Our #1 Idol – The United States of America

By Graham Glover

The United States of America has become our idol. It has become our god. Our worship of it, or at least what we think it should be, consumes us. I dare say it defines us. We talk about what it means to be a good American all the time. Our devotion to living out what we perceive to be the “American Dream” is the benchmark of our success – its fulfillment is what we strive to every day.

We may claim to put God first. We talk often about the importance of family and friends. But nothing beats the U.S. of A. It is our priority. In everything.

We worship this idol in different ways. For some, it’s an obsession with the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. We treat these rights as though they are divinely inspired, inerrant words of truth given to the Founders of our great nation by God Himself, never to be changed, never to be altered. As we continue to define that which is good, right, and moral, we look first and foremost to these sacred civil texts. The rights contained therein have become our commandments, which we believe must be preserved at all costs. (This isn’t to say I’m not a supporter of the Constitution. I am. So much so that I took an oath to support and defend it, against all enemies, foreign and domestic). But we should never forget that the Bill of Rights, that the U.S. Constitution, is not the means by which we understand what is good, right, and moral. For these are but human creations, meant for a certain people in a particular time. They most certainly are not eternal, either in their purpose or in their ability to be changed. But when we worship them, when we look to them to define us, they become an idol that supplants anything else.

Others make America their idol through the continual cry to “take our country back”. This chorus typically makes its way to the top of the charts every four years, emanating from whichever political or social group is not in charge of things. It’s common refrain to “Make America Great Again” is nothing new, just a different spin on a tired slogan of harkening back to a time that our nostalgic memories think is ideal. But no such time exits. There has never been an ideal time in our nation’s history. There is no “going back”. What was, will likely never be again. And that’s ok. Or at least it should be for those that recognize our nation is not, never has been, nor ever will be perfect. America, for all of her glories, is a nation with many scars. To naively think we can return our country to something that is only a figment of our imagination, is nothing other than a sorry excuse for idol worship. It is to wish for something that doesn’t exist, to put our hope in something that will never be. It is to elevate a false idea of a nation to something of a utopia. It is the act of worshiping the state.

And for some, America has become an idol through the asinine belief that our nation is “city on a hill”, set to forever be the light to an otherwise dark and troublesome world. The idol worshipers believe that America is great not just because of her Bill of Rights, her Constitution, or her idealism – she’s great because she’s been set apart by God. To them, America is the “New Jerusalem”, given to the world to set it free from tyranny and oppression. This isn’t to say that America is not a beacon of democracy in a world ripe with terror or that she isn’t the last superpower to champion a particular notion of freedom. Rather, it is to say that America is not divinely set apart. America is not the means by which the Gospel will be spread or God’s Kingdom will come again. America is just another country in the long history of the world that may one day cease to exist. To put the survivability of our nation first or to think that without its preeminence we will somehow suffer, is to worship a false idol, an idol that gives no lasting sustenance – no eternal glory.

To make America our idol by worshiping her temporal texts, her false nostalgia, and her misplaced primacy, is nothing other than to make her our god. And America is no god. Not now. Not ever.