Regardless of who wins the coming election, faithful Christians will still find themselves in an increasingly alien land. The hostility toward Christians is growing among the powers that be in this country, among the intelligentsia, among the moguls of popular culture, and among an increasing number of politically powerful individuals. The open attack on religious freedom by the Obama administration is simply a sign of the times. It’s only part of a growing political, legal intellectual attack on Christian values and those who espouse them. That attack may be slowed by electing those who truly believe in religious freedom, but it will not easily reverse it.
The chosen people of Israel understood what it meant to be an alien people in their exile. But the remnant of Israel already understood what it meant to live in an alien land even in their homeland. They were aliens already among fellow Israelites who had abandon God and the covenant with his Commandments. The zenith of this alienation had to be when the minority of faithful Jews witnessed the human sacrifice of Jewish children to the pagan gods. They were not surprised when God chose to force his rebellion children to be exiled into an alien state.
But the advice given by God to the prophet Jeremiah as to how Israel was to survive that exile in an alien land still has its wisdom for Christians today who find themselves in situations similar to the remnant of Israel before the exile. What was God’s instruction to the exiles in Babylon?
Simple. “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.” (Jeremiah 29: 5-6) The Israelites were to do what they did in Egypt when they grew in numbers and became a threat their masters. Out-populate them. Obey the command of Genesis, Multiply and fill the land; do not decrease out of dejection, which is what pagan aliens might do, but increase and pose a threat to the powers that be, so they have to come to terms with you to survive themselves.
We can’t escape this situation of alienation, for where in the contemporary world would we not be alienated, given the moral decline and cultural corruption that is now global. Everyone speaks about the global economy, but there’s also a global cultural “symbiosis” that is spreading the corruption of decadent western societies to the whole world. No, we can’t escape, any more than the Jewish remnant could escape the Babylonians by running off to Egypt. We too must build our houses and make a living here, here in the midst of an alien land, hoping, praying and working to one day remove that alienation by returning God and his Commandments to their rightful place in society and culture.
Jeremiah goes on with God’s advice in an interesting way given today’s situation. “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7) Since we are going to continue to live in this increasingly alien environment, it is to our benefit to promote the economic welfare of this place, for in its welfare we will “find” our own. This is divine wisdom in a very practical sense. Thus it’s important to choose our leaders for their economic common sense, as well as their moral sense. The lack of both of these is my greatest fear about the present President. His defense of absolutely unrestricted abortion, and even infanticide when abortion fails to kill, and his open contempt for religious freedom when it comes to forcing faithful Catholics to violate their consciences by supplying employees with contraceptives, all this makes me think the man is quite simply amoral, no respecter of conscience and therefore a real threat to the common good. And on top of this he seems to have no real understanding of how an economy really works. So even if his opponent is not perfectly in tune with the objective demands of the moral law, it seems to be simply practical wisdom to vote for him, assuming I’m convinced that he will have a better program to advance at least the economic well-being of this country, and so long as I’m also convinced that he is not amoral and does sincerely believe in religious freedom when it comes to moral issues.
Aliens we may be, but we should be loyal aliens who are truly concerned for the common welfare and are determined not to cooperate with politicians or a government that has no moral compass, no moral principles, and no moral character, regardless of how often they refer to serving the common welfare.