What will you be doing on August 18, 2012? That happens to be National Lemonade Freedom Day. No, this isn’t another installment of my quirky humor. August 18 actually is National Lemonade Freedom Day. Apparently some folks feel it is time to take a stand against what they feel is ludicrous government over-regulation. Hence, they are rebelling against a nationwide crackdown on clandestine lemonade stands (see map)—you know, the ones run by devious little kids selling dangerous illegal beverages because they don’t have the proper government permits.
When I contemplate these types of issues, I can’t help but wonder how we got to where we are; how a nation birthed with a thirst for freedom can now be waging war on children’s lemonade stands. Once again, my thoughts take me back to the Garden of Eden. Far from being a myth, the story of Adam and Eve provides more insight into human nature than all of the psychology books in the world combined.
Adam & Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil with a desire to be like God apart from God. Before they ate from that tree, our ancient mom and dad had no awareness of right or wrong. All they knew was what God had given them the freedom to do (practically everything) and what He had not (eat from one particular tree). The entire explanation is rather involved, but since that day human nature has known law as its primary motivator.
Law, which serves as a tool to govern people’s behavior, is not necessarily bad within itself. It genuinely does matter, however, which expressions of law guide our behavior and how we respond to those expressions. This is where the confusion begins!
Conscience is an internal, moral law that reminds us of the particular aspects of right and wrong we’ve been conditioned to believe. Breaking the law of conscience results in self-condemnation and a burden of guilt.
Historically, social law has served as a powerful tool for behavior modification. These external rules for behavior are established by the cultures of our families, communities and peers. Some social laws are good and some are bad. The same goes for their enforcement. A father killing his daughter because she was raped, for instance, serves as a clear example of social law gone horribly wrong.
Our governments establish civil and forensic laws to ensure some type of order in our societies. The enforcement of these rules is intended to keep a society from destroying itself, but they are external and do nothing to change a person’s heart toward favorable motives.
When the inherent social laws of a culture are strongly moral, fewer government laws are needed to maintain a healthy citizenship. As common social morality is eroded, the abundance and scope of governmental laws increases dramatically. If government laws move beyond reasonable efforts to govern and into the realm of control, a society is in trouble—as evidenced by the disappearance of children’s lemonade stands from the neighborhood landscape.
Thankfully, the kingdom of God operates by an entirely different dynamic. Regardless of whether we call it the law of the Spirit of life, or the royal law, or the law of liberty, God’s law of love serves as the most powerful available means to effectively govern healthy human behavior in a free environment. More than noble, the law of love forms the foundation of the highest form of government possible.
An emphasis on personal freedom apart from the framework of holy love will bring certain decay to any culture. In essence, the Gospel is our only real hope if we seek to avoid controlling, oppressive leadership and bloody revolutions.
I think I’ll be looking for a lemonade stand on August 18.