Guffey: Before you take down the fence, ask why it is there
There is an old adage, “When you come to a fence, you should ask why it is there before you take it down.” I remembered this statement as I recently read Bonnie Erbe’s Jan. 1 commentary, “Loss of Christians’ political power will be a blessing for all of us.”
Our founding fathers established this great country on several principles, the most proclaimed was freedom. They wanted to have a land where man was free to pursue happiness and establish a life for himself, run by his own conscience, free from the intrusion of government or its entities. But they understood that man could never have absolute freedom. Absolute freedom implies that there is nothing which intrudes into the decisions of life.
However, absolute freedom is a problem, for the decisions of one man always have ramifications upon others. For example, the reason that traffic laws exist is to restrain freedom. If one man determines he will go 100 mph down Limit Avenue because he has absolute freedom, his choice will have ramifications for others traveling on the road at the same time.
Our fathers understood that absolute (total) freedom would bring down a society and therefore, fences must be installed. Fences are installed to either keep something in or to keep something out. Our founders understood that in a society which proclaimed freedom, a fence of morality needed to be raised to keep man’s freedom held in check.
Morality is impossible however, in our society of relativism. We live in a time when our young minds are told that reality is what they make it, truth is what they believe, and that nothing is transcendent. But our founders understood that morality needed to ascend from absolute truth and that there can be no absolute truth, except through God.
Consider the opening words of the Declaration of Independence — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Do you see the fence raised? Our rights were given to us not by a government, an institution, or men; rather our rights are indeed our rights because they are held together by an absolute, someone who transcends space and time, our Creator, God.
It seems these days, the popular endeavor is to remove God from every institution and reduce Him to only the private worship of a few. We are told that Christians have no place in politics, as obviously they are biased on such issues as morality and life. We are told that God should be banned from the public arena, as He is no longer needed. All the while, Erbe and others say that this loss of Christian influence is a “blessing for all of us.” We would do well to stop, before our society takes down the fences constructed by our founders, and ask why they were put there in the first place.
What has been the result of the removal of the fence? One could go on and on with the statistics of decay — for example, since the 1960s violent crime committed by teenagers against other teenagers has risen by more than 700 percent. But for our present purposes, nothing proves the destruction that follows the removal of a fence like that of the recent elementary school shooting in Connecticut.
After such a tragedy, people did not come together and mourn, weep, pray, or console. Instead, without any regard for those who had been deprived of their young lives or the parents who grieved, politics resumed.
One side screamed for more gun control, believing that if the government would be more intentional about limiting gun ownership the tragedy would never have happened. In response, the other side claimed gun control was the problem. If armed security guards were present at school, the tragedy would have been stopped. For weeks, this is all we have heard.
Here is the problem and the proof that our fences are being taken down. In the midst of this tragedy, there was one question that was never asked. We asked, “What kind of gun did he use?” “What kind of security existed?” and “What was his mental state?” But no one asked the most basic question — “What makes any person believe that he/she has the right to take another life?” (By gun or any other means.) If this question goes unanswered, our children will be slaughtered by the loss of morality.
I don’t know if Erbe is right in her assertion that there are fewer Christians in the U.S. today than before. I don’t know if it is a problem of numbers or apathy on the part of God’s people that has led to the loss of the Christian voice in this nation. But I do know what the ramifications of tearing down this fence are — the destruction of innocence and the prevalence of evil.
Man left with absolute freedom, with no fence to restrain him, has the capacity for all kinds of evil. Christians are not perfect. I know that I certainly am not. But we believe that there is one absolute in the shifting seas of relativism, one who transcends times, generations, and beliefs — God, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. All morality is derived from Him, therefore He is the fence that restrains us.
To Erbe and those who share her views, I would only say, “Be careful what you ask for.” If you want man unrestrained by a moral absolute, do not wonder why unspeakable evil is the result.
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