In order to understand American Freedom in its proper context it is important to understand the events that lead up to the Pilgrims/Puritans leaving England.
This means going back to the time of Martin Luther and understanding life in Europe during the time of the Renaissance. During this time, it was thought that man was the measure of all things. Through this, life was hard as all had to work and provide anything required by the King – as the people lived under tyranny.
Martin Luther, however, made a radical step out in faith as he posted his 95 thesis and made God’s grace widely know to all. He basically helped replace the belief in humanism into the belief and truth that “Man’s chief purpose is to Glorify God” and to serve Him in all aspects of life and work.
With this, many began to see that they could not serve the King and God. Truly learning the Biblical Principle and understanding “You shall have no other God” made the Puritans realize they needed a change. In reading History of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, you will understand how the Pilgrims left England and moved to Holland. Then, after 12 years, returned to England for supplies and a ship…and again slipped away from the tyranny of the King to settle in America.
The Pilgrims/Puritans arrived in Plymouth in 1620. Upon their arrival, they wrote the Mayflower Compact. This was the first written form of Government in the new world. It shows the importance they placed on the social contract. They recognized that God had made a covenant with His people, so they saw a need to make a covenant with one another. This was basically a covenant with one another to be governed. That is what set American apart from other countries.
What does it mean to be free? Does it mean we do what we want when we want? No, it means to be free from something. A person may be free from something, but after a while, a person must eventually return to the community.
What does liberty mean? Liberty describes the relationship among community members when the boundaries of unalienable rights are protected by individual conscience. Liberty can not exist without conscience and conscience is refined by religion.
“Our Constitution was only meant for a moral and religious people.” John Adams
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” George Washington Farewell address: 1796
Liberty is that voluntary self-control – doing what we want when we want – free from outside control, but without taking advantage of another person…. because we are guided by our conscience.
You can read a copy of the Mayflower Compact HERE.
Please note, this post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for full information