This question was put to me recently, “Can we be Christians who offer the truth and hope of Jesus and speak to political issues at the same time?” I believe we can and we should do both being mindful of our words and actions. We may not be blazing a trail to the capitol or blogging about our thoughts daily, but we should in some manner make our voices heard by our Representatives.
How can we maintain our right to any freedom including that of religious speech if we are not willing to hold accountable those elected to guard our freedoms and represent our needs? In the past week alone we have witnessed what lengths such individuals will go to, to promote their own agenda and squander our trust. The game-playing that has taken place over the past few weeks and the process used to pass the healthcare bill, threatens our Constitution and our way of life. It is necessary for principled individuals, including Christians to speak up.
I recently read a February 2000 address from Congressman, Ron Paul (R-TX) and found his observations to be quite relevant. Paul comments on James Madison’s precise language in framing the Constitution and the ruinous idea of wealth redistribution and expanding government.
Madison said: “With respect to the words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of power connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs not contemplated by its creators.”
Madison argued that there would be no purpose whatsoever for the enumeration of the particular powers if the general welfare clause was to be broadly interpreted.
With the modern-day interpretation of the general welfare clause, the principle of individual liberty and the doctrine of enumerated powers have been made meaningless. The goal of strictly limiting the power of our national government as was intended by the Constitution is impossible to achieve as long as it is acceptable for Congress to redistribute wealth in an egalitarian welfare state. There’s no way that personal liberty will not suffer with every effort to expand or make the welfare state efficient.
Too many citizens now believe they are “entitled” to monetary assistance from the government anytime they need it, and they expect it. Even in times of plenty, the direction has been to continue expanding education, welfare, and retirement benefits. No one asks where the government gets the money to finance the welfare state. Is it morally right to do so? Is it authorized in the Constitution?
Our founding father’s fears are being realized through Congress’ and the administrations efforts to pass health care reform and a host of other legislation waiting in the wings. This should disturb us.
As Americans and as Christians we have the privilege of being the freest people on earth. With this comes great responsibility. But are we being poor stewards of this freedom bought with blood, sweat and tears if we remain silent or willfully ignorant of legislation that threatens these freedoms? We have a wonderful right that affords us the opportunity to help direct our nation’s course, if we will only use it. This should generate great hope and courage in each of us.
While the majority of Christians I know believe we should make our voices heard, there are other well-meaning Christians who have not wanted to get involved in the debate. Understandably some are fearful others hopeless and still others prefer not to be inconvenienced by the political and economic realities facing our country. Many of these friends speak hopelessly about engaging our elected officials?
While a great many of these public servants have been petulant and have shown flagrant disregard for their constituents we need not be hopeless. There are those who will listen, and if they will not, we need not lose hope for our ultimate hope IS in Christ. That said we need not be lazy either. I wondered today, “Have we been free so long that we cannot possibly imagine having that freedom taken from us?” It appears that Americans to a large degree believe this to be impossible. Is this what keeps us from speaking up – a comfortable apathy – denial?
Do we arrogantly assume that the America we know and love could never devolve into a Venezuela, a Zimbabwe, or worse? The advantage that we have over these countries is not pedigree or intellect it is simply the freedom established by our Constitution. The Declaration of Independence and our representative republic recognizes “that all men 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.” Other countries make no such pledge. Recent events within our own country make it abundantly clear that if we are not vigilant, speaking with intent and purpose to guard our freedoms there may be no one left to do it for us.
Freedom still comes with a price. How much we lose in the future may depend on how much we are willing to be inconvenienced in the present and how well we understand the delicacy of our system of government. It was after the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that a woman posed the question to Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic if you can keep it.”
Can we keep it?
Speaking to the original intent of the Framer’s here is another excerpt from Ron Paul’s February 2000 address:
The American Republic required strict limitation of government power. Those powers permitted would be precisely defined and delegated by the people, with all public officials being bound by their oath of office to uphold the Constitution. The democratic process would be limited to the election of our leaders and not used for granting special privileges to any group or individual nor for defining rights.
Federalism, the binding together loosely of the several states, would serve to prevent the concentration of power in a central government and was a crucial element in the new Republic. The authors of the Constitution wrote strict limits on the national government and strove to protect the rights and powers of the states and the people.
Dividing and keeping separate the legislative, executive, and the judiciary branches, provided the checks and balances thought needed to preserve the Republic the Constitution created and the best way to preserve individual liberty.
The Constitution made it clear that the government was not to interfere with productive non-violent human energy. This is the key element that has permitted America’s great achievements. It was a great plan; we should all be thankful for the bravery and wisdom of those who established this nation and secured the Constitution for us.
I am thankful for our inheritance both here in America and that awaiting us in heaven. We have been given a Hope above and beyond this broken world and our broken system. And we have the opportunity to embrace hope in this world despite our broken system, but we will only find practical and workable solutions when we exercise our duty as informed citizens and along with our leaders admit that government is not and can never be the answer to all of our problems.