Today is July 4th, 2013. Two hundred and thirty-seven years have passed since the Declaration of Independence was signed in what is now the United States of America. I am a proud citizen of the United States of America. I am also a Christian. These two identities are not always easy to reconcile. Here are some of the difficult questions my mind turns to:
- Will we ever require another Declaration of Independence due to moral or religious reasons?
- If we believe, as I think the Bible requires, that human governments still operate under the sovereignty of God then are we to be prepared for the judgment of God upon our governments when they pursue policies which are clearly opposed to the teaching of the Bible?
- Has the American philosophy and government drifted so far that it no longer resembles that of its founders?
Please allow me to quote from the Declaration of Independence briefly:
“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.”
There is an amazing amount of information, philosophy and theology in these few words. It is said that Jefferson wrote the draft fairly quickly and then the Continental Congress spent a few days reviewing it and making changes – one of which was that they shortened it by 25%. Certainly this is a short sentence that gets maximum value from each word!
Consider these simple points:
- Self-Evident Truths cannot be legitimately challenged without doing damage to logic in the process. They are objective by their very nature. An example of a self-evident truth is to say that all bachelors are unmarried men. Yet today’s culture and today’s government wishes to have subjective truth and subjective morality. Truth is no longer viewed as self-evident but as individually determined.
- All men are created equal according to the Declaration of Independence. Amazingly, this document brought together people from different Christian backgrounds and yet they all agreed on this point so strongly that it was classed as a self-evident truth. Today the Church is divided on this very issue with some people believing in evolution, others in a Young Earth and Divine Creation and still others in Divine Creation over billions of years.
- For people to accuse the church of being demeaning to women is to fundamentally miss the truth which the Founders stated. All men – and they would have meant women here as well – are created equal. The church, when it has properly taught the Bible, has not been demeaning to women. The opposite is true!
- There is a brilliance to these words and their political subtlety which is often missed because people want to find fault. “How could they view all people as being created equal and still hold slaves? They were all white Christian bigots!” Or so the charge goes from the local village idiot. What is forgotten is that these words and the ideas behind them very effectively opened the door for the abolition of slavery. An institution which had lasted for thousands of years was abolished within one hundred years of the writing of these words. Was that fast enough? Not, certainly not for the people who were still suffering. Was it brilliant? Yes, it was. The reason it was brilliant is because the inclusion of these words marked the beginning of the end of slavery in America. If, at this point, the wording had condemned slavery then there would have been no agreement, no independence and much delay would have been introduced to the abolition of slavery.
- The endowment of Rights by a Creator is utterly genius! Aside from simply being true, this approach also means that these rights cannot be taken away by anyone claiming to believe in God. Fantastic bit of maneuvering here!
- Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are pretty fundamental rights. In fact, they are also very biblical. God condemns murder, gave people the will to make moral choices and allows people to pursue happiness through their own means. God’s appeal is for people to find their happiness in Him as King, Lord and Saviour.
The Declaration of Independence is a brilliant, inspiring and very well-written document. What about my questions though?
I believe the direction the U.S. government is taking is fundamentally opposed to the Declaration of Independence.
Do people have a right to life? Not if they happen to be in their mother’s womb.
Do people have a right to liberty? Not if they want to condemn certain kinds of sexuality, choose their own healthcare or pray in their school.
Do people have a right to pursue happiness? Not if they want to build where some spotted, three-horned mosquito squirrel makes its nest or if they want to fly an American flag in front of their home which happens to stand in a particular neighborhood.
While these might be silly examples, the philosophy of ‘liberalism’ is moving in the direction of socialism. This will destroy these freedoms.
Think I’m crazy? Then remember that I am an American citizen living in the United Kingdom. Does a liberal, socialist approach to government cause a diminishing of freedom?