Thursday, August 11, 2011

Freedom's Holy Light

I was listening to Ravi Zacharias this weekend and he made reference to the fact that freedom is a moral concept. It is entirely a matter of morality. Not only is it a moral concept, it is governed and sustained by morality. Our Founding Fathers saw freedom as a natural extension of their Christian faith. It is the natural setting for the living out of the Christian life but not necessarily fit for any other kind.

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive of the one without the other; and with them this conviction does not spring from that barren, traditionary faith which seems to vegetate rather than to live in the soul.” (Democracy in America by A. de Tocqueville p306)

In the ancient war between good and evil the advent of freedom on the face of the earth was one of the greatest victories for the cause of good in the whole of man’s history. Before the United States became a nation, the world did not know what civil freedoms looked like. Mankind lived from tyranny to tyranny down through the ages with only brief periods of relief.

The “proposition” that men and women could govern themselves without a sovereign to “manage” them, was born here. We “discovered it” and employed it. In the running of this experiment an additional discovery was made. When men and women are given the chance to pursue a dream of their own conception, they make of themselves much more than they would otherwise have accomplished. And in the pursuit of their dreams they often take others with them to a better life. That is the basis of American freedom, the genesis of the American Dream.

Unfortunately we now have a large group of men and women in government who are more committed to the “management” (tyranny) of men and women than they are to the proposition of American freedom, the cradle of greatness. In the name of helping people they are creating a society that enslaves us and traps us in a “no advancement” situation that will ultimately lead us to the riots we are now seeing in Europe. Out of sheer frustration the population there is striking out at those in a better station of life than they hold. When there is no chance for an individual to step out and channel their energies into realizing a dream, despair is the result. Resentment rises up with its violent cousin vengeance and you have the recipe for a riot.

Those who have a vested interest in tyranny by all means want to stop the revival of morality, especially Christian morality in our culture. I say Christian morality because it is Christian morality that inspired and guided American freedom to greatness. Greatness that is, until we began to abandon this morality in the nineteen sixties. It is Christian principles and truths that truly make men free, a freedom that comes with the burden to do what is right. No honest government has anything to fear from this kind of freedom or morality.

It is the illegitimate kind of government, the one with management of men as its goal, that has something to lose from this kind of morality.

“Despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot. Religion is much more necessary in the republic which they set forth in glowing colors than in the monarchy which they attack; it is more needed in democratic republics than in any others. How is it possible that society should escape destruction if the moral tie is not strengthened in proportion as the political tie is relaxed? And what can be done with a people who are their own masters if they are not submissive to the Deity?” (Ibid p307)

De Tocqueville lays it out pretty clear here. Faith in a moral God who governs in the affairs of men is the only guard to real freedom. But…if it is freedom from morality that we are seeking, the chains of despotism await us. It is important to state here that the opposite could also be said, that monarchs will have something to fear from a people who hold Christian morality in high regard. (King George III is the example here.)

Robert Winthorp, once the speaker of the House of Representatives said of this subject:

"Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or a power without them. Either by the Word of God or the strong arm of man, either by the Bible or the bayonet."

There is a choice before us Americans (and I call you Americans with the greatest of affection and hope of continued greatness), seek what is Good and pursue it or wait submissively for chains to completely master us. Freedom under the guidance of Christian truth is liberty indeed. It leads to the greatness that is the blessing of God.

One more quote from de Tocqueville in which he refers to religion which in this case is most certainly Christianity:

"Liberty regards religion as its companion in all its battles and its triumphs, as the cradle of its infancy and the divine source of its claim. It considers religion as the safeguard of morality, and morality as the best security of law and the surest pledge of the duration of freedom.”
(Democracy in America- de Tocqueville p 44)

There is no hope of freedom where there is no moral clarity. The clarity to see what is harmful versus what is wholesome to individuals and society. When every citizen has the ability to discern this and act correctly, liberty is assured.

In Ravi Zacharias’ radio message he mentioned the following stanza of My Country Tis of Thee. It sheds light on how we used to understand where freedom came from and how is it sustained.

Our fathers' God, to thee,
author of liberty, to thee we sing;
long may our land be bright
with freedom's holy light;
protect us by thy might, great God, our King.

There is no earthly reason why we should not entrench freedom in our culture, through Christian moral revival, for us, for our children and grandchildren…for the world. Morality and goodness are not dirty words. They are an assurance of freedom.

Americans, imagine a stranger planning your daughter’s future. Imagine receiving in the mail a letter from a foreign or government official directing your son where to live and where to show up for work on a designated date. We have lived in freedom’s holy light so long we can’t even imagine what the darkness is like.

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