I’m becoming of the persuasion that freedom is more a responsibility than a right. It’s not a condition of human nature, but a product of it’s voluntary restraint. Thus, freedom is not endemic to fallen humanity, but a condition rightly available to humanity. It is an environment we work to obtain and maintain. Man can neither bestow it nor impose it. We cannot achieve it by wresting it away from another. Removing the tyrant often results in a different, and perhaps, greater enslavement. Lack of oppression does not equate with the presence of freedom any more than a lack of war infers a presence of peace.
Laws do not create freedom, they protect freedom. Government, in a free nation, is instituted among men to ensure the preservation of freedom for the good of the whole. However, if the freedom being protected decays, the laws cease to function as its preservation. George Washington famously opined that America’s government was for a “wholly religious and moral people and inadequate to the governance of any other.”
Freedom, then, is endemic, not to a state of nature, but to a state of being that is religious and moral. Protestant Christianity infused the American culture from its colonial conception. It was inherited generation after generation until it began to weaken. The right to freedom is particular to the Christian worldview. It morphs into something far less free when that worldview decays. The Enlightenment thinkers, who provided the political science necessary for the writing of our founding documents, did so in conjunction with a Christian culture able to give birth to such a great experiment as the American Republic.
Debate has long ensued as to whether the Enlightenment or Protestantism should be credited with America’s foundation. The truth is that both weaved together in perfect measure to create an incredible Constitutional Republic. And yet the thinking that became labeled “secular”, “natural” or “Enlightenment” is also a result of a Christianized Europe. What was credited by the Enlightenment thinkers as “natural rights” was not self-evident or common sense, but biblical in origin.
Secularism is a Christian heresy. Secularists are not free thinkers who arrived at conclusions about logic, order, and philosophy by unaided reason. Cultures without a Christian heritage do not evolve to develop lasting societies with the rule of law, logic, reason, and education for the masses. These came out of specific conditions of Christianity.
Somewhere along the line, and many books have been written to trace the line, reason became set free from the constructs and safeguards of biblical Christianity. In a successful democratic nation that has championed equality for all without the biblical moorings necessary for stabilizing true equality decay ensues.
I am reminded of the Will Smith movie I Robot. SPOILER ALERT. An engineer has designed a race of robots who work in the city as everything from house servants and waiters to police officers and city rescue workers. These robots were built to serve and protect humanity. Their designer discovers a fatal flaw in their programming. Since they are programmed to protect humanity they will do so to the nth degree to where they protect humanity from humanity. Therefore, the humans they are to serve become the enemy. Their success is their failure. They killed the designer before he could report his findings to preserve themselves and their mission to protect humanity.
We have unleashed reason and freedom to the extent it has become self-serving. We have created a freedom for the sake of freedom and equality for the sake of equality. It is working, but at what costs? Freedom for the good life has become freedom to live any life. Equality of persons has become and equality of lifestyles. Instead of being free to live a good life, we are set free unto freedom.
Christians are fighting against the resulting permissiveness without understanding its cause. We want to clamp the restrains on, and, yet, freedom reigns supreme. We watch laws being changed to preserve this new freedom and equality for their own sake. Laws do not create culture, they reflect it.
If we want to reverse this trend we need to dig into our founding first principles and reexamine the nature of freedom and how to sustain it without trying to force its resurgence. We are fighting on the wrong turf with the wrong weapons. We need to stop, think, and seek the Lord on what His vision is for America’s future so that we can work towards it day by day. We are all pursing freedom in our own image, but what does it look like in it’s true image? If we are all shouting for freedom and equal rights under the law how are these preserved if freedom has no moorings and how are moorings maintained without removing freedom? What does the road forward look like?
Our goal is to restore America to America’s future, not to her past. We can bring the best of our foundational principles forward into today to create a more stable future rather than to recreate the days of old. We are in the present and it is from here that we can move forward.
For more of my thoughts on ways we can do that please check out my new eBook: Back to the Future: Rebuilding America’s Stability by clicking HERE.
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