So Help Me God

Officially Religious

In January 2009, Barack Obama put his right hand on a Bible and completed a solemn oath by calling on the Creator of the universe for help. He is currently in full campaign mode for the privilege of serving the American people for another four-year term—in this he is joined by a full slate of other wannabe presidents.

Whoever attains the Oval Office in the 2012 election will strictly adhere to tradition and expectations. In January 2013, he or she will stand in front of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and make the same “So help me God” pledge.

It is indeed a strange dichotomy. We have dismissed moral truth because it has a way of chiseling away the nobility of humanism, yet we invite God, the source of moral truth, to consecrate the crowning achievement of our political process.

Or consider the fact that the courts routinely rule against anything even remotely connected to God, yet the federal judicial oath of office concludes with an unrepentant appeal for Divine assistance: “I, Jane Whoever, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as Judge under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.”

These two examples of institutionalized religiosity makes it endlessly clear that the supposed wall of separation between Church and State isn’t carved in stone—it’s messy and has some self-serving interpretations. As a nation we are blatantly and officially religious when it suits our purpose. We play linguistic games to placate the devotion to relativism, and then beseech God for his favor in the Public Square on our terms, thank you very much.

Certain Signposts

This societal schizophrenia is reflective of how individuals approach faith. We want all the trappings of the sacred without any of the obedience. We compartmentalize religious expression and in doing so, we demand that God remain inside a box of our making.

A blend of feel-good creeds places top priority on personal autonomy and the pursuit of happiness—diversity of belief is its primary doctrine. Its priests are politicians; its prophets are self-help talk show hosts; its wisdom literature is encapsulated in thirty-second celebrity sound-bites; its shrines are sports venues where the faithful gather beneath flags and bunting; its liturgy is the ceremonial invocation of God Bless America by various entertainers.

We have come to depend on platitudes encased within empty promises. No attention is paid to personal responsibility or the judgment of eternity. We are consumed with the here and now—pride in self-determination dominates our mindset. It is always about us. It’s never about any intrinsic code of ethics.

Congress legislates with a self-aggrandizing sense of importance as though it actually possess the authority to regulate truth. Having systematically deconstructed the Divine, we routinely summon God at our convenience, as though he were the Robin Williams-voiced Genie in the animated movie, Aladdin.

We pay lip service to God, but in all honesty, any inclination to honor him frequently weakens and wilts. Though we are in constant need of his tender care, we often only acknowledge our dependence on him when situations run from bad to worse. We really do not want to have anything to do with a holy God who requires us “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” with him.

At certain signposts along the way we give a nod to our need for a Supreme Being’s approval. We expect God’s blessing when we are born; we order his blessing when we come of age; we assume his blessing when we marry; we presume his blessing on our children; we claim his blessing when we die.

Between those highpoints we’re quite happy not to be bothered by God’s pesky requirements to worship and glorify him with our lives. It is the absolute extreme of arrogance for us to reduce the Creator to a celestial waiter at our beck and call, even if we occasionally do leave large tips in the collection plate.

Awe & Reverence

Contrary to the continual whine of our self-absorbed perspective, we are not at the main table or on center stage for this infinite drama. The story of history is God’s story of redemption. We are part of the story, but it is most definitely God’s story. All of life on this planet is about God; it is not about us.

Our capacity for understanding the supernatural is limited—our finite grasp on what occurs in the heavenlies comes with the territory of being human. God’s designed plans are far greater than we can possibly fathom.

Through the apparent random chances and within all the meaningless minutia of our lives, God is busy working out his eternal purposes in history. What he is actively engaged in to bring all things to their appointed consummation in Christ is utterly beyond our ability to comprehend.

With that worldview in mind, doesn’t it make sense for us to do more than just push God to the fringe? We go through intense motions to keep God at arm’s length, but given his everlasting love, should we not invite him to be a part of every moment he allows us? Instead of our casual dismissal of the transcendent dimension of our lives, we should recognize that relying on God is an option we jettison at our own peril.

