American Hypocrisy: How Would Saint Paul Write To Us?
by Mark Horne
I’ve heard Mormons believe that God directly inspired the Constitution. As a Christian, I know there was only one nation that had a directly inspired “Constitution.” Knowing that one’s country is founded by God should have given Israel a great deal of confidence among the nations. Sometimes it did so. Other times, due to unbelief, it did not.
But there was another way unbelief could trap Israelites. They could allow God’s gifts to Israel to give them confidence even when they were in sin and should have been humbling themselves both in the sight of God and the nations. Paul wrote to them about this:
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24, ESV)
As I write my posts on how to understand Romans, I’ve been thinking a great deal about this passage. In light of recent news about Edward Snowden, with headlines like, “US Seemingly Unaware of Irony in Accusing Snowden of Spying,” there seem to be similarities. Israel was both publicly immoral and publicly moralistic, at the same time, without any insincerity. If that seems impossible, look at the news about how America’s ruling class is posturing.
As I wrote elsewhere,
So in the midst of funding and arming terrorists in close proximity to Russia’s border, and insisting on deciding who gets to govern Syria over Russia’s (and much of Syria’s!) opposition, we then act like betrayed parents lecturing children about their sins because the Russians don’t cooperate with the US government. We are now seeing Delores Umbridge headlines that make John Kerry sound like a scolding grandmother (since he already looks like one), “John Kerry admonishes China, Russia on Edward Snowden.”What great strategy. We all know rulers love being lectured on their behavior by foreign governments…
Unbelievably, Kerry even said of China and Russia, “I’d urge them to live within the law.” Even if Kerry has convinced himself the NSA is not a criminal organization, he ought to at least be able to imagine how his words sound to the Russians, Chinese, and a majority of Americans.
I can’t help but perceive this as a similar blindness to Paul’s targets in Romans 2. Everyone knows our sins. Everyone knows we sponsor terrorists. Everyone knows we spy. Everyone knows we believe we have the right to break any law at will. And any American, especially an American Ruler, should know everyone knows it.
And yet the moralistic posturing continues. It isn’t a subterfuge. It is a true manifestation of doublethink. These people are completely sincere in condemning behavior they themselves delight to do. This isn’t “just politics”; it is a true spiritual issue.
So how would Paul write to the United States if it was God’s chosen nation, right now? Perhaps like this:
But if you call yourself an American and rely on the heritage of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the Bible and the Western Tradition; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the American Heritage the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against spying, do you spy? You who say that one must not sponsor terrorists, do you sponsor terrorists? You who abhor torture, do you send your prisoners to client states who practice it for you? You who boast, “I’d urge them to live within the law,” dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “Everything good in American culture and law is cursed among the nations because of you.”