In 1967, I had the good fortune to win a speech competition sponsored by the Florida State Exchange Club. My speech was based on Patrick Henry's famous declaration, "Give me liberty or give me death!" The British promptly exercised the second option for Mr. Henry and hanged him.
What drove Patrick Henry to revolt against England? Liberty! He fought for financial freedom for his family. This was a new motivation for the Colonists. America's founders initially only wanted religious freedom. Loyal to the Crown at first, they eventually revolted against taxation without representation. They had no input into the government's confiscation of their earnings. Fed up, they rebelled. Sound familiar? The need for America to have more self-government became apparent.
Intrusive control of every aspect of America's life is now assumed to be normal. Like a frog boiling in slowly heated water, we don't notice our distress. The net effect is that we are yielding more of our individual rights and responsibilities over to the state (all levels of government). The result is equality of poverty, not of opportunity.
Last week, I had a fascinating conversation with a Meridian native, a hard-working single man who lives on the road 90 percent of the time due to his business. He told me about a nice lady he met in Utah who had three children, who was divorced, and to whom he felt attracted.
In dating her, he soon discovered a deal-breaker. She believed the state was responsible for raising her kids, not her as their mom! He witnessed irresponsibility, laziness, selfishness, disrespect, and immature human beings now permanently expecting someone else to take care of them. The free-loading kids (ages 16-21) were produced by an ignorant parent who mistakenly trusted government (school, city, state, federal) to do what only parents can and should do. You'd think she'd wake up and smell the un-flushed toilets. Nothing can replace parenting.
Do you think we have more liberty now than we did a decade ago? No! As
we give up individual responsibility, we forfeit our liberty to the state. By not voting wisely, by giving up the good fight, by letting our secular culture slide into the chaos of "anything goes," more freedom is lost. America's culture now has its moral compass set on "spin cycle." So here is the odd paradox: government is taking away more of our hard-earned wealth, while cable TV is taking away all moral restraints. Poverty, increased crime, broken families, and despairing youth are the result.
What about Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty who recently stated his opinion about homosexuality? Should he be silenced because he spoke up for his beliefs? Or, do we de-value his right to free speech because the cable entertainment company that airs his show disliked his viewpoint? I hope we speak the truth, but do it in love.
To quote Patrick Henry again, "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." If we don't watch out, America may soon become a totalitarian regime such as North Korea where dissent is met with execution; or like Muslim nations where anyone who expresses a different spiritual idea is arbitrarily expelled or imprisoned - like my two fellow Assembly of God pastors who are imprisoned in Iran today just for talking about Christ.
Ron Wood is pastor, missionary, and writer who serves Trinity Assembly
of God in Meridian. Hear his interviews and discussions on The Father's Power radio program each Sunday on 103.3 FM, at 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.