A sight I have wished I could see is the Great Wall of China. It must be an awe-inspiring sight – stretching some 1500 miles, 12 to 40 feet wide at different places, and 20 to 50 feet high. I understand the Great Wall can be seen from the International Space Station, just not from Ohio.

The Great Wall was built by the ancient Chinese for protection from invading hordes; but in the first 100 years of the wall’s existence China was invaded three times. How could that happen?

Their invaders bribed the gatekeepers. No matter how powerful its military, or how strong its economy, a nation depends on the basic character (spell that m-o-r-a-l-i-t-y) of its people to survive.

Eminent historian Will Durant – not a religious man – once said in an interview: “We find it no easy task to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order without the support of supernatural consolations, hopes and fears. There is no significant example in history, before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion.”

I thought about that when I recently read a list of “facts” about our country in author Terry Swan’s “What In The World Am I Doing Here?”

Outside of nations at civil war, we are the most crime-ridden nation on earth.

Every day, nearly 100 Americans successfully commit suicide (many more attempt it unsuccessfully).

Our sexual assault rate is eight times higher than any other nation that keeps such statistics. Our robbery rate exceeds the next nearest nation’s six fold.

One third of births in this country are to unwed mothers.

The greatest cause of injury to American women is being beaten by their husbands or boyfriends.

According to the Center for Disease Control, every single day 33,000 Americans contract a sexually transmitted disease. (About 12 million each year!)

I don’t know how one would quantify the tearing of America’s social fabric by politics.

Over 30 years ago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, speaking at Harvard University, referred to America as “morally exhausted” – more concerned with rights than with what is right.

Of course, I hear all sorts of theories about why these things are. One explanation I hear so often from church people is that “We have banned God from the school classroom,” or “We need to get prayer back in the schools.” I’m a pastor, remember, and I hope I won’t get my house burned down by outraged Christians, but I think that’s passing the buck. I don’t expect other institutions to do our job.

I’m an old guy who attended school back in the dark ages, and I can’t remember ever praying the Lord’s Prayer in school (the “Pledge of Allegiance,” yes; the Lord’s Prayer, no); and I don’t remember anyone seriously talking about God in our classroom.

The problem, as I see it, lies with the Church. We Christians are too often guilty of sitting in church, criticizing others, rather than going into the world to make a difference for Christ.

When Jesus gave “The Great Commission,” he did not say, “Build yourselves a nice building, sit on your duff, and wait for people to come to you.” He didn’t say, “Pay someone to do it for you.”

He said: “Go! Make disciples! Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you!” (Matthew 28:18-20.)

​sharon@bryantimes.com

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