By now, only a comatose person is unaware of the cultural and political divisions in our country. But just how did American society devolve into factions of people who hate each other?
America was formed as a single nation but grew into the republic that it is today through an influx of many peoples who all shared a common set of Christian beliefs (hence our national motto: e pluribus unum). But in the current era, our cohesion as a nation is being trampled underfoot. It is being spat upon by the rabid partisans of culture and politics for whom our erstwhile unity seems to be a national sin.
While there are many contributing factors to this problem, the main reason, I believe, is that we are in a spiritual war. And it is one that we cannot afford to sit out.
A different type of division
Sad as the current political and cultural chaos is, America has seen these divisions before. The moral issue of slavery divided this republic early on. We ended up fighting a Civil War to resolve the division and maintain the unity of our nation. Abraham Lincoln even stated in his Second Inaugural Address that the blood shed during the Civil War was a kind of sacrificial atonement for the sin of slavery. Think about that. It is a striking statement. Lincoln had a transcendent sense of our nation’s place in history and a fervent belief in spiritual realities.
But America survived that test of national unity. It survived not only because the divide was primarily geographical and could be stitched together, however precariously, after the war, but also because the nation was still held together by a common Christian faith. The majority of Americans at that time still believed in that ‘Old Time Religion.’ They believed in the Ten Commandments, and a code of Christian social mores that, frankly, no longer exists.
The general Christian culture that united Americans in spirit since the time of the Founding Fathers is gone. We may debate the causes of its demise, but the destruction of our cultural/spiritual solidarity is no longer a matter of debate. The only national consensus we can muster now is simply this: “Divided we stand.” The real question hangs in the air: For how long will we remain standing?
A war of the spirit
If politics is downstream of culture, as they say, then, not surprisingly, decades of moral breakdown has produced the rotten fruit of a deeply divided political situation. Politics mirrors the moral split of the nation. This explains why one major political party can advocate what are actually heinous crimes against humanity.
How can a party in a God-fearing nation advocate abortion up to birth and the sale of aborted babies’ organs, to give obvious examples, as a matter of policy and get away with it? The divided culture allows a situation of such evil to exist. One side actually agrees with the evil and the other side does not have the moral gumption to stop it.
This cultural/political division is evidence of a deeper spiritual war raging in our midst. We may take one current example as typical of the generalized problem. When a political candidate for high office openly practices an unnatural and immoral sexual lifestyle, and then vocally advocates for it by attacking men of faith and claiming that his lifestyle moves him closer to God, we are on the horns of a spiritual problem. It is only a spiritually twisted worldview that allows a politician to speak such blasphemies. But what is even worse is that TIME magazine actually hails this new perverse gospel by featuring the childless, biologically sterile, same-sex partners duo is featured on a front cover. TIME calls them the “First Family.” This is a mockery of God and nation at every level.
Death by a thousand cuts
Politically, we have just gotten through the obscenity of an investigation whose singular, pernicious intent was to overturn the results of a legitimate national election. The blossoming of investigative politics and the weaponizing of our governmental institutions against political enemies has reached a level of delusional fervor.
Politics is always divisive, but never have we seen this kind of malfeasance before in our great country. Our constitutional republic is dying a death by a thousand cuts. And it is being administered by those who have renounced God and unashamedly serve a pantheon of false gods. There is a deep spiritual evil at the core of this campaign of destruction. We must never forget this.
Two causes of the malaise
In spiritual terms we are in a war for souls, expressed most potently by two forces of destruction. The first and greatest cause of the spiritual war is the introduction of relativistic thinking and the deliberate destruction of truth.
Today even the mainstream media twists and distorts the truth in ways that would make the Father of Lies blush. Satan must be proud of his servants in the media.
Out public educational and university systems also propagate ideological corruption. They teach new generations of Americans to become comfortable with lies and delusions. The political culture that benefits from the generalized ignorance of society reinforces those lies whenever possible.
Our rabid abortion culture is the second force of destruction. The sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person are very literally torn to pieces in a spiritual war. The institutions of death are aided and abetted by the cult of celebrity personalities, who use their influence to strengthen these evils. Family life has been shattered and degraded by systematic forces that militate against the divine institution of the family.
Division, lies, political and cultural violence, the defamation of all that is sacred – this is an inventory of diabolical destruction. It is demonic chaos worked into a highly destructive system. We have all been affected by the spiritual/cultural destruction of our nation, and none of us can be neutral about it. We must all be involved in the solution.
In 1776 Ben Franklin noted, with an ironic twist, that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were taking a huge risk by separating themselves from England to create this new nation: “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately.” He meant, of course, the stakes of resistance against the reigning power were high – life or death. Only a solidarity of purpose among the colonists would accomplish their purpose against all odds.
We turn to prayer
Ben Franklin’s insight can be applied to our day with no less irony. Yes, there is a reigning enemy that wishes to tear us apart, but this time our enemy is not attacking us from sea or land – the enemy is within. Spiritual evils always work that way: they infiltrate through human corruption. Evil sets up shop in the darkest recesses of culture and politics. Evil works its devastation by stealth until it is too late to stop the decline of whatever it is attacking.
But, thankfully, it is not too late to stop the cultural and spiritual slide of this great nation into oblivion. The destruction is rampant and systemic, but the God-fearing American spirit has not died. It is still vibrant among us and seeks a way to restore the spiritual unity we have lost.
Certainly we must do all we can to participate in the political process, but above all, we must get on our knees and fight a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons. Every single American can pray. It is the most effective action we can take to bring America back to its senses. Prayer reminds us that although we cannot defeat a potent spiritual evil by human power, God’s power can. There is nothing God is unable to do with a people united in prayer.
A simple plan for solidarity
Take a moment to do your own spiritual inventory and then re-dedicate yourself to praying for our nation in a way you have never prayed before. Consider:
- If these evils have come upon our nation by our negligence in upholding the moral law, we ask God for the grace to wake up and be ready to change our personal and family culture for the better;
- If these evils have entered into our society through our own sinful habits, we need to repent and turn back to God’s Law;
- If these evils have come from the malice of the people leading our cultural and political institutions, we need to stand in spiritual solidarity against them, vote them out, and demand reform.
While action is a necessary part of living in a democratic nation, prayer is more important and more effective. It is not too late to save the gift that is America. But will we not save it if we do not recognize the nature of the warfare. It is time to “hang together” spiritually to overcome a powerful foe. Prayer can strengthen us for the spiritual battle. Prayer can restore hope and unity. Prayer will restore our great nation.
This article originally appeared at the Catholic Stand.