Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom
Standing for Truth and Defending Your Freedom

The Wellspring of Freedom

by Frank Wright, Ph.D

Rights once secured are sometimes forgotten—or at least taken for granted. For example, consider our freedom to travel freely within our nation without the government’s permission. We take that right for granted today. Yet employing that travel strategy in the former Soviet Union would have meant that your “revised” itinerary would include a visit to the Gulag.

Yet more important (and more dangerous) than taking freedom for granted is forgetting the source of freedom. The Founders recognized that this question—are rights granted by governments or by God?—stands at the very fulcrum of freedom. And they answered it in the Declaration of Independence: our freedoms come from our Creator.

While this view of the rights of mankind is obvious to any serious student of American history, many would be astonished to find that the outworking of these fundamental freedoms into specific law invariably is based upon the Bible. In fact, the American ideals of liberty, equality, and opportunity are drawn, root and branch, directly from the Bible.

What are some examples?

Unalienable rights and self-evident truths. First and foremost, the very idea of self evident and unalienable rights demands the existence of objective moral standards—standards enumerated in the Scriptures.

Truth in public affairs. Both libel and slander are crimes, and they flow from the Commandment against bearing false witness. Courts require oaths before giving testimony, to remind us that the standard being violated with false testimony is God’s standard.

Ownership of private property. This is another right secured by the Ten Commandments. “You shall not steal,” presupposes the ownership of property. Unless the thing belongs to someone, it cannot be stolen.

The judicial concept of restitution. If someone is deprived of life or property, biblical law demands restitution. Our laws do also.

Fair trial with witnesses. A trial before a jury of your peers, that is impartially judged, with the right to be confronted by your accusers, was a biblical requirement long before it entered our laws and jurisprudence.

Higher standard for serious crimes. Our laws require different standards of evidence based upon the severity of the crime—especially in capital cases. This also is a biblical mandate.

Separation of powers. Just as the Lord has revealed Himself to us as Law-giver, Judge, and King, our constitution requires the separation of powers. The legislative branch makes law, the executive branch administers the law, and the judicial branch judges disputes of law and equity.

Constitutional checks and balances. While our constitution provides for the separation of powers, it also includes checks and balances to prevent one branch from amassing too much power. This is based upon the biblical teaching that all people are sinners.

From these and countless other examples, we see that our enumerated laws are rooted in Holy Writ. But in one important sense it would not matter if they were not. Even if the laws of any nation lack a biblical foundation, God is still sovereign over His creation. And God has written His law on every human heart.

After World War II, the leaders of the Nazi regime were prosecuted for “crimes against humanity.” At the Nuremberg trials, the Nazis cleverly argued that it was improper to prosecute them for actions that were legal in their own law, and for which they were only following orders.

However, the International Military Tribunal did not buy it. The Nazi defendants were found guilty of violating a higher law—the so-called natural law to which all nations are equally subject. And so it is that all legitimate laws flow from the same divine source. 

How ironic that 70 years after Nuremberg leading nations (including our own) increasingly deny the very natural law used to judge the Nazis—by denying the sovereignty of God’s law over human government. History is replete with sad examples of nations that forgot or ignored this truth.