Our intellectual effort to capture and tame God has detrimental consequences. The progressive apathy of Christianity has banished Scriptural principles in the name of political-correctness, creating an entity that a brilliant first-century thinker referred to as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Token adherence to ritual or ceremony doesn’t quite cut it. Faith meets reality when the pretensions of symbolic piety are given the heave-ho and replaced by authentic awe and reverence.

Desperate Plea

Our Creator loves us. He desires to be in a living relationship with us; he desires that we respond to him with love and devotion. His mandates are set in place to provide order and structure in our lives.

From the beginning we have preferred to go our own way and do our own thing. The streak of rebellion in the human race is miles wide and just as deep. Yet, no matter our course of action or attitude, he is always prepared to embrace us in arms of never-ending grace and mercy.

It is self-evident that over the years America has placed its faith in the deceptive security and sweet blessings of liberty. We have mistaken economic prosperity as Divine approval of all that America is and does. When the Stock Market repeatedly nosedives and widespread unemployment spreads across the country, instead of bowing before a just and sovereign God, we demand an explanation for why he allowed our lifestyle to be disrupted. We turn to idolatry for comfort, but gods created in our image will fail us.

Faith deserves a proven resting-place. Rather than the nameless, faceless, shape-shifting deity fashioned by human minds, the focus of our faith should be the Creator of life, the Giver of blessings, the Maker of rainbows, the Rock of our salvation—the One who is our timeless hope of glory.

Jesus of Nazareth is our ultimate example. For him there was no separation or difference between the secular and sacred. All of life was a matter of where God wanted him and what God wanted him to be doing. We ought to emulate his reliance on our Heavenly Father.

For that to begin, we must confess our complete dependence on God for everything as we seek to deepen intimacy with him by living prayerfully. “So help me God” cannot be reduced to a mere tagline or magic incantation; it must be our desperate plea for the grace to live in a manner that genuinely esteems him.

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Comments 25 comments

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

You points are strong ones Ken and send us hypocrites running for the busnes! It seems to be me that we founded a country and endeared it to a faith and respect of God then when some complained loud enough, we flushed our orientation down the drain in favor of political correctness under the guise of "freedom of religion". No one, other than those who suffered the misfortune of slavery, was ever made to come here to this country. Those who want to be here come of their own free will yet they do not expect to give up anything or compromise on anything in order to fulfill that dream. Quite the contrary, they expect us to make concessions in our religion for them and like the fools we are...we do it and do it in the name of legislation and law. Can you imagine an Islamic county which would make such concessions for those of the Christian faith? Our politicians and leaders are more rotten and greed-stricken than ever. We have so-called preachers and faith-healers populating the television networks taking money from innocent little ol' ladies on social security and doing it in the name of the Lord. For every one exposed, there is another to take their place. How can we conform to the teachings of a Greater Being when our own leadership is steeped in sin, avarice, and greed? "So help me God" has no substance in the discharge of our government or the ethics of our nation. We are a people who in the name of political correctness have attempted to cast themselves as "plain vanilla" willing to go any way the wind blows. We are without belief or intention yet we invoke the name of God when it sounds good to those listening. Our courts tell us to take the references to religion off the buildings, off the money, out of the public ceremony but our President and other elected officials still invoke the name of God as a factor in what they will accomplish. Hypocritical to say the least. A very fine and well-written piece. Thanks for sharing. WB


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Wayne.

Your words could be viewed as another module of my piece. Really liked this: "We are a people who in the name of political correctness have attempted to cast themselves as 'plain vanilla' willing to go any way the wind blows. We are without belief or intention yet we invoke the name of God when it sounds good to those listening."


cjv123 profile image

cjv123 4 years ago from Michigan

Brilliantly written and Wayne's comments are excellent too. You taught us in this piece without being preachy. Excellent and TRUE words crafted together wonderfully!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

cjv123 - Thank you for stopping in & sharing. You are too kind. Take care & be encouraged.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Brother Beautiful Works for our Lord and Savior. Truth. No thing will stand without God. America has been so Blessed and I PRAY that we repent and God resores. I am so grateful for the truth in Christ Jesus and to be a part of HIS Family. In God I trust. May God help us.

