Presidents Day is not just an excuse to buy new appliances or a barbeque on sale; it's a day to remember the individuals who have taken on one of the toughest jobs in the world—President of the United States of America.
Needless to say, some have handled the stress and responsibility that comes with this job better than others. In fact, President's Day was originally reserved for celebrating George Washington's birthday (February 22) in honor of the man who set the bar for all future leaders. And while the national holiday has evolved to recognize all of our past presidents, it's no surprise that of the 44 presidents thus far, Washington and Abraham Lincoln have remained two of our most admired leaders. Their work, their words, and their godly character have had a lasting impact on our nation, and while they were certainly not perfect in many ways, their legacies are something that all future presidents would do well to aspire to.
This Presidents Day, the United States finds itself in the middle of a tumultuous presidential election. But if there is anything Washington’s and Lincoln's presidencies have taught us, it's that great leaders are steadfast in their values. That's why, as I looked at some of Washington’s and Lincoln's writings recently, I was reminded of just how much is at stake for religious freedom, marriage and the family, and the sanctity of life in the election.
George Washington’s letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in Virginia
"I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience."
We are at a point as a nation that Washington probably never thought was possible—a point where people of faith are being forced by state and federal governments to violate their conscience at work, at school, and even in their own homes. Oftentimes, these beliefs—including marriage between one man and one woman, and that life begins at conception—are well-established in various faiths. And yet, just because these beliefs have become less popular with society, the government wants to silence those who hold them.
Washington advocated for the rights of Americans to live by the dictates of their conscience. The person who wins the election this year will play a significant role in determining whether our country continues down its current path in infringing on the conscience rights of Americans, or if we will once again become a nation that protects the religious freedom of all individuals.
SANCTITY OF LIFE
Abraham Lincoln’s speech on the Declaration of Independence at Lewistown, Illinois
"[The Declaration] was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of the justice of the Creator to His creatures. Yes, gentlemen, to all His creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows."
Abraham Lincoln recognized the "unalienable rights" that come from God alone. While racism and slavery were the right to life and liberty issues of Lincoln's day, his words are just as applicable to one of the massive human rights violations our world is currently facing—the killing of nearly 59 million babies in the womb through abortion. Children in the womb are created just as you and I were—in the image of God. Their lives are no less valuable just because they are still growing in the womb instead of outside of it—just as the lives of African Americans are no less valuable because of the color of their skin.
Our nation should not be in the business (and abortion is a business) of taking innocent lives. The Obama Administration has done nothing to stop this horrific practice, and has even gone as far as to force individuals and businesses to support abortion in violation of their conscience through covering abortion-inducing drugs in their insurance plans, and providing over $500 million a year of our taxpayer dollars to the our nation's largest abortionist—Planned Parenthood. The next president will either continue this downward spiral or support life-affirming policies that recognize the value of all human life.
MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
George Washington letter to the Marquis de la Rourie
"More permanent and genuine happiness is to be found in the sequestered walks of connubial [i.e., marital] life than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure."
I love this statement. I love how it captures an eternal truth in such a simple way. It's a truth that our society has lost sight of in favor of the "anything goes" mindset towards romantic relationships and marriage. But selfishness never benefits society—and that is exactly what relationships devoted to personal pleasure promote. Unfortunately, the consequences that often result from these relationships, including broken families and treating children as commodities, are detrimental to the future of our nation.
The next president will have the opportunity to affirm the benefits that marriage has on our society and to lead by example.
There's a lot at stake in the election, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming. But as Christians, we are not called to panic in moments like these—we are called to pray. Romans 13 reminds us that "there is no authority except that which God has established" (NIV). That's why the next President of the United States, no matter who that person may be, needs your prayers.
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