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July/August 2007

Discover more articles from this issue.

Freedom Challenge

When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they designed a government that, at the time, was a unique government. Since that time, it has...

The Revolutionary

Scholars have long argued the extent of Luther's influence on the outbreak of revolution among the German peasants in 1524-1525. Those who would give him...

The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege

The theme of this book is the rise of public religiosity that has been orchestrated by a small group of "theoconservative" intellectuals. It is Mr....

Obedience to a Higher Law

Over the years in our struggle for liberation in South Africa we learned one very important lesson, and that is that when people of different races and...

A Necessary Conversation

Religious liberty is more than the freedom to believe. It is also the freedom to let believe. Religious liberty is more than the freedom to evangelize....

Affirming Freedom

The Sixth World Congress organized by the International Religious Liberty Association was its first world congress organized in Africa, and the biggest...

The Right to Freedom of Expression

According to United States District Court Judge Norman Mordue, the Liverpool Central School District in Upstate, New York, violated fourth grader...

The Devils and Religious Expression

Cathy Raddi is a live-and-let-live kind of woman. Shy, she doesn't like to make waves. She's a turn-the-other-cheek Christian. After all, that's what...

Matters of Faith

What is faith? What is religion? These questions are not as easily answered as you think. Faith—Jesus told His disciples that there would not be...

Magazine Archive »

Published in the July/August 2007 Magazine
by Alex Bates

When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, they designed a government that, at the time, was a unique government. Since that time, it has served as an example for nations across the globe. This new government set a definite boundary line of jurisdiction which the government itself was not to cross. However, over the course of the history of our nation, our government has increasingly crossed these lines of jurisdiction. With freedom comes the challenge of protecting those liberties that have been provided for in the Constitution. James Madison echoed this idea when he stated: "In framing a government . . . you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself." But how are we to protect our rights from a government that has authority over us?

One of the great things about our Constitution is that it provides us with a variety of options if the government steps outside of its jurisdiction. We have the option of calling or writing to our representatives and addressing the issues with them personally. We are also given the right to lead protests against legislation that is outside of the government's jurisdiction. We are even allowed to go so far as to remove those in office and elect to office those candidates who will better uphold our rights and freedoms and not step outside of the government's authority. Under the Constitution, we are allowed and even exhorted to use any combination of these methods in heeding freedom's challenge to protect the God-given rights that have been so effectively set forth in our Constitution.

Before one can exercise his Consti-tutional rights, however, he must first know what they consist of. We must know to what extent the government's powers extend, and where our rights lie. This is accomplished through a thorough study of the Constitution itself. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court, said that "every member of the State ought diligently to read and study the constitution of his country." But studying the Constitution for ourselves is not enough; we must instruct our descendants as well, for they are the next presidents, senators, representatives, and justices. In order to protect the rights set forth in the Constitution, we must educate ourselves and our posterity of its contents.

Alexander Hamilton said that the reason government is instituted at all is that "men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint." Our form of government is a fine balance of governmental restraint and self-government. If we lack self-government, the outside authorities will lay a heavier hand on our liberties and rights. Thus, the more we govern ourselves and our passions, the less the government will impose restraints in our place. Self-government is essential for our form of government to survive and work according to the plan set forth in the Constitution.

This is the challenge that comes with being the proprietor of the liberties outlined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is our responsibility to guard and protect those liberties that we have been guaranteed. The Constitution provides us with, and even exhorts us to use, those solutions outlined for upholding these liberties. However, we cannot use these methods unless we know what they are, and this can be achieved only through the study of our Constitution. Finally, our system of government is effective only if we govern ourselves and ensure that we are living according to the dictates of reason and justice. Freedom is challenging us—the possessors of these liberties outlined in the Constitution—to protect them for ourselves and our posterity by following the methods provided in the Constitution, educating ourselves and our descendants regarding the Constitution, and by upholding the system of government through self-restraints of our passions. Will you heed freedom's challenge?

Alex Bates (17) is a homeschooled junior in high school. He lives in Dothan, Alabama, with his parents and three siblings.

Author: Alex Bates

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