If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle interview that aired earlier this week. Both here in the States and across the pond, people sat glued to their screens as Meghan and Harry leveled accusation after accusation against the royal family and the institution of the monarchy, particularly on the issues of race and mental health. It was a verbal blitzkrieg to say the least and while its aftermath will surely have the media sifting through the rubble for weeks to come, I’m more concerned about what the interview says about our modern (viz., post-Enlightenment) perspective of God.
There’s little to no respect for authority.
Unlike the Brits, Americans are not intimately connected with a monarchy, an institution that, in its truest form, more closely resembles our relationship to God than does a republic. Granted, Great Britain’s monarchy has been stripped of much of its power, its “royal prerogative” whittled away to a set of formalities dispensed by a Queen who is essentially a beloved figurehead. Obviously this is not reflective of God’s omnipotence. Still, Brits may have a leg up on Americans in understanding sovereignty and the respect one should have for those in positions of authority as representatives of God Himself.
Enter actress (she would have you believe ingénue) Meghan Markle. Aside from brief pleasantries, the interview opened with Markle’s confusion at having to curtsy before the Queen at their first meeting. She claims she thought this type of formality was part of the royal “fanfare” but done away with in private settings.
I was especially struck by this comment as it relates to the American evangelical idea of a god whom one can address casually on his or her own terms, a Jesus who is more loveable hippie than Almighty God, and a spirit who drops in to give so-called personal revelation on even the most mundane of day-to-day decisions. Is it any wonder Americans find respect for a monarch ridiculous when we’ve so irreverently dragged God down to our level to make his sovereignty irrelevant?
Even Markle’s perplexed response to Harry asking her if she knew how to curtsy: “but it’s your grandmother” carries the same evangelical ring of “but God is my father” as if that entitles us to treat Him in a relaxed, informal way (thus also demonstrating our lax view of earthly fathers and mothers). Harry’s reply: “It’s the Queen.”
So should our reply be: “He’s the King!” And our demeanor/behavior should reflect that.
Duty is considered a silly, antiquated ideal.
Then there was Prince Harry, raised in a palace with direct access to the Queen. Yet even he couldn’t shrug off the heavy burden of post-Enlightenment thinking as it pertains to the idolatry of the self. While I’m sure his was an upbringing replete with moral lessons on the importance of duty—as well as concrete, personal examples of self-denial in its pursuit—he spoke of feeling trapped within the system, presumably held hostage to his title and its responsibilities.
I wonder how much of this feeling derives from the fleshly self-interest of Western culture. And again I wonder what it says about how we view God, our position in relation to Him, and ultimately our duty to Him. Instead of discipline and self-control, Prince Harry’s rhetoric is right at home with the radical individualism promulgated in America and throughout the West. This denial of duty is directly tied to the loose ethics of the modern “church” whose hyper-grace position often manifests in antinomianism. The irony is that, even when enslaved to sin, people will dance about in their cages professing their freedom.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.”John 8:34, ESV
As Christians, we shouldn’t shy away from duty, understanding that we are slaves to Christ and therefore slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:19). You may be able to trick yourself into thinking you’re autonomous by eschewing your earthly responsibilities, but don’t be fooled. Ultimately everyone serves one of two masters. True Sovereignty, having no borders, means there is nowhere a man may run to escape God’s judgment.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.1 John 2:15-17 , ESV
Comfort is sought in the wrong places.
Here we touch on one of the touchiest subjects raised during the interview, that of Markle’s struggles with mental health and her battle with suicidal ideation. Having experienced similar thoughts/feelings during a dark period in my own life, I’m sympathetic to her story. Both Markle and Prince Harry insisted that the lack of support from the royal institution was a driving force in their wanting to step down from their duties.
Too often do we also see this lack of emotional, physical, and financial support in the church. As members of one body, it is crucial that we bear one another’s burdens, understanding that the comfort we provide to one another is an extension of the supreme comfort God has provided to His people in not only saving us from certain damnation but in promising to meet our needs. Anytime we’re faced with challenges, be they temporal or spiritual, we shouldn’t hesitate in falling to our knees and crying out to the only One who can truly provide comfort in all circumstances. While earthly institutions will no doubt fail us, our hope is in God.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4, ESV
There is no unity apart from Christ.
The most explosive piece of the entire interview was the couple’s claim that their son, Archie, was the victim of racism. The particular allegation was that, during Markle’s pregnancy, one of the members of the royal family asked how dark the child’s skin color might be when he was born. If that weren’t incendiary enough, the further implication was that Archie was denied a royal title and the public security that goes along with it on the basis of his race.
All that to say there can be no true unity apart from Christ. The world will tear itself to pieces over the most trivial things: race, status, fame, money—to name just a few. By contrast, the people of God—people from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev. 7:9)—have unity with one another based on a shared connection to Christ who paid the ransom for His elect people that we may not partake in the chaos, death, and destruction of the wicked.
What’s more, Christians hold a title no man can strip away. We are co-heirs with Christ and thus entitled, by grace alone through faith alone, to everything He earned through His perfect obedience in life and death on the cross. Just as He was raised, we will be raised. Just as He reigns, so shall we. What princely title or earthly riches could compare to such a Kingly gift?
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.Titus 3:3-7, NIV