The Declaration of Independence firmly embedded God’s gift of freedom in the souls of all Americans, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men…are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
All civilizations begin in a condition of chaos and anarchy with no external control by government or any other authority. Consider what might happen if you went down in a commercial airliner crash and became part of 100 survivors stranded on a remote uncharted island with no means of communication and little chance of rescue. You and the other survivors initially work together for survival determining how to meet the immediate needs for food and shelter. Soon, however, disagreements break out, tending to escalate with time. At some point, a council of volunteers or elected members forms to draft guidelines for assuring more harmonious living among the survivors. The guidelines prohibit certain actions and mandate others. But the voluntary guidelines are only partially effective and conflict continues. A mechanism is designed and designated people are given the authority to monitor compliance with the guidelines, seek violators, and punish them in a predetermined fashion. The guidelines have now become the beginnings of enforceable law.
Whoa! What just happened? All freedom…that’s right, all freedom comes from God as the incredible gift of free will, bounded only by certain moral limitations that He applies for harmonious living and to protect you and others from physical, emotional, and spiritual harm. Any form of government can only can only limit or deny any particular freedoms. Governments can only wield money and power in an impersonal way; they have no moral authority or ability.
Government continues to be “of the people, by the people, and for the people” as long as the laws passed and regulations adopted conform to or are aligned with Scriptural mandates. God-given freedom powered by His love and limited by Scriptural boundaries—primarily the prohibitions of the Ten Commandments and moral/ethical limitations on behavior—depend on voluntary restraint. The prohibitions and limitations were given for the benefit of mankind to assure the richness of the human experience.
“…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” [2 Corinthians 3:17 KJV ]
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” [Galatians 5:1 KJV ]
“From the day of the Declaration…they [the American people] were bound by the laws of God, which they all, and by the laws of the gospel, which they nearly all, acknowledged as the rules of their conduct” John Quincy Adams
Freedom is provided by God (“endowed by our Creator”) as the awesome gift of free will. Freedom, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” can only be curtailed or restricted by a government that exceeds the moral limits defined by God. Government can only become the source of freedom after the government has seized total control of every aspect of life, then doles out a sort of pseudo-freedom in bits and pieces as incentives to control the people. That is not freedom.
The constitutional form of the United States government was designed to protect the God-given freedom, which was won by great sacrifice in the Revolutionary War and preserved by great sacrifices in all later wars. The Constitution provided for the military to protect American citizens from foreign intervention and a network of separation of powers as well as limiting checks and balances to protect the citizens from progressive government intrusion.
It has been the Great American Experiment in self-rule, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” The military protects the freedom in America from external invasion. However, freedom will decay from within unless our culture is constantly nourished with a spiritual and emotional passion for freedom and the people defend it vigorously.
“God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”Daniel Webster
“Though, when a people shall have become incapable of governing themselves and fit for a master, it is of little consequence from what quarter he comes.” George Washington