“When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue.”
We are looking at five things we can do to address the growing discontent and division in our nation:
- Rediscovery of Truth.
- Reformation of the Christian community.
- Redirection of the human spirit.
- Recommitment to the structures of freedom.
- Renewal of culture-shaping institutions.
Today we consider #4: Recommitment to the structures of freedom
America was founded on timeless principles that the founders understood to be given by God. The Declaration of Independence declares: “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 intent of the great American Experiment was to forge a society built on the freedom and dignity of the individual. The founders believed that as human beings created by God, people have a right to live freely and pursue that which motivates them not because a king or a government says so, but because these are natural rights given by the Creator.
In order to build this society, the founders established rules of cooperation that had been developed through generations of human experience and collective reasoning. They focused on timeless principles and standards that promoted the betterment of both the individual and community.
These rules of cooperation were described as “ordered liberty.” They were also described as “the social contract,” or “the civil society.”
In the civil society, the individual is recognized as more than an abstract statistic or faceless member of some group; rather, they are a unique, spiritual being with a soul and a conscience. They are free to discover their own potential and pursue their own legitimate interests.
Those interests are tempered, however, by a moral order that has its foundation in the Creator and which guides all human life through the wise exercise of judgment.
That is not to say that America has been perfect. The treatment of native Americans and the practice of slavery were glaring, horrid inconsistencies in the early history of our nation. However, America has recognized the error of those injustices, and has gone to great lengths to correct them, even to the point of fighting a bloody and expensive civil war that resulted in the emancipation of black slaves.
There is still much work to be done, and the journey continues.
However, we are drifting from the timeless principles established by the founders. For American society to move forward successfully into the future, we must renew our commitment to the “rules of cooperation” laid out in the Constitution.
The combination of ordered liberty and responsible citizenship are the heartbeat of American culture, and both are necessary for our society to work. Stop and think about that. American society was designed to operate on the basis of two pillars: ordered liberty and responsible citizens.
If either of those two pillars breaks down, so does American society. If ordered liberty breaks down, we have a problem. “Order” without liberty is tyranny. “Liberty” without order is anarchy.
We must remember the Creator. We must get much better at developing responsible citizens, and we must return to the ordered liberty of limited government guided by timeless truth.
We must once again embrace the personal habits and cultural conditions that gave birth to our nation.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5.15-16)
God is calling us. Trust Him and do the work.