As the 4th of July closes in on us and we celebrate our Independence from Great Britain and tyranny I thought it would be beneficial to remind ourselves about the origin of freedom and liberty. Thus the following is for your consideration.
Genesis 1:26-31 - And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
I am thinking that this last verse must be a source of consternation to the modern day politician. It was all very good without the Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, or any other political party or apparatus.
Freedom!!?? The word itself has practically become synonymous with the United States of America. We are, although not as much as we used to be, a freedom loving people.
Freedom - The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.
Liberty - The state of quality of being free; the power to do as one pleases; freedom from physical restraint; freedom from arbitrary or despotic control.
Alexander Hamilton who authored 51 of the 85 Federalist Papers and was a major reason the Constitution was ratified, in refuting those who had a misunderstanding of the nature or liberty, explained, "The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms, and false reasoning, is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a though, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the beneficent Creator, to the whole human race; and that civil liberty is founded in that; and cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice."
The Supreme Court in 1884 in reference to individual rights, stated: "These inherent rights have never been more happily expressed than in the Declaration of Independence, 'we hold these truths to be self-evident' - 'that all men are endowed' - not by the edicts of emperors or decrees of Parliament, or acts of Congress, but 'by their Creator with certain inalienable rights and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and to secure these' - not grant them but secure them - 'governments are instituted among men.'"
The question is, are these opinions founded upon a Biblical framework? Does the Bible even tell us hot to think about government? On the surface it may not seem so, but upon closer examination we find that the Bible does, in deed, give political direction. It is important to allow the Bible to establish our views about government and politics.
WHERE DOES FREEDOM ORIGINATE?
Vs: 26,27 - The individual was created not the state. As originally created man was only accountable to his Creator.
Vs: 28 - The individual was given dominion. The man was to have dominion over the creation. There was no system devised to have dominion over the man.
Vs: 29,30 - The individual was responsible for himself. He was responsible to gather his food. He was responsible to obey his Creator.
Vs: 31 - It was very good. Man had absolute liberty as a gift from God and it was very good.
Genesis 2:8,9,15-17 - And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil . . . . And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
The man was created with the power of choice. He could chose to obey. He could choose to disobey. He had sufficient freedom that he could destroy himself by the decisions he made.
Genesis 4:13-15 - And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
Cain, having exercised his liberty to kill his brother Able, was now afraid that others would exercise their liberty to exact vengeance for Able and kill him. There was not state entity to bring Cain to Justice. God himself judged Cain.
Genesis 6:11,12 - The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
These verses describe the environment just prior to the flood of Noah. It is easily observed that the world had deteriorated into utter chaos and anarchy. It was a world where "might" meant "right". The freedom that man had been created with had become his worst enemy. Yet, he was free. The liberty was being exercised to pacify his passions. This is the result of freedom without the restraint of responsibility and accountability to the Creator.
Benjamin Franklin - "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."
Edmund Burke wrote in 1790, "But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint."
Judges 31:25 - In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.
Genesis 9:5,6 - And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
Here is the first principle of an established state. Free men were to band together to preserve the life of others in the community. Should one rise up and deprive one of the basic liberty of life then he was to be likewise deprived by his community. Thus freemen were instructed to band together to deprive the murderer of his liberty. This it seems is the most basic function of the state, the protection of the life and liberties of the individual. And said state derives its authority from the community of free men.
Frederic Bastait, "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place."
DO GOVERNMENTS GRANT FREEDOM?
The answer is simple. No!! A thousand times NO! The previous discussion should dispel such a notion. Freedom comes from God. Man was created free. If freedom originates with God it cannot be granted by the State.
The State exists to secure the individual liberties that originate with God. This responsibility of the State is basically performed in two functions. Protection and punishment. Protection of the liberties that reside with the people. Punishing those who seek to deprive the individual of their freedom.
If the State grants freedom there are some chilling conclusions to be drawn. Our freedoms are in the hands of men. They are subject to change at the whims of men in power. Consequently we do not really have freedom. We are nothing more than slaves, albeit possibly serving benevolent masters. Benevolent masters can become cruel taskmasters. Then we are left with two classes of people. The ruling class and the serving class.
The State mainly exists as a means for the collective free people to fairly deprive individuals of their freedom who seek to infringe upon the freedoms of others. That is why in a criminal trial it is the State of Texas vs. John Doe. It is the people bringing the charges through their duly elected officials. This is the basis for a grand jury. The people decide if their is enough evidence to go to trial. The people through the process of the grand jury bring the indictment.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE FREE?
Freedom is in reality a scary proposition.
Adam was free. There was no State to harass him or plunder his resources. There was not State to apply for relief in difficult circumstances. When he was banned from the garden he did not have the luxury of going down to the local welfare office and applying for relief. He had to figure out how to plough the ground and get it to bring forth. It was going to be by the sweat of his brow. He had life as a gift from God. He had the liberty to choose and live with the consequences. He had property.
Noah was free. There was no state to harass him or plunder his resources. There was not State to apply for relief in tough economical times. Noah had life as a gift from God. He had the liberty to choose and live with the consequences. He had property.
Freedom is personal responsibility. It is the liberty to chose. It is also the liberty to suffer the consequences.
James Madison, who is known as the Chief Architect of the Constitution and the fourth President of the United States, said in 1778, "We have staked the whole future of American civilization , not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."
Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the United States Senate stated on January 13, 1947, "The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration. I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come - it is now - when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship. America's future depends upon her accepting and demonstrating God's government."
Unfortunately we have permitted a society to develop who want the freedom to make choices and then someone rescue them from the consequences. Consequently we have just what Peter Marshall warned about, "chaos, compromise, and disintegration".
Freedom is not a guarantee of equality.
Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
To be created equal does not guarantee equality of outcome, nor should it. This would necessitate the State moving beyond its Biblical authority in order to guarantee equality of outcome. Men are equal in the basic rights.
The right to life. The government should protect life.
The right to liberty. The government should protect liberty.
The right of pursuit. The government should protect the individuals right to pursue.
The State should not venture to ensure happiness for its citizens; but simply allow the the liberty to pursue it. Men derive happiness from different things. Men have different levels of motivation. Men have varying levels of skill. Men have varying levels of determination and education. This inevitably leads to an absence of equality in outcome even where the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are defended by the collective authority of the individuals who make up the State.
We are all created equal. God is no respecter of persons.
Acts 10:34 - Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Romans 2:11 - For there is no respect of persons with God.
We are not to be a respecter of persons.
James 2:9 - But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
It is the combination of freedom and basic equality that ensures an unequal outcome.
Colossians 3:23-25 - And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
1 Peter 1:17 - And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
John 5:29 - And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
Does the unequal outcome of these people at the judgment bar of God mean they were not created equal???
Does the unequal outcome of these people mean that they were not provided the same basic rights???
They certainly did not finish on the same terms. Governments head down a treacherous and destructive path when they seek not only to acknowledge equality of persons but decide to ensure equality of outcome.
Should the lazy have an equal outcome with the industrious?
Should those who mismanage their resources have an equal outcome with those who properly manage their resources?
Should those who cheat and drift have an equal outcome with those who study and work hard to succeed?
When governments try to ensure equality between these very unequal traits we inevitably experience a loss of freedom.
May we each understand the responsibility we have to be guardians of our own liberties.