In 1920, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, which outlawed the manufacture, sale, consumption, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. The amendment ushered in a period of American history known as Prohibition.
But the 18th Amendment was a colossal failure. Many historians say that more alcohol was produced and consumed during Prohibition than before it started. People who didn’t even drink before the 18th Amendment was passed started drinking just to prove they could do it and get away with it. It became a status symbol for people to have connections to get bootleg liquor.
But the government didn’t give up easily. It brought in a task force of 2,000 specially trained men to crack down on the bootleggers and try to put them out of business. That force was led by the legendary Elliott Ness. His men were called “The Untouchables” because they had such great integrity.
Nevertheless, Prohibition failed miserably. It lasted only 13 years. In 1933, the 21st Amendment was passed, repealing the 18th, and making liquor legal again.
You’ve probably heard it said that morality can’t be legislated. People who make that statement point to Prohibition as a prime example. And they’re right in the sense that all the laws and law enforcement officers in the world can’t make a person do the right thing if he doesn’t want to. Yet we still need laws. We need firm, clearly stated standards that define wrongdoing and help us bring those who would prey on others to justice.
Here’s something else we need: a government that will obey the law.
There are a lot of things happening in America that are upsetting, but in my opinion, nothing is scarier than this: as the size of our government is rapidly increasing, its respect for the law (not to mention honesty and truth) seems to be rapidly decreasing. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out where this trend is going to take us as a nation.
And yet, the Bible tells us to be in submission to “governing authorities” because they have been placed in power by God. (Romans 13:1) I believe that verse can be summed up in 4 words: Be a good citizen. I do not believe the verse means we have to roll over and play dead while the government runs roughshod over us. Part of being a good citizen involves rising up and holding leaders accountable for their actions.
But we’re not just citizens, we’re Christians, and as such we have another responsibility: pray for those in authority. (1 Timothy 2:1-3) Yes, the verse says to pray for them, not against them. I interpret that to mean that we should pray for their hearts to turn toward God and for their decisions to bring peace and quiet and dignity to our lives.
I’ll admit it: sometimes I feel more inclined to pray for a well-placed lightning bolt.
But my challenge as a Christian is to honor God, and that I will do. I will pray for my country’s leaders, even when they make me boiling mad. I hope you’ll join me. They really need it.