What does “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” mean anyway?

I’m a Patriot. There are many reasons why (like an appreciation of our founders and a family history of soldiers dating back to the Revolutionary War), but for brevity I’ll narrow it to one…purpose. It’s stated in the thoroughly-deliberated-over, intentional words of the document declaring it: 

“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.”

As Christians, it’s important for us to be able to articulate what “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” means in view of scripture. Sure it means opportunity, but not to fulfill materialistic dreams. It’s a chance to live a life reflecting God’s precepts and pass along a great heritage.  

First, is the “created equal” part which many progressives claim while pushing their agenda. Yes the “equal” part is important when discussing human rights and discrimination. However, if the “created” part is left out, then all that’s left is a humanistic “you-can’t-judge-me” philosophy. The truth of being created is the sole premise of “endowed” and “unalienable”. That’s why our position should be to celebrate life…old, young, unborn or infirmed. Life is a precious gift from God and we should never accept the idea that there’s a right to take it on demand. Along with the gift, as Creator He also designed the family unit to care and nurture young life through the growth process. This is a sacred trust given to parents and not to be taken lightly.

“Equal” also means that followers of Christ have a seat at the table in the public square. The battering ram of political correctness is a weapon used by many to silence opposition. The pressure is on for us to sanitize our message and empty it of the true reason for the “why” behind the Gospel. Our love of country should motivate us to share truth in love, declaring that sin is real and our need for a savior is paramount.

Second, is the “pursuit” part. Since we do indeed have a Creator, what are His precepts for “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”? Consider:

  • Work – In the beginning, man was made to work. Yes, believe it or not, Adam was made to work and have a God honoring purpose before sin ever entered into the world. Work is not a punishment for sin, but a hard-wired part of our DNA. Genesis 2:15 says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” The difficulty and struggle of doing work came with sin (Genesis 3:17-19). There is great value in differentiating between the two events for ourselves and our children. The principle Paul wrote about in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “…If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” is one we should model and promote in society. We should honor God through our work ethic.
  • Freedom – This one costs. Many brave men and women paid the ultimate price for our liberty. The truth is though, some of the freedoms enjoyed by people are not ones I personally practice or consider healthy. Even some of their speech is offensive, but I’m not interested in silencing them. Why? Because the scripture shows from the beginning; God gave Adam freewill to make choices and has continued that model through history. Jesus coming to pay for our sin was a direct result of Adam and Eve’s choice. Freewill is a fundamental part of God’s design and I’ll fight for truth not silence.
  • Attitude – We must choose to be content. Greed and envy fuel much of popular opinion surrounding us. Whether it’s “punishing the rich” with more taxes or feeling entitled to something not earned, there’s a growing spirit of covetousness. The underlining factor is old-fashioned selfishness and we should model a pursuit of happiness that looks different. We’re called to be people that do not love the world or conform to its pattern (Romans 12:1-2 & I John 2:15-17).

The words “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” initiated a long costly battle for the ones who signed onto them. I pray we have the same mettle to carry that heritage forward!

About cchrisholland

...husband, dad, pastor, teacher, and chronic day-dreamer
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