A message first delivered at Liberty Field, July 2, 2005, Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the Title of Liberty flag program
One of my favorite Far Side cartoons done by Gary Larson has the Founding Fathers sitting around an empty parchment, scratching their heads with a quill pen, and Thomas Jefferson saying, "Now is that ‘Us the people’ or ‘We the people’?"
I like that cartoon because it pictures the way many people naively see our Founding Fathers kind of making up the Constitution as they went along, when in reality they were drawing upon centuries of thinking and practice and hard experience. This includes their understanding of freedom, which we wish to treat today!
"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Von Goethe
In order that we might never fall prey to falsely believing we are free when, in reality, we are slaves, let us examine the (now) lost idea of freedom as understood by our Founding Fathers. There are four properties of freedom our Founding Fathers saw as indispensable to the Constitution, four properties of freedom without which our Constitution is but an empty scrap of parchment:
1. True freedom begins with spiritual liberty - the man who is free in his spirit can never be enslaved by any society; conversely, the man in spiritual bondage can never be free in any society. All around him, a man may have liberty to act in any way he pleases, but if he does not know how to act, he is but a slave of his desires. For America and most of the Founding Fathers, that spiritual freedom is summed up in Jesus’ words: If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! Jn 8:31-36
Despite what you hear in the mainstream media and from People for the American Way and the ACLU and a hostile press, the Founding Fathers never conceived of a separation of Church and State in the narrow way in which it is being interpreted today! The 1st amendment guaranteed that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, not that religion would have no part in American life, into the very chambers and counsels of our government.
Just before the Revolutionary War, when Boston was being blockaded by the British and all seemed hopeless, one of the leaders of Boston, William Prescott, a member of the committee of correspondence (which formed the basis for the Continental Congress), wrote: Our forefathers passed the vast Atlantic, spent their blood and treasure that they might enjoy their liberties both civil and religious, and transmit them to their posterity. Let us, then, be of one heart, and stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free; and may he, of his infinite mercy, grant us deliverance out of all our troubles.
At the very heart of the revolution and founding of our Congress was first and prior a spiritual freedom! Our Founding Fathers were free in spirit and soul before they ever established a government! They were free in their hearts, minds, and spirits because they had found redemption and liberty from sin and death first in Jesus Christ. No human government, no benevolent dictator, no human law can give you this freedom. Only Christ can give you this freedom! Conversely, once you have spiritual freedom, no government, no tyrant, no law can take that away from you! The man who is thus free in his spirit can never be enslaved by any society!
2. True freedom is bound-up with self-government - Government begins in the will of the individual citizen, not in Washington DC. In our day the use of the word government has narrowed to refer to the Federal Government. Ask any man on the street: Government? It’s in Washington DC...
Government - direction; regulation; control; restraint. Noah Webster, 1828.
Government, in its broadest sense, was seen operative in 5 (concentric) spheres: the self, the family, the school, the church, and the civil sphere. The beginning and basic sphere of government begins with the self; if a man cannot govern himself, what hope is there for government in Washington DC or Boise or city hall? From the beginning, self government has formed the very basis of character and personality for the godly man.
A man without self-control (self-government) is like a city broken into and left without walls. Prov 25:28
The unbridled lust of an over-sexualized culture, the cynical greed of Enron executives, the mushrooming credit card debt and personal bankruptcy of the American consumer, the lawsuits that spring up like poisonous weeds, (Amos) the violence and murder and assault and rape and road rage, and the rampant divorce and sexual immorality of our mores and media, all of these and more testify to the breakdown of self-government in American life and culture. We hear every spoiled, self-indulgent, American insist, My rights! My freedom! Away with responsibility! But freedom is not license to do anything we please, but freedom is a cherished right that has as one of its properties the necessity of behaving responsibly according to the biblical moral code, i.e., to exercise self-government.
Ironically, our very liberties and freedoms depend upon this principle of self-government. A man who cannot control his anger and rage, but assaults and kills will have to be restrained by external government, i.e., the State; the man who cannot control his greed and covetousness, but steals and lies and cheats will have to be restrained by external government, the State; the man who cannot control his sexual lusts, but commits incest and sodomy and rape and pedophelia will have to be restrained by external government, the State.
In other words, the tyranny of the State bears an inverse relationship to the amount of self-government amongst the individuals of that society. The greater the self-government of the citizens, the lesser the need for the external government of the State; conversely, the lesser the self-government of the citizens, the greater the need for the external government of the State.
America is, as 9/11 amply demonstrated, like a city broken into and left without walls. Without self-government, we are defenseless, and 9/11 is only the beginning! Our Dept. of Homeland Security may make of America an impregnable fortress; our attorney general may multiply agents and peer into our computers and bedrooms and bank accounts under the Patriot Act; but you will not be able to secure this nation until her respective individual citizens, you and, secure our own out-of-control behavior with self government. Freedom is not license to do anything we please, but freedom is a cherished right that has as one of its properties the necessity of behaving responsibly according to the biblical moral code, i.e., to exercise self-government.
3. True freedom recognizes and serves its Author - We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. So states that memorable and illuminating clause in our Declaration of Independence. The Great King of Heaven and Earth is the One who has endowed us with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Our Founding Fathers understood this to the core of their being! Thomas Jefferson took some of this very wording in the Declaration from the Christian philosopher, John Locke, who reasoned that since God has endowed us with free agency and self-government, the authority and power of civil government resides in the people themselves, and no one has the right to rule unless the majority of the people have elected that person to occupy that high office.
