Monday, May 04, 2020

It's Gut-Check Time for American Christians

Small groups of protesters, representing, at most, about 30% of the American people, have been protesting social distancing and sheltering-in-place orders lately, claiming them to be infringements on their personal freedom.

But here's what I think, folks, from my perspective as a Christian and a student of American history.

My freedom ends when it infringes on your freedom.

The Constitution's Framers never believed in unbridled rights or allowing freedom to become license.

Babies and adolescents believe that freedom is being able to do whatever you want to do.

But when you grow up, you understand that, in Justice Holmes' famous example, freedom of speech does not allow you to yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater.

The vast majority of Americans want a slow, controlled, and, when needed, easily-reversed, return to more normal social distancing. They want government to fulfill its function as pronounced in the Preamble of the Constitution, to form "a more perfect union" by striving to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."

Freedom does not, whether from a Christian or a constitutional perspective, give anyone the right to willfully endanger others. The apostle Peter writes in Scripture to Christians, "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." (1 Peter 2:16) To be a slave of the God we know in Jesus Christ means to be set free to live lives of love for God and love for neighbor.

Yes, there are economic implications to continued sheltering-in-place. Our unemployment systems, operating on antiquated software, need to be updated. Government and all of us will probably have to do much more over the next year-and-a-half to help each other through this unprecedented crisis.

But on our currency, we Americans claim as our motto, "In God we trust," not "In money we trust." If we can take sensible, if sometimes unpleasant, actions to get through this crisis together, we will emerge stronger for it. We will preserve the most precious economic assets we have: healthy, living human beings.

It's gut-check time for Christians in America. Will we be full-tilt pro-life? Or will we join the pro-death advocates who say that having a few more bucks in their pockets is more important than the lives of their neighbors?

The answer should be clear. And most people know that.

[Armed protesters in the gallery of the Michigan State Senate chamber in Lansing four days ago.]

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