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The Scripture says that when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people mourn (Proverbs 29:2). Here, in one simple verse, is the reason why so many Americans believe the country is on the wrong track, here is the reason why Congress has an 8-12% approval rating, and here is why we are so miserable as a country.

We have a “representative republican” form of “democracy” in America, allegedly bound by the standards set forth in our founding documents, and, we have always hoped, based on our original Declaration of Independence. In short, whether the vote is manipulated or not, our leaders, unlike royalty who inherit power, are a REFLECTION of our culture. They represent the BEST we can produce, or at least that is the claim. But even if you want to argue over whether our leaders are the best we can offer, you will no doubt agree that they are not very righteous. And if you agree they are not very righteous you may be able to see how our culture itself is not very righteous.

If you hear the word “righteous” you might think holy, religious, or perfect. But the word tsidkenu basically comes from the word tsedek which means “stiff, straight”: it means, essentially, to be aligned right. Aligned with what? To be righteous is to be aligned with a right standard: a norm that is fair, just, and truthful.

In Scripture, righteousness comes from, first, a fear of the Lord and, then, the outworking of His Spirit through the submitted life of the Believer. (See Romans 8:1-4) It is not our righteousness but God’s righteousness that is in us, that comes through us, and that transforms us. But a righteous leader may simply be a leader whose standards and behavior are aligned with fairness, justice, and truth as it relates to their position or office.

When we look at our society in America we see that if we compare the high and straight standards of God’s Word with “conventional wisdom” about most every subject the two do not agree. So our leaders reflect the unrighteous standard of our culture, a standard that is in opposition to the righteous standards of God’s Word.

Notice that the Scripture here doesn’t say “when the leader is popular” or “when the leader is elected” the people rejoice. It says “when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice.” Of course this is a general statement and is not meant to cover everyone: the wicked would not rejoice. God always judges ruler, government, and nation by this measure: do they together follow a righteous standard. And only righteous rulers can follow such a standard, whether they are elected or whther they are royals.

When a nation follows unrighteousness or allows wickedness, it bears collective guilt for the sin. Having laws that protect immorality as a right means the whole nation partakes of that sin. The individual can be redeemed from that sin but eventually it can lead to the death of the whole nation.

There will be those who argue this does not apply today, and they take a big chance by counseling whole nations that there is no such thing as collective sin. But recall how even a Pharoah in Egypt was afraid of collective sin when Abraham lied about his wife being his sister. I would propose that the righteous standard was established for all nations for all time. I would further argue that those who are too quick to dismiss this are potentially setting up whole nations for destruction.

I understand how non-believers will reject this, they don’t believe in sin as we understand it. They will read this as a political argument, but it is not about politics. It is a spiritual matter best addressed as such. Our society loves evil, celebrates it, and therefore it cannot produce righteous leaders. As a society we cannot even discern good from evil, people refuse instruction and correction in the laws of God, and the people who lead us are really a reflection of us. The wicked rule and in our democratic republic WE ARE THE WICKED and we are miserable.

Every day that passes without God wiping America off the face of this earth is an undeserved day of grace for which we must be thankful. We are wicked, and we rule, therefore we mourn. We mourn as prosperity and safety disappear and freedom decays. We mourn as the good is punished and evil is protected and made something positive. We mourn as we see that the future we are leaving to our children is full of terrors.

Today’s crop of American leaders are all wrong.

Righteousness lifts up a nation, sin drags it to destruction. But our nation doesn’t want to hear that any more than Israel did in Jeremiah’s day: and our nation will be just as plundered as was Israel in Jeremiah’s day.

Whoever you choose in elections, the underlying cause of our problem is that we fail to choose the righteous as our rulers and we do that because our society is morally bankrupt and cannot tell right from wrong.