Our Constitution was made ‘for a moral and religious people’ views from a Devoted Christian and a Devoted Atheist
By Kirby Harris
This article is about what it means to be ‘a moral people’ and how it relates to the US Constitution and Individual Liberty. Here you will read a perspective from a devoted Christian and a devoted Atheist.
First as a gentleman, I will let my guest poster Phil Mccanless give his point of view from an devoted Atheist perspective :
I've often heard conservatives who "lean libertarian" quote or paraphrase the John Adams quote about how "our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other" as a defense for anti-liberty laws which ban or prohibit drug use or consenting sex between adults.
As an atheist, I object to the insinuation that only the religious can be moral, but I couldn't agree more that our constitution was made for and can only be of benefit to moral people. Surprised?
You shouldn't be. But, here's where I diverge from those who would use this as an excuse to violate human rights: it isn't the morality of those who would use (certain, unpopular) drugs or have (socially unacceptable) sex, whether those acts be deemed "moral" or not, who are the reason our constitution is failing us. It isn't the peaceful person with a bad habit or the those who would explore the dark, unknown areas of human sexuality which can threaten a moral and free people.
The morality (or obvious lack thereof) of the individuals who would attempt (ironically, in the name of law and morality) to violate the rights of others by kidnapping and caging peaceful, honest adults is the problem. If the peaceful, honest actions of people with bad habits can be used as an excuse to violate human rights, then cannot ANY habit, any excuse, even other peaceful, honest behaviors, be used to justify such an infringement?
It has been suggested that the "immorality" of the drug user or sexually active person somehow justifies the decimation of the fourth amendment right to be safe in our homes from unreasonable searches and safe in the courts from unlawful evidence, but this begs the question: what on earth could a peaceful, honest drug user, seller or grower do; what could two or more people having consenting sex possibly do, that could threaten the liberty of others more than than the enforcement of immoral, anti-libertarian laws prohibiting peaceful, honest, behavior?
If using (certain) drugs and having sex with consenting adults is immoral and a threat to liberty, then how much of a threat to liberty is a person or group of people using the violence and coercive police powers of the state to kidnap and lock in cages peaceful, harmless people for merely pursuing their happiness in their own ways?
So, I concur fully with those politicians who suggest only a moral people can be free . . . and I suggest that they look in the mirror and face the immorality inherent in laws which prohibit peaceful and honest activities among adults. Immorality IS a threat to liberty, but it isn't the immorality of the people's actions, but of the politician's laws, which threaten both liberty and safety. Peace now!
Now here is my (Kirby Harris) perspective as a devoted Christian:
Let me start by saying what you read here about liberty, human nature and morality isn’t what you might normally hear from a lot of Christians, rather they be liberal or conservative.
I am a devoted Christian. And I say a devoted Christian because I don’t like the term ‘good’ our ‘devout’ Christian, because there is no such thing.
I say this because all Christians, including me, are sinners saved by grace, NOT of our (my) own good deeds. And because when saved we don’t loose our human nature that causes us to sin. That is why I and all others need Jesus to redeem us.
So now having said all that, I will go on to say NO Christian is any better than the drug addict, the homosexual, the thief, the murderer, ect., because again ALL Christians are still sinners and still sin because we are human. Just because God supernaturally saves us, doesn’t mean our human nature stops. So that means, just because I am a Christian, I don’t always automatically act morally, especially when I attack others for their sin.
Jesus did call sin sin, but he never attacked the sinner. Instead he loved people, told them what he thought of their actions, what he thought it meant for their life here and in eternity, but left it up to them to change said behavior. Also Jesus never tried to get the government to stop people from engaging in sin.
To the Christian I ask, am I excusing sin? NO, not in the least. Would you, my fellow Christians, tell Jesus he was excusing sin for handling the this the same way I am? No of course not! But that is exactly what the religious folks of Jesus day accused him of doing.
We are all responsible for recognizing what is sin or immoral and what is not, and rather we believe in God or not, and how to move on from there. And if our actions harm others directly and cause tangible harm, then we suffer the consequences with human authorities.
Now, most of the Christian Founders knew that being or becoming a Christian did NOT cure us of our human nature. That is why they set up the system they did, because they knew human nature was by nature selfish, and that unchecked without any moral training then we would take what we wanted from others. And that we needed to learn morals to fight the urge to be selfish and take forcefully form others what they had.
That is why they John Adam's said "our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other". Did he mean don’t get high off drugs, get drunk off alcohol or have sex forbad in the Bible? Who knows? But I doubt he would have been for the “decimation of the fourth amendment right to be safe in our homes from unreasonable searches and safe in the courts from unlawful evidence” as my friend Phil Mccanless.
So do I believe doing drugs, getting drunk or homosexual sex is wrong and sinful? Yes. DO I believe Jesus or the most of the Founders thought so? Yes. DO I believe Jesus or most of the Founders would want government (at any level) to violate the 4th amendment rights and liberty of any human to basically be left alone unless they harmed another tangibly? NO! They didn’t want the 4th amendment rights of those guilty to be violated much less the accused person innocent of the crime.