The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Politics and American Culture: Part 1

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A nation’s culture defines what is normal and acceptable in society; how we view right and wrong, who are heroes are, and what we want our children to believe. Culture is based on the values that are widely accepted by society and that we want to transmit from generation to generation. Many things affect a nation’s culture, but few affect it so directly and profoundly as politics. This is because the transmission of culture from generation to generation depends on a nation’s institutions (i.e. the family, church, schools, government agencies, the media, and so on). Few things affect these institutions more than politics. As things stand today, this is bad news.

Consider just one example of how politics can affect culture. A positive work ethic based on Biblical teaching has long been one of the cornerstones of American culture. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10 we read, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Proverbs 10:4–5 says, “He who deals with a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes one rich.” Proverbs 14:23 states, “In all labor there is profit.” The great reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, translated these and other verses into what eventually became known as the Protestant work ethic. America’s founders adopted the Protestant work ethic as their own because it stressed such Scriptural values as thrift, diligence, self-reliance, self-discipline, responsibility, accountability, deferred gratification, and hard work.

The Protestant work ethic served America well for decades until politicians began to chip away at it with an ever-increasing number of laws and public policies that promote an entitlement mentality. Liberal politicians, seeing opportunity in numbers, began rewarding idleness and sloth by taking from the more productive members of society and giving to the less productive. The Obama administration has taken this concept and kicked it into high gear using the socialist theory known as redistribution of wealth. In essence, this economic theory means taking money away from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not earned it. In doing so, political leaders have collaborated in the creation of an entitlement mentality and the corresponding erosion of the Protestant work ethic as a cornerstone of American culture.

An entitlement mentality is the opposite of the Protestant work ethic. It is antithetical to everything that made America great. At a time when emerging industrialized nations such as China, Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia are populated by what I call PHDs—people who are poor, hungry, and driven in their attitudes toward work—Americans have come to view working long, hard, and smart as the domain of fools. Instead, more and more Americans are placing their hopes of attaining economic security on receiving government entitlements. Hence, America—aided and abetted by pandering politicians—is fast developing an entitlement culture. The unwritten motto of this culture seems to be: Why should I work, when the government will take care of me? Undermine a nation’s institutions—which is what the anti-God, anti-work, anti-American politics of the left is doing—and you undermine that nation’s culture. This is precisely what is happening in America in 2009.

Article posted July 2, 2009

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