These last few months have seen rising tensions in terms of liberty. And in some states the infringement on liberty has been more directed towards the church. In our state, the Governor has tried not to infringe upon the religious liberties of the people.
As I think about religious liberty issues and how we subtly lose liberties, I have reflected back on some things that have cost Americans various liberties. And in general I have simply asked, why does the government tend to regulate and mandate things? The answer to that question is complex. To fully answer the question, we would have to examine many different decisions which the government makes.
Many government regulations seem to be put in place because unregulated individuals make decisions that are harmful or at least less than helpful for the majority. For instance, individuals who do not think about the long term effect of their choice on the environment may cause the government to step in with regulations. On the other hand, there are times when the government makes suggestions which are not followed by the populace which results in government leaders stepping back and mandating what had previously been a suggestion.
As I lead our church I don’t want the government to make laws that require the church to do anything. But I can also see in this pandemic that if the church does not willingly submit to a government recommendation then the government may well come back with a requirement or some other mandate.
As such I think one major way of retaining religious liberty is by submitting to government recommendations – recommendations which will pass as the pandemic passes. Recommendations are a lot easier to change months from now than mandates and laws will be.
I am thankful for a nation that provides us with many liberties – including our religious liberties. But it seems to me the best way to retain our liberties is to live in a way that is bigger than our own personal interests and desires.