What happens when we do not do what we gave our word we would do?
My father-in-law has oft told me how frustrating it is in the business world to have people tell you they were going to do something only to have them not do what they said they would, repeatedly. As he says, “just do what you say you are going too.” I would add, that if you do not intend to, or fear you cannot do what you are promising to do, it is better to not promise to do it. It is a sad but apparent state of affairs in America today that dependability is becoming a rare commodity. The first example this author ran into was upon discharge from the Marines and applying for my first geologist position. The man hiring me told me frankly on the first day of my job that the only reason he hired me was that I had the Marine Corps on my resume and that he knew if nothing else that meant I would show up on time each day and work hard. The lamentable fact that we are hiring people today based upon the rarity of enough responsibility to “show up” each day gives us a distressing glimpse into the state of America.
The need for reliability applies to much more than just the business world; it applies to our faith, our marriages, our families, and our politics. In our faith, we need to display this trustworthiness for a number of reasons, of which I will list a couple. First because God desires it of us. Second, because we never know when we will be the only example of Jesus Christ to someone, or at the least the example of Jesus Christ in a moment of trial. A perfect case is the spate of deplorable abortion laws being proposed and executed across the northeast part of our country at present. There is no possible way for a Christian who believes God’s word that “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart,” to also be a proponent of poisoning and ripping apart children. Therefore, if we do not stand up for the most innocent and vulnerable in this world, we are not doing what we said we would, we are not being followers of Christ. How, then, can we be surprised when the world has no respect or love for Christ or his followers, for we are acting no different than anyone else? We must show them the light in a dark world.
The need for reliability is also desperate in our marriages. You have no further to look than at the deplorable level of divorce in our country. If we as Christians will not focus enough on our spouse and our marriage to make them work and flourish, is it any wonder more and more of our children look cynically on the institution? No, it cannot be surprising that more and more people are living together unmarried, or that the divorce rate amongst those that choose to get married is so high. Not to mention the additional collateral that more and more of our children grow up missing a father or a mother or both to raise and mentor them. If we claim that we are going to love our spouse “till death do us part” we must. If we claim that we are going to “forsake all others” then we must. And much like our faith in God, if we are going to agree to love another, we must give everything we have to give to them. If we hold parts of ourselves back we cripple our marriage and are no better than those who leave a marriage. Also we hurt our witness to other young couples looking for leadership and examples of a good marriage. You can never win a gold medal holding back part of your efforts, and you can never have a great marriage if you only give certain parts of yourself to your spouse.
This undependability is also crippling our families. In addition to the problems that come from abandoning our marriages, within our families when we tell each other we are going to be somewhere or to do something and then we renege on that promise, it undermines the trust within the family unit. Every time social media, work, play, television, or something else take precedence over loving our spouse, our children, or our parents that trust is eroded. There are times when you need a break, me time alone, but those days must be rare indeed. Our families need our love and dependability through actions much more than the latest Netflix show, or our Instagram or Twitter followers.
Lastly, this responsibility is desperately needed in our politics across western culture and particularly in America. We need men and women who say what they mean, and mean what they say. The abortion issue again gives us a glimpse into the soul of America. The mayors, governors, congressmen and women are merely reflections of the people who elect them. If we truly care for the weak and vulnerable among us, where then is the outrage over abortion at or near birth, or really abortion of any kind save risk to the life of the mother, from the populous? In a country based upon Christian ethics how is the yell for defending the weakest and most vulnerable among us not ear shattering? And as a side note, make no mistake, America WAS founded as a Christian nation. The words of James Wilson, one of the Supreme Court’s original members, as well as a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, leave no doubt. “It should always be remembered that this law, … made for men or for nations, flows from the same Divine source: it is the law of God … What we do, indeed must be founded on what He has done.” The problem is that we are not doing what we say. We talk of protecting the poor and the innocent, the widow and the orphan, yet we vote in increasing numbers to kill babies, to rob our own citizens of jobs, land and money to give to criminal immigrants, to allow every kind of harmful and deviant sexual act, and to leave our own veterans, police, and firefighters sick and poor after years of service. This list is incomplete even in its already damning length. We must do better. We must act in accordance with the words we so love to speak. God desires it. Our families deserve it. Our country needs it. And for those who have served, our Corps demands it.
-JT Cope IV