Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death?
Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death?
Written By Rev. Thorin Anderson   |   07.04.23
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Kings and others have used the Bible and assumptions based upon narratives in it to support the divine right of monarchs, but their arguments were weak.

History is largely the story of governments coming and going, kings and rulers rising and falling. It is a rather bleak narrative and is not complimentary to humanity. It begs the question, “Does the Bible address human government?”

One thing is certain: when it comes to governments, only Christ will get it perfectly right when He establishes His Kingdom on planet Earth. 

In the meantime, and especially with the anniversary of the birth of America coming up, it would be a worthy endeavor to consider what the Scriptures say about the United States and the government our Founders created. Were they right in declaring,

“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?”

When they declared independence from Great Britain, they, and most Americans today would say that they were striking swords for liberty, but were they correct in doing so; and if so, what is the liberty they were willing to fight and die to obtain? Was it the same freedom that Leftists are demanding today?

I think not!

What John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other Framers imagined was far from the “do whatever you want” anarchy promoted by the Left. I will give a brief comparison. While the two groups may use similar words, what they represent are poles apart!

The words, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” as formulated by Thomas Jefferson, and enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, have been repeated, explained, and parodied through the centuries, but honest students of history understand quite clearly what they mean.

The Founders saw these rights as sourced in God, not in government.  They believed them to be inherent to every person because we are created in the image of God and thus manifest characteristics of God. He is free, and thus His created people are to be free.

By God’s design Adam and Eve faced only one very small restriction in the Garden. The fact that America’s Founders did not see their way clear to apply this liberty to every person does nothing to detract from their words. It goes with being human that we are often hypocrites, knowing what is right yet not doing it!

One would think that the right to life is so obvious and categorical that it needs little clarification. However, many Americans today accept only that certain people have a right to live. The fact that we must pause and dig into this issue, (because some have placed qualifications on this right), does not speak well for present day Americans. Many believe, for example, that you must have left your mother’s womb to be granted the right to life.

However, history teaches us that once qualifications are placed on the right to life, those qualifications tend to broaden to exclude others as well. Slavery and abortion are not the only tools people have used to dehumanize others! We need not be narrow in our thinking to understand that anyone, whether homosexual or heterosexual, who has multiple sexual partners within hours, days, or weeks has dehumanized those people!

The Founders, I believe, would come down resoundingly for the right to life.

The only possible justification for infringing someone’s right to life is in the case where a person has deprived another of his or her life. Simple justice, maybe?

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, it is a good time to examine what the Founders meant by liberty. A cursory study of the Constitution, colonial and early community laws, will reveal that they fervently opposed lawlessness or anarchy. While the number of statutes and laws that early Americans lived under was far fewer than present, the citizenry was certainly not free to do whatever they wanted to do.

Laws, including those providing for hated taxes, were a part of the Founder’s America from the beginning. Those men understood that limits are essential for a civil society, but that those restrictions ought to be reasonable and as few as possible. And, furthermore, they understood that limited constituted government required disciplined “self-government.”

The better the citizens controlled themselves, the less civil government was required. One cannot study the Scriptures without discovering that God is, in fact, the God of liberty.

In Leviticus 25:10 God commanded His people that in the Year of Jubilee they were to, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land!”  Isaiah 61:1 reads in part, “. . .the LORD has anointed Me to . . .proclaim liberty to the captives. . . .”  In II Corinthians 3:17 Paul writes that, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” and in Galatians 5:1, he admonishes his readers, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,” (NKJV).

Today’s Left wants neither government nor self-control. They reject civil authority and mock the idea of self-government, or self-restraint; and the chaos across the nation testifies to the consequences of such foolishness.

The Founders envisioned no such thing. 

Their intention was for limited civil government and significant self-restraint. They saw no contradiction between the idea of liberty and self-imposed limits because liberty itself was not the freedom to do whatever one wants to do, but rather the freedom to do what one believed to be right. And because their understanding of right and wrong came from a thorough knowledge of the Bible, the nation had a common morality.

Such liberty is only possible when there is a general consensus regarding what is right and wrong, and a significant majority is capable of self-discipline. 

There is no longer common agreement on morality and other cultural issues, and the Left is actively seeking to destroy the foundation of the country’s social contract as well as the disciplines inculcated by the Judeo-Christian values, which were once virtually ubiquitous in the national consciousness.

We should note that while the Left complains loudly, accusing conservatives of undermining democracy, they are the ones guilty of undermining the will of the majority. They have no problem attacking and destroying the principles and institutions that a large majority of Americans have supported for over four hundred years!

