The University of Texas school song (to the tune of "I've been working on the railroad") begins, "The eyes of Texas are upon you, all the livelong day. The eyes of Texas are upon you, you cannot get away." A highly mobile mass society like ours encourages anonymity that enables people without an internal gyroscope to twist and turn in all directions. We think we can get away from God's observation, and so we engage in many acts that are harmful to ourselves and others.
Biblical faith and freedom have been inseparable in American history, in large part because of our ancestors' understanding of coram deo-"in the sight of God." It's theoretically possible that a sense of someone other than God watching-perhaps the eyes of Texascould push individuals to keep liberty from turning into license. A general emphasis on virtue could possibly fill the bill, but people who believe No One's watching will normally allow specific temptations to trump moralistic statements.
I suspect, therefore, that if biblical belief evaporates so will our liberties. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," Janis Joplin sang before she drugged and drank herself to death. She could not have been more wrong. Anyone with nothing to lose is a leaf blown around by cultural and ideological winds, and leaves are not free. Previous generations of Americans understood the "bondage of the will" that is our natural lot without God's grace. Unless God shines his grace on us we are enslaved, and when individuals are enslaved bondage for an entire society is not far behind. And that's one reason it's good to sing, "God shine His grace on thee."
American society has always been a mix of worldviews, but we've always had a critical mass devoted to biblical principles: the Bible describes believers as salt, both preserving a culture and giving it taste. We still have that critical mass; will the next generation? Without revival and reformation, I suspect not. But I'm not about to predict the future: only God knows.
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