The Document No Longer Taught by Robert Socha
An office conversation took an interesting turn last week, providing fodder for the flames of liberty burning in my soul. The question proposed, “what was the foundation for the freeing of slaves in the West?”
I postulated a theory that traced its history for English speaking peoples, through the Renaissance, Medieval England, the Magna Carta in 1215 and back to King Ethelred, who ruled at the turn of the first millennium.
As I understand this moment in British history, Ethelred’s father had unified a bit of the British island in the 900s, forming a loyal following. After years of peace, the Nords began attacking the coastal cities, eventually leading to Ethelred fleeing to France. Once the lords of England finally chased the Nords out of England, they went to France to invite Ethelred to be their king again under one condition, he must submit to firstfruits of the House of Lords. Two hundred years later, the signing of the Magna Carta forced King John to submit to the lords, paving the way to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
As a Texas jurist once said, “A straight line runs from Runnymede to Philadelphia.”
The Magna Carta established rights that we take for granted, such as freedom of religion and the ability to own and protect property. It paved the way for the “Petition of Right” to be submitted in the 1600s, further defining freedom from unreasonable taxation, limiting the quartering of troops in peacetime, and more.
I’m confident these documents were fundamental in John Locke’s writings and coining Natural Rights, which were central to the Founding Father’s understanding of Liberty and Jefferson’s penning the Declaration:
“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…”
I believe many of the Founding Father’s knew there was a great contradiction creating the United States of America, allowing slavery to continue, in the shadow of that magnificent statement above. But they pressed on nonetheless because they were forming a “more perfect union.”
The Civil War was a natural consequence of the institution of slavery continuing in a land that declared all men equal. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution necessarily followed.
That more perfect union was continuing the process.
But why? Why were those men concerned about the plight of the common man? Why did they labor to enshrine rights to all? Was the impetus for their passion merely the history of Liberty in England? I believe it to be more than that.
I believe the desire to call all men equal and see all men set free, providing a place of refuge, has a deeper root than the history of British royalty. I believe the origins are traceable to Calvary and the Creation story itself.
Scripture tells us that Christ said in John chapter 3, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
When Jesus spoke these words, He leveled the playing field. He did not differentiate between lords and serfs, aristocracy and peasants, Jew or Gentile. He said, “whoever.”
This radical departure from societal norms changed everything. Jesus did not invite people to come based on their titles nor their accomplishments. He bid thee come and asked all who were heavy laden and burdened to rest with Him. He was more concerned with where people were going than where they had been.
The self-evident truth that all men emanate from the same source is indisputable in our design. Our engineering has the same power train, same engine, transmission, computer. Some of the finished products are more finely tuned to perform certain tasks than others, yet they were all formed in their mother’s womb, created equal.
Jesus made that world-changing statement because the Spirit taught him all truth, and the account of creation declares, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
We humans have been created in God’s image! It gives us intrinsic value, which we celebrate! It is emphasized in our weekly devotions and should maintain prominence in the public discourse.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious People. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” (John Adams 1798) It is this religion and morality that convicts us of sin, especially sins as egregious as slavery. So when Jefferson penned those transcendent words, “all men are created equal,” it galvanized the abolitionist movement and paved the way to the Emancipation Proclamation.
We have strayed, yet again, from the principles found in scripture, an unfortunate natural tendency in the human condition. But we can return to that common decency respecting one another’s life. We can cry out to God in our hearts, repent of sin, receive forgiveness, and the peace of God.
George Washington’s admonition in his farewell address can galvanize us again today, strengthening our resolve and unity as one nation under God.
“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.”
About the Author
Robert Socha, BIO Robert Socha (so-ha), was born in southern California. He served 5 years 3 months active duty in the United States Air Force; honorably. After his service he took an Associate’s Degree in Practical Theology, where, through his studies, developed a deep love of God and Country and sincere appreciation of the value of Liberty. Robert and his beloved wife of 21-plus years are raising 4 beautiful Texan children. They moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, in 2013, to put their children in Hillsdale Academy. Robert is a sales professional. He and his wife consider Michigan a hidden gem, and absolutely love this city and state (current political environment notwithstanding) they’ve adopted.