Declaration – Part One (Life)

Do we live in a Christian nation?  Does the Declaration of Independence even matter any more or is it just a letter addressed to the King of England back in the latter half of the 18th century and relegated to the dustbin of history?

For the next few writings, I want to explore the Declaration of Independence and what it means.  The first section is the most recognizable.

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration of Independence: A Transcription

The very first sentence of this section speaks of where our rights come from, our Creator – God, and specifically identifies some of them: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The simple fact that these rights originate from God, a power above and beyond any assembly of men, that means that they are inalienable or untouchable.  They are beyond reproach and can not be repealed or revoked.

What is life?  Why is that listed as a right?  Doesn’t the concept of being alive constitute having a life?

Medically and scientifically, sure.

Consider these definitions of life:

the animate existence or period of animate existence of an individual: to risk one’s life; a short life and a merry one.
a corresponding state, existence, or principle of existence conceived of as belonging to the soul: eternal life.
Could the Founders have been considering that the right to life that we have been endowed with by God be spiritual rather than physical?  How does the Declaration’s meaning change if you look at our right to life through the lens of Christ rather than the temporary lens of man?
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  1. Kevin

     /  September 17, 2012

    It says creator, not “Christian” creator (or even “God”). Thus, knowing you to be of the “strict interpretation” faction, I would expect you to take the words for what they say – not what you think is implied.

    And for what it is worth, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, was a well known deist.

    • Then who specifically is the creator he refers to? And for that matter it seems more accurate that Jefferson’s leanings toward deism was because of dislike of Catholicism not Christianity.

  2. Kevin, I highly recommend you read for more of Jefferson’s thoughts on God. Deist or not, the Creator is God in Jefferson’s thinking. Further, why capitalize it?

  1. Declare « freedomsbrushfire

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