One thing all sides of the cultural debates agree on is freedom. Everyone is for freedom. We just don’t all mean the same thing when we use that word. When some people use the word they mean complete freedom from any restraints. They believe that a person should be able to do absolutely anything they want to do. In the past, there were very few people who thought that way. That number is growing now. To most people, freedom has always meant being able to live their life with only minimal and reasonable restraints. In other words, most people would agree that there has to be some structure and some rules for people to live a rich and fulfilling life. If that is the case, then you would assume that most people mean the same thing when they use the word. However, the disagreement comes when we start to define what restraints are needed. One side would like to live in a society where pedophilia is illegal, the other side would like to live in a society where religion is not allowed anywhere near public discussions. Someone’s values will shape and control the culture.
Right now, American culture is at a crossroads. We have unhitched ourselves from having to be constrained by a Judeo/Christian ethic decades ago. Yes, it has still been the dominant view right up until recently. But it has been like a beautiful rose in a vase that, while it has still looked good for a while, it is slowly dying. The Judeo/Christian ethic was long ago replaced with relativism (I don’t have to accept your truth, what’s true for you is not true for me), then tolerance (you need to be ok with how I want to live), and now forced affirmation (you need to support how I choose to live or you need to be banned from society). But is the freedom that our culture is currently pursuing really freedom? Can we truly have a free society without that connection to Judeo/Christian morals? I mean, some would make the case that Christians are just upset because their value system has been replaced and now “freedoms” are based on another value system. But can freedom operate with another foundation other than a Creator-based code?
Our founding fathers would answer that question with a resounding - “No!” Listen to some of their quotes on this subject:
"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 the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever..." Thomas Jefferson
"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." Patrick Henry
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” John Adams
That’s just a tiny sampling of the quotes I could list showing that the founding fathers believed that true “freedom” wasn’t possible without a moral foundation based on Christianity.
They understood that freedom is not everyone being able to do whatever they want to do. But rather it is the ability to pursue what is good with limited interference by the government. “Good” would be defined by the creator of reality - God. Pursuing what someone else declares as good, but is contrary to what God says, only leads to bondage. “The freedom to "let soulless forces operate," as the great classical liberal economist Ludwig von Mises termed it, is actually tyranny in another guise.”1 A free and self-governing nation must consist of self-governing people. In a sense, freedom only works if the people can deny themselves as Christ instructs.
I love Patrick Henry’s quote because he points out that because we were founded on Christian thinking, we have always allowed people who think differently to worship as they please as well. Yes, we can all point to historical abuses where religion was extremely intolerant or went way too far. However, true Christian thinking is not afraid of allowing others to disagree with it. Compare that to where we are now. For years we have been told by those who promote an anti-Christian worldview that “What is true for you, doesn’t have to be true for me,” and “We are just asking for tolerance of our views.” But from there it became, “We want our views legally protected.” And from there it quickly moved to, “We would like your views outlawed.” We no longer hear much about tolerance because it was just a path to totalitarian rule.
What is fascinating is watching how the establishment of new freedoms without a moral foundation is pitting groups against each other. Freedom for transgender individuals is trampling the freedom of women. Ultimate freedom for women is trampling the freedom of babies to live. Freedom to marry whoever you want is infringing on freedom of religion for others. This is why the culture wars are raging so intensely right now. Freedom has devolved into personal preference, and no culture can accommodate everyone’s personal preferences, nor should it. To be free to do whatever you want “as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else” misses the fact that we are all connected in so many ways. We have to shower in gym bathrooms. We have to sell items that we have created. We have to teach something in schools. We have to get an education somewhere. We are all trying to get our message out on social media.
So far, all I’ve done is reinforce the frustrated feeling that many Christians have. If you are a Christian, you have read this thinking, “Yeah, why can’t people see this? We need to get back to a Christian worldview in this country. Let’s get people elected and stop this mess.” I do think that when we have opportunities to put great leaders in place, we should do that. However, that’s not the ultimate solution to this problem. What we have seen in the last two presidential cycles is that one party comes in and changes everything, but then the other party comes in and changes it right back and even makes it worse. This is just raising the temperature of the culture wars even more.
So let me issue this challenge to all believers: Get busy doing what Jesus asked you to do. He has called you to be salt and light. He has called you to make disciples. He has called you to be his ambassador. None of that is political, by the way. Do not post your rants on social media about the state of our culture if you are one of the 90%+ Christians that haven’t led someone to Jesus. Learn how to have spiritual conversations with people who completely disagree with you (I can help, that’s what I do). That doesn’t mean just dropping Gospel bombs on people you don’t know and moving on. That means really walking with people, answering their questions, and asking a lot of good questions to make them think about where their hope lies. We appear to be more concerned about losing political power in our culture than we are about the fact that we are losing the soul of our culture. Freedom is not coming back until hearts are transformed by Jesus Christ.