“The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration. I am rather tired of hearing about our rights…The time has come to hear about responsibilities…America’s future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God’s government.”
Marshall was not, I think, the first to make this pointed and poetic differentiation: Christ or chaos. But he was prescient in his application of it to American society. With increasing secularization in American society over the last seventy years, the nation has done a lot of rejecting Christ, and has experienced a good amount of chaos in return.
Chaos is, I think, what we are presently experiencing culturally. It is fairly contained at the moment, and for that we can be thankful. But we are a divided people, and the moral and psychological consequences of secularization are all too obvious. Chaos is, at present, where America has gone.
But suggesting that we return to Christ–that we put the Bible and prayer back in schools, that we repent of the hideous wickedness of abortion, etc.–is, to many, a worse alternative to chaos. Some of them suggest an alternative solution, and that is control. Whose control? Well, the government’s, of course. Give the government ever more intrusive power over the lives of the citizenry, and they will bring about a just and safe society.
We had a choice between Christ and chaos. We chose chaos. It’s not going well. So, rather than choosing Christ, a sizeable portion of the American people would prefer to bring in a third factor–control. This is the sacrifice of freedom for security.
For there is another triad to bring into the discussion: virtue, freedom, and security. These three fit well together; or, more properly, virtue allows you to have both freedom and security. The virtuous man will use his freedom responsibly for the good of others. But the unvirtuous man will use his freedom to harm others; when a society has thrown out virtue, they must choose between freedom and security–they can’t have both. Or, to return to the first triad, when a society has rejected Christ, they must choose between chaos (loss of security) or control (loss of freedom). They must have one. And it is entirely possible that the attempt will fail and that they will have both chaos and control, neither freedom nor security.
This is the dynamic that a Christian must observe around us. People feel unsafe, so they ask for more intrusive government control; they also feel their desires inhibited, so they throw off restraint and embrace chaos. Neither chaos nor control will bring flourishing; but Christ will. What America needs is not primarily education or legislation, but conversion.