The Standard July 7, 2022
Early in the summer of 1776 the Continental Congress appointed five men to create a formal statement putting forth the rationale for the 13 American colonies breaking away from Great Britain. “Common Sense,” a pamphlet by Thomas Paine, had remarkable influence in Revolutionary America and helped lay the groundwork for what would become the Declaration of Independence. In it, Paine elaborated on the problems with a monarchy and advocated for a more egalitarian form of government.
Thomas Jefferson became the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, with Franklin and Adams making most of the modifications. On July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress voted to become independent from Great Britain. Two days later delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence. Authors and Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston and Thomas Paine might be considered deists or theistic rationalists, but many of their ideas dovetail with orthodox Christian beliefs.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that 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.” Scripture clearly declares that God is our Creator and that humans are uniquely valuable. “Then God said, ‘Let us make humans in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’ So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’” (Genesis 1:26-28)
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is humankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned the with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-9)
Jesus taught the importance of loving people and recognizing their worth. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) As history shows throughout civilizations full of naturally flawed human beings, treating all people equally is not an easy thing to do. Lord willing, here and across the globe, we are getting closer and closer to this ideal. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)