Another September 11 anniversary has come and gone. It is a day when our country cannot help but recall the horrific attack we suffered seven years ago. As we all surrounded our television screens watching smoke pouring out of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon in attacks that eventually cost some 3,000 lives, we came to the realization that something had changed.
Seven years later, we are fighting two wars and the lessons of that day in 2001 are still being debated. Some say we need to militarily engage our enemies more forcefully and aggressively. Others say we need to engage them with discussion and conciliation.
Yet, as we debate these "lessons," is it possible that they are all wrong? Has the U.S. learned the wrong lessons from the events of September 11, 2001?
One of the most culturally striking things about that day and the days that followed was the sudden surge of signs and banners in our towns and cities – even in our office cubicles – stating "God Bless America!" One would think these signs to be an indication that divine blessings and protection were being eagerly sought by the nation. But if they were, you would hardly notice.
For the nation who wishes God's blessings, His commands are clear enough. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, the Lord tells us that "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, God spells out for America the conditions for receiving His blessings: obedience brings safety, success, and prosperity, while disobedience brings terror, defeat, and destruction.
So how have we done in seeking those blessings?
God speaks of children as a blessing and calls the life in the womb a reward for which He takes responsibility (e.g., Psalm 127:3, 139:13). What do we do? We continue to end the lives of thousands of children every day in our abortion clinics and allow countless others to sit frozen in our fertility clinics.
God speaks of marriage as an institution created by Him to join a man and woman in a holy and sacred union (e.g., Gen. 2:22-24, Matt. 19:4-6). What do we do? We turn sex into a form of entertainment, dragging through the sewer the beautiful act God created to intimately bond a husband and wife, and training our youth to seek it out as a means of self-gratification, without "restrictive" bounds or moral "hang-ups." In the meantime, we have so lost sight of the meaning of "perversion" that we now witness the abomination of men "marrying" men and women "marrying" women.
Where God speaks of the family as His own creation, designed beautifully to work with clearly defined roles and objectives (e.g., Ephesians 5:22, 25; 6:1), how do we handle it? Traditional "fatherhood" is mocked nightly on our television screens, our "role model" women are those who have abandoned the God-given responsibility of being "keepers at home" for the lives of powerbrokers in the halls of government and business, and our children increasingly despise authority and are becoming a terror over us.
Where God continues to lovingly tell our nation, "this is the way, walk in it" (cf. Isa. 30:21), America continues to hold up its hand and respond, "No thanks, God – I think we'll go this way instead."
And as America continues to refuse to come under the authority of Jesus Christ, who shed His own blood for her and her people, she will continue to pay for that refusal with the blood of her own sons and daughters – whether in her wars or on her streets.
Our nation may ask God for His blessings, but it is not seeking them. And we have learned the wrong lessons from September 11.