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DEVOTIONAL: July 4th and God

Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (NASB)

On July 4, 2024, Americans will celebrate our nation’s 248th birthday, just two years shy of the 250 milestone. But does this have anything to do with God, the Bible, and Christianity?

The Founding Fathers certainly believed so, and tried to warn us.

John Adams of Boston was America’s first vice president and second president. On October 11, 1798, President John Adams wrote to the Massachusetts Militia:

“We have no Government armed with Power capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by morality and Religion. Avarice [greed], Ambition, Revenge or Gallantry, would break the strongest Cords of our Constitution as a Whale goes through a Net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In other words, this is the challenge of a free country. For people to live free, they have to have the self-control to do the right thing. Otherwise, if most people lack self-control, there must be a government strong enough to exert control over everyone. And according to Adams, the only forces strong enough to govern powerful human cravings are morality and religion. And to drive his point home, Adams employs an outrageous word picture. ‘Our Constitution would be as helpless to oversee selfish people as a net could contain a whale!’

Adams was by no means alone in his beliefs, for George Washington claimed the same. In his 1796 Farewell Address, ending twenty years of public service before he retired to his Virginia home at Mount Vernon, Washington explained:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity [happiness]. “[…] And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Simply put, like Adams, Washington explained that only religion and morality can hold up a country. However, Washington goes further, explaining that no one can claim to be a patriot while undermining faith and ethics, and that only religious faith can support morality.

Washington died about 100 years before Jell-O was invented in 1897, but today we can see that trying to concoct morality without God and the Bible is like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall.

The result of years of rebelling against God’s order and precepts? The tsunami of violence, rudeness, chaos and ignorance we see in our culture today.

Take the next step: As we approach this July 4, in your private and public life, strive to be on the side of righteousness and against sin.

Source: Hillsdale College blog, “Our Constitution was Made Only for a Moral and Religious People”


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