Liberty and Justice for All
It is widely maintained that the people of the United States of America enjoy a level of individual liberty unprecedented now or at any time of known history. But it is never been nor is it now a perfect or total liberty. The slave trade of our early beginnings was contradictory to the ideology of our nation's founding. Today we enjoy the freedom of expression to the point of vulgarity but not to the point of obviously juvenile and frivolous descriptions or threats of violence against another person or class of people. We enjoy the freedom of property ownership and rights with the exception of land. 30% is owned outright by the government and the remaining is leased with contingencies to the citizens (if you doubt your status as a renter try not paying your property taxes one year or being mean to one of the most favored mammal, reptile, insect, etc…). And we enjoy the freedom of travel as long as we are willing to pay the sundry taxes and registrations required for travel at any pace beyond the speed of a horse.

Perhaps it seems too obvious to say that the liberties we now enjoy were not born in a vacuum nor are they sustained in one. First they were born on the shoulders of courageous men and women who were willing to (and many did) sacrifice possessions, family, and life for the conviction of living as a free people. "Give me liberty or give me death" was a reality for many who died for what liberty we now enjoy. Second many hundreds of thousands of our countrymen have continued the tradition of advancing and sustaining our liberties at the expense of life and well being. For that we should be humble, thankful, and willing to accept the call should it be necessary in our day.

But the conception of our liberties did not occur on the battlefield nor does the advancement and sustenance of those liberties occur only there. Rather, allies and enemies of liberty continually come forth from various [un]disciplines of history, economics, sociology, psychology, ecology, astrology(?), etc. in the form of ideas popularized among the masses. It doesn't seem to be as simple today as we perceive it was 230 years ago. Many, therefore, conclude that our generation is living on the borrowed capital of our founding fathers and that the account is on the verge of being overdrawn.

In a sense there is some truth to the conclusion, but I don't think it reaches to the fullest depths of the problem of eroding liberty in our country. For you see, liberty does not stand in a vacuum nor does it stand solely on the sacrifice of those who established it. Instead liberty lives or dies by the system of justice and judgement enacted by the societal government. Liberty is either advanced or destroyed by government. There is little middle ground.

Perhaps we should define liberty so as not to confuse our discussion with notions disguised as the real product. Likely you have heard it said that individual freedom extends only so far as where another person’s rights begin. Sounds nice but is as void of a Christian worldview as one can get. I propose to you that freedom is the disposition to glorify God in all aspects of our living. By glorifying God, I’m not speaking of giving Him lip service on Sunday or limiting our expression to occasional emotional outburst of praise and adoration. Rather, to glorify God is to personify, magnify, and proclaim His invisible attributes and eternal power with every breath that we take, every step that we walk, every thought, every task, every bit of our being. Liberty of mind, body, and soul is the disposition to glorify God in spite of the circumstances. Jesus did not advise His disciples to go another mile as a way to spite the Roman soldiers. Rather, it was to proclaim their heritage and liberty in spite of their forced servitude. It was to glorify their Father.

In this sense, liberty truly transcends any human system of government. Thus we understand the courage of the Christian martyrs who were not held in the bondage of love of life. Death was but one more way in which to glorify God. But we can and should be concerned with the human systems of government as they represent one of the three ordained institutions of God and, therefore, are designed to facilitate the society’s expression of God’s glory.

This system of justice and judgement is comprised of law makers and law enforcers who define the character, nature, and scope of individual liberty. Accordingly, the survival of the kind of liberty our founding fathers birthed is dependent on the faithfulness of each succeeding generation to the history and the foundations for which our liberty was conceived.

“Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD.” Psalms 118:19

It seems that as long as there is more than one person on the planet there will be conflicts and the need for justice and restitution. Of course, the more numerous the people the more the need. No better place has been given us than in the context of the family to learn that the older the people and the bigger the number the more complex the conflicts. Yet it seems that people never outgrow their propensity for pettiness.

Take the following true story as a case in point. While the case is not an everyday Hurd event in detail, it certainly contains conceptual norms of young boys learning to get along with an ever-increasing larger world.

Hurd Docket #99-46972 - Evan, acting like a typical out-of-control six-year-old, throws a lawn sprinkler hitting Clarke (8) on the shoulder. Clarke instinctively reacts in anger and throws the sprinkler back but missing Evan. Micah (10), observing all this, takes the role of vigilante pushing Clarke to the ground. The sight of Clarke entering the house crying triggered me to initiate an investigation. I called for witnesses. The complainant (Clarke) filed his statement. Court was in session. The defendants waived a trial by jury, deciding their chances to be better before me, the judge, than risking mom on the jury. As the tale unfolded before my ears, the verdict became obvious. The court announced the verdict - guilty - also filing a complaint against the complainant. With no delay, the court assessed and executed the punishment, the defendants restituted, and the court adjourned.

