By Nicholas Moore
Black clouds cover the stars and moon, and the quiet Chinese city is damp with yesterday’s rain. A point of light, small but brilliant, creeps along a misty alleyway. Soft footsteps can be heard, scurrying like a rat across the broken cobblestone streets of the old village. A furtive figure extinguishes his light and ducks into a barely visible opening in the wall. He quickly tiptoes down a winding staircase, leaps over a rotten board and inches towards a wooden door. Knock, knock, knock-knock-knock. Rusty hinges creak as he hurriedly squeezes through the barely open door, gently closing it behind him. Now joining with other Christians for worship of their God, he longs for the day they can do so freely.
All over the world, there are people who cry out for freedom. Men and women are willing to risk everything to come to this country. But here in America, the Land of the Free, we sometimes take things for granted. Where do our freedoms come from? Is it true autonomy to be able to do whatever we choose? Or does liberty carry a responsibility to do what is right? What duty do we have to insure that the ability to make our own choices remains intact? If America is to remain free, we need to understand that our freedoms have to be protected and understood.
We often mistakenly assume that our freedoms come from our government. They do not. As the Declaration of Independence so clearly states, “We are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights…” Our Founding Fathers formed this republic with the understanding that we have rights that come straight from God. We know these truths through natural law. Thomas Aquinas writes, “The natural law is nothing other than the light of understanding placed in us by God. Through it we know what we must do and what we must avoid. God has given this light or law at creation.” Because natural law comes from God, it cannot be abolished or changed. It is the same everywhere and throughout all time. It is the standard that all other laws must be based upon in order to maintain a civil society. When we recognize that the freedoms we enjoy are God- given, we understand that a government does not have the authority to take them away.
As Christians, we must understand that the rights we were endowed with carry a responsibility. Because our freedoms allow us to prosper, we should balance that with an understanding that we have a duty to care for those less fortunate. It requires vigilance in order to ensure that our elected officials are upholding the dignity of every human person with each law that is passed. And we must be willing to take the criticism that comes from standing up for what is right. Our self-determination is given to us in order for us to choose what is right and good. In the Garden of Eden, God gave free will to Adam and Eve. He allowed this so that they could choose to love and not be slaves to God. But they preferred their own will and put themselves above their Creator. In doing so, they lost their perfect union with their Lord and became slaves to sin. When we misuse our freedom in order to do what we like, even though it goes against God’s precepts, we undermine what gives our country its strength.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.” We must be educated about our history, our faith and our government. What inspired our Founding Fathers to create this system wherein the people rule? Their study of ancient civilizations and philosophers, as well as the Old and New Testament, is evident in their writings. They knew that this new arrangement would only work if the people were moral and virtuous. Many quotes demonstrate how this country was formed by men that were led by God. George Washington said in his first inaugural address, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”
God’s teachings should be the basis for whatever we believe, say, or do. Our education should include his law so that our actions as voters and citizens of this nation will create a God-centered society. A man who claims to be a Christian must understand that God calls us to respect the dignity of each human life. Each vote he casts must be a statement of his faith. Only when God’s teachings are our motivation can a nation truly thrive and freedoms be safeguarded.
The burning in the heart for freedom that the young Chinese Christian harbors inside him comes from his God. Do we still have that fire or has it grown cold? Within each person created in His image is a desire to know Him and to live within His guidelines, all the while making this world a better place. We who enjoy that freedom so easily here in America could find it ripped away if we do not stay true to Benjamin Franklin’s call: “A nation of well-informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
Nicholas Moore is a 13-year-old homeschooler. His passion for his faith and country have led him to create a web site for youth who want to get more involved with their nation and make a difference. You can visit his site at http://www.kidzhaveavoice.com. This article was originally published in February 2010 by WTL Texas, is posted on Nicholas' site and is featured as a guest commentary with the kind permission of his parents, Bob and Barbara Moore.