2013 ESSAY CONTEST By Daron Fraley
All that we have, all that we are, and all that we can become, comes from our benevolent Creator. These are not gifts bestowed upon us by our government. The founding fathers of this nation understood that simple principle of truth, and spoke of it with great clarity.
Miraculously protected from harm each of the four times a bullet tore through his coat, and both of the times that he had a horse shot dead under him, George Washington recognized his total dependence on Providence. He said, “That great and glorious Being is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
What greater good is there than for the children of men to be blessed with life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness? And if these blessings are among the greatest of things that are good, from whence do they come? What is our part as good stewards in the procurement and retaining of these blessings?
In the Old Testament we learn valuable principles that can be applied both to ourselves, and to the proper role of government in preserving the liberty of the people. In the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, God instructed Moses that the children of Israel were to observe the Law of Sabbaths, and the Year of Jubilee.
Just as the observance of a weekly Sabbath day had been commanded of the people, the children of Israel were instructed to treat every seventh year as a Sabbatical year. In this special Sabbath year, the land would rest. Fields would remain unplowed and without seed. Vineyards would not be pruned. A full harvest would not be gathered. The people would take from the land whatever would spring forth naturally, and would offer up their thanks to God for His bounty.
This pattern would continue, each seventh year, for seven sets of years, even until and including the forty-ninth year. And then on the fiftieth year, a Year of Jubilee would be declared with the sound of a trump on the Day of Atonement. Like the forty-ninth year, the land would rest. But this is not all . . . indentured servants were freed from their labors. Every man was able to return to his family, and to his inheritance. Debts were forgiven. Liberty was proclaimed.
“. . . ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you . . .” –Leviticus 25:10
In return for this Sabbatical observance, God promised the children of Israel His protection:
“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.” –Leviticus 25:18
The key application for us is that even if we no longer officially observe the Year of Jubilee, or the Sabbath Years that were part of what we call the Law of Moses, we still have the promise from God that if we keep His commandments and acknowledge the source of our great blessings, our families will be protected. Yes, it is God that ultimately protects us. Not our government.
It has been 237 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed. And we are far past due for a year of Jubilee . . . a time when the people of this land can experience relief from oppression. If only we would accept responsibilities to uphold principles of liberty, turn to God in thanks, and rely on His arm of protection!
Evidence that we have forgotten our roots as the God-fearing citizens of a divinely ordained republic is present in this quote from John Adams:
“Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.” –John Adams: Thoughts on Government, 1776
Several liberties and responsibilities are highlighted in this citation.
First of all, we have a right to be protected by society, or in other words by our own government, in our enjoyment of life, liberty, and property. Government is there to protect our God-given rights, especially our right of liberty. This first line of protection does not discount the aid or blessings that come from God, but rather shows that we are willing to do our part in helping ourselves to preserve our rights.
And liberty, contrary to what many people of a liberal mindset would have you believe, does not mean that we have the right to do whatever we please. God gives us liberty to responsibly take care of ourselves and our families. He does not give us liberty to abuse our neighbor, or to carry on in sinful, rebellious behavior.
Second, we have a responsibility to contribute our share to the expense of our protection. If we wish our rights to be protected, we must offer our time and our money in order to make that happen.
Third, whatever we do offer in time or money so that this government can operate and provide those services of protection, must be offered willingly. It cannot be stolen from us. We must consent to the use of our funds and offerings of service. And if we do not consent . . . if we do not feel that the government has our best interests in heart . . . the government has no right to steal our properties (tangible or intangible) from us.
Ultimately, we expect our government . . . or rather, we demand that our government . . . protect our life, our liberty, and our property in such a way that our consecrations of time and money to this representative body are made holy . . . holy like a Sabbath offering, holy like a Year of Jubilee. It is to God that we answer. He alone is the provider of our bounty. What we voluntarily offer or lend to our government is to be used to protect the bounty and the rights that God gave us.
” . . . the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” –Leviticus 25:23
Protecting and preserving our rights is government’s only significant role.
It may levy a tax so that core services are provided to protect lives and property. It may collect revenue for the building up of roads and infrastructure so that we might go about our pursuit of happiness. It may issue a bond so that a project to enrich the lives of citizens is funded.
But all of these functions of government are enabled through the vote of the people. Government cannot, in good conscience, forcibly take my property or my money without my consent. And it certainly cannot declare my inalienable rights null and void.
Regardless of what we allow the government to do for us, we have the greater responsibility: to never forget where our bounty and blessings really come from, and to never give away liberties that belong only to us as individuals.
In short, government must be restrained. Government works for us. Government is there to protect our God-given rights. Government is not the source of those rights.
Let us as Americans acknowledge once again where those rights really come from, and become good stewards of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.
This essay was submitted as part of the Second Annual Libertas Essay Contest, with cash prizes totaling $2,000! You can learn how to submit your own essay here, or view all submissions here.