July 4th & God
You may disagree with something said here today, and that's OK. Toward the end, I voice my opinion(s). If you choose to disagree, I'll grant you that right, no strings attached.
July 4th. Why do we celebrate it?
We celebrate it because it is the day we officially declared our independence from England, but that's just the headlines, there is a story that goes with it. The US back then, consisted of colonies that were actually an extension of England, which were initially left to pretty much develop without any mandated oversight from England. But in 1763, Britain decided they needed to exercise more control over the colonies. At the heart was Britain's decision that the colonies needed to return revenue to mother England, categorized as payment for the colonies' defense that was being provided by Britain.
The colonies however disagreed, primarily because they had no representation in Parliament, and thus felt they should not have to pay taxes of any kind to England. If you remember from your 9th grade history class, "no taxation without representation". But Britain continued to tax, prompting the colonies to form the "First Continental Congress" in an effort to convince the British government to recognize their rights. As months evolved into years, things escalated as you might imagine, and people from every political position agreed that taxation without representation was in fact, tyranny.
As they tried to maintain the upper hand as early as 1775, one of the things the British Government did was to ban firearms. Initially some citizens complied by following Gen. Thomas Gage's orders to store firearms at Faneuil Hall for "temporary" safe keeping. However, British troops seized those firearms, never to return them. Reading the handwriting on the wall, additional attempts by the British to rid the colonies of their firearms didn't go as easily, and they began to radically confiscate guns owned by the people. Fortunately, that effort was met with resistance repeatedly, and ultimately failed. Had they been successful, the revolutionary process that we read about today might have turned out differently. During this same period, the British, in the same tyrannical fashion, were arresting patriot political leaders without just cause.
As the conflict grew, people from all the colonies came together to stand against Britain under the leadership of people with names we still hear today, Ben Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams and others, a group known as "The Sons of Liberty". History would prove that the initial efforts of the Congress weren't sufficient to resolve the overreach of Britain, and a rebellion that eventually lead to war was declared, a war known as the "American Revolution".
As the revolution rocked on, a second Continental Congress was formed, and they drafted our Declaration of Independence. In addition to some of those mentioned earlier, Thomas Jefferson and others now became well known leaders. It was Jefferson who is credited primarily with drafting the Declaration of Independence, with Franklin, Adams and Jefferson all working to revise it for Congressional approval. All of the colonies united behind this effort, and fully adopted it on July 4, 1776, the date we celebrate.
But the war was actually still raging on, we were not actually independent yet. The process for our independence from Britain actually took some 20 years, beginning with opposition to changes in taxation in 1763 as noted above and formally coming to an end in 1783. Fighting, according to historians, took some 8 years, officially beginning in 1775 and ending in 1783.
As far as celebrations of July 4th are concerned, one year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with the war still ongoing, people gathered in Philadelphia and began to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the document that would eventually lead to America's successful push for independence at the close of the war in 1783. Since that time, celebrations have been ongoing in many forms and fashions throughout our country on July 4th, the most patriotic holiday celebrated in the United States.
You can stop here if you want to, it's a good history lesson to remember, but there is more to this story!
In that amazing document, drafted and eventually ratified through the efforts of a dedicated group of people, we find at least 5 references to our God, two in the first paragraph, one in the middle, and two in the last. It is clear that the framers understood that we, by nature, came from God, a reference to deity and that no man-made laws can override God's laws.
In the 3rd reference, the one most well known, the document says "“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.” The actual name of God is not used here, but the reference with a capital "C" to our Creator is clear to anyone with common sense and reason.
In the next to last, God is referenced as "the Supreme Judge of the world..." when the document addresses the rightness of the cause of the push for independence.
And while maybe not the best known as far as history, the fifth and final reference is our thought for today. "And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” These men (and people) plainly placed their reliance in the hands of Almighty God as they asked for His divine protection over the revolutionary cause. They publicly and collectively voiced their willing dependence on God to see them through.
I’ve found no historical records indicating there was one single argument, dissent, or objection to the wording of this document, nor its numerous references to an Almighty God. In my mind (my opinion as I warned) everyone associated with this was in agreement to ask for, and anticipate God's help and direction as they undertook this task, and fought this war of independence. It's a crying shame that the documents voted on by our congress today don't ask for God's guiding hand, nor do they pray for His wisdom, nor do they credit Him with being the Divine Authority.
Today, as you celebrate July 4th, remember that it cost many many people their lives in battle. We have what we have today because of their sacrifice(s). Likewise, we have what we have today because intelligent and God fearing people rallied together, asking for God's protection and oversight, (prayers obviously answered) as they moved to get out from under a tyrannical government.
Who knows what government we would be under today if these individuals had not solicited the help of God? Who knows what freedom's we would have lost had they not done so? Who knows if we would have the freedom to worship God today if they had not done so?
July 4th, good food, good fellowship, maybe fireworks and hopefully fun, a cause for celebration. But let us not fail to praise God for seeing our country through an independence process and a war that makes these and all of our freedoms a reality.