Liberty – More Than a Word
--By Ben Gilmore
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” [2 Corinthians 3:13b]
“Liberty”, “freedom”, and “rights” are words that are tossed around freely these days. But – words mean things! When we begin looking for definitions we are drawn deeper and deeper until we reach an original statement, or a first cause.
Often that is a Bible quote like St. Paul in Corinthians (above). St Paul was a “newcomer”!! Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, David, and Moses all used the word, “liberty”! Wait – We can go back further – to Adam, a creation of God!
It is absurd to believe creation around us did not require intelligent design. Thus – This First Cause is what we call God. We can discover things about God by studying what is created.
For instance – Everything needed for a human to live a long, happy, healthy life was on earth before man was placed upon earth. Thus – God is concerned with man’s long, happy, healthy life.
God gave humans the gift of observation and reason. For example – Were you the only human on earth, you would be in a “natural state of liberty”. Because you had life, you had the liberty to gather the things needed to sustain life. Further you had the freedom to enjoy the fruit of your efforts, your property. “Life, liberty, and property”, sound familiar? That was the original text in our Declaration of Independence – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” – rights given by God to “all men”.
Now, suppose another human is placed on earth. Two of you enjoying the “natural state of liberty”. Both of you are constrained by the law of nature – (gravity, severe weather, need for food and water, …).
Observation and reason produce another law of nature – Each of you are constrained not to violate the other’s liberty. (i.e. My space ends at the tip of your nose J).
Next – A guy and a gal make a baby. Now we have a family. Several families join to make a tribe. They are free to join the tribe, or remain in their “natural state of liberty”.
The advantage of joining the tribe –
· Mutual protection from other tribes and animals.
· Shared burdens, farming, hunting, marketing, …
· Arbitration of disputes.
· Have a voice in the formation and execution of tribal rules.
The disadvantages of joining the tribe –
· Submit to a set of tribal rules (known in advance and documented).
· Submit to the system of just arbitration of disputes.
· Submit to specified penalties for violation of tribal rules.
We call this “voluntary union”. “Government by the consent of the governed”. In all of human history, every effort to form such a government had failed – until – September of 1787.
“[T]he laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” were understood by the colonial Americans to mean “the will of God” discovered by observation and reason [“natural law”] as well as by Bible truth [“revealed law”], since both come from the same source.
Americans valued their understanding of individual God-given rights to “life, liberty, and property”, they were willing to risk their lives to throw off tyrannical government. No man may touch a farthing of my property without the consent of myself, or my representative.
Upon winning independence from England, American’s had no government. They chose to unite and create one for themselves with limited authority to protect their lives, liberty, and property.
Americans have never experienced harsh tyranny as have most others in the world. Rather, we have volunteered our precious God-given liberty a bit at a time, until we are so far removed from true liberty that we have forgotten its value.
Unless we renew our understanding of the source and reason of our “natural state of liberty” we may have to purchase it anew with our own blood and tears.Ben Gilmore