A few years ago, during an eventful family vacation, we found ourselves blockaded on a bridge by police vehicles on both ends. It took me a few minutes to figure out the source of the commotion.
Standing on the side of the bridge, about midway across the thoroughfare, a woman was threatening to jump. With each step the uniformed police officers took toward her, she stepped farther out on a protruding beam of the bridge. If she jumped, she would most certainly die.
As a pastor, former police officer and volunteer police chaplain, I’ve seen situations like this before. I asked my wife to take the vehicle and the kids, and I approached the officers, identified myself and offered to help. I walked out to where the woman stood and began talking with her and listening to her story. She told me her struggle with drug addiction. Of a husband who had deserted her and of a son in the military who was wrestling with a host of issues.
After about 45 minutes, she sat down on the curb with me, and we prayed before I went with her to the hospital for evaluation.
While not all our vacations are as eventful as that particular trip, the situation that day on the bridge wasn’t an anomaly. Sudden, unexpected events that occur around us in life demand that we act rather than hoping someone else will. And like that woman on the bridge that day, our United States of America is dangerously close to the edge and desperate for intervention.
We’ve all heard the saying, “This is the most important election of our lifetime.” It’s repeated regularly every four years. It’s easy to brush it off as just another political cliché. But the reality is that each successive election becomes the most critical election as our nation becomes increasingly divided not by party, but by worldviews.
Throughout the country, we see a newly energized far Left political and cultural movement taking to the streets. I’m not talking about peaceful protests over such real problems as racial injustice. Instead, the violent behavior by anarchists who have hijacked the legitimate protests, using them as cover to destroy public property, threaten the safety of our cities and the very future of our republic.
Ironically, the current administration, consistently in the crosshairs of the media and many political commentators for its supposed racism, has done a great deal for people of color. As U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) recently said, while some of the president’s comments have been hurtful, he has helped the African American community in some very tangible ways. Scott cites the Opportunity Zone program, which provides tax breaks for companies that open stores or manufacturing plants in lower-income areas. He also noted the major revision of the 1994 crime bill, leading to substantial criminal justice reform. And he observed the Trump administration’s support for historically black colleges and universities through the United Negro College Fund, which this year, he says, “is the highest level ever.”
But there is another reality we cannot ignore. Some news networks and publications are abetting a disorder that’s become much too common; the so-called “cancel culture.”
Recently, two editors and a respected columnist at the New York Times resigned because their radical younger colleagues cannot accept opinions different than their own. One of them, herself Jewish, told of getting tired of being called “a Nazi and a racist” by some of her Times colleagues because she believes in open debate.
Claiming that opposing views were threatening to them, these “woke” young extremists do not believe in debate. They and their peers in the media—and colleges and universities around the country—are rigid ideologues of the Left. They believe that to challenge their understanding of the military, American history, race, gender and several other issues show not honorable disagreement, but evil and dangerous intent. They do not want tolerance. They want, of those who disagree with them, silence— enforced silence if need be.
These trends in urban anarchy and political radicalism mark a potential tipping point for our republic. Some argue that we are in a pre-revolutionary state. Common assumptions about principled disagreement, representative self-government, free and open discussion, and even our historical understanding of human rights are being not just challenged but deeply undermined.
Christians need to give some sober-minded consideration to what our country is all about. The founders asserted that there is a Creator, a God who chose to make the universe and human beings unique in all creation. In that creation, He declared us as having equal value and endowed with rights that are inherent to our very humanness.
He is the Author of life and bestowed every person with the right to life. No government has the right to decide who will live or who will die. If all persons of “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9) are made in His image and likeness, their right to life must be honored and upheld in law and conduct, from conception to natural death.
He also gave men and women the power to choose good and evil, right and wrong, to obey or disobey His will. For us to exercise this power, we need the freedom to live out our convictions about our accountability to God and one another. Our founders recognized that this means one’s obligation to God precedes his or her obedience to the state. Therefore, religious liberty is the first freedom, one that is primary to all the others.
We all know that religious liberty is under threat. From recent Supreme Court rulings to the so-called “Equality Act,” already passed by the House of Representatives, the “gay rights” movement demands that churches, religious colleges and other faith-based organizations fall in line with their agenda or be penalized. Lawsuits, fines, loss of tax-exempt status and loss of academic accreditation are looming on the horizon for institutions that recognize they must never compromise their duty to God. Already we have seen one ACLU-backed lawsuit against a Catholic hospital in Maryland for “refusing to perform a surgery necessary to [a patient’s] transition from woman to man.”
The stakes in the upcoming election could not be higher. The president has appointed over 200 men and women to the federal bench—jurists who overwhelmingly are committed to the honest reading and faithful application of the Constitution. Our military preparedness has improved dramatically after years of neglect. And the culture of life has prospered in the past four years.
With all of this said, many are disappointed by some of the things President Trump has said. His tone can be severe, and his tweets very harsh. But as I survey the actions and policies of the past four years, I am hard-pressed to think of any president in my lifetime who has more effectively advanced policies friendly to Biblical values that evangelical Christians of all races and denominations hold dear. All of these things could change forever if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidential election in November. He has committed to not only undoing the faith-and family-friendly policies we have seen since January 2017, but advancing a “progressive” agenda that far exceeds the anti-life, anti-faith policies of the Obama administration.
If the far Left continues to make significant erosions to public institutions, free debate, civil discussion and the notion that we can govern ourselves without an undercurrent of hatred and destruction, we may indeed find ourselves in a pre-revolutionary state. The things Americans have always cherished—representative self-government, free and fair elections, liberty under just law—will be at risk.
Like the woman on the bridge standing on the precipice of destruction, America is on the edge. But as prayer, concern and time drew the woman back to safety, who knows but that our prayers, our concern and our investment of time may be what saves America from going over the edge.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.”
This election is about stemming a tide of national self-destruction. It is no time to sit on the sidelines and bemoan what some see as two fatally flawed candidates. The reality is that one of them will be elected. It is my hope and prayer that we all do our part through prayer and voting to ensure that America’s future is not clouded by a denial of all that has made us what Lincoln also called “the last, best hope of earth.” ©2020 Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of Family Research Council, an ordained minister and host of the daily radio program “Washington Watch With Tony Perkins.”
The Scripture quotation is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.