In America, the document that defines and guarantees our liberty is the United States Constitution. History records that all those who took part in the drafting of the constitution and who put their signature to the final version were men who had a deep faith in God and in His provident care over them. As such, the document they crafted creating a republic form of government is based on their religious convictions
Today, among Americans, there is a growing trend to divorce God from everything in public life, especially in the area of government, citing as their reason that the Constitution prohibits the mingling of church and state politics. As a result of this way of interpreting the Constitution, today's courts have taken prayer out of public schools, have removed the Ten Commands from the courtroom, and have permitted the worst kind of behavior in the name of tolerance.
Interestingly, those who object to these kinds of decisions are those who have a strong moral faith in God, while those who applaud and encourage such decisions are those whose religious convictions are not firmly rooted in any religious faith. It is their contention that true liberty means the right to be free of religious values if a person so desires. Those who hold this view are of the opinion that the concept of "right and wrong" is an individual matter and that it is the duty of the law to guarantee the freedom of each individual to determine for themselves what is right for them rather than have someone else's moral values imposed upon them.
They point to the preamble of the Constitution which sets forth the purpose of our government in these words: "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity." But how is justice established, domestic tranquility insured, and liberty secured? The answer is found in another document also written by the founders of our country known as the Declaration of Independence.
In its second paragraph it states: "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." The writers of the Constitution strongly believed that all men have certain rights that are unalienable, meaning there are things that every person has the right to possess. Among these rights is the right to live and the right to liberty, or the freedom to do as we choose.
But the founders of our country also believed we have these rights because God, not man, has given them to us. Therefore, the founders of our country argued that man cannot take away from us that which the creator of man has given him. That is why they wrote the Constitution as they did, to ensure, through a set of laws, that no man or group of men could have these rights taken from us. But, if our life and freedom come from God, and we exclude God from our life or misuse the liberty He has given us, then it is safe to assume that God has the right to take away that life and liberty which He has granted unto us. In that case, the Constitution cannot guarantee our life and liberty, no matter how many laws we make.
If God is the source of our life and liberty, then we can also assume that God had a definite purpose in giving us life and is the definer of what constitutes our liberty. Therefore, if we truly wish to remain free, it becomes critically important that we understand what freedom truly is.
WHAT WE MUST UNDERSTAND
The first thing we must understand is that laws do not make people free. Instead, laws are a nothing more than a set of restrictions limiting what people can do. For example, if you want to drive a car, there are laws you must obey, such as being a certain age, meeting certain physical requirements, getting a driver's license, following traffic rules, paying for license tags and having motorist insurance. In most states, you must also have your car inspected and pay property taxes before your tags can be reissued each year. As such, the only people who are at "liberty" to drive are those who meet all these requirements of the law. If you do not meet those requirements, you are not at liberty to drive. Even if you met those requirements, if you have too many traffic violations your license can be suspended or revoked. If you reach a certain age where your eyesight or other physical limitations prevent you from properly operating a car, you will not be allowed the freedom to drive. Thus, the law restricts people's freedom if they do not meet its requirements. As such, the more laws that are passed, the more freedom is either limited ro lost.
The second thing that we must understand is that no amount of laws can force people to obey them. For example, New York city and Washington D.C. have some of the toughest gun control laws in the country, and yet the death rate by guns in those two cities is among the highest of any city in the nation. Many places of businesses have a zero tolerance policy towards drug use among its employees, yet drug use is on the rise. It is human nature that those who do not want to follow the law will find ways to get around it, either legally or illegally. All the law can do is prescribe a punishment for those who are caught violating it. Thus, the law is specifically designed to be an instrument of punishment, which is hardly the definition of liberty.
At the same time, laws are not designed to add liberties for good behavior. All it can do is condemn if we violate its rules. For example, if a person has never had a traffic ticket for ten years, the law does not reward them with greater liberty or freedom for their good driving record. But if they violate the traffic laws they are punished.
Obviously, we need to have laws, for without them there would be anarchy, which is, by definition a lawless society. If people were truly free to do whatever they wanted, chaos and confusion would reign. Therefore, the third thing we need to understand is the definition of the word liberty.
Liberty does not mean the freedom to do whatever we want. The reason why we have traffic rules is so that people can get from one place to another in a safe manner. If we drive too fast or drive too recklessly, we can kill or injure our self or others. When that happens our freedom or the freedom of others to get around is lost. To prevent that from happening, minor freedoms must be given up in order to gain greater freedom. Therefore, liberty doesn't mean being free to do whatever we want. It means following laws that will help provide the greatest amount of freedom to the greatest number of people.
But laws, no matter how well intentioned or how carefully written cannot guarantee liberty because laws are only as good as the people who obey them. It is only when people voluntarily submit themselves to the intent of the law that those laws can produce the desired effect. It is an often stated but frequently over looked fact that the primary reason why people obey laws is because of their own moral values. And that is the fourth thing we need to understand. Laws are meant primarily for people with morals. The higher the morals of a society the fewer laws are needed to govern them. On the other hand, a society that has lower morals will of necessity need more laws to control their behavior, and, the more laws there are, the less liberty there is. Also, when people disobey the law, especially deliberately, they invite the punishment prescribed in the law, which then restricts their freedom even more. Therefore, it is only when people choose to obey the law that they truly become free.
If God, not man, is the source of our liberty, as the Declaration of Independence asserts, then God must, of necessity, provide us with laws to follow. If this were not so, then liberty would be maintained through anarchy, which is an obviously false statement. The most famous of all divine laws is the Ten Commandments, which is the basis for all English law, both in the United States as well as in Great Britain. These laws represent a set of moral values, defining what constitutes virtuous human behavior. In its most simple form, it is based on loving God and loving our neighbor as our self.
