Recently, a reader emailed me with a question. I apologize to this reader for taking so long to reply, but I wanted to give careful consideration to this person’s question before I answered. After I decided what I wanted to say, I thought it would actually make a good post. Therefore, I am going to answer this reader here.
Recently, a reader emailed and asked the following questions:
I’m very interested in the founding and creation of the United States. I’ve been reading into natural law, economics, republicanism, and the history of the united states. I’ve been reading your blog for some time now. I wanted to thank you for putting your content out there. I enjoy reading it.
I wanted to ask your opinion on what the average citizen can do to protect their rights and freedoms when their government no longer secures the rights of its people. Basically, what can people do when governments violate a constitution or natural law?
Should people join their state militia? Should they buy gold and silver coins? Should we write our local officials and politicians and explain that what they are doing is wrong with detailed explanations about the consequences to our society? Should we just let them do anything they want and hope to vote them out?
I know our founders didn’t necessarily think of voting as a way of securing rights.
Jefferson and Madison passed numerous legislation against the government in their day at the state level (Virginia and Kentucky resolutions). Does the responsibility rest in the states to correct some of the mistakes that our government has made over the years?
-Thanks for your time
OK, first, let me thank the reader for their question and for thinking my opinion on such matters has any weight. I’m not sure I would give me the same amount of credit, but I am humbled to know that there are people who do. For this reason, I took my time in deciding on how to answer these questions. Here are my thoughts. Take them for whatever you think they are worth.
THE FIRST THING WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND
Many of us honor the Founders and the nation they created. However, few of us realize that the Founders were the culmination of a process that was many generations in the making. This nation did not start and end with them. It started with The Reformation,* flowed into The Great Awakening,* which then lead to the founding of the United States. But, please, do not take my word for it; take it from the pen of the man who is often referred to as, ‘The Atlas of the American Revolution:’
The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations … This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American Revolution.
The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
What’s more, Adams was far from being alone in his opinion. Anyone who doubts this need only read through the posts in the ‘Christian Founding‘ heading at the top of this blog. There are some 250+ men considered to be ‘Founders’ of the United States, and nearly all of them can be found to have spoken or penned words to the same affect as Adams did.
Thus, the key to the founding of this nation was not so much The Enlightenment or the political thoughts on Natural Law which sprang from it — as modern revisionists are want to claim — but rather, it was the revival of Christianity that caused the Founders to take hold of the products of the Enlightenment and turn them to their cause. This is why the Founders chose the political direction of John Locke, who said he derived his political ideology from the Book of Romans, as opposed to that of Thomas Hobbs, who seems to have believed that Man can be his own god. It is why the American Revolution succeeded (because the Founders sought the support and approval of the God of the Bible), but the French Revolution failed (because the French sought the support and approval of men). One ended in liberty and the rule of law, the other in chaos and mass murder.
Therefore, the first thing we must understand is this:
Without a national revival, this nation is lost!
THE SECOND THING WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND
Having first explained the need for a national revival — based in the true tenants of the Judeo/Christian faith, let us now turn to what we can do as individuals. This is where we can look to the Founders for our example. However, here again, we must understand that the Founders’ example is based in their understanding of the Scriptures and what they command of believers.
Because they were devout believers in the teachings of the Bible, the Founders understood the importance of accepting individual responsibility. They were not victims, but Men (and women, please understand the traditionally normative use of the English language). Personal responsibility leads to the pursuit of the moral and righteous life, which was actually part of the codified common law at the time. In the annuls of Sir William Blackstone’s writings on English Common Law, one will find this pursuit of the moral and virtuous life referred to as, ‘the pursuit of happiness.‘ This is the same ‘pursuit of happiness‘ Jefferson referred to in The Declaration of Independence, and which was mentioned by another Virginian a year earlier while writing for the Virginia State government. It is the same as the concept of ‘joy,’ as mentioned by the Apostle, Paul.
