A lot is being said about liberty these days, especially in terms of things like the TSA, Obamacare, and the Tea Party. Many that argue for less government make the case that government control spoils things.
- It does not bring the prosperity that it promises.
- It provides no incentive to work.
- It leads to moral corrosion.
And I don’t disagree with them, but…
The problem is that the left also has a point when they say:
- Left unchecked, people will abuse others to get ahead.
- Greed is wrong.
- There need to be certain protections in order for society to function.
The problem that I see is that it was never government that was supposed to provide the check against this immoral behavior, but the church.
Our First President Speaks
On September 17, 1796, George Washington affirmed this in his farewell address:
Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensible supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. … Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? … Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. … It is impossible to govern rightly without God and the Bible. [Emphasis mine. Excerpt from Faith & Freedom: Recovering America’s Christian Heritage]
The bolded passage, to me, is the important part, and what we’re seeing today. American culture has rejected the God of the Bible. No, it’s not that we have forgotten that “In God We Trust” was our national motto. It’s that society—especially liberal thought—has decided that it can come up with a better morality than Christianity, and the only way to impose this artificial morality is through legislation.
Taken Washington’s stance in this address, religion—specifically Christianity—was to play a part in our country, and the part that I believe he meant was the part where it governed right and wrong. Under that system, greed would have been something that everyone would have agreed was wrong. Honest work would have been encouraged.
The problem with every system, however, is that people have to carry it out, and as more people decided that government should be secular, and as power corrupts individuals—especially those in government—we find that more laws are added where before there was no need.
For example, there would have been no need for many blue laws in the thirteen colonies—not many people would have tried to buy and sell on Sunday. When people started to try to do this, the response was to legislate morality, until more people disagreed than agreed.
Christianity was a check on government—much like the check and balances of multiple branches.
Today, we have a new morality being defined—or being fought over between two different parties. There’s the modified Christian belief system and there’s the secular belief system.
This is why there is difficulty, and this is why there’s little agreement about the way things will go. The problem is that the secular morality that has been gradually wearing away at the modified Christian morality leads to tyranny, as more people decide daily what constitutes something that is right or wrong.
Where the Christian morality defined specific sins, the new morality defines almost everything we do.
- You must buy one brand of light bulbs
- You must have auto insurance
- Your school cannot have bake sales
- You must wear your seat belt
- You cannot own a gun unless you jump through many hoops
- All of your money will be taxed
- Unborn children can be murdered without penalty
- Smoking some narcotics is fine
- If you’re an elected official, there’s a different standard of right and wrong than if you’re a regular person
The list just keeps on growing, and this new morality is legislated when it can be, and if it can’t be, it’s taken to the courts to be defined that way indefinitely.
I fear that this country cannot long endure this war of cultures, and that a fracture may be imminent. We shall see.