In contrast to the law-and-order principles of Christianity, conservatism, and American traditions, the Left demands the rejection of all order, all standards of right and wrong, and the implementation of an “anything goes” ethic and morality. Their “liberty” is what God and wise people would call “license,” or “licentiousness.” The notion that liberty encompasses activities that pose a grave risk of harm or death, seems quite a contradiction to wise people who care for others’ well-being.

If I define liberty as me doing whatever I want, I am acting as God, but that is precisely how Leftists see liberty. 

The only thing they criticize, and in fact condemn, is any word that suggests some behaviors are wrong. Listen to the national conversation on radio, TV, podcasts, or written essays and you will discover that these people cannot find the stomach to criticize any behavior, even when people are hurt or killed by it! The “liberty” they enjoin is a life without restraint.

One can only conclude that lawlessness is the god they will quite literally die for! The hundreds of thousands of deaths that have followed the widespread use of dangerous and illicit drugs, in recent years, appear to be perfectly acceptable to them because the highest “good” is the “freedom” to do whatever you want. Talking heads on most networks give those tragic deaths about the same attention they would give a passing rain shower. Apparently, such deaths are just the “cost of doing business!”

We are forced to believe that anarchy is not incidental to but is part of the Leftists’ plan. Anarchy leads to social unrest and fear, even terror, which in turn produces demands that someone do something. Thus, the tyrant becomes the savior. But of this be clear: his beneficence continues only until he has control, and then the pain begins.

It might also help to remember that Leftist are nihilistic and give no thought to a judgment before a holy God, or life after death. They live for themselves only, for this life only; and therefore, the only criterion for their behavior is “whatever feels good” at the moment. Not a recipe for a prosperous and enduring culture!

The third point, the “Pursuit of happiness,” might appear incongruous for a group of men building lives and a country on biblical principles, but we shouldn’t misunderstand them. They had a different perspective on happiness than what is bantered about today. To them, happiness was closer to what we think of as a sense of purpose, or satisfaction in life. And they also understood that it was not as tangible a right as are life and liberty.

They did not demand a “right to happiness,” but rather the right to pursue it! A significant difference.

They also accepted that every person has a different idea of what happiness looks like. Therefore, a top-down, one-size-fits-all government provided or directed life was a no go. What they demanded from King George was that he get out of their way and let them each build their own lives, and that is what they incorporated into the Constitution.

The happiness sought by the contemporary Left is not unlike what one would expect from five-year old children. They are so un-self-aware that what a rational, thinking adult would be ashamed to demand, they have shouted from the rooftops: “You got to do what you want to do! Go where you want to go!” and “If it feels good, do it!”

Whether you are five years old or fifty, letting go of all wisdom and doing “whatever feels good” at the moment is a recipe for disaster, and a lot of pain! Which, by-the-way, explains the rampant drug use in America. There is a lot of pain in America right now, my friend! And that is not and was not God’s design for His creatures.

Something is radically wrong!

No. Liberty and the pursuit of happiness must have certain restraints if they are to be enjoyed. And man’s Creator knows best what those limits are. You can find them in His letter to mankind, the Bible.

While the Bible has been used, and at times abused, to justify things both good and bad, what it declares regarding human government is significant. 

Fundamentally, it calls for accountability to and humility before God, self-restraint under the principles of God’s word and the leading of the Spirit of God, and conformity, in love, to the character of Jesus Christ. Nearly four hundred years before America’s founding, and five hundred years before Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” John Wycliffe wrote that,

“the Bible is for a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The dependence of the Founders upon the Bible, and the Constitution’s delegation of power “to the people” have been irritants to lovers of tyranny throughout the Nation’s history. It is not surprising that in the early 20th Century, communists began plotting the destruction of the US government and the country, and they were not all that subtle regarding their objectives.

Sadly, they have found soulmates in university social science departments, talking heads in the media, and the Democrat Party.

But understand that it is not the Bible or God that have failed the test, but Americans, who have turned their backs on the Truth, and the Way, Jesus Christ!

The sadness and pain that mar the American cultural landscape can be mended only by the grace of God, through the Scriptures, applied as a balm to the hearts of Americans!

Rev. Thorin Anderson
Rev. Thorin Anderson is a member of the Advisory Council to Illinois Family Institute and the former pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church on the south side of Chicago. Pastor Anderson has faithfully pastored at Parkwood Baptist Church since September, 2000 until 2022. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Central Seminary. He and his wife Toni have seven children and 19 grandchildren. Pastor Anderson also serves on the board of directors for Men for Christ, an association that organizes annual weekend men’s rallies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois on a rotating basis. For more information on these...
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