Reflections on Life & Liberty
Downstream from Faith

We’re often told that “government is downstream from culture.” This platitude sounds good as it rolls past our lips. Nine syllables in five words give a sense of refinement.

Sadly, it is often uttered by those looking to excuse their inactivity in government or, worse, their casual endorsement of bad government. “Well, it’s the best we can do… because of culture.”

Culture and government reflect each other like funhouse mirrors. Culture impacts how we see government, but government also impacts how we see culture. Both, though, are merely reflections of something else.

Allow me to switch back to the upstream/downstream analogy.

Culture and government are better thought of as water-front property on a reservoir at the end of a river. The headwaters of that river are neither culture nor government but faith.

Our Founding Fathers understood this.

It is why they were so insistent that this republic would only make sense in the context of a “moral and religious people,” to borrow a line from John Adams.

In a monarchy or other “strong-man” dictatorship, culture and government are a reflection of the “leader’s” will. A benevolent and enlightened king will rule with a gentle hand and promote a happy culture. Once his corrupt, lecherous son gets the throne… Well, not so much.

This is no different in our self-governing republic, where the citizens are in charge. When the citizenry is “moral and religious,” that will be reflected in the laws as surely as in the music, books, and theater.

This makes the question of our individual gaze incredibly important. If our civic faith is placed in the human institutions of “good government” or a “good culture,” both will soon decay. Unless we believe that a Supreme Judge will hold us accountable, we and our republic will fail. Our republic succeeds only to the extent that the citizens, who are the leaders, are looking beyond themselves for wisdom.

Psalm 121 gives us a better direction. “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

As the citizen-leaders of our self-governing republic, we must be about the business of encouraging each other, like the psalmist and like our Founding Fathers, to look to heaven.

To be effective, government reformers and cultural warriors alike must be grounded in scripture and driven by faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.



Fearing Correctly

As citizens, we have failed to inspire sufficient fear in our elected servants.

Who Do You Love?

We’re called to love God and love others, not ourselves.

In the Beginning

To appreciate salvation, we must embrace our spiritual context.