“It’s a holiday! A day off work! Time for fun in the sun, games, hotdogs, hamburgers, soda pop!”

“And nothing more…?”

“Oh, it’s the Fourth! Time for firecrackers, skyrockets, Roman candles! How exciting!”

“And nothing more…?”

“I know what you’re getting at. This is the day I have to get patriotic, and think of flags, freedom and the Declaration of Independence. That’s fine, once in a while. I love America, and I like freedom.”

“That’s not my point. I know you like freedom; who doesn’t? But what does freedom really mean? Where does it come from? Why did our forefathers risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to secure it for us? And what does the Bible say about freedom?”

“The Bible on freedom? I didn’t think they had much to do with each other. But I guess I never really thought about it. Does the Bible say anything about freedom?”

“Just look at words on the Liberty Bell: ‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.’ That’s from Leviticus 25:10, and it’s about the Year of Jubilee, which occurred in Israel every 50 years, allowing bondservants to regain their freedom. And remember Exodus 6:6: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage.’ Just as God led Israel out of Egypt into freedom, so, our forefathers believed that He made it possible for them to become independent from King George III and Great Britain.”

“I see. So God led the Israelites into the Promised Land where they could be free to do whatever they want, just as Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence that we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“Yes, but there’s much more to it than that, much more than most Americans today realize. The Framers said in the Declaration that we are ‘created equal,’ and that we are ‘endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights.’ If rights came from government, government could take them away, so they would be only negotiable privileges. We can call them ‘unalienable rights’ only if we recognize that they come from a higher source than man, a higher source than human government. And what source could that be but God?

“And freedom means much more than just doing what we want. The modern hedonistic idea, ‘If it feels good, do it,’ would have seemed strange to our forefathers; they would have considered it a surefire formula for bondage into sin. They knew that the pursuit of happiness – true happiness – was impossible without virtue, which consisted of doing one’s duty to God, country and family. You see, freedom is not simply the right to choose. True freedom is the result of making right choices. Wrong choices bind us into the slavery of sin. Right choices free us from that bondage.

“As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.’ Christ secured that liberty for us by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, freeing us from Satan’s bondage so we can live for Him.”

“But did our forefathers believe that? I was taught in school that our Founding Fathers were all Deists and skeptics.”

“That’s a modern myth, but evidence shows otherwise. Of the 55 delegates to our Constitutional Convention, 28 were Anglicans, eight were Presbyterians, seven Congregationalists, two Reformed, two Lutherans, two Methodists, two Roman Catholics, one uncertain, and about three who could be considered unorthodox. That’s about seven percent. And the source they quoted most frequently for their ideas was the Scriptures; the Bible accounts for 34% of all quotations found in their writings.

“And they learned their love for liberty and independence from their forefathers, the Pilgrims and Puritans. Those devout people stood for freedom in England as they battled against the established Church of England with King George as its head. Believing in the sinful nature of man, they knew rulers need power to control the sinful impulses of their subjects. But they also knew that rulers have the same sinful nature as everyone else, so they jealously guarded against excessive government power. As the Puritan preacher John Cotton warned, ‘Let all the world learn to give mortal men no greater power than they are content they shall use – for use it they will. And unless they be better taught of God, they will use it ever and anon….’ Our Framers learned this lesson well; that’s why they gave us a constitution with limited powers delegated to government, separation of powers among three branches, checks and balances, and rights reserved to the people.”

“But those Puritans wouldn’t have fought against the king, would they?”

“They certainly would – and they did! They called it the doctrine of interposition – the duty of lesser magistrates to resist the king when he becomes a tyrant. The bishops and the barons stood against King John when they forced him to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The Puritans in Parliament fought against the royalist King Charles in 1648, as their Scottish brethren did in the Jacobite uprising in the 1740s. And their children came to America and fought against tyranny in 1776. As they said, ‘Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God.’”

“Well, you’ve given me something to think about. Maybe we should have a moment of silent reflection before we eat our hotdogs this evening.”

“And nothing more…?”

Colonel Eidsmoe serves as Professor of Constitutional Law for the Oak Brook College of Law & Government Policy (obcl.edu) and as Senior Counsel for the Foundation for Moral Law (morallaw.org). He may be reached for speaking engagements at eidsmoeja@juno.com.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com

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