Understanding the Difference Between Liberty
And Freedom in Our Founding Documents
Will Help Us Regain What We Have Lost
Our liberty vouchsafed by our founding documents is under serious attack and we have lost much of our liberty and freedoms. It is critical that we as Americans know how serious this is, how to understand the important issues, and what we can do about it. Given that most of us are not experts on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, the question is, how can we know for ourselves what is right, what is wrong, what is constitutional, and what is not constitutional? And for some of us, we feel the responsibility to befriend the Constitution, defend the Constitution, and to save the Constitution. As I have considered the matter for many years, the “key” to this problem has been staring us right in the face. If we look from a historical perspective, we have drifted from our moorings and original intent of these founding documents. A proper understanding of the difference between liberty and freedom will deliver us from both spiritual and political darkness.
Patrick Henry said it well, “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists but by Christians; not on religion but the gospel of Jesus Christ.” As we review the motivation for most of the founders, we find the Bible was backbone to everything they did. Yet within that context, and this is a very important point, freedom of religion is both allowed and protected because of liberty as defined in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been and are offered asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship. Patrick Henry also said that the gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often. This “key” has been set aside over the years and has been replaced more and more by humanism and secularism, which has had the direct effect of destroying liberty. As we will see, this “key” is fundamental in the founding documents.
Since this great nation was founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the Bible was the backbone to everything the founders did, where would one go to find a proper definition of liberty? Would it not be the Holy Bible? Let us then examine a few quotes about liberty and apply them to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
In the scriptures we find some 37 quotes related to liberty, and we learn some very fundamental truths as we study these in context. But for the reader of this paper, I will only mention three. To the Corinthians Paul declared, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17) The Apostle James proclaims, “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (James 1:25) And finally, in James 2:12 it states, “So… speak the law of liberty.” From these scriptures and the several others relating to liberty as given us by the Lord and as were used by our founders, we see that liberty is not only the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but the Lord’s Spirit, His law, and His word.
If we now take the proper definition of the word liberty and apply it to the preamble of the Constitution which states the purpose of the Constitution, perhaps the reader will see a more meaningful purpose of what the founders intended when establishing this great nation. The Preamble states:
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
I will address all the points of the preamble, but for the moment I will focus only on the phrase “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” If one of the purposes of the Constitution was to secure the blessings of liberty, and liberty by definition is the Lord’s Spirit, the Lord’s law, and the Lord’s word, what then was the purpose of the Constitution? It was to secure the blessings of the Lord’s Spirit, law, and word. This is an important concept to understand because it points out the fact that the Constitution was based upon eternal principles–gospel principles. That is why John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”
Now, continuing: How are we as individuals, communities, and as a nation going to have a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare, without the Lord’s perfect law of liberty, which is taught in our Bible? (James 1:25)
As we examine what is constitutional and what is not constitutional using the Lord’s standard as our moral compass, by word and example, let us ask some very important questions. What has the Lord said about abortion, about same-sex marriage, pornography, and prostitution? Using the Lord’s standard of “thou shall not steal,” and “thou shall not covet,” what do you think the Lord’s position would be on socialism and her twin sister, communism? You see the point. Any law that would violate God’s law and the basic tenants of the Judeo-Christian principles that this nation was founded upon would be considered unconstitutional. You see, then, that it does not matter what the majority wants or what the minority wants–any law that violated God’s law was unconstitutional. This, then, would be the tempering influence on a pure democracy where it is thought that the majority rules and on America’s republican form of government.
Using these principles and the Constitution, let us apply them to today’s challenges to befriend, defend, and save the Constitution. What would be the approach of a president or a governor if Obama Care, which is highly socialistic, is deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court? What would be the founding fathers’ position?
Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution reads, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” A United States form of republican government is a government based upon morality, virtue, and the Separation of Powers Doctrine, i.e., a three-branch government. Since all branches of government take an oath to support the Constitution, are not all branches of government taking an oath to secure the blessings of liberty? Are not all branches of government taking an oath to secure God’s law for its people?
This is why the Separation of Powers Doctrine is so vital to our republic and to our form of government. When any one branch of government is faced with an unlawful order – let us say lawless judges – say no and, using the Constitution to protect liberty, stand there until justice is served. Then, so the nation or the state is not left to the mercy of the crisis in saying no to the judges, the president or governor is to turn to the legislature and ask of the people and their representatives to have the judges removed for the sake of the law, for the sake of the constitutional integrity, for the sake of self government, and for the sake of liberty.
Whenever any branch of government, in this case the judges (or it could be a president), destroys liberty it becomes the duty and obligation of the other two branches of government to defend liberty and God-given rights. In this regard, there are two fundamental principles involved that must be understood. First, the Supreme Court, because of the Separation of Powers Doctrine, is not the final answer. Second, every branch of government – federal, state, and local – can, and should, address these violations of liberty. Man cannot and should not be allowed to overrule what our Creator has already ruled to be wrong and be subjected to the flattery of politicians, lawyers, and citizens who lead away the hearts of many people. The reason we had laws protecting liberty was to prepare the minds of the children and to remind every generation that some things are just wrong. This course of action is not the breakdown of law as some suggest but upholding “The Law” meaning the laws of God.
