The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of freedom. Liberty is at the foundation of Christian belief. An important part of the mission of Christ was to set the souls of men at liberty so they would be able to act and chose for themselves, being accountable for and reaping the rewards of their choices.
Dr. Skousen wrote 32 years ago:
"The first Christmas came to a troubled world. It occurred in a conquered country and among a people who were only seventy years away from having their nation literally annihilated.
"Furthermore, it happened in a relatively obscure part of the world, among poor people, and among the most primitive of temporal circumstances. Nevertheless, out of that obscurity, poverty, blight and suppression there emerged a way of life and a way of hope which became a permanent power for good among men.
"It replaced external confusion with an internal purpose and conviction. It supplanted outward fear with an inward faith.
"It demonstrated that in a world where the proclivities of evil are everywhere visible, it is possible to generate in the hearts and minds of men a capacity to overcome evil. It emphasized that while the forces of conflict are engaged in constant war, the forces of the spirit can move men's hearts to seek and eventually attain perpetual peace." (Law & Order magazine, December 1966)
It can be said, then, that any attempt by man to secure the liberty of human beings is merely a support to the mission of Christ. This really is the purpose of the Constitution of the United States.
Freedom Under Christianity and the Constitution Produces a Tolerant People
No country in the world is more tolerant of man's choices than the United States of America. While we have been declared by many legal entities to be a "Christian" nation, still our basic code calls for complete religious freedom for all in thought and action. No other country which recognizes a national religion can claim such tolerance. Jefferson describes the effort to insure religious tolerance for all:
"The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason and right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word 'Jesus Christ,' so that it should read, 'a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;' the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindu, and Infidel of every denomination." (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 1, p.66-p.67)
Freedom Under Christianity and the Constitution Produces a Wealthy People
In debunking the socialist idea that there is only so much wealth to go around, hence it must be fairly and equally distributed, author P. J. O'Rourke asks:
"Why are some parts of the world rich while others are poor? It isn't brains. No place is dumber than Hollywood, yet its residents are wading in gravy. Meanwhile in Russia, where chess is a spectator sport, they're boiling stones for soup.
"Natural resources aren't the secret either. Impoverished Africa has gold, uranium, oil. Affluent Holland has none of those, and half the place is underwater besides.
"Actually, we know the answer-and if people would just open their eyes to it, the whole world could be rich. The benighted masses of India could quit peddling bicycle rickshaws through the streets of Calcutta. Natives in the Brazilian rain forest could be singing in the rain and CARE packages would contain oyster forks and truffles..
"All this would be possible because of a simple lesson of history: free markets work.. There's no fixed amount of wealth in the world that just needs to be divided fairly. If you have more money, it doesn't mean that I have less. Wealth is something we create.. World leaders should know by now how to get rid of poverty, how to create wealth. They have to institute free-market reforms and abide by the rule of law." (Readers' Digest, December 1998, pp. 169-171)
There is a difference between individual freedom, which is the basis of Christianity and the Constitution, and the superficial, financial freedom of the few. Russia is learning that real freedom means total freedom of the individual to try, buy, sell, and fail. While socialist planners would have us believe Russia's problems are the result of too much economic freedom too quickly, Cathy Young encapsulated in the Chicago Tribune the real reasons:
"The markets in Russia are 'free' only in the sense that the financial oligarchy has free rein. Entrepreneurship has been largely stifled by licensing fees, burdensome regulations and lack of protection from organized crime. The new Russian 'capitalists' are really the old bosses of Soviet industry who were in a position to get their hands on economic resources when the Communist system fell apart, and whose skills lie not in creating goods or services but in exploiting their ties to the government to stifle competitors. As for younger 'New Russians,' there are genuine business pioneers among them-but all too many engage in financial machinations that often resemble pyramid schemes more than stock market transactions." (Human Events, November 20, 1998, p.28)
Freedom Under Christianity and the Constitution Produces Large, Productive Families
When one has complete faith in individual freedom, he will take seriously the command to "be fruitful" and "multiply and replenish the earth" and "subdue and gain dominion" over the earth. One will not be side-tracked by the philosophies of men who teach over-population and resource-depleting theories. As Dr. Eric N. Skousen points out:
"Of course, there are appalling conditions of over-crowding, famine and oppressive poverty in many places on the earth today. However, a closer study of each situation clearly reveals that the root cause of these problems is a surplus of government and economic power over individuals, and not simply a surplus of people.