This responsibility to seek to live a moral and virtuous life, and to accept the consequences of our own actions, requires that we be thoroughly versed on what is expected of us. For the Founders, this was defined primarily by the Scriptures. They then took those Scriptural understandings, as well as the wisdom of great thinkers who were not necessarily Biblical believers, and constructed a ‘secular’ (better understood as ‘civil’) theory of government by ‘Social Contract,’ under a wider understanding of God’s Law that we now call, ‘Natural Law.’ In other words, the Founders sought to devise a way to apply the teachings of the Bible to their system of government. Therefore, anyone who seeks to live under that system has a duty to know and understand it, as well as the Foundation upon which it rests. This is why the first act of the Progressive movement was to sever the Declaration from the Constitution, which severed the Constitution from its foundation, which set the moral compass of the nation adrift.
So, from this, we can draw the conclusion that liberty and the protection of our individual rights rests on the willingness of every individual to accept responsibility for their actions, as well as their duty to pursue the moral and virtuous life, as defined by the Scriptures! This includes the individual duty to learn and share both the concepts of our system of government, and the foundation upon which it was built.
In short, take the responsibility to learn and educate others about the Constitution, Declaration and — like it or not — the Bible!
THE THIRD THING WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND
The third thing we need to understand is that individual responsibility in a free and self-governing society imparts individual duty. This is best reflected in how we engage in our local community. Do we guard how we act? Are we careful to always do the right thing, and to make sure we stand up for the right thing whenever and wherever we see wrong doing? When we see wrong doing, do we demand that it stop? If it does not stop, do we act to stop it? It takes courage, but courage is the duty of a free person.
How does this sort of responsible duty manifest in a free and self-governing society? Well, for one thing, it does not support wrong-doing. If a neighbor’s business is the only place in your community to buy a certain widget, but that neighbor is engaged in wrong-doing and refuses correction, stop doing business with that neighbor. It may be that you even have to stop associating with and doing business with anyone who continues to do business with the wrong-doer. There may be a cost for doing the right thing. In fact, that is almost always a guarantee. However, if we are going to remain free, the only way it will happen is if we listen to the Source of Liberty and obey His Voice. The Founders did, and that is why their cause prospered.
Doing the right thing in a free and self-governing society definitely includes being active in the governing of our community. At the very least, we have a duty to go to as many public government meetings as we possibly can, and to speak out when the government starts to stray from doing what is right. It may even become necessary to run for local office to fight wrong-doing. You see, liberty begets duty, and duty demands that we act selflessly — just as the Scriptures command! The Founders knew and understood this. If you doubt it, research what happened to the men who signed The Declaration of Independence.
Honor and shame are part of a free and self-governing community, but they only work when good people do what is right, not what is easiest. Therefore:
If we are going to retain our individual rights and liberty, we need to start standing for what is right, and against what is wrong — no matter the personal cost.
In all of Human history, there has been one other nation built upon the principles our Founders used to build the United States, and that was David’s Israel. If you will research it, you will find that, under David, Israel was a great kingdom — a kingdom written out of history. There is a reason for that: tyrants and their spiritual masters do not want men to be free. They wish to rule over them. Consequently, they try to hide the key to individual rights and liberty from the masses. The Founders knew this, too. Benjamin Franklin even referenced it in a letter to a personal friend. Lest we return to those principles, this nation is already lost.
I have now done my best to answer my reader’s questions, but it is not for me to tell any individual what they should or should not do. Whenever I am asked this question, all I can do is answer by saying that individual rights and responsibilities rest upon a community’s willingness to adhere to the teachings of Scripture. The Founders understood this, and they built this nation accordingly. That is why it has managed to survive this long. But our society has walked away from this key to liberty, and we are suffering the predicted fate: licentiousness (once known as paganism). Once again, please, don’t take my word for it: take the word of our first Supreme Court Justice:
* Please note that I am very skeptical of Wikipedia. However, when it comes to matters such as these, there are generally very few reliable sources on the first few pages of anything connected to a Google search. Wikipedia is notably one of the worst, but it does have the benefit of at least hitting the main points of just about any issue. Therefore, if the reader is aware that Wikipedia is most likely providing a generally accurate outline with a decidedly anti-America, anti-Christian bias, it can be used as a rough guide to launch a more serious study of the material. This is the only reason I have linked to it in this post.