In the Christian tradition we believe that these rights are a gift from God. These inalienable rights declare that people are equal.
We are not equal in talent, intelligence, beauty, strength, wealth, privilege, or a number of other variables that set people apart from one another. We are equal in that we have the same right to life, self-determination, and responsibility as everyone else has.
The way this equality should be seen is in how people are treated under the law. It shouldn't matter who you are, equal protection should be given to everyone.
You and I are free people, but that doesn't mean that we are able to whatever we want to do. To protect the liberty given to us by God requires living in a certain manner.
Consider the following quote attributed to Samuel Adams:
He therefore is the truest friend to the liberty of his country who tries most to promote its virtue, and who, so far as his power and influence extend, will not suffer a man to be chosen into any office of power and trust who is not a wise and virtuous man...The sum of all is, if we would most truly enjoy this gift of Heaven, let us become a virtuous people.
What does a free life look like?
According to Samuel Adams the person who enjoys freedom is the person who lives a virtuous life. This is a crucial thought.
Often when we talk about freedom and liberty the focus is on what we are free to do.
"Is this activity legal?" we ask.
We declare, "It is my life I am free to make my own decisions!"
While it is true that freedom often allows you to make all types of choices, that doesn't mean that those choices are equally beneficial.
Enjoying the benefits of freedom is not the same preserving freedom.
I believe that the number one reason why people lose their liberty is because of poor choices. Yes, their freedom allows them to make those choices, but those choices end up stealing their freedom.
Should a person be free to use drugs?
God has gifted them personal responsibility and free will.
Admitting that a person has the freedom to use drugs is not the same thing as proclaiming drug use as a positive thing. The addiction and personality change that can accompany drug use, even with alcohol, is a terrible thing.
Addiction is a self created prison that many people cannot escape.
This reminds me of what the apostle Peter wrote.
In 1 Peter 2:16 we read; Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (ESV).
Peter taught us that we are to live as free people. The best way for us to live as free people is to live as servants of God.
I know this idea is counter-intuitive, that true freedom is found in being a servant, but when we obey God, we are not being oppressed by some tyrant. Rather, we are being directed by the Creator of the Universe: the One who knows the best way for people to live.
Ultimately freedom is found by living out God’s design for our lives. The way we enjoy freedom is to be faithful to God's will for us.
Please understand this: No one can rob us of our freedom.
Even if someone takes over and destroys the Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights, we are still able to live free lives.
The reason for this is because it is NOT the government that makes us free.
Freedom is a gift from God. The choices we make, even under an oppressive government, enable us to enjoy God’s gift of freedom.
God, in His great wisdom and mercy, placed the control of our lives in our hands.
The choices that we make determine the level of freedom we enjoy. God left it up to us to decide whether or not we will live with freedom. This freedom is not about doing whatever we would like to do. Freedom is ultimately about choosing to live the life God planned for us to live (see Ephesians 2:10).
The ability to be free is discovered in the choices we make. Choose to follow Jesus and enjoy real freedom.