The sign of a good speech, book or newspaper column is when the essence of the message continues to rattle around in your mind for months or even years afterward.

It’s been nearly twenty years since the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan suggested no nation nor party that supports the unfettered killing of innocent children can long endure or even flourish. That observation has stuck with me ever since I read it in January of 2003 – and I believe her insight and analysis continues to be borne out in the decades since she first suggested it.

Now the talk has turned to what constitutes the “soul of the nation” – a familiar phrase that pops up from time to time – and we can’t help but connect Noonan’s analysis with what has truly been the foundation of America and her best ideals.

Christians, of course, are intimately familiar with the “soul” – the mysterious essence that made man a man – that we first read about in Genesis. When God created Adam, we learn that He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (Genesis 2:7). In Hebrew, “soul” is translated as “to breathe” – so when we talk about the soul of a country, we’re talking about what gives it life. 

We certainly know what doesn’t give America life – abortion, religious persecution, the distortion and corruption of human sexuality. The reason so many have literally risked their lives to get here is because we’ve been willing to do what few other countries have ever done.

Since our nation’s inception, the soul of America has been the principles and ideals articulated in our earliest documents, especially the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution. Wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1776:

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.

Make no mistake – the soul of our nation is currently sick, because we have turned our back on those very principles our founders once elevated and emulated.

When over sixty million babies are lost to abortion, when corporations and individuals are forced to violate their religious convictions to pay to cover abortifacients and other immoral medical procedures, and when parents aren’t told about their school age boys wanting to “identify as girls” (and vice versa), something is clearly wrong.

Many scholars suggest ancient Rome bore a resemblance to modern-day America. It was wealthy and advanced on many cultural levels. It was the center for the arts. But it was also overrun by pagan temples and other troubling forms of worship. It was into this environment that the apostle Paul, once a persecutor of Christians, stepped to minister and try to make a difference. What did he tell them?

“Do not be conformed to this world,” he wrote the early believers in Rome. “But be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

We must embrace Paul’s directive. To accept what God detests is to inhale the toxic breath of a dying nation. It’s spiritual poison. Instead, we need to protect our minds and hearts (and our children’s) by breathing in all that is godly and good.

Many of us love the words of Horatio Spafford, who through tears of unspeakable loss wrote the classic hymn, “It is Well with My Soul.” We can find help, hope and encouragement in his declaration:

“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come; Let this blest assurance control. That Christ has regarded my helpless estate; And has shed His own blood for my soul.”

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