At this point the reader can look at almost any piece of legislation and know for themselves what is right, what is wrong, what is constitutional and what is not constitutional. But if we continue, there are a few more all encompassing issues that should be addressed that can and will give the reader the proper perspective of what this great nation is all about.
It is a fact that there is nothing worse than trying to solve a problem if one does not understand the nature of the problem. The low standards you see in America today–the corruption, the out-of-control welfare state, abortion, same-sex marriage, pornography, prostitution, the bailouts of America, illegal immigration, Obama Care, are all symptoms of a disease. The disease is socialism and removing God from our institutions, which is contrary to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Socialism manifests itself in many ways, but primarily begins when you remove personal responsibility and accountability from the lives of the citizens. The more a nation embraces socialism, the more godless and secular the nation becomes. For years the politicians have been promising the American people great things at their own expense. In exchange for those promises, the politicians receive honor, prestige, and security in their present positions. They honor themselves rather than honoring God. It is a victory for Satan when he can bind man down by personal sin. But it is a horrific grand sweep when he can damn an entire nation under a government that promotes incorrect principles.
Now I would like to stop for a moment and point out the obvious and kindly and humbly instruct the reader. Using the principles that we have been discussing, I’ve just instructed the reader in religion, morality, and knowledge according to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These principles were to be taught in our schools and territories. Did I say anything about the Jews? Did I say anything about the Catholics, the Baptists, the Muslims, or the Latter-day Saints? I did not. Can you imagine if these principles were taught in our schools and territories today, it would set the hearts of the youth on fire. Have you ever considered what is being taught and how it is being taught is fundamental to all our problems of all our social ills in America today. This along with unlawful decisions of the Supreme Court of this land are the primary causes of the breakdown of the American family and that the Bible is no longer the primary book being used in our schools and in our homes. Noah Webster, who gave us our first American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828 said, “God’s word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.”
So, to be perfectly clear on the subject, why is abortion wrong? Why is same-sex marriage, pornography, prostitution, debt, socialism (Obama Care), and communism wrong? They are wrong because all these unlawful violations of the Constitution destroy liberty – the perpetuation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now to the main principle of this paper: We never use our freedom to destroy liberty. I repeat, we never use our freedom (agency or free will) to destroy liberty. We never use our freedom, agency, or free will to destroy God’s law, word, and Spirit, which provide our liberty. We use our freedom, to follow God’s plan of happiness, which cannot be had without liberty. (Proverbs 3:13) If people and nations are given freedom and they do not understand liberty, what do they do with their freedom? They tend to harm one another in selfish ways.
By following God’s word, God’s law, God’s Spirit, ie., God’s plan of happiness, we, as individuals, communities, and a nation can rise above the poverty around us, enjoy greater health, repent, forgive and be forgiven, find joy in serving others, and “form a more perfect union.” Ultimately, we lose our lives for Christ in unselfish service to promulgate His truths of eternal life and Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of happiness, which is all based on liberty.
Over the years many nations have adopted our Constitution as their own and have failed. The reason is because those nations bought the car (the Constitution) but forgot to buy the fuel (national morality) that goes into the car (the pump or the force behind the fuel being the Declaration of Independence).
This leads me into my final remarks. If we are to understand the Constitution we must also understand the Declaration of Independence. John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, said that the Declaration of Independence was “the spirit” of the Constitution. The Declaration states that this nation would be guided by the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” This term “law of nature” is in regard to the concepts of godly principles and recurs often in the writings of the founding fathers which would also include Blackstone. The laws of nature and the laws of God are superior to all other laws – over the entire world. The founders taught that mans laws are to conform to God’s laws, or they are not valid.
The laws of nature and the laws of God remind us once again that all the aforementioned issues destroy liberty and would be unconstitutional. The Declaration also reminds us that the founding fathers of this nation appealed to the Supreme Judge of the world for the “rectitude” of their intentions. Rectitude means righteousness. Once again, we do not have the freedom to do whatever we want but what we “ought” to be doing and to follow God’s plan of happiness. Remember, the people of this nation have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
In conclusion, I testify that the Lord’s plan of happiness and the founding documents of this nation are better than any other. He knows us, loves us, and desires to bless and help us. Isaiah prophesied (See Isa. 61:1-2, Luke 4:16-21: Gal. 2:4; Gal. 5:1) that the Savior came to set us at “liberty.” Patrick Henry said, “Millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty are invincible by any force which our enemies can send against us. Besides, Sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destiny of nations.” I believe as the Apostle James that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16) Therefore, if we – you and I – will repent of our sins, political and others, we could call down the powers of God upon this nation and her leadership and, once again, give to the world America’s greatest gift – truth, righteousness, liberty, freedom, and happiness. The Constitution of the United States is to protect the moral agency of all men and is, still is, part of the Creator’s great plan of happiness. May its principles long be “established?” May we all help to make it again a land of liberty? Let us use our freedom to choose liberty; then we can and will be “The Land of the Free.”