The Logic of Freedom
by Gene Stansel
Today is July 4, 2018, Independence Day! I have my flag out, and I am proud thankful to God that we live in this country at this particular time in history. Jere and I are home today, not celebrating, although we normally do on the 4th. We are resting up following a two-week tour of France with our grandson Joshua. While in France we also had the privilege of visiting our French relatives living in the Cote d’Azur region.
Forgive me for being a bit patriotic today, but I could not resist comparing our lifestyle in Greenwood to those in France. On this trip abroad, I was struck perhaps more profoundly than usual with the sharp differences between us and those in the Euro Zone. My thoughts today echo those of Samuel F.B. Morse, whose first telegraph communication was, “What hath God wrought?” It’s made me think, what indeed hath God wrought to put us in such a place of blessing? To live in a place that is still free in so many respects.
Eric Metaxas, author of If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, reasons that if people would choose to be free, their government must be a republic sustained by self-rule with limited checks and balances, not some form of monarchy or governmental domination. And, if people choose a republic, that republic must be based on a constitution setting out clearly defined responsibilities for each branch of government. However, a written constitution is simply “words on a piece of paper” unless the governed are people of strong moral standards. Morality undergirds freedom. And, more often than not, people possessing deep moral ideals and standards are produced by a society in which religious values are held to be primary. Now, I know that this logic may be rebuttable, but nonetheless it flooded my mind today. As a nation, our government was created at such a high cost, and it is sustained today only by God’s grace. Will we maintain even a modicum of morality in the face of such strong forces threatening to undo all that our ancestors sought to achieve?
In France, after seeing many beautiful cathedrals and visiting extravagant chateaux always with their attendant chapels and holy vestiges, one gets the impression that the nation must have had some strong religious underpinnings at some point in the past. However civil French society may be today, there is a seeming dearth of all things religious. Protestantism was all but driven out of France following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, and that condition seems to remain today. We saw only catholic churches, absolutely beautiful but strangely silent.
Fortunately, I found support for my observations from a fellow reformed Christian traveling in the group with us. Dr. Chris is a scientist who heads a department dealing with the development of nuclear medical equipment at Georgia Tech University. He is a very learned man and exudes Biblical knowledge and wisdom. We often spoke in hushed tones and quietly acknowledged, by each other’s facial expressions, that we recognized the historical deprivation of the culture. It’s hard to overlook off-color language and caustic remarks concerning religious matters, even if the occasions are few and far between. But it makes me question just how far our country is from becoming spiritually ambivalent just like the French? They are happy to be sure, they are civil and law-abiding, they enjoy life in every aspect, but, to me, something seems to be missing and that missing “something” produces anxiety.
Could we in America become more like Europe in the future? Seems we are heading in that direction. Socialism has matured in France and personal initiative is squashed under their heavy burden of taxes and regulations. But the main thing is not those normal concerns of life. The main thing is spiritual. I had quite a long conversation with one of my nephews while we were there. George manages a brand new four star hotel in the French Alps. He made a special effort to be in Cannes just to visit with us. My advice (he really did ask me) to him was, regardless of deteriorating conditions in the economy as well as in the government, you should make every effort to tend to your soul. George is not a Christian, but he did confess to being a creationist, and that was good news to me. My advice continued...the thing (Person) you search for is near at hand. And, only God’s principals will last when the rug gets pulled out from under civilization.
Today, American freedoms may be hanging by a thin thread. We can only maintain our civility and our moral values, and yes even our glorious republic, by trusting Jesus. The government may lose its moral compass, and the church may abdicate its role as purveyor of Truth, but individually we must cleave to our Maker and wait for His coming. There is no other way! And, such a message quiets my uneasy thoughts today.
"Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” (Is. 64:4)