Entitlement, Owning the Problem, and the Classically Educated

Marlin Detweiler Written by Marlin Detweiler

I’m like any other red-blooded American who wonders how we are going to pay for all of this. Our federal government has been on a spending spree to rival . . . well, this kind of spending actually has no rivals—ever. Trillions of dollars have been “invested,” spent, or otherwise disposed of in the name of getting our economy back on track. Consequently, we, the citizens, are the owners of a failing insurance agency and were the largest lenders to two of the largest and unhealthiest auto companies.

Now I realize I’m being a bit sarcastic, maybe even cynical, here. I also realize you are as tired of hearing about this as I am, but that is partially my point, so hang in there for a minute. I also realize there is much that is hard for us, the average citizens, to understand. However, this is really quite a disturbing set of circumstances when all things are considered.

Coupled with all this spending is a new strain of entitlement—one that believes the federal government has both the obligation and the right to look into details of private transactions and make unilateral changes to contracts and existing agreements. Talks of even scarier intrusion are quite common.

It’s been said that America had better repent of such financial recklessness or we will receive the judgment of God. A pastor and friend had a different take. He indicated that this is the judgment of God. Is what we’ve done not a bit like the man who has lost his job and promptly goes out to buy a new $75,000 recreational vehicle with borrowed money to help the economy? Taking on more debt—a lot more debt—hardly seems a wise approach to getting out of debt.

Yet a bigger problem remains. It’s the problem of ownership. No one owns the national problems we face. I feel little ownership of the federal debt. I feel little ownership of the process that includes the foolishness that tacks on huge pork-barrel add-ons to popular congressional bills. Summarily speaking, I feel little ownership to community, cultural, or collective sin. I don’t have a clue as to how to repent of it, either. Do you?

We might bury our heads believing that these problems were not caused by us and can’t be fixed by us. And, at a micro level, we might be right. But who does own them? Who really takes responsibility? May God give us a clear sense of what it means to corporately confess our sins as so many of us pray every Sunday. And may God give us wisdom to carefully and collectively follow that repentance with godly actions—actions that include strategic efforts to bring concern for biblical wisdom and righteousness into the public square, actions that include an understanding of what God’s Word means when it says that judgment begins with the House of God.

Frankly, we need godly politicians. We need godly pastors, too—ones who won’t shrink from tackling the difficult or equivocate on complex matters such as these. Finally, we need godly, articulate, bold lovers of truth in the rising generation who will be not only the next politicians and pastors, but businessmen, parents, citizens, laborers, and friends of the lost.

Summarily, we need a people who know the facts, think well, and articulate their thoughts in such a winsome way that they are able to conceive what it means to own a corporate failing and know what to do about it. That is why I believe a classical Christian education is so important, because I believe that is exactly what it produces.

But we need more than that from these people. We need them “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.” May we become those people, and may we raise a generation of those people.

Marlin Detweiler