As Christians, we believe that God is the creator of all life and the entire universe. In God, we are all unique, or, using a less appropriate word, unequal; and we are uniquely loved by God. God gives each of us different (unequal) physical, intellectual, spiritual, and material gifts; as well as, different physical, intellectual, spiritual, and material challenges. While all belongs to God, God makes us His stewards of those bestowed individual gifts; and in that context of that stewardship, they are our property or possession.
We also believe God’s Commandments absolutely and eternally define human ethics – right and wrong (or more correctly, less than right). God’s Commandments are not arbitrary rules or formal duties, but rather instructions to us – the beloved of God – for a life of joy and blessedness, a life in communion with God, and a life with the expectation of God’s Kingdom to come.
God not only gives us our lives, talents and crosses to bear, but also free will. In His love for humanity, God does not compel, but rather grants us the freedom to choose to love Him, to follow His Commandments, and to faithfully steward the gifts and bear the crosses He has given us. And one day, we will have to answer for that stewardship and the (free will) decisions we have made.
It is for this reason that for Christians there can be no morality outside of possession and free will. Only through possession can we manifest faithfulness. Only through possession, can we (self) sacrifice. Similarly, there can be no morality outside of the individual. While society may establish norms, and implement policies that Christians may judge as moral, our faithfulness to God ultimately can only be judged by our individual choices and actions.
Consider the morality of government imposed wealth redistribution to implement “social welfare” policies. The individual forced to give up his property, essentially by the threat of seizure, incarceration, and/or bodily harm, has not made a free will decision to do good. The members of the government or the “democratic” majority have not done a moral act when imposing their wealth redistribution policies on others. They have made no sacrifice in terms of their own life, liberty, or property.
The Good Samaritan had compassion on the man robbed, beaten, and left for dead. He bound his wounds, put him up in the inn, and paid for his provision. The Good Samaritan did not make a judgment that other persons had more resources to provide that care and then, getting together with other Samaritans, compel those persons to provide care for the beaten man.
This Christian worldview understanding of creation, property, and free will underlie our country’s foundational declaration of the God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are given our life and no one else may lay claim to it. Liberty is the freedom to live our life as we see fit. And the pursuit of happiness is the right to appropriate our given talent and opportunities, and to possess the fruit of our physical and intellectual labor.
That foundational ideology also understood there can be no freedom without economic freedom. If others can claim the productivity of an individual’s efforts, the individual is not free but a slave. If the government can tell the individual what kind of work they can do, how much they can earn, and how much product of their efforts they can keep, the individual is not free but a slave.
Christian worldview gave rise to republican government that recognized and protected the sovereignty of the individual – as opposed to government that allows abuse of those inalienable rights by the (democratic) majority. Christian worldview gave rise to the free enterprise economic system. Free enterprise respects free will, personal responsibility, and private property. Christian worldview gave rise to the traditional American values of love of God, country and family; responsibility for self, family, and neighbor; respect for elders and those in authority; honesty, fidelity, living within one’s means, and industriousness.
Some mistakenly claim that our free society and free market economy has led to much injustice and disadvantage. In truth, our society’s lamentable political, economic, and societal condition is not a result of freedom and free enterprise, but because of their corruption. A political establishment that serves self and special interests, crony capitalism, and the abandonment of traditional American values and morality have distorted what is in its essence good and true.
Because of human weakness, there can be no perfection in this fallen world and our best attempts will fall woefully short. None the less, recognizing and embracing the truth and goodness of freedom and free enterprise, and the morality intrinsic to that worldview will promote more justice, more prosperity, more tolerance, and more happiness.
Truth works! Freedom works!