Prominent founding fathers argued that the United States Constitution should not be ratified as it failed to protect the basic principles of human liberty. This led James Madison to propose amendments to the constitution. These amendments known as the Bill of Rights were inspired by George Mason’s 1776 Virginia Declarations of Rights, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, works during the Age of Enlightenment pertaining to natural rights and the Magna Carta, 1215. Ironically, the Magna Carta would inspire American colonists a few hundred years later to declare independence from Great Britain. Roughly one-third of the provisions in the United States’ Bill of Rights draw from the Magna Carta, particularly from its 39th clause.
“The fundamental basis of this Nation’s law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings that we get from Exodus and St, Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul, ” President Harry S. Truman, 1950.
The 33rd president of the United States goes one step further, claiming that the foundation upon which the United States has based its laws comes directly out of the Bible. As a World War I veteran and the Vice President to FDR, Truman who took office following Roosevelt’s death. Under Truman’s leadership, World War II ended following the use of two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Less than a month after dropping these bombs, Japan surrendered. Sometimes you have to use drastic measures to end worldly conflicts. While Truman is still criticized today for this controversial decision, few will remember this president for his quote listed above. Although modern historians glance over, ignore and suppress biblical influences on the founding of America, the Bill of Rights borrows from civil law within the ten commandments.
“Honor (respect, obey, care for) your father and your mother, so that your days may be prolonged in the land the Lord your God gives you.13 “You shall not commit murder (unjustified, deliberate homicide).14 “You shall not commit adultery.15 “You shall not steal [secretly, openly, fraudulently, or through carelessness].16 “You shall not testify falsely [that is, lie, withhold, or manipulate the truth] against your neighbor (any person).17 “You shall not covet [that is, selfishly desire and attempt to acquire] your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor,” Exodus 20:12-17.
The ten commandments contain two separate categories, loving God and loving your neighbor, Matthew 22:36-39. The first four provide instructions on how individuals can honor and please the Lord. The final six focus on civil laws or as Jesus details in Matthew 22, loving your neighbor as yourself. This is the foundation of the Golden Rule, “treating other people as you want to be treated.” In this day and age, educators, lawyers and politicians often try to make the simple complex. Yet, Jesus simplifies the fundamental basis for law so that even a young child can understand. Every day God offers free will, giving people the option to love or hate, forgive or hold grudges, overlook offenses or magnify sin. The choice is yours, but I pray that the Holy Spirit inspires you during this Christmas season to develop an overwhelming desire to love God and those you come in contact with daily.
by Jay Mankus