Do you realize how revolutionary this concept was in 1776, as familiar as it is to many of us who remember these things in our own day? Even in England where our first liberties and rights originated the philosophy of government still held for the divine right of kings! That is, that God endowed kings and princes the right to rule, and that therefore power moved downward in a pyramid from king to princes to magistrates to the people (if ever). Our Founding Fathers inverted this pyramid, sensing the biblical model where power flowed from the people to their representatives and the executive.
But through it all, it was God who authored freedom in the 1st place; it originates with Him, bestowed then to the common mass of mankind, and government is only a steward of God given power on behalf and at the leisure of - the people! Every other model of government on the face of the earth from the tower of Babel on down has had only and exclusively one source for power: the State! Most of our own citizens have no clue as to whence their liberties! Most of our own citizens have adopted the default setting of the human spirit, the pagan model, the model of tyranny, the model which says our rights and freedom come from the State, not from God! But it was not so with our Founding Fathers:
God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Thomas Jefferson
Men will even as they have in our own day begin to cede those liberties to the State, which they see as the head and source of them, anyway. This is the very attraction of many of our own leaders to the systems and politics of the nations of the world, why our Supreme Court justices can consult other law codes of tyrants rather than our own Constitution; why socialists in our own Congress can fawn and drool over the United Nations rather than see to our own free institutions; and why our public schools no longer feel it necessary to teach government and history and civics courses, but sex ed. instead! If we refuse to acknowledge the High King of Heaven who bestowed our liberties, we will never miss them when they are taken from us!
Make no mistake about this, O fellow citizen: there are forces in America that are working double time to remove the conviction that our liberties are the gift of God! The ACLU, People for the American Way, Moveon.org, militant Islam, a hostile press, and a whole host of forces, would like nothing more than to remove from the collective American soul the conviction that our liberties are the gift of God! Do not let them do it; always remember, True freedom recognizes and serve its Author.
4. True freedom is a liberty tree, watered by the blood of patriots and tyrants - Freedom costs; it is expensive; it can be lost. Thomas Jefferson said: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. This is a significant insight. Implicit in it are several profound principles.
First, it must be noted that tyrants intuitively seek to usurp the liberty of free men. They cannot stand to see the average man breath a free breath or earn a free dollar! Just as Pharoh, King of Egypt, could not stand to see the freedom of the sons of Israel continue, and just as King George III could not stand to see the freedom of the sons of England continue in the American colonies, so the socialists and one-worlders in our own country cannot stand to see the freedom of the sons of Liberty continue to the next generation! Every generation has faced its own tyrant; the names change, but the principle is always the same: freedom must die in order that the power of the tyrant might live!
Tyrants, clinging to their power and privilege, will not relinquish them cheaply, to the cost of their very lives. Therefore, it is necessary for patriots to insist tht they pay that price! Tyrants must either yield or die to the advance of free men! Thus we find the tree of liberty watered by the blood of these very tyrants.
Secondly, it must be noted that the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, as well. If we insist that the tyrant yield his blood for the life of the tree of liberty, it is only reasonable to assume that we will yield our own blood for that which nourishes us.
The price of liberty is, always has been, and always will be blood: The person who is not willing to die for his liberty has already lost it to the first scoundrel who is willing to risk dying to violate that person’s liberty. Andrew Ford
Are you willing to die for your freedom? The natural state of man is for a few to rule in tyranny over the many; such has been the course of history for the larger share of our race. Freedom is the exception; freedom is the realm of the few; it is the province of those willing to pay the price of their blood, having been preceded by the down payment of their forefather’s blood; and having had the promise of the mortgage of their son’s and grandson’s blood. This is true because, just as certainly as the struggle between good and evil will go on to the end of time, so the warfare between freedom and tyranny will go on until the Lord himself returns in great glory to free us one last time, for eternity!
You stand here today in a time and place where freedom is again threatened by the tyranny of those who would cut and run in Iraq, even as we did in Viet Nam; we face a judicial tyranny that would rob us of our own property through the fiction of eminent domain; we face a social and cultural tyranny that would force a soul destroying diversity and multi-culturalism of same sex marriage and unrestricted illegal immigration; we face a tyranny of Islamic law and terrorism from radical Muslims who would destroy biblical freedom and our present government, which same government seems increasingly unable to defend us against them properly; we face the tyranny of a weak and ignorant majority in America who have not yet awoken to the need of the hour, that they might make the necessary sacrifices for theirs and their posterities freedom! It is time to awaken from our sleep, America!
"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." Daniel Webster
Freedom was not won by the summer soldier and the fair weather friend of liberty in the beginning, the ones who said, I support the patriot troops, but not the Revolutionary War!
Freedom will not be preserved by their contemporaries, either, who say, I support the troops, but not the Iraqi War! Freedom is and always has been kept and transmitted to posterity by those willing to sacrifice blood and treasure, that is, their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. The couch potato will not preserve freedom; the man and woman consumed with cocooning in their own little world will not preserve freedom; the man who is merely looking out for #1 will neither preserve freedom nor his #1 - himself!
Such men will never pay the price, will never bear the burden, will never make any sacrifice for yours or even their own liberty and, consequently, will never be free! Samuel Adams had some very strong language for the Tories and fence-sitters in his own day:
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." Samuel Adams
Freedom costs; it is expensive; it can be lost. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Are you willing to pay the price of freedom? Are you willing to learn and absorb and become these four properties of freedom that you have heard here this evening? If so, then you will be free as only an American can be free, and you will be free indeed!