RIGHT MAKES MIGHT: A QUESTION FOR MEMORIAL DAY

ChristianknightWhat will make America great again? What will make our nation worthy of the good men and women who have given their lives to defend us? What is the subject of this post? It is about the words of a troubled man.

“Might does not make right! Right makes right!” ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Whatever his faults, T. H. White wrote a popular fantasy. He made people imagine a world that never was, but was he right? Does right make right?

How would we know if right makes right? Is there some way to measure such a thing? Well, with dubious success, academics try to do such things. The video below represents such an attempt.

Where do I think the video fails? A good marriage does make a man (and a woman) stronger, but the video never defines a good marriage. Instead the video suggests that the purpose of marriage is to make a boy into a man, and the video provides evidence to substantiate that claim.

What is a good marriage? Why would a good marriage make a man (and a woman) stronger? Consider how the Bible speaks of this relationship.

Ephesians 5:22-33 New King James Version (NKJV)

Marriage—Christ and the Church

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Bible uses marriage as a model of Christian love. Just as Christ gave of Himself for the Church (even though we were and are still sinners), husbands should strive to love their wives, and wives should return the love of their husbands with equal fervor.

Marriage, however, is not the prime example that Jesus gave us of love. Jesus did not restrict love to marriage. Jesus never married a woman. Instead, He commanded us to love each other as He loved us.

John 15:12-14 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

Does such love make us stronger? Does caring about someone else make us stronger than caring only about our self? It seems counter-intuitive, but this is what God tells us to do — because He loves us.

Why would giving of our self to another make us stronger? Consider the nature of discipline. When parent disciplines a child, don’t they do so because they love their children?

Hebrews 12:3-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Discipline of God

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Because victory depends upon each man being where he is suppose to be and doing what he is suppose to be doing, soldiers know the value of rigorous discipline. Yet such discipline is only received well when it comes from someone who cares about us.

The Bible is full of examples of how the Lord chastens his children. King David’s life probably provides the best illustration. Here we have the story of a young shepherd boy who loved God. What God saw in David’s heart we can only guess, but God chose David and made him King of Israel. And what was David’s life like? The naive would call it adventurous, but David’s psalms tell us of a man struggling with sin and doubt.  Therefore, in the middle of a psalm praising God, David included these words.

Psalm 31:9-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
10 For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
11 I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
12 I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.

With God’s help David rose above his troubles. Did David ever know a good marriage? Perhaps, but he married too many times, and our Lord chastised him for that too.

Yet this is a post for Memorial Day. So how does it apply? It is about the answer to a question. What made America great? The answer is that Americans care about each other in a special way.

Why do Americans care about each other? The overriding reason is that we have a Christian heritage. In spite of the fact we have not done a good job instructing our children in the Bible, Americans still believe we should love each other, that right makes might.

It is true that we are a nation made up of the descendants of peoples from around the world. Nevertheless, the descendants of Christians, many refugees seeking the freedom to practice their own version of Christianity, formed the foundations of our nation. That is the reason for this passage in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)

At the time Declaration of Independence was written, there was nothing else like it. Yet stranger things have happened since then. Look at the end of World War II. Consider the savagery of the Axis Powers. Millions dead. Many died mercilessly murdered in concentration camps. Yet Americans still insisted upon helping Japan and Germany rebuild. In previous times, the victors would have insisted upon reparations, but love demands forgiveness.

Therefore, when you raise the flag and celebrate Memorial Day, remember to thank our Lord. He taught us to love each other. He taught us right makes might, and He gives us heroes willing to lay down their own lives for those of their friends.

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8 thoughts on “RIGHT MAKES MIGHT: A QUESTION FOR MEMORIAL DAY

  1. Well said, Tom. It can be extremely complicated, a bit of a paradox really, because Christ was the most powerful man ever and yet he laid His life down for us. And yet might did make right, in the sense that in surrender He had victory. He won. It is finished.

    One of the things that has really made America great is our commitment to the least of these, the way we protect the weak and vulnerable. We are not ruled by might makes right, so much as we are ruled by defending and protecting the rights of even the weakest among us. It has been a long and imperfect road, but the significance there is profound. You go to many other countries, children don’t even have childhoods, women have few protections, and government corruption is significant. There is little or no interest in caring for or protecting the least of these. Might makes right.

    For all our flaws and imperfections, people still risk their lives trying to get here. We have something unique in America and a big part of it is how we focus on protecting the rights of individuals, and that’s where some might comes in. We have to have the will to do that and the desire to fight for it.

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