Saturday, July 4, 2015

The declaration's omission

Today is always a good day to go back and read the Declaration of Independence. It reminds us that our founding fathers recognized that their rights came not from any human source but from God. Their entire justification for the revolution rested on a belief in Natural Law, the law written into the heart of every human being.

But there was an omission that haunts our culture even today. The omission was made because it went beyond the purpose of the document. The problem is that subsequent generations have seen the omission as proof of non-existence. What was omitted? Obligations.

The Declaration says that "they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights", but makes no mention of any obligations. Certainly Jefferson and the others understood the natural law obligations: obligations to the Creator who gave you the rights, obligations to family, obligations to country, obligations to society. These were well read men. They did not omit the obligations because they didn't believe in them, they omitted them because they were not disputed. The king had not denied their obligations only their rights.

Almost two and a half centuries later as we celebrate our freedom, we should keep in mind that life not simply about my rights. We must also fulfill out natural obligations. Our truest freedom is found through imitating the self-sacrificing love of Jesus, and striving each day to live according to the "Law of nature and of Nature's God" to borrow from the words of the declaration.