than 200 years, and it will continue to work if we will uphold it.

What we are seeing in America today is not the legislation of morality, but the legislation of immorality. Recent Supreme Court decisions indicate that nothing is absolute. I believe this is in direct contradiction to the Declaration of Independence, which states that men are created with “certain unalienable rights” endowed by our Creator. An unalienable right cannot be taken away, but today our children do not even have the right to acknowledge their Creator by praying in a public school classroom!

However, the debates over school prayer, abortion, and homosexuality are not as important as one issue that has recently loomed before us. If our country is militarily overshadowed by the Soviet Union, I believe we will not have the opportunity for free and open debate about these or any other issues for long.

Presently, the United States is inferior to the Soviet Union in its military buildup. We have been inferior for many years, and have cut back on defense programs while the Soviets have steadily increased their nuclear arsenal. I, for one, am not willing to sit back and wait for the Soviets to either propose nuclear blackmail or destroy us in a rain of nuclear warheads. I am not for war, but I am not a pacifist. I will do all I can to preserve my country’s freedom.

I believe that America was raised up of God in this time for the purpose of world evangelization. I believe that America is a nation under God, the only nation on earth so constituted. And I believe it is every Christian’s responsibility to take an active part in the effort to restore America’s greatness.

How can you take an active part?

First, the Bible commands us to pray for those who are in authority. The President, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and your state and local officials need your prayers, for their actions will affect you and the way you live. But praying is not enough! We have to get up off our knees and get busy. The Lord has promised to direct our paths, and paths were made for walkers, not bystanders.

Second, we must become involved and become aware. Read editorials and newspapers carefully. Learn to understand and evaluate what is going on in the world around you. I once heard a story about a Christian man who applied for a job in the office of a political organization. When the personnel officer asked if he read much, his answer was that he read his Bible, and the Sword of the Lord. Of course, that is fine, but in order to understand our changing nation, you are going to have to read Newsweek, Time, a good newspaper, and anything else you can get your hands on. Spend an afternoon at your public library once a week.

Once you are reading, do not believe everything you come across, but carefully evaluate the moral and spiritual implications of different positions.

Talk to people who are experts and ask their opinions. One woman who attends Thomas Road Baptist Church is quite well read on the pro-life issue. People contact her when they want to take an active part in the fight against abortion. She has taken the time to become an expert on one particular subject. You may wish to research one particular issue.

Third, once you know your material, write letters to the editor of your local paper when you want to rebut a liberal opinion. Be clear, concise, and have the facts straight. Never let an untrue statement in print go unchallenged.

Finally, register—and vote. Become acquainted with the issues and those who run for public office. Keep in touch with your congressman and senators. Write them. Phone them. Ask to be placed on their mailing lists so you will be aware of how they vote.

Let them know when you approve or disapprove of their positions It is their job to represent you, so let them know how you feel.

If we are vigilant, we can make a difference in our country. Former Secretary of the Interior James Watt stated recently that our national anthem is the only one in the world that ends with a question: “O say, does that Star-spangled Banner yet wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Let’s remember that this will be the land of the free as long as we are brave enough to take an active part!

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