“One Nation Under God” Sermon at Potomac Ward, Arlington Virginia, 7/13/2014 by Terence Rosenthal

Last week we celebrated our nation’s independence. Before I go any further, let me tell you a bit myself, and why this topic is so important. Ten years ago, before I became a Christian, I lived life fully dependent on the physicality of the moment, regardless of what acts were being committed. I know first-hand the darkness of what it is to be without GOD. The fact is, at the time, I did not really buy into my lifestyle being sinful. By shutting out religious tradition, I chose to be willfully ignorant. Currently, in many ways, I believe our Nation is doing the same.

 

From our founding through our history, we are One Nation Under GOD.
Our Declaration of Independence leaves no question of this, it states:
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
In a recent interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, noted U.S. historian David Barton referred to the motto American revolutionaries used to say- “No King but King Jesus.” Barton goes on to say that Jefferson and Franklin suggested that the country’s maxim be “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” According to Barton, this was inspired by Acts 5:29King James Version (KJV)
“29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
The phrase, “One Nation Under God,” originates from-Abraham Lincoln’s, Gettysburg Address:
“…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The Gettysburg Address was the inspiration behind the revision to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954: I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
As Psalm 119:45 states— “And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts”

But what if the concept of us remaining One Nation Under GOD was to be diminished?
• The Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 14:37 ponders this a question:

37 But if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
Filtering society of the Bible could result in diminished future leadership.
Sometimes when referring to leadership, people think of presidents, and heads of state. Maybe they should think in more immediate terms. The Bible, which the founders undoubtedly referred to when writing the Constitution provides people a path to self-governance. If liberties delineated in the Bible are compromised because society deems them too controversial, for many, the ability to self-govern will be compromised. This will have a negative effect on how well families function, businesses operate, and how cities, and even the nation function. Many believe this is already happening.

 

As stated from Elder M. Russell Ballard, “That the Lost May be Found,” April General Conference 2012:
“Being lost can apply to whole societies as well as to individuals. Today we live in a time when much of this world has lost its way, particularly with regard to values and priorities within our homes.”

 

In the October 2011 General Conference, President Monson observed that “the moral compass of society” has been evolving at the same rapid rate as technology.  He quoted Jonathan Sacks, who at the time was Britain’s chief rabbi:

 

“In virtually every Western society in the 1960s there was a moral revolution, an abandonment of its entire traditional ethic of self-restraint.  All you need, sang the Beatles, is love.  The Judeo-Christian moral code was jettisoned. In its place came the adage:  Whatever works for you.  The Ten Commandments were rewritten as the Ten Creative Suggestions. … “There are large parts of [the world] where religion is a thing of the past and there is no counter-voice to the culture of buy it, spend it, wear it, flaunt it, because you’re worth it. The message is that morality is passé, conscience is for wimps, and the single overriding command is ‘Thou shalt not be found out.’”

 

Against this relativism described by Rabbi Sacks, President Monson continues: “Our code of conduct is definitive; it is not negotiable.  It is found not only in the Ten Commandments but also in the Sermon on the Mount….  Our Father in Heaven is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  In this world where nearly everything seems to be changing, His constancy is something on which we can rely, and anchor to which we can hold fast and be safe, lest we be swept away into uncharted waters.”

 

But President Monson also warns us: “We must be vigilant in a world which has moved so far from that which is spiritual.  It is essential that we reject anything that does not conform to our standards….”

Relativism- Satan’s most dangerous tool with regard to our nation.
Our society is experiencing its own temptations with regard to Satan. Many of the Devil’s methods in nullifying the Judeo-Christian moral code are obvious- lust, envy, hatred to name a few. But the devil’s best dance and his most evil temptation is agnosticism, or put more generally, relativism.
Genesis 3:1 reveals the Devil’s subtle nature:
Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
In an article entitled “Relativism: The Societal Poison of Our Age,” Deacon Frederick Bartels writes of the “dictatorship of relativism,” a term used by Pope Benedict. The U.S. is being challenged by the convenience that relativism offers. In other words, relativism is overtaking whatever obstacles are standing in the way of convenience, regardless of whether they represent truth or not.
According to the Archdiocese of Washington, in schools, media, and in the public square, religious liberty is being compromised by way of legislation conducted on multiple fronts. In public schools, while religion is particularly under attack, children can be exposed to arbitrary philosophies that may run counter to the views of the community, and especially parents. Often any mention of the Bible, especially with regard to U.S. history warrants lawsuits.
It is precisely this move toward eradicating Biblical principles, and the usurping of parental authority that many American neighborhoods and schools are failing. According to Patrick Fagan and Nicholas Zill, of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, in 2011, here in DC, the family belonging rate revealed that below 2 in 10 children age 15-17 grew up with married, biological mothers and fathers. DC is an extreme example with many complexities, however, it is an indicator of how America might function if God were to be erased from its cultural vocabulary.

Americans have a right to opine regarding Life, Death, Marriage, Law and the Constitution. However, to silence the significance of GOD regarding any of these issues is to violate the concept of Liberty.  If we are true believers of GOD, we should live, work, and exalt his virtues. Sometimes doing this takes courage.

President Monson said that courage includes “defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with the loss of friends or of social status.  He who stands steadfastly for that which is right must risk becoming at times disapproved and unpopular.”

• Alma 46:36
36 And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites