During the civil war that nearly split our country President Lincoln quoted the biblical phrase: “a house divided will not stand”. He likened our nation to a house. Another familiar scriptural reference from St. Matthew concerns building a house on rock versus building one on sand:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like the foolish man who build his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Sands shift. Unlike rock they are molded by the mercurial winds of changing public opinion. We forget that sands themselves succumb to erosion.
Our ‘house’, our nation, was founded on the rock of natural law, or as our Declaration of Independence states: on “the laws of nature and nature’s God”. We are fools to abandon this founding principle.
If there is no commonly shared respect for rational natural law – that is if we believe man-made laws can be whatever we want them to be and can be unchecked by the “inner voice” of reason reflecting natural law – then whatever the most powerful or forceful among us declares is ‘right’ will be imposed. This is a foundation of sand.
Likewise, adherents of any theological creed that posits the Supreme Being is free of all constraints -including the constraint of reason (God can make two plus two equal six) – may feel compelled to become aggressive interpreters of “God’s law” and thereby successfully propound as divine even irrational, inconsistent tenets. There would be no innate, universal, immutable truth to guide and bind us.
In either case, the abandonment of natural law or the obeisance to a ‘voluntarist’ deity will lead to a “house” that will not stand. It will have eschewed the solid foundation of rock and (wittingly or not) succumbed to the alluringly loose sands of “loose living”, i.e. existence unmoored to reason.
In St. Matthew’s gospel we are also told that false prophets and false messiahs will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Consider the nationally recognized ‘elect’ among us, the political figures, entertainers, academics and media moguls who over the past half century have championed such changes as same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia, suicide, and the denigration of religion. How many of us accept these apostasies or turn a blind eye to them? How many do not?
Will our nation fall because we are divided? Will it collapse because of our shifting foundation?
On this, the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, let us pray our eyes, like those of the Apostle to the Gentiles, are opened to the immutable light of the Logos.
January 25, 2019