The spiritual rift in our country has little to do with what God is. It has everything to do with who God is.
God is the absolute authority on earth. God is eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and benevolent. To Christians, God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. To the unbeliever, however, the highest form of earthly authority is manifested through the power exercised by the hands of human government.
The secular left believes that central government is the highest form of earthly authority, and this profession of faith effectively thrusts the essential attributes of God upon the shoulders of a small group of centralized administrators. Rather than archaically bending a knee before the alleged infallibilities of an invisible God, this belief system seeks the “enlightening” and “benevolent” pursuit of perfecting the fallibilities of a morally-relative man.
Enter the concept of the surveillance state.
There are two reasons why secular fundamentalists, communists, progressives, and others on the political left tend to be such ardent supporters of surveillance efforts.
The first has to do with a question that prevents many people from embracing a Judeo-Christian worldview. Why does God allow bad things to happen?
The human mind simply cannot fathom why an all-powerful God would not intervene to prevent calamity from befalling humanity. For example, God did not intercede to prevent jihadi-hijacked airliners from flying into two New York City buildings, killing thousands of innocent Americans at the turn of the century.
God is absolute. If He chose to bestow the blessing of universal liberty upon all of humanity while simultaneously restricting this liberty to prevent lapses in human judgment, God would not be absolute.
By serving as a means to identify and prevent lapses in human judgment, the federal government’s gluttonous application of surveillance with complete disregard to the privacy rights of its citizens is revealing. Collecting and retaining metadata on the entire American populace without any form of probable cause is evidence that the federal government is attempting to account for this perceived weakness within the essence of God.
Just because God refuses to prevent bad things from happening doesn’t mean that we should similarly remain idle bystanders. At least in this instance, Marco Rubio, a Florida Senator and evangelical Christian, supports leaning on human understanding to address the perceived flaw that is God’s apparent apathy.
In defending the NSA’s collection of bulk telephone metadata, Rubio explained that “the federal government mobilized to defend the country and prevent further loss of innocent life.” He then went on to support the program by leveraging the legal opinions of at least 15 judges that have rendered the program legal and constitutional.
Do programs become morally justifiable simply because they are rendered legal? Would Rubio have sided with the court in Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857) that determined that people of African descent were not protected by the Constitution? Would he have sided with the court in Buck v. Bell (1927) in which the court upheld the forced sterilization of those with “intellectual disabilities?” Where would he stand on Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)? Would he have sided with the court’s ruling that upheld state segregation laws?
When we are told, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” we would be wise to remember the morally flexible nature of the high courts. As referenced by these prior court determinations, what is illegal during one season of life can quickly become legal during another. Assembling and retaining an intricate web of digital surveillance enables the federal government to retroactively apply tomorrow’s morally relative standards to actions that are perfectly legal today. The shape-shifting values of humanity guarantee that tomorrow’s leaders will exploit this program for personal gain. In a culture that rejects moral absolutes, this only becomes a matter of time.
The second reason why leftists support the surveillance state is much more significant. In order to create a form of earthly authority that competes with a traditional God, this replacement must similarly become eternal, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, and benevolent.
Surveillance efforts help the state become omniscient and omnipresent. Additionally, it is quite easy to sell these endeavors as benevolent. Wouldn’t a truly enlightened people harness this intricate web of digital surveillance to obstruct the future criminal pursuits of anyone who conspires to harm his fellow man?
Of course, these efforts will never work because of the fallible nature of man. The general populace will always subject itself to politically expedient seasons, and we are in the midst of a season of extreme apologism for terrorist activities.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev planted a bomb in the middle of the Boston Marathon in April of 2013. He did this after being on the FBI’s radar for more than two years and receiving a tip from the Russian government that “he was a follower of radical Islam.”
Omar Mateen killed 50 people and injured another 53 during an attack on an Orlando gay nightclub in June of 2016. Mateen completed this terrorist attack after being investigated by the FBI for links to terrorism.
Why didn’t our surveillance efforts prevent the slaughter of innocent life? Despite the grandiose promises, we are simply paralyzed by our idealistic pursuits of diversity, inclusion and tolerance.
Why do the same voices that are so quick to criticize God conveniently look the other way when human efforts fall short?
The Bible is littered with examples in which man attempts to usurp the divine characteristics of God. It happened in the Garden of Eden, and it happened at the Tower of Babel.
Christians must realize that assembling a surveillance state represents yet another chapter in the tragically voluminous annals of man attempting to become like God.
Image Credit: Political Blindspot