Skip to main content

Lives, fortunes, and sacred honor

It's July 4th, 2011. 235 years ago, after arguing about the details for a few days, a group of wealthy criminals agreed to sign a piece of paper. They agreed to no longer obey in anyway the rightful king and government over their land. They went from refusing to pay a few of their taxes to armed rioting to outright revolt.

This group of wealthy criminals, though, aren't really remembered as that. They are remembered rather as a segment of the Founding Fathers of our nation. This was no ordinary document, either. It was the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress met, defying the order of King George III of England, and determined that it was not enough to argue over taxes. It was time to be free.

The Declaration of Independence lists many of the wrongs that the people of America felt that His Majesty had inflicted upon them. Nationally, we've also paid (and somewhat continue to pay for) the things that were taken out: that the King permitted and encouraged slavery is the most notable of those. The Congress stood by these words and shifted an insurrection into a Revolution.

Other, greater minds will gladly explain how the principles of "natural rights" in Enlightenment Philosophy developed from a Biblical concept of the image of God in mankind. They can explain how the Declaration of Independence is taken from a Christian viewpoint even though many of its signers and drafters were not explicitly Christian. I'll leave that to them.

I want to look at two lines from the Declaration of Independence. The first and the last lines, to be precise.

We tend to think that "When in the course of human events…." is the first line of the Declaration. It's really not.

The first line is: The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America," (at least according to my copy. That's probably just how it was printed, but still.)

Get that? Unanimous. United. Without division, with full agreement. These men came to agreement about the things they knew were wrong and had to be dealt with. When we face crises, how often do we do this? We agree there are problems, but so often put our effort into fighting over the parts we do not agree with. This nation was founded with the idea that we must fight together for what matters the most. They boiled that down to: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (No guarantee you'll catch it, though.)

The other line that still draws my mind in the Declaration of Independence is this one:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Beneath that, the signatures came, starting with John Hancock and including 55 others, of those who made that commitment.

Think about this for a minute: the most precious thing a man had in those times was his honor. Men would die for honor, would kill for honor, and would count a fortune worthless if obtained without it. This was the greatest offer they could make. All of their character, all of their stuff, and the breath in their bodies was offered for liberty.

It has become far too fashionable to highlight the blind spots of these men, to denote their faults and failings. Yet even the freedom to do that was bought by their efforts---history shows us that tyrants are invariably opposed to criticism.

What we can, and should, see in our Founding Fathers is this: a grand start and a good example. If more of us would find the important things in life and pledge ourselves to each other that we would accomplish those tasks though it costs us all, what would look differently?

Let us find ourselves defending liberty at the cost of all those things, both now and forevermore. Without it, we will not be able to do greater things.



Popular posts from this blog

Book: By the Waters of Babylon

Worship. It is what the church does as we strive to honor God with our lips and our lives. And then, many churches argue about worship. I have about a half-dozen books on my shelf about worship, but adding Scott Aniol’s By the Waters of Babylon to the shelf has been excellent.

First of all, Aniol’s work is not based on solving a musical debate. While that branch of worship is often the most troublesome in the local church, By the Waters of Babylon takes a broader view. The starting point is the place of the church. That place is a parallel of Psalm 137, where the people of God, Israel, found themselves in a strange land. The people of God, again, find themselves in a strange land.
Second, in summary, the book works logically to the text of Scripture, primarily Psalm 137 but well-filled with other passages. Then it works outward from how the text addresses the problems submitted in the first chapter into how worship, specifically corporate worship, should look in the 21st century Weste…

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Sermon Recap for October 14

Here is what you'll find: there is an audio player with the sermon audios built-in to it, just click to find the one you want. You'll also find the embedded Youtube videos of each sermon.If you'd like, you can subscribe to the audio feed here: for iTunes users. Other audio feeds go here: video is linked on my personal Youtube Page here: are stockpiled here:!