"For example, as of 1995, the state of New Jersey has a population density of 1,046 people per square mile of arable land. The average per capita income is $25,372. China, with a third the population density of New Jersey (315 people per square mile of arable land) has an average per capita income of $370, only 1/70th that of a family in New Jersey. Why such a disparity? We only need to look at China's totalitarian and oppressive government for an answer.
"Even when an entire nation with a greater population density is compared to China (or any other nation overburdened with government controls), the result is the same. Switzerland, for example, with more generous economic policies than China, has a population density of 433 people per square mile of arable land (China is 315). Yet Switzerland's average per capita income is $18,700, over, over fifty times that of the average Chinese.
"The Lord never meant this disparity to exist here on earth among his children. Instead, he promised that there would be "enough and to spare" -- if greedy and avaricious men and women didn't get an unrelenting grip on the earth's resources first. But where freedom and a free market economy reigns, every human being can set out to fulfill all four of the Father's commandments to us." (Earth: In The Beginning, Verity Publishing, Ogden, Utah, p. 60)
Freedom Under Christianity and the Constitution Produces a Humble People Before God
History proves that one of the most destructive forces in all human relationships is pride. "Pride goeth before destruction" (Proverbs 16:18) In the words of C. S. Lewis, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud."
Pride is a very misunderstood characteristic in human relationships. It stems from a person thinking he is better, more intelligent, more capable, or stronger than someone else. Pride produces enmity toward God and toward our fellowmen. When the Golden Rule of Christianity is abandoned, the results of pride are evident. When the concept of limited government is abandoned, the results of pride are just as evident. What are the beginnings of pride in a people who are free? We begin to think some of us are above others. We begin to think we know what is best for our fellow men. If this thinking is allowed to grow unchecked, we begin to look to the force of government to enforce our prideful feelings upon our fellow men.
Here is the origin of government control over the lives of people - it is pride - the very antithesis of Christianity and the Constitution. Because of pride we begin to think we can tell our neighbor he has to get our permission to choose a profession or occupation. We call these licensing laws. Because of pride we begin to tell our neighbor he must conduct his affairs in a certain way even if it is not hurting anybody. We call these regulatory laws. Because of pride we begin to take from one neighbor his property and give it to another neighbor. We call these welfare laws. Pride is the assumption that we know what is best for our neighbor. Government is the perfect cover for us to exercise the sin of pride without feeling guilty. In the end, it will lead to our destruction, as has been shown numerous times in history. True Christianity supported by true Constitutional law would prevent this from happening.
Freedom Under Christianity and the Constitution Produces a Forgiven People Before God
One foundational principle of Christianity, which the Founders were obliged to include in the Constitutional powers of the president is the power to pardon. In government, a pardon is the actual suspension or mitigation of the sentence imposed by the court. When a person has committed a wrong, the law requires a punishment to be affixed. The only way a person can escape is for someone to intervene and to suspend the punishment, even though the person is guilty of the wrongdoing. There is only one person who can do this in the case of federal crimes and one person in a state who can do this in state crimes, that is the executive. Founder James Iredell explained:
"Another power that he has is to grant pardons, except in the cases of impeachment.... It is the genius of a republican government that the laws should be rigidly executed, without the influence of favor or ill-will -- that, when a man commits a crime, however powerful he or his friends may be, yet he should be punished for it; and, ... because, in such a government, the law is superior to every man, and no man is superior to another. But ... there ought to be exceptions to it; because ... though a man offends against the letter of the law, yet peculiar circumstances in his case may entitle him to mercy." (The Making of America, p. 545)
In discussing this concept of pardon with a group of young people, one contemplative student observed: "This power to pardon is the same principle as the Atonement of Christ, where mercy appeases the demands of justice."
America owes a debt of gratitude for what happened on that first Christmas. It truly laid the basis for our great nation wherein its people could become more tolerant, more wealthy, more productive, more humble, and more receptive of His grace than any other people on earth. Our duty now lies in accepting this wonderful gift.
May your season be merry and meaningful.
Earl Taylor, Jr.