Christmas and Liberty
By Mary Theroux • Thursday December 25, 2008 5:18 PM PST •
In an era of increasing situational ethics of bailouts, foreign wars, and massive frauds public and private, we lovers of liberty would do well to stop and heed the call to put Christ back in Christmas, acknowledging and giving gratitude for the bedrock source of the principles we hold so dear. There’s no reason to let those who hypocritically call themselves “Christians” yet advocate government policies or act in a manner wholly anathema to Jesus’s actual teachings, dissuade us from honoring Him—any more than those calling themselves “libertarians” yet advocate war and expanded statism dissuade us from honoring Liberty, or economists calling themselves pro-market yet advocating state interference in markets dissuade us from honoring the Laws of Economics (see blog posting by Senior Fellow Robert Higgs, below).
When we look to the teachings of Jesus, we find the source of concepts unique to Christiandom, such as “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.” Slavery was eradicated in Europe as Christianity spread across the continent, and abolished in the British Empire by the devout William Wilberforce. Abolition was led in North America by Christians, and although those ideals were badly undermined by the prosecution of the Civil War, they continued to drive many of the more principled efforts for the rights of women. (Indeed, renowned sociologist Rodney Stark has well documented how much of the rapid rise of the early church in the Roman Empire was attributable to the great status accorded to women by Christianity vs. paganism.) And it was these ideas that led the Reverend Martin Luther King to dream of a world promised in Jesus’s message, where “justice [is] a reality for all of God’s children.”
It was similarly devout Christians, whose belief in a Divine legislator led them to seek to discover the laws underlying His creation, by establishing the university as well as the disciplines of science, including economics.
We thus celebrate today the coming to earth and to man* of the liberating message taught and demonstrated by Jesus. And we honor this message in our study of and adherence to Natural Law as found in these teachings.
*Noun: A member of the species Homo sapiens, regardless of gender.