Jesus is returning come soon Jesus. You have another masterpeice here brother I pray many are led here and have ears to hear and eyes to see. All Glory to God.

Keep on Ken you will Phil 4:13 Your sista in Christ loves ya.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

skye2day - Thank you. Your words are much appreciated. Peace & blessings to you.


Joni Douglas profile image

Joni Douglas 4 years ago

Well written Ken. Faith is not a jacket that we can wear when it is needed but remove when things heat up. You either have it or you don't.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thanks, Joni. Good words.


Susieq42 4 years ago

Boy are you ever right! We need a honest, sincere praying man for our next president. I'm sick of it too!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Susieq42 - Thanks for stopping in & sharing. Blessings.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Thank you for publishing this needful Hub. I agree with you wholeheartedly. As you said so well:

'The progressive apathy of Christianity has banished Scriptural principles in the name of political-correctness, creating an entity that a brilliant first-century thinker referred to as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”'

Amen!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

You're welcome, James. I appreciate your affirmation. Blessings.


Goodnex David profile image

Goodnex David 4 years ago

Great hub Ken. This is not just about politicians alone with their ills, it reaches to every area of our individual life. So help me God refers to every crannies of life, to every action and reaction of thoughts. We the redeemed compatriots of the kingdom of God ought to examine our lives daily and see if we're still the faith and in obedience to His laws or living the hypocrise we condemm. So help me God should be a daily appeal if we desire not live by our mortal failing sense but to the glory of the God whose 'Help is renew daily. Thank u for sharing, GBU...


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Goodnex David - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing. Your insights are much appreciated. Blessings.


SpanStar profile image

SpanStar 4 years ago

I'm guessing my ignorance might be showing but these don't sound like the words I'd expected to hear from a Buckaroo, I'm wondering if you could give me just a little bit of your educational background-Thank you.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Span Star - Thanks for reading & leaving a comment. I'm not sure what you mean by "a Buckaroo". All information willingly shared about me can be found on my HubPages profile page and/or www.wantedman.org


SpanStar profile image

SpanStar 4 years ago

I'm just focusing on the image of a cowboy, thanks.


S Ziegler profile image

S Ziegler 4 years ago from Colorado

Wow, hit it on the nailhead. My hat off to you!! Wonderful writing!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 4 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

S. Ziegler - Thank you kindly.


CMCastro profile image

CMCastro 3 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

It is so good to read your hub, from this perspective with the Election 2012 in the USA so close in time. We must remember that there is a higher Power, and that even the highest position of our Government, in his or her own human time, has to answer to One. We are born as individuals first, and some want to take the country's challenges as their own, but no matter what the one who is elected as President chooses to do, it is hoped by this US citizen that he will get on his knees first to give reverence to The One who is ultimately responsible for this creation called Earth that we are responsible for. Thank you, Ken R. Abell for sharing.


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 3 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

CMCastro - You're welcome. Thank you for stopping in & sharing your thoughtful comments. Blessings.


wba108@yahoo.com profile image

wba108@yahoo.com 3 years ago from upstate, NY

"As a nation we are blatantly and officially religious when it suits our purpose. We play linguistic games to placate the devotion to relativism, and then beseech God for his favor in the Public Square on our terms, thank you very much."

Brilliantly spoken, I love it, it gets right to the heart of the matter! Even more importantly though, is how what you say applies to the church in America. We want His blessings and our inheritance without submitting to Him as Lord, on a daily basis!


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 3 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

wba108@yahoo.com - Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated. Blessings.


FSlovenec profile image

FSlovenec 3 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Most of the population whether churched or not take a very casual approach to God. God will not be mocked..thank you for this Hub


Ken R. Abell profile image

Ken R. Abell 3 years ago from ON THE ROAD Author

Thank you. You are exactly right.

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