“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they 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, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” (Declaration of Independence)
But while a foundation is important, it does not always predict the future success of the structure. In the case of The U.S.A., the foundation was built of principles found in Scripture. The whole of this we call the Judeo-Christian ethic, or the Christian Worldview. The Founders were not perfect, and many were not Christian in the sotereological sense of the word. But they lived by Christian principles. The government they established was based on these principles, as well. In fact, the governmental system was so based on morality and religion that it would require a moral and religious people to live it out.
The idea of a successful America being dependent on a moral America was explained in a letter sent by John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts…
“Gentlemen, While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier, General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted, in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the World; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, • would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams, October 11, 1798)
Check that declaration… “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
This is a Biblical truth. God did not give you freedom in order to use it for wicked purposes. God gave you freedom in order to serve Him. The apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, some of whom lived under an oppressive government, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” (1 Peter 2:16) When freedom is exchanged for a license to do whatever you want apart from God’s laws of life, it becomes sinful tyranny in your life and in the lives of others.
We see this today as unbridled, immoral, and irreligious people make laws to declare evil as good, and good as evil. They use our Constitution to support these shifts… but our Constitution cannot govern a people with no moral base. Each freedom guaranteed by it becomes a wicked act of oppression.
You can’t turn back the clock. I can’t make people live moral and religious lives. But we can live as we ought, and let holiness do its work in our lives and in our culture. Today, do not live as unto yourself… but as unto the Lord of true liberty. And pray for our nation… not so much the structure, but the people. We need God desperately.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.