In God We Trust

Part of a collection of essays on TRUST by @futurepaul

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

When I went digging around in the bible for when and how to trust people, I kept on seeing this sentiment: don’t trust men, trust God. This is sort of a corollary to David’s “Against You, You only, have I sinned”: In God, God only, have I trusted. (Psalm 51:4)

Which is to say: when we trust someone, we don’t really expect much out of them one way or the other, we just trust that God will be good to us in the long run.

The Christian lacks nothing. The greatest harm you can do to a man is to kill him, but a Christian says:

Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?

By basing trust in God rather than other people, the Christian can trust further than is possible by natural means.

In this context, having the words “In God We Trust” on my money gives me great joy. It says, to me: “I don’t trust this money, nor its issuer.” From my reading of the history of this phrase, “In God We Trust” is an attempt to legitimize the state as being a “Christian” state — there was some doubt in the Civil War era of which team was more Christian.

I would respectfully and earnestly ask the attention of the department to the proposition, in my former report, to introduce a motto upon our coins expressive of a national reliance on divine protection, and a distinct and unequivocal national recognition of the divine sovereignty. We claim to be a Christian nation. Why should we not vindicate our character, by honoring the God of nations, in the exercise of our political sovereignty as a nation? Our national coinage should do this. Its legends and devices should declare our trust in God; in him who is the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The motto suggested, “God, our trust,” is taken from our national hymn, the “Star Spangled Banner;” the sentiment is familiar to every citizen of our country; it has thrilled the hearts and fallen in song from the lips of millions of American freemen. The time for the introduction of this or a similar motto is propitious and appropriate. ‘Tis an hour of national peril and danger, an hour when man’s strength is weakness, when our strength and our nation’s strength must be in the God of battles and of nations. Let us reverently acknowledge his sovereignty, and let our coinage declare our trust in God.


Posted Sep 5, 2022