Christianity & the Constitution Part 3: The Second Amendment
Psalm 35:1 “Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me; Fight those who fight against me.”
This Wednesday, July 6th, may be the most significant day in history for Americans. We have made July 4th a national holiday, and for good reason – we celebrate the signing of our ‘Declaration of Independence’, when in 1776 the twelve colonies resolved to separate from Britain and declare themselves a free people.
But it was on July 6, 1775, that Thomas Jefferson’s letter to King George III was passed by the Continental Congress. In it, they explained why they would defend by force their right to be free people. The title of this letter by Jefferson? ‘The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity for Taking Up Arms’. It is the basis for the Second Amendment to our Constitution. Here are some of Jefferson’s words: “We most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard … employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves. … With a humble confidence in the mercies of the Supreme and impartial God and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore His divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict. …”
The Second Amendment is easy to understand: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” And again, as Jefferson stated, where did the Founders get the idea that we as free Americans have a right to bear arms? Listen to Boston patriot Josiah Quincy at the passage of Jefferson’s letter: “Under God, we are determined that wheresoever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, we will die free men.”
On September 7, 1774 – almost a year before Jefferson’s letter (and two years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence) – members of the First Continental Congress were meeting in Philadelphia when they heard the false rumors (which they believed at that time) that British troops were shelling Charleston and Boston. What was the very first motion approved by Congress? Prayer. What did they pray? Our verse for this week, Psalm 35, which also says this: “(Lord), Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’ Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; and let them say continually, ‘Let the Lord be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.’ My tongue shall speak of Your righteousness and of Your praise all the day long.” (Psalm 35:2-3,27-28).
Psalm 35 was read by Reverend Duché from Christ Church, just down the street from their meeting hall. Those kneeling before him during the reading included George Washington, Patrick Henry and John Adams, who wrote to his wife: “I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that that Psalm be read on that morning. It was enough to melt a stone. I saw tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave pacific Quakers of Philadelphia. I must beg you, Abigail, to read that Psalm.”
Our nation began with a rally cry to hold ourselves accountable to the God of the Bible, and to stand behind Him as our Shield and Judge, with the right given to us to bear arms as free people to defend ourselves against the tyranny of others who would attempt to take our freedom away. So why are so many Americans today fighting to either change or do away with the Second Amendment of our Constitution?
In his article ‘Faith and American Founding’, Michael Novak explains: “How many people in America today understand the four key words that once formed a great mosaic over the American Republic? Truth, we “hold these truths”; Liberty, “conceived in liberty”; Law, “liberty under law”; and Judge, “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions.” On the face of things, our Founders were committing treason. In the eyes of the world, they were seditious. They appealed to an objective world,… to the Supreme Judge for the rectitude of their intentions. That great mosaic… in this nonjudgmental age has fallen to the dust. Fewer every year remember how it used to look.”
Our secular American culture now thinks gun violence is tied to gun ownership instead of the gun owner’s moral conscience. Our schools no longer teach what our founders believed: that God will one day hold us accountable not for owning a gun but for how we used it. The major cause of criminal violence in America isn’t gun ownership. It is the deliberate elimination of the God of the Bible as the source of moral law.
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.