When the citizens are marching in the streets with guns to protect their property, we've got a big problem. Lawlessness is breaking out around the country -- Seattle, Portland, even Washington, D.C. Roving bands are hounding diners at restaurants if they won't salute Black Lives Matter.
Some cities allowed burning, looting, and nightly violence to continue. In D.C., an official group, which answers to the mayor, issued the following recommendation: "remove, relocate, or contextualize" many of the monuments and memorials to America's founders. That includes the Jefferson Memorial. And the Washington Monument. On Thursday's "Washington Watch," Southern Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler insisted, "it's an effort to try not only to rewrite history, but now to act as if history didn't happen."
The far-Left New York Times tried to rewrite history through the 1619 Project, which cast America's founding as irredeemably racist. But Mohler explained the flaws of our history don't justify erasing it. "Were [Washington and Jefferson] slaveholders? Yes. Do we need to reckon with that honestly? Yes. Does history need to deal with that straightforwardly? Of course. But can you even tell the American story without Washington and Jefferson? No." These men, said Mohler, were the "bookends of defining the entire American experiment in constitutional self-government."
If we only allowed statues of people who made no mistakes, we would have no statues. Scripture makes clear that no one is righteous. Not Abraham. Not Israel. Not King David, "guilty of arranging murder and also of adultery," as Mohler said. No one since the Fall. "But the messiah himself reigns forever on David's throne." The Bible tells us about history -- warts and all -- because it's a story of redemption.
America is not perfect, but it is gradually improving. That's the story we lose when we rewrite history. The Declaration of Independence, which Jefferson authored, set forth that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Early America failed to uphold this promise. But the ending of slavery, the civil rights movement, and other developments moved us forward. As Mohler said, "Martin Luther King stood up and said, 'I want to cash that check.'" Sadly, he continued, "Muriel Bowser showed up saying, 'I want to take down that monument.'"
America's continued moral progress depends on the outcome of the approaching 2020 election. Will we live the next four years under a President Biden or President Trump? But Mohler pointed out, "you can't explain why the 2020 presidential election is even important without pointing back to George Washington." He "fleshed out the American presidency and gave stability to the American constitutional order" when he retired after serving two terms. Washington's example confirmed America as a nation ruled by law, not by power.
But there are some who don't want to be ruled by law. They want anarchy. Mohler compared it to the Israelites in Judges, where "everyone did what was right in his own sight." We shouldn't be surprised; Christ tells us that because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But we cannot arrive at justice through lawlessness. Order can be wrongful, admitted Mohler, "but the worst thing of all is lawlessness in which sinful humanity just turns on itself." So, he said, Christians should be on the front lines to demand righteous and just laws, but through a lawful process.
Many people have been cowed into silence by the mob -- on Twitter, on the streets. But a Christian's duty is to obey God rather than men. Now is not the time to be silent or to stand in the shadows.