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Monday, July 02, 2012

Independence Day 2012 and the Dangers of Freedom

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

1776: The Declaration of Independence

Most of us are more familiar with the opening of the document, particularly this line:

"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."

Freedom. It's what we celebrate each July 4th. It's what we live each day of our lives. Or so we think.

Freedom. It's our right…given to us by God. That freedom and everything it has, over time, come to mean--that freedom is a good thing. Or so we think.

Make no mistake, the United States of America is the greatest nation on the face of the planet. Our history and heritage is born of diligence and the divine. But, freedom comes with a price. How many young men and women have paid for our freedoms with their life's blood? Far too many, with more obituaries written every day. They give their lives for freedom. They pay the price. But with freedom there is a dangerous string attached. For with freedom, comes the responsibility to shun the abuse of freedom, often referred to as "license."

And unfortunately, since the late 1950's, America has become "punch drunk" with its freedoms. The average person will tell you that all the extra freedoms we have, the things we cheer for now, and accept as "okay" are all good things...that they are improving America and our quality of life. But, don't be deceived by a majority "vibe" such as this. Things are not getting better. In fact, since the 1960's, as morals became muddied and began to erode, our freedoms are beginning to destroy us.

Think about some of the moral and social issues that have come to pass since the 1960's. Each "freedom" has been championed by various "Rights" groups, politicians, activists, pundits, celebrities, and even the clergy as of great benefit to America or even mankind in general. This is by far a partial list:
• Casual sex
• The Banning of God from Public Schools
• Easy Divorce
• Cohabitation
• Homosexuality
• Abortion on Demand
• Pornography

In the last 60 years, each of these moral/social issues has surfaced, gone away, resurfaced, gained momentum, and then gained acceptance by large numbers of Americans. And yet, life really isn't better, is it? For young readers, the answer might be "yes." But for those of us who have lived in different decades, we have experience that indicates otherwise. Statistics too, indicate otherwise. I contend that most of us have been like the "frogs in the pot." They sit in the pot, in the water, making no effort to get out. After all, we know the water. The water is comfortable. Slowly, the water gets warmer, but because the rise in temperature is so slow, so incremental, we don't notice.

And then, we're cooked.

I remember a time when kids could go out and play, sometimes quite far from home, and even at night {gasp}. And parents didn't need to worry that some sick nutball would take their kids away. There was a time when kids didn't have to worry that their parents would break up. There used to be a time when entertainment wasn't laden with sex and violence. Ah, those were the days. To quote the eminent scholar Sir William Joel, "The good old days weren't always good." Granted. But in many measurable ways, they were much better than they are today.

Rereading the Declaration of Independence, I can't help but think that the founding fathers of that document would turn in their graves if they could see how misunderstood the term "freedom" is in America today. The freedom to pursue happiness has become a carte blanche for every perversion known to mankind. If it feels good, some reason, do it. After all, it's our right. That, my friends, is a lie of the most horrific sort. The right to liberty has been rationalize to mean do whatever you want. The right to life has been roundly ignored.

I am not a professional researcher. I don't have the time, nor the inclination to perform a classical study. But even a cursory glance at the statistics makes it clear that life in America is NOT improving. More and more, we are becoming a society driven by sex, greed, violence, and perversion. Consider This Data. Violent crime, forcible rape, aggravated assault rates, etc. are all WAY up since 1960. Our appetites are making America less safe.

Some might argue that the list of moral issues declining don't have a causal relationship with the increase in various crimes. Maybe not, but if not those, then what? Those of us with life experience, and especially those of us who do counseling of any kind, we know the human heart. We see that if you feed a craving for sex, violence, etc., it only succeeds in making the appetite grow.

Some might argue that we can't legislate morality. In other words, the government can't tell us what's right and wrong...and hope to change people's actions. Amazes me how confidently and forcefully people will make this claim. Examine the claim. It's absolutely preposterous. The government is there to guide us. Laws are meant to protect us. All we do is legislate morality. Every law has a foundation of something being right or something being wrong. If we shouldn't legislate morality, we may as well declare murder legal. How foolish a notion.

What do we do? The genie's out of the bottle, right? We've stepped upon the slippery slope, and there's no climbing back. With man, yeah, we're pretty much toast. We've given away the farm. But with God, all things are possible. Here's what we do:

1) We turn back to God. Privately. Each one of us. We give ourselves to Jesus Christ, accept salvation/rededication, and ask for power to turn from sin. We confess our abuse of freedoms and ask for wisdom to use freedoms to honor God and serve. We do this because God is the ultimate judge of what is right. His word tells us pretty succinctly how to live...and yes, it is very relevant for 2012 America. If we don't look to God for right and wrong, we'll become our own gods and make up our own morality. That doesn't work.

2) We do not suffer any talk about moral abuses being "good" for people. We do not accept labels of being bigots or intolerant. That is immature thinking and petty-name calling from people who want their way but don't want to have to think through the possible alternatives. No, we don't sit around pointing fingers at people, calling folks "sinners, pagans," or "the lost." We are all travelers in this world, but we are entitled to our voice. Tell the truth, but tell the truth with love and respect. We may find ourselves in the minority, but stand we must. You may be one small stone, but stand firm where you are. Each stone has its place in a mighty avalanche.

July 4th, we celebrate independence. But be careful with your freedom.


Gabe M said...

Amen, Sir Batson.
Also, we should remember to pray for our government;
Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. - 2 Timothy 2:2

Bytheway, your new series of short stories looks awesome! What age group is it for? Teen and pre-teen, or older teens and adults?

Emilyn J Clover said...

There's a verse in the Bible that says something like this, "As evil gets worse, the good gets better."
I heard this today also, "As the night gets darker, the light shines brighter."
And that's what it feels like at my church. I pray that we will all go to God and be with him and grow and learn.

Megan said...

Amen! I've heard that trouble brings us closer to God, and I hope that we'll draw closer in this situation as well. I second DrummerGuy about praying for our government. Especially with the elections coming up.

GodsGirl90 said...

I completely agree. I'm afraid I'm growing up in the age of entitlement. Instead of being grateful for the freedoms of life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness, most people seem to think they're entitled the attainment of happiness. And "everyone knows" that God is a fun-sucker/happiness-sucker/grumpy-Judge-in-the-sky. So they do away with God in government, school, home, even some churches. Ironic how God is the ONLY way to attain happiness. I guess they missed your blog post about the gospel/good news.

Another popular misconception is that true freedom means no rules. Frank Peretti addressed this topic in "Piercing the Darkness". If there are no rules, no "fences", no boundaries, then there is no way to tell where you are. Without boundaries, all is a void, all descends to chaos. Guilt may be banished, but despair comes to take its place.
True freedom is bondage to True Goodness. There is no such thing as life without bondage. Either we choose to be bound to sin/death, or bound to goodness/righteousness (i.e. following the rules)/life. Many may not like the idea, but... tough. God says that's the way it is. Maybe it's time we line up with reality.

[But I have hope for America. I love this country, I'm proud of the Truth we're founded on and the valor with which we've defended ourselves and others over the years. LORD-willing, we'll turn back to Him and once more be the awesome, bound-to-God country we once were - not perfect, but good (you know, once upon a time, people in this country believed & lived like God exists).]

Romans 6:16, 20-22
"Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? ... When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life."

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading the isle of fire!! Now I want to read your other books!, hope my library has them :D. Is there going to be a third pirate book? I really hope so because I love Cat, Anne, Ross, Blake, and pretty much everyone! Haha :D and red-eye and Jules are awesome!! Bit afraid of how Red-eye gets people to talk though don't think I'd want to be them haha (: