Pastor's Corner

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The Rights, Privileges, and Responsibilities of Liberty

In a free nation, there is always the peril of losing our liberty. This is a fact we cannot avoid, and we would be lying to ourselves if we thought otherwise. In order to remain free; free speech, religious freedom, freedom of the press, and so on – any limitations which are to be placed upon our citizens cannot exceed the limits of liberty. We must allow for religious expression in all forms, not just the ones we prefer. We must allow for personal expression, in all of its lawful forms as well. Every member of our society has the right to a voice in the public square. This is the inherent nature of the liberty the Founding Fathers fought for in order to create a free nation. Eric Metaxas recently wrote, “Unlike other countries, America is not defined by a particular ethnic or religious group. Instead, our country was formed around an idea: liberty… As their summer-long convention finished, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He famously replied: “A republic, madam—if you can keep it!”

The Italians, Irish, Spanish, and a multitude of others who have immigrated here for more than two centuries, wanted to be Americans, not something else. They came here for a reason. Those who did not want what this nation is, from the very beginning did not stay, or they did not come here. For instance, at the end of the Revolutionary War, as the British withdrew from our shores to return home, some of the colonists left with them – but some of those who had come here to fight in the war against the colonies, ended up staying. And all who came, understood the great privilege of being an American, as well as the rights and responsibilities this required of citizens.

When we speak of liberty, this is not consent for someone who behaves without moral principles or a sense of responsibility to others besides himself, for this stands in opposition to the virtuous liberty we were given. Corrupt public officials can also easily destroy liberty within the framework of our national Constitution, if allowed to do so. A primary factor in keeping liberty is virtuous citizens – the framers of our nation said the government they created could not be held by any other. In order to maintain liberty then, every citizen and public official must maintain their responsibilities and required duties to do what is right and necessary to sustain it. These duties and responsibilities cannot be cast off for the sake of convenience or social acceptance; they are what accompany the rights and privileges of living in a free society.

But, as one of my favorite authors, Os Guinness has said, “Freedom can become its own enemy, and destroy the freedoms which exist.” How do we lose our liberty? We cast aside those rights and responsibilities as citizens either by apathy or laziness, while still imagining we can have liberty’s privileges.

Whether we “can keep it,” as Franklin said, is up to the citizens of this nation. A divided rabble cannot maintain liberty. But at a time when the nation is extremely divided, and public officials only encourage the division, rather than a united citizenry, it becomes less and less likely to sustain liberty. And the cost of losing our liberty, this will be a weight our children and grandchildren will not be able to bear. Regardless of the outcome though, I will be following Christ, whatever the cost. But I encourage you to pray, speak out, and vote.

An Explorer and Eyes of Faith
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