THE GODLEN RULE
The "Golden Rule" states, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself. If people followed this rule there wouldn't be any dishonesty in business, in marriage, or in social life. Since no one likes to be mistreated, following this rule would eliminate every kind of abuse. Kindness and civility would be the normal way of treating one another, while rudeness, contention, and selfishness would cease to exist. If everyone lived this one law there would be no need to make any other laws and yet everyone would still have the full liberty to pursue the kind of happy life they desired.
But when people do not love their neighbor as themselves, they then misuse the liberty God has granted them. And, in misusing that liberty, they then infringe upon the liberty of others, thereby robbing them of their God-given right to the pursuit of life and happiness. When that happens more laws are needed to control the behavior of society as a whole. Furthermore, under the law of love, mercy and forgiveness are permissible, but with the passing of more laws, the stricter the penalties become and the less mercy and forgiveness are allowed.
But there is another law that is even more important, yet is violated more than most, and that is the law to love God. When we seek to eliminate any mention of God from our public gatherings, when we disparage elected officials who express their faith in God, when we mock and persecute religious institutions while openly promoting godless behavior, we are in violation of the greatest of all laws. Since God is the guarantor of our liberties, when we deliberately and consistently ignore Him, we do so at the peril of putting our liberty at risk.
Of course, those who don't believe in God or don't consider Him to have any real power in the affairs of men, scoff at such an idea. To them, the right to liberty is granted by men through the use of law. But that is not what the framers of the Constitution thought, and that is the document upon which the laws in America use to grant us our liberty. If we take God out of our law then the case can be made that we have no "unalienable rights," in which case there is nothing to prevent our liberty from being taken from us by men.
However, the loss of liberty does not happen in one sudden moment nor would it be obviously apparent when it does occur. It happens slowly, evolving from one small action to another until the cumulative effect becomes so overwhelming as to be almost irreversible.
When men create laws, they do so according to the thinking and customs of their time. That is how the Constitution was produced. The concepts contained in it reflect the thinking and attitudes of the people who lived at that time. If it didn't, the people who lived back then would not have supported its principles. As such, it is a statement on the culture of that society which produced it.
And the same is true of any law created today. It reflects the thinking, attitude, and culture of the people living at the time it is written, because if it didn't the people of that society would reject it. Therefore, all that has to happen for us to lose our liberty is for our culture to lose its moral values. And when that happens, the laws that will then result from that change in our culture will automatically and inevitably reflect our current morals values.
THE BASIS OF LAW
The laws of God are based on goodness, kindness, peace, and love towards others as well as self-control, humility, and honesty in ourselves. If we as a society reject these laws, then we automatically embrace its opposite, which includes such things as conflict, anger, and ruthlessness towards others and, greed, pride, and arrogant ambition in our self. When we as a society adopt those values as being an acceptable part of our culture, they will be reflected in the laws we pass.
As we look at our society today we see that all the morals of our founding fathers are being looked at with suspicion and often rejected. People are questioning the traditional values of marriage, family, truth, justice, and decency. They complain about the influence of religion in public affairs. They readily accept pornography, sex outside of marriage, and obscene language in their entertainment when less than fifty years ago all of these things were considered shameful behavior.
Laws don't change society. Instead, society changes the law to fit the way they behave. And it is because of that truth, that laws are incapable of keeping a society from becoming morally bankrupt. No amount of laws can motivate people to be virtuous. Instead, it is the attitude people have in their heart and mind towards the law that prompts them to either keep or violate it. Since God is the one who grants us liberty and His laws are based on virtuous morals, then it is impossible for an immoral people to maintain "liberty and justice for all ."
THE HISTORY OF GOVERNMENTS
Throughout history we've seen that countries who were ruled by an immoral society only had liberty for a chosen class of people but not for the great majority of their citizens. The mighty Roman Empire ruled most of the known world of their time but only those who pledged their allegiance to the Emperor had any semblance of liberty. The rest of those who lived under Roman rule were treated more like slaves. There was even less liberty under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires that came before Rome.
From 1300 to 1900 the Ottoman Empire likewise ruled most of the known world, yet they were as brutal to their own people as they were to those whom they conquered. During World War II the people of Germany enjoyed some freedom under Hitler, but the more fanatical he became the more freedom was taken even from them, not to mention those whom Hitler conquered. The same was true of Stalin and the Russian Czars before him. And the same was true of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Afghanistan under the Taliban.
In short, every nation whose laws were not based on moral decency and fairness has never been able to provide the greatest amount of liberty to the greatest number of their people. And that is because it is impossible to do.
Of course, those who don't want to keep God's law claim there is no penalty for the way they live their life. In fact, they feel that their behavior will actually enhance the life and liberty of society as a whole rather than deteriorate it as the moralists want us to believe. As such, they scoff at the notion that God will punish them as individuals or as a society for pursuing the kind of life they think will bring them happiness. After all, they say, the very purpose of the Constitution is to grant us our unalienable right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. But they conveniently forget who granted us those unalienable rights in the first place. And they also choose to overlook the fact that what is given can be taken away by the giver if we do not obey His laws.
Liberty is not maintained by the laws of men, and it cannot flourish with immoral behavior. Those who think they can do not have history on their side to validate their argument. Those who persist in promoting this kind of society will some day find that their glorious liberty has withered away and died only to be replaced with shameful slavery. We know this because that is what history teaches us.