Sound familiar? About 10 times a day familiar? Hopefully not 10 times a day in your home but, if you listen to the radio or read the newspapers, certainly the same scene is played out in varying degrees within our communities at a seemingly increasing rate of occurrence. Well, at least the first part of the story.

Thus is the challenge of every society, whether the small one of my family or the larger one of our nation, to bring and sustain order by the administration of justice through the application and enforcement of laws. But what of this system of justice? From where does it originate? And from where does each generation obtain their wisdom for the administration of justice? The answers to these questions should be obvious to those of you reading in the quiet and comfort of your living room. They are, however, not at all obvious in the context of our larger society nor will our children find it easy persuasion or comfortable in the arenas of debate over public policy and legislation. Provided, that is, that one agrees that our children can and should aspire to bring their faith to bear on the issues of the city gates.

For if we conclude that the Christian has no place to exercise his faith within societal affairs someone please tell me from where does our nation obtain the counsel and wisdom of the most high God? Or have we gone so far as to agree with the humanist that the wisdom of the unregenerate lost and rebellious sinner is just as good, or could even be better, than that of born again faithful citizens of God's kingdom?

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face. Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance." Psalms 89:14,15.

The choice before us is to walk in the light of God's countenance, enjoying the liberties thereof, or to walk in the darkness of someone else's countenance and enjoy the bondage of slavery. While I will allow there are varying degrees of slavery and, therefore, some more tolerable than others, we must agree with our forefathers that there is a place where liberty ceases to be liberty and slips over into bondage despite the claims of those administering the system of justice. The problem is determining the standard by which to judge the matter.

As with all disciplines of life, training in the administration of justice begins, like it or not, in the home. Those who home educate presumably hold the advantage over the government children who quickly learn that justice is first relative to the circumstance (e.g., the school bus stop fist-fight vs. the parent/teacher disciplinary conference), second to the social standing or popularity of the players involved, and third to a host of other unknown and unforeseeable contingencies in the fickled system of human politics.

It is not that homeschoolers are exempt from fickleness. Far from the case! But one would think that Christians (at the very least) would agree on one sole and supreme source of objective justice while, perhaps, continuing to fuss over the proper application. This, too, is far from the case!

For the Church, the one and only basin of truth, hope, and justice has fallen prey to modern liberalism and pseudo-conservatism. Surrounded by a society that embraces plurality, she has, for the most part, given in to the demands for a kinder and gentler religion. Thus our nation, by our own request, has been stripped of and prohibited access to the only standard of justice and mercy that connects the past to the future, the finite to the infinite, the mortal to the immortal: God's law.

“They did not keep the covenant of God; They refused to walk in His law” – Psalms 78:10

But men must come to grips with some sort of standard by which to judge and administer justice. Since God's law lacks the sensitivity needed in a pluralistic society and is outdate in our modern and scientific age, democracy (i.e., rule by majority) is the current vogue system of choice by westerners.

Don't get me wrong, I agree that there are much worse choices found on the globe and that ours may be the best going among human wisdom. But at some point of time, the stewards of God's mercy and justice among the nations must make an honest assessment of their stewardship and take corrective action where needed.

But even if you don't agree with my assessment of the condition of our nation or the appropriateness of Christians involvement in government, you must agree of the need and the appropriateness at the one level for which the United Nations has yet to get a death grip: the family. Specifically, your family. For the need and the appropriateness is based on at least two premises for which we cannot escape.

First, our children, as covenant citizens of God's kingdom, deserve nothing less than the administration of that kingdom's system of justice in the home. If the centurion soldier trembled at the news of Paul's Roman citizenship just prior to scourging him (Acts 22:25-29), how much more should Christian parents, clergy, and magistrates tremble "to do justly and love mercy" according to God's law especially when dealing with citizens of God's kingdom, whether child or adult.

In the case study previously cited, I could have spanked them all very quickly and been done with the whole matter. But justice concerns the matter of setting right that which someone has caused to be wrong, restoring that which someone has wrongfully changed, and recouping that which has been wrongfully deprived.

The fact that Evan did not mean to hit Clarke with the sprinkler doesn't relieve Evan from guilt and the responsibility of restitution. (Exodus 21:12) Clarke was guilty of retaliation rather than bringing the matter before the congregation for judgement. (Numbers 35:24) While there are some allowances for vigilantism in God's law, it is never outside of the direction and supervision of the whole congregation. (Deut 17:7) Thus Micah was guilty of assessing guilt and punishment out side of his jurisdictional authority.

Most likely there was no need to go through the preceding laborious exercise of citing chapter and verse to arrive at the same conclusion. For the most part, we rely on just plain 'ol common sense to come to the matter rightly. But that leads us into the second premise.

“For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children” – Psalms 78:5

Our children will learn God's system of justice and the ability to apply the system in the world around them if and when we are faithful ourselves to that system in our homes and willing to go through the laborious task of detailing our judgements to them from the word of God. We are certainly not limited to only the events of home. As I mentioned earlier, if you read the newspaper or listen to the radio you will find a myriad of cases begging the parent to bring the word of God to bear on them in the presence of their children.

