Essentially, this question was asked by the ancient Hebrew prophet Habakkuk. When he complained to God regarding the corruption of his nation and inquired how long God would tolerate it, God informed him that He was bringing the Chaldeans against the nation to punish them. But this divine response perplexed the prophet, causing him to make a second inquiry: “Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?” (1:3). In other words, yes, Israel deserved punishment, but why inflict that punishment using a nation even more wicked than Israel—a polytheistic, pagan nation? God’s answer was that, in His own good time, He would ultimately deal with the more wicked nation as well.
What is unique about America is the fact that it was borne amid an almost unanimous desire to possess the favor of the God of the Bible in the establishment of the Republic. The Founders repeatedly expressed their concern that Christianity (what they repeatedly styled “true religion”) be maintained among the citizenry in order to retain divine assistance (Miller, 2010). This basic orientation was sustained as a national attitude for over 150 years. After World War II, sinister efforts were well underway to strip God and Christianity from civil, judicial, and educational institutions (Miller, 2008).
Unlike Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, and polytheistic, pagan countries—which do not claim to be “Christian”—America has been recognized the world over as a “Christian nation.” We have been blessed accordingly—beyond all other nations in human history. America’s origins so positioned her among the nations of the Earth that, in effect, many would see God’s reputation as “on the line.” Do we think He would allow America to jettison Christian values, flaunt moral degradation, and defiantly boast to the world that America is “tolerant” of perversion and immorality—without calling her to account before the world? As prominent Founder George Mason, often called “The Father of the Bill of Rights,” stated at the Constitutional Convention: “As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, so they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities” (as quoted in Madison, 1840, 3:1391, emp. added; of course, God’s timetable varies from human expectation, so any future retribution is unpredictable as to timing).
The Founders understood this principle emphatically. Take, for example, prominent Founding Father John Witherspoon. Serving as President of Princeton from 1768 to 1776, Witherspoon served on both the Provincial Congress of New Jersey as well as the Continental Congress (1776-1782) where he signed the Declaration of Independence. After the Revolutionary War, he was a member of the New Jersey State Assembly as well as a member of the State ratification convention for the federal Constitution. In a treatise titled The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men, written the same year the Founders declared their independence, this quintessential Founder insightfully observed:
It is the prerogative of God to do what he will with his own; but he often displays his justice itself, by throwing into the furnace those, who, though they may not be visibly worse than others, may yet have more to answer for, as having been favoured with more distinguished privileges, both civil and sacred (1776, emp. added).
America has been blessed with so many more privileges and blessings than other nations. But our moral decline seems to be proportional to those blessings. America has a lot to answer for. It’s only a question of time—unless a massive, nationwide, spiritual awakening is forthcoming. That is precisely what America most desperately needs—not a stronger economy, not more handouts, and not more concern for the environment. She needs to repent and fall before the God of Heaven and beg His forgiveness.
Now do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you (2 Chronicles 30:8).
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:12).
But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation (Jeremiah 10:10).
Madison, James (1840), The Papers of James Madison, ed. Henry Gilpin (Washington, DC: Langtree & O’Sullivan).
Miller, Dave (2008), The Silencing of God: The Dismantling of America’s Christian Heritage (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Dave (2010), Christ and the Continental Congress (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Witherspoon, John (1776), The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men (Philadelphia, PA: Town & Country), http://goo.gl/nLihJK.