"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." — The Declaration of Independence
These are arguably the most famous words in human history. Written in 1776 and signed by the forefathers of our nation, the Declaration of Independence is considered by historians as a turning point not only in American history, but in human history as well. Never before had a government been established around such principles and beliefs.
The idea that citizens possessed unalienable rights — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — was foreign. These were rights, according to our founding fathers, that man didn't give and man had no right to take away because our Creator had endowed us with them.
Unfortunately, America failed to live up to these truths. For nearly two hundred years after this document was signed, race-based chattel slavery was legal in America and women were treated as less than equal. This part of history always puzzled me when I was younger. How could a country embrace a document that declared the equality of men and women, yet sign laws that completely contradicted what had been written?
Life and Scripture eventually taught me that sometimes our conduct contradicts our confession.
When I became a Calvinist years ago, I ignorantly believed that a better understanding of God and Scripture would annihilate certain sins in the church. I thought the scandals, addictions, and grave sins that I witnessed over and over again in leadership back in my prosperity and non-Calvinist circles would cease now that I was Reformed. “These men would be different.”
Eventually, scandal struck. And I was devastated. I cried for hours the first time it happened. And then, one by one, several more men I respected locally and nationally began to fall into scandalous sin, even though they had solid theology. Some of the failures garnered national attention. I believe every Christian fundamentally understands these men’s problems. We all know what it’s like when our conduct contradicts our confession.
If I had been more introspective, it would not have taken local and national scandals to show me that sometimes Jesus-loving Christians don't always live out what they profess to believe. My own life is a testimony to this reality. Scripture repeatedly provides examples of God’s people whose conduct was inconsistent with what they believed.