For example, just in the past couple of weeks, here in Texas, a compassionate jury sentenced a man to 60 days in jail and 10 years probation for killing his wife caught in the act of adultery. In other news, Texas remains to be one of few states who maintains a sodomy law on the books. The statute comes under attack every legislative season and will eventually be struck down as unconstitutional. These two examples alone can make for some pretty interesting father/son or mother/daughter discussions while “walking along the way” to our various errands.

But even where common sense is relied on there is a good chance that the plain 'ol common sense we use is really some plain 'ol good Christian teaching we inherited from our parents who inherited it from their parents and so forth but, eventually and through the process, lost its sharp edge of being Christian. In other words, a Christian worldview. But a worldview that doesn’t recognize or acknowledge its source of existence will be relativised and assimilated with all other competing worldviews. Thus what is truly wisdom from the Most High loses credibility and power because it has not self-consciously maintained its successional and generational identity. Rather, it comes off as being arbitrary for the day and subject to revision according to the times or circumstances.

“You say you want a revolution, well, you know, we all want to change the world.” Lennon, McCartney

The perception of arbitrariness gives fertile ground to revolution. After all, if all it means to have it my way is more muscle and a bigger gun, why not get a bigger gun? The young adult can hardly wait to move away from home to get away from the overbearing rules of his parents. The anti-establishment era of the 1960's and 1970's found little resistance because no one could stand to the demand to know, "Says who and who are they to say?" France's societal rejection of the wave of religious reformation in the 16th century paved the way for her eventual bloody revolution.

Revolution remains the most preferred vehicle of change for the liberal and pseudo-conservative. The liberal, while perhaps cringing at being classed a revolutionist, makes no apologies for his agenda to bring about change in the society. The pseudo-conservative, on the other hand, would violently protest being classed a revolutionist, preferring to characterize their ideas as the need to live in a modern and progressive world. But there is a significant difference between progress and change.

Progress is built upon the foundations of non-negotiable truths. The mathematician may develop new applications, solve the previously unsolvable, or take us to Mars, but his addition facts will never be any different than what Evan is learning today. The same concept applies in ethics. Circumstances may change. Life on Mars may require significant progress in the area of ethics. But the foundation from which that progress is made must remain untouched. Otherwise it is not progress at all but rather, revolution.

“All lies and jest, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Paul Simon, The Boxer

And so it is that the liberal and pseudo-conservative want you to believe that 2+2 just can’t equal 4 anymore. It worked back then when life was simpler and man was primitive. But we’re at the advent of the 21st century! Life has changed and is more complex, scientific, and advanced. You can’t expect anyone to work within the confines of 2+2=4 these days. C’mon man!! Wake up!! Be realistic!!

Thus the Church, unable to extend the light of the gospel from its foundations to the circumstances of our day, has succumbed to the modernist who insists that the old foundations be torn down and new ones established for which to build upon. Yet the Church, in her attempt to hold onto something of similarity to the historic faith, will insist that there is at least some very good wisdom to be obtained from the old foundations. But her attempt to remain relevant in society falls on deaf ears, working only to extend the greatest of insults to her Lord.

To concede that God’s Law has no place in our society today except for the wisdom we can extract from it is to, first of all, say that God has lost touch with reality and we know what is best for us. It is to hearken to the old voice of that serpent in the garden, “You can be like God, knowing good from evil.” It is, as Cornelius Van Til so aptly put it, to slap God’s face as He holds us in His lap. Ultimately, we acquiesce to those who promise us freedom but hand out only bondage. (2 Peter 2:19)

“Have respect to the covenant; for the dark places of the earth are full of the haunts of cruelty.” – Psalms 74:20

Secondly, it is to deny the children of the Most High the rights and privileges of citizenship and that of the household of our Father. Perhaps Jesus was being more literal than analogous when He rebuked the disciples for keeping the little children from receiving His blessings of touch and prayer. Like the disciples, we keep them under the bondage of another ethic, one that is foreign to their origins and denies them stability of relating on the basis of covenant. It should be no surprise to a people whose elders slap the face of the heavenly Father and trample His covenant into the ground that their children are, in turn, quick to dismiss them as irrelevant and openly ridicule them in scorn and disdain.

Our children, who are first children of the covenant then children under our stewardship, deserve to live and be trained according to the system of law and order our Lord has prescribed. There is little chance of living according to God’s order today, but there remains every chance to train our children what that order should look like and how it should respond to the circumstances of their day. They may not know what true liberty smells like but we as parents should aspire to paint such a picture during the everyday course of living at home that our children will be satisfied with nothing short of what God has gifted His people with, both for themselves, their posterity, and for the whole world.


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Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas
PHurdWford@AOL.com

EST. 01/01/01