OK, the national deficit is too high and the debt too large. Contrary to what Speaker Boehner says, we are not broke. We are not on the edge of financial collapse, ready to join the ranks of Greece, Spain and Ireland. Nevertheless, years of national financial irresponsibility have caught up to us and we need to change. I could be petty and point out that most of our problems are the result of Republican mismanagement, but why beat a dead horse, especially since my Republican friends simply do not believe it. Besides, as political parties go, the Democrats are not much better. As several pundits have said, we don’t need Democrats or Republicans, we need grownups.
The issue before us is, what will congress do? It does not look promising. The e-mails I get from my member of congress are ideologically driven and show no sign of sophisticated thinking or, for that matter, much concern for the welfare of the nation. Where might we turn for guidance? Why not Isaiah’s chapter 58? God, through the pen of one of the Isaiahs, speaks not to individuals alone, nor to religious institutions alone, nor to the government alone, but to the society as a whole as well as each of its parts. And what does he say?
God holds in contempt policies and behaviors that use religious language in pursuit of one’s own business; that oppress workers; that are marked by little more than quarreling and fighting. It sounds familiar, does it not?
God makes it clear that he desires a society in which the bonds of wickedness are undone; the yokes that oppress are removed; the hungry are fed; the homeless are housed; the naked are clothed. Take away, God says, the pointing of the finger and wicked speaking. Create a society in which there is no affliction. Some of that comes through the faithful and dedicated work of individuals. Some comes through the equally faithful and dedicated work of religious institutions and secular non-profits. Much of it can come only through governmental agencies. Moreover, the visions, goals and policies of a nation can come only through its government. Reagan was wrong, government is not the problem, it is an essential part of the solution. Government is not the enemy. It is what makes a civilized society possible.
Theocracy is not the answer. We ought to have figured that out by now. But legislators who are persons of the book, mostly Christians in our society, ought to be guided in their deliberations by what God has made clear. Of course I can imagine some of them sputtering that they are better Christians than I am, and who do I think I am to tell them what they ought to be doing! My imagined answer is that I’m not telling them what to do, God is. If they don’t like it, take it up with her.