Hitting The Tripwires

Yesterday was a day we should underline in black on our calendars. It was the day the Senate failed to override President Clinton's veto of the ban on partial-birth abortion--despite the pleadings of some 70 percent of the American people. In effect, we've approved infanticide--the murder of children--and we will pay for it. This failure to override the veto brings to mind a story some friends told me about a visit they made to Calcutta several years ago. These four friends were moved by Mother Teresa's work among the poor and dying, and they asked what they could do to help. Mother Teresa looked them straight in the eye and asked, "You're Americans, aren't you?" "Yes," my friends replied. "Then don't ask what you can do to help me," the tiny nun responded. "You need to start praying for your own nation and repent, because God will bring judgment upon any country that kills babies." Shocked and sobered, my friends retreated for a time of prayer. Later that afternoon, my friends saw Mother Teresa again, and again they asked her, "What can we do for you?" "I told you this morning," she said. "Pray for your own country." As they prepared to leave that evening, my friends pressed Mother Teresa one more time. "Isn't there anything we can do to help you?" Mother Teresa shook her bony finger in their faces and said, "Yes. Pray for your country. Repent, change, turn away--or God will bring judgment upon you." Well, yesterday's vote in the Senate convinces me that, tragically, Mother Teresa's admonition is coming true. President Clinton's veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act--now sustained--is the first of three tripwires that I believe will trigger God's judgment upon our country and raise profound questions regarding whether Americans can support their government The second tripwire will be euthanasia. If the Supreme Court affirms the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' Compassion in Dying v. Washington decision as written, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be sanctioned nationwide. The third tripwire will be homosexual marriage. Although the president signed the Defense of Marriage Act, I fear this law will be overturned by the Supreme Court. After all, just last spring the Court overturned an amendment to Colorado's constitution that would have prohibited towns from giving civil rights protections to homosexuals. When all three of these tripwires have been set off, we will be living in a nation whose laws violate the biblical ordering of life. And then Christians will need to seriously consider becoming what theologian Stanley Hauerwas calls "resident aliens"--people whose main purpose is to live out God's truth within the community of faith. We may even feel led to signal our disengagement from American political life by refusing to vote, hold public office, or pledge allegiance to the flag. Acts of civil disobedience may be called for. These themes are explored in an article I wrote for the November issue of a journal called First Things. I encourage you to prayerfully read this piece. If you call BreakPoint, we'll send you a reprint. Mother Teresa's prophecy may very well come true: I believe Americans are in grave peril of God's judgment. And we'd better take Mother Teresa's warning seriously. We need to retreat, pray, and repent.  


Chuck Colson


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