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July 10, 2004
Column #1,193

                        The Biblical Basis of America's Liberty

In 1776 government in virtually every nation was based on the inequality of man. The "divine right of kings" elevated them and their cronies, and subjugated all citizens to their rule. The state was of paramount importance, and man subject to the state.

From the beginning, however, those who came to this land had a higher view of the role of the individual, a view that stems from Scripture. "Then God said, let us make man in our own image." If that is so, all men are created equal, and should have an equal voice in government.

The first permanent settlers arriving in Plymouth in 1620 signed the Mayflower Compact before they even landed. It was America's first written document of representative government:

They acknowledged "having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith...to plant the first colony...solemnly and mutually and in the presence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together in a civil body politick for our better ordering and preservation...and frame such just and equal laws...unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

Each Pilgrim had a vote on who would be chosen to administer civil government and the church. Submission and obedience to a government one helped create is no burden.

"To understand political power, right, and derive it from the Original, we must consider, what State all Men are naturally in, and that is a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose of their possessions and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other Man."

"A State also of Equality, wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is Reciprocal, no one having more than another...This equality of Men by Nature...the Foundation of their Obligation to mutual Love amongst Men," wrote John Locke in "Of Civil Government," a 1689 book that had a profound influence on such founding fathers as Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Adams.

However, what is less recognized is Locke's dependence on Scripture for key principles:

"My command is this: love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:12).

"The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it. No one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions," wrote Locke, revising the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31:

"Do unto others as you would have them do to you."

"But though this be a State of Liberty, yet it is not a State of License," is a slight paraphrase of Galatians 5:13: "Use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh."

What mattered most to Jefferson was Locke's rationale for overthrowing a government. For had not Paul written to the Romans: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there are no authorities except that which God has established."

"A Child is born of no Country or Government. He is under his Father's Tuition and Authority, till he comes to Age of Discretion; and then he is a Freeman, at Liberty what Government he will put himself under," writes Locke.

St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Locke concluded in 1690, "And 'tis not without Reason, that he seeks out and is willing to join in Society with others, who are already united, or have a Mind to unite, for the mutual Preservation of their Lives, Liberties and Estates, which I call by the general Name, Property."

Jefferson put these sentiments more eloquently, though clearly inspired by Locke, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness - that to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among men."

U.S. history is an effort to extend that liberty first to the slave and then to women. This too is based on Scripture, as Paul wrote to the Galatians (5:28) "You are all sons of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Contrast the honor given to American women with how they are treated by Muslims who allow a man to have four wives, or by Buddhists in China and Hindus in India, who often abort female children ironically condemning millions of their sons never to find a wife.

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