May 2017 – The response of many Americans to the election and early administration of Donald Trump reveals there is a great divide among the American people. One may think that the left side of the divide – those opposing Trump – are predominant since their actions and words make the headlines of the major media outlets, and their ideology is embraced by a large majority of academia and Hollywood.
The left has become increasingly hostile, radical, and perverse, not only pushing homosexuality as normal and requiring special protection for LGBTs, but also attempting to force transgenderism upon the nation and encouraging the harboring of illegal immigrants. Their tactics of violence and intimidation, suppression of free speech, and lying about positions of their opponents are becoming the daily norm. While they have cried out in the past, there is a new savagery in their words and tactics.
However, amidst the left’s acrimony and deplorable action, there is some good news. A map of the results of the 2016 presidential election by counties (above) shows most areas of the nation reject the extreme liberal ideas of the progressive left, since only 16% of counties voted for Hillary Clinton. While President Donald Trump is not a paragon of virtue, he does support many biblical virtues (life, property rights, freedom of religion, parental rights, the rule of law), and he has appointed many Christians and biblically thinking people to his cabinet. The “red counties” also reflect growing conservatism in government, with the GOP now controlling both the U.S. House and Senate, 33 governors’ mansions, and 32 state legislatures. While all of the Republican leaders are certainly not Christians nor principled conservatives, there is, in general, a clear difference in the worldview and morality of the people represented in the red and blue counties on the map.
The great divide
There is a clear divide in the nation – a divide that seems to be more distinct than ever. The divide is not just about the role of government in issues like helping the poor and public education (where Christians may have different positions). The divide is much more pronounced. It centers on such important issues as life, the family, and morality – views on which the Bible is clear. It also involves ideas on property rights, the role of government in business, and constitutional laws and liberties.
The blue-state liberals have general agreement of worldview. They are pro-abortion, pro-homosexuality, for big government, and against biblical morality.
The red-state conservatives do not all have a biblical worldview – while about one-half of these voters were evangelical, their depth of biblical reasoning varies greatly – but a majority do adhere to a common set of principles rooted in a biblical philosophy of man and government and expressed in the Declaration of Independence. They believe in truths rooted in God, embrace limited government, support freedom of religion, conscience, and speech, and are for Creator-endowed rights to life, liberty, and property. Throughout most of our history, the vast majority of Americans believed these principles, but, unfortunately, that has been changing in recent generations.
Why is this? Why do an increasing number of Americans think homosexuality and transgenderism are OK?1 Why are an increasing number of Americans embracing a socialist/secular worldview? One primary reason is that public schools and most colleges have been controlled by the left for many generations.2 The great tool of socialist indoctrination has not had the overall effect its proponents had hoped it would. Yet, it is also a mystery that so many people still embrace leftist/socialist ideas because they always produce bad fruit wherever they are tried. They do not work.
What is behind this great divide in the nation? At the root of the conflict is a war of worldviews, between one that is Christian and one that is humanistic.
Two views of law
Comparing the Christian and humanistic philosophies of law reveals why the left has such apoplectic rage at having lost power and why they are willing to do anything to regain it, while conservatives accept liberals ruling with relative calm.
Law, from a Christian perspective and as the founders of America viewed it, originates in the will of God, revealed in general to man through nature and his conscience, and more specifically in the revelation of the Scriptures. Law from a humanistic view is rooted in man, ultimately autonomous man, but practically in the state, and in the consensus of the majority, or of a powerful minority.
From a biblical perspective, man is fallen and fallible, has a sinful nature, and thus needs to be restrained. The biblical purpose of civil law is to restrain the evil action of men in society. True law reveals what is right and wrong, and hence, exposes law breakers. But law in itself cannot produce what is right, nor can it change the heart or attitude of man; therefore, the Christian acknowledges the inability to legislate “good,” or to make people moral by passing laws. However, the Christian recognizes the moral basis of all laws. Laws against murder reflect a moral belief. Laws against theft are based upon the command to not steal. All law has a moral concern. The important question to the Christian is “whose morality does it legislate?”
From a Christian presupposition then, the law cannot change or reform man; this is a spiritual matter. Man can be changed only by the grace of God.
Humanists see the evils in society and in man, but explain them differently than Christians. To the humanist there is no higher being than man. There is no incarnate Savior. From a humanistic perspective there is no hope of internal regeneration to save man; therefore, any salvation or transformation that occurs in men or nations must come from man.
Having no other means of provision, of salvation, or of peace, humanistic man attempts to regulate and provide all things through government and law.
Therefore, it is not surprising that in the last election (as well as all recent elections), the vast majority of people receiving food stamps, public housing, medicaid, disability, Obamacare subsidies, and various welfare benefits voted for liberal Democrats, who promised to continue and/or expand such programs.3
From a Christian perspective, law can restrain sinful man from acting evilly, for the fear of punishment is a deterrent, but he cannot be changed by law. Unless the evil heart of man is changed, there will be no advancement toward a better society. Humanistic law seeks to save and change man internally. Since the government (and laws issued thereby) are the instrument for such change, government becomes the savior in a humanistic society. This might not be overtly proclaimed, but is demonstrated by actions.
1 A recent survey shows that 43% of Americans think it is morally okay to change the gender you were born through either surgery or taking hormones; 42% think it is wrong to do so. AFA Journal, October 2016, Tupelo, MS: American Family Association, p. 4.
2 While most colleges are liberal, conservative colleges are on the rise. See source.
Dr. Stephen McDowell is president of Providence Foundation and a prolific author who focuses on the Christian roots of the U.S. Find his products at afastore.net or call 877-927-4917 (toll free). Find more at providencefoundation.com or 434-978-4535.
Part 2 of this feature will appear in the June issue, continuing the contrast between a Christian worldview and a humanistic worldview.