What Kind of Freedom Are We Celebrating?
Is It Time To Get Back to the Declaration?
We’re at that time of year when people in the United States celebrate the Fourth of July, a time for family, fireworks, parades, baseball, concerts, hamburgers, and apple pie. Mmmm, pie. But our country’s beginnings were a bloody mess. You’ve seen Hamilton, right? It’s way worse.
I’m not the guy to give a full history lesson on the birth of the United States, but here’s a nickel’s-worth to at least give you something to talk about at your BBQ.
The thirteen original North American colonies belonged to Great Britain, and so, were under British rule. And it wasn’t great. The colonists became more and more worn out by oppressive taxes that were coming from Parliament, imposed without allowing for representation in their government, as would be status quo. This led to horrible fighting between colonial militiamen and British troops on our soil. This bloody “Revolutionary War” would run from 1775-1783.
Delegates from each of the colonies—many of the famous guys you’ve heard of, like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, John and Sam Adams, Patrick Henry, and others—formed the Continental Congress to bring formal voice to their grievances against the British government. Oh yeah, the pre-musical Alex Hamilton was in the mix, too—you can tell your kids that cool fact.
A Declaration of Independence
On the 2nd of July 1776 (probably the day we should celebrate) was the day when the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence from British rule. Then two days later, the infamous Fourth, these delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence (written mostly by Jefferson).
I absolutely love the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence (words I haven’t said enough in my life!). It’s truly a revolutionary declaration about the worth and dignity of every single human being—something I believe comes straight from God and was shown to be the primary mission of Jesus. Its opening states:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
That’s where most people stop. But it goes on to describe how securing these unalienable rights for all people is the job of the government, and if it’s not doing that, then the people have the right to create a new government. Pretty revolutionary, huh?
Why Does This All Sound So Familiar?
So here we are, basically still celebrating a day which marks freedom from British rule. Which seems like a weird thing to continue celebrating. So instead, we celebrate how much we love our country. Hooray for us! We believe we are living in freedom. Yet, there are people all around us who aren’t. And there even seems to be a lot of voices calling for the overthrow of the current government!
But if the people who are wanting to overthrow the government aren’t the people who are oppressed, but are instead the ones with privilege, wealth, choices, and platform, then we’re dealing with an entirely different animal that must be stopped.
When you see a government working to bring freedom, happiness, and equality to people who aren’t currently experiencing these rights, then we have to celebrate those efforts as being truly in line with what the writers of the Declaration intended—as a celebration of the worth and value of every individual.
We are free people—the Apostle Paul writes this in his letter to the people of Galatia (5:1)—
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
When you’re not free, you have no choices. When you are free, you suddenly have choices. Which means that we have the choice to live out the Gospel message which loudly proclaims the worth and value of every single person, regardless of their sexuality, gender, age, class, religion, or ethnicity. When we do this we also begin to see how certain choices can create destruction and oppression around us, leading us to further separation from the heart of God and our fellow humans.
I believe this truth to be self-evident: We are now free to live in unity, to be fueled by love and righteousness. To not only declare that all persons are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights—but to champion for those rights to blossom in every single person’s life.
Now that’s something to celebrate!
Thank you so much for checking out my writing here on Substack, I’m thrilled to be a part of this vibrant community of writers and readers! My latest book is called Losing Control: Finding Freedom by Letting Go and is my personal journey out of being a control freak (rooted in being taught a broken gospel) and then exploring more about what it means to be a person of faith, without all the hoopla. You can find the book on Amazon in paperback, Kindle, or audiobook formats, or on my website: livehopenow.com. There you’ll also find more hope resources, including info about my Live Hope Minute app, devotional book, and daily radio feature.