Every year around July 4, we re-examine who we are as Americans, where our nation has been historically, where we are presently, and what our future holds.
After delegates from the 13 states, except Rhode Island, met in Philadelphia and completed the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 18, 1787, (the Bill of Rights was added in 1791), state legislatures held ratifying conventions. During the debates between the Federalists (pro-Constitution) and anti-Federalists (anti-Constitution), Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay wrote 48, 32, and five letters, respectively, to argue for ratification. These 85 letters are now known as The Federalist Papers.
In Federalist 1, Hamilton wrote, “Many have remarked that, because of their conduct and the example they’ve set, the People of this country have been put in the position of deciding a very important question: Are societies capable of freely choosing to establish good government from reflection and choice, or will their political constitutions forever be determined by accident and force?”
Prior to his asking this important question, Hamilton recognized causality. He said the American people were placed in the position of deciding this important question because “of their conduct and the example they’ve set.” But what “conduct,” what “example”?
Prior to addressing “conduct” and “example,” let’s review how Hamilton’s civil society came about. Initially, the Pilgrims (1620) and Puritans (1630s) settled in Massachusetts from England seeking religious liberty. At Jamestown (1607), the first action the settlers took was to erect a cross on the beach and claim the land for Jesus Christ. The colonists prospered and, like us today, lost interest in Christianity. Then, interest in Christianity revived with the First Great Awakening, America’s first great religious revival.
The Great Awakening occurred mostly in the 1730s and 1740s. People returned to Christianity and recognized a “deep personal revelation of their need of salvation by Jesus Christ.” The colonists began accepting the idea of a free America and understood clearly that true liberty exists only in a nation under God.
How does Christianity relate to our Founding Fathers? These men were knowledgeable of history, political philosophy, and the Bible. These Christian Founders were also men of the Enlightenment. This European philosophical movement emphasized reason, analysis, and individualism rather than traditional lines of authority, especially from the Church. Our Founders accepted enlightened political ideas without rejecting Christianity and precipitated a political revolution that resulted in an independent America based on liberty.
The Founders understood that our Constitution is effective only when built upon Christian principles, like the Ten Commandants, honor, duty, integrity, individual liberty, personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, civic knowledge, and traditional family values.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of a Gift of God?” John Adams wrote most succinctly, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”
Historians have identified the following factors that precede the “Death of (any) Nation”: 1) decrease in religious traditions and practices, 2) increase in immorality, 3) attacks on the traditional family, 4) devaluing of life. People who don’t recognize these four factors in today’s society are clueless Rip Van Winkles. Our Constitution can’t continue to protect our liberties if we don’t change our “conduct” and “example” and demand that our politicians and judges change theirs.
The Constitution that many of us took an oath to uphold has been under attack for decades by the progressive, Democrat left (including socialists, abortionists, illegal drug advocates, homosexuals and same-sex marriage advocates, pornography advocates) who want the Constitution to be a “living” document, unconstrained, evolving over time to justify their behavior. But God is the ultimate absolute. This unchanging God created us, and His values are unchanging. We accept un-Godly values at our own peril (Isaiah 1:27-28).
The Founders were extremely concerned about the continuance of their Constitutional republic. A local woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Doctor, what have we got – a Republic or a Monarchy?” Franklin answered, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The Constitution can serve us well, but it’s only as effective as our own “conduct,” the “example we set” and the demands we place upon the people who take the Oath of Office.
We currently have an unconstrained president, a cowardly, irresponsible Congress, and a judiciary more concerned with precedent and protecting minorities than with upholding the Constitution. If we don’t demand politicians and judges who uphold the Constitution with the underpinning of Christian principles, we’re not worthy of the liberties the Constitution was created to protect.
This article was originally published in The Winchester Star, June 18, 2015. Reprinted with permission.