Happy Independence Day! Whether you’re an American or not, the events of July 4th, 1776, have deeply impacted your life for good. The men who acted that day sought God’s favor, wisdom, and help again and again, and it is abundantly evident from the accounts of those events that He answered those prayers.
I urge you, this Independence Day, to read the Declaration of Independence as a family.
Is it hard? Yes. Does it take a lot of time? Yes, a bit. Do you have barbeques to cook, movies/sports to enjoy, and fireworks to watch? Yes, you do. But I urge you to take 30 minutes out of your other festivities to read the Declaration, and I promise that all of your other celebrations will be the richer for it!!!
I’m gonna shoot straight with you here. Reading the Declaration of Independence is hard.
It was probably around 2008 or 2009 when my husband and I first decided that we should make reading the Declaration of Independence a part of our 4th of July celebrations.The children were very small. I think we had friends with us. I remember that I printed up enough copies for every adult, and we took turns reading.
And it started off a little funny. I was all ready for, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…,” and it started off differently. Oh yeah, I remember that… Hmm… Sort of…
And then it gets to stuff we know; okay, right on. History!!!
And then it gets to stuff we don’t know, and that’s cool, and that’s interesting.
But then it goes on a bit longer, and it’s hard to keep paying attention, because I went to public school.
So here’s my first encouragement to you: Just do it.
At the time, we figured that we shouldn’t worry too much about the stuff we didn’t understand, because we’d understand it better when we read it year after year, and we were very encouraged and inspired by the stuff we did understand. (And we were right about understanding more each year; within a few years it all made great sense to us!)
Just do it; I promise you’ll be really encouraged by it!
What is the point of celebrating a holiday, if when your children ask you why you’re celebrating this holiday, your answer isn’t anything more profound than, “It’s an excuse to eat (and possibly drink) more than usual, take a day off from work, and enjoy whatever we find pleasurable”?
What does an answer like that teach our children? That life is about our pleasures, that we only work enough so that we can stop working and take our leisure? There is a name for that sort of worldview, and I’ll give you a hint, the name for that worldview isn’t Christian.
God made us to work—6 days a week, day in and day out. And to take pleasure in our work, and the fruits of it. That’s a discussion for another day, but the point is that we take holidays not because we’re lazy sluggards just looking for any excuse not to do our duty for a day, but because we want to observe and remember and teach our children something really important, so we stop our normal daily duties for this higher thing, once a year.
What do we want to remember on Independence Day? What do we want to teach our children? Why is it so important?
Because there were humble Christian people, who endured one act of lawbreaking after another, by those in authority over them. So these Christian people tried every peaceful remedy they could, sending letters, sending messengers, making petitions together, etc. And those authorities replied to those peaceful attempts to resolve the situation, by sending their army and navy across the ocean to put the people’s leaders in jail and force the people to comply with unjust oppression.
The humble people scrambled to gather together into some sort of organized army, to defend themselves and their families. After a year of fighting, the people realized something. In the words of biographer Anna C. Reed, “When the war commenced, the Americans thought only of obtaining relief from the oppression of unjust laws; but when they heard that the English had hired foreign troops to assist in subduing them, and had engaged the tomahawk of the Indian against them, they began to think of an entire separation from England….”
Each of the thirteen colonies chose representatives to meet at a Continental Congress, to decide together how to respond to the crisis. As the evil of Britain only increased, gradually more and more of the people came to understand the necessity for total separation from England.
I’ll not give away the rest of it. But I promise you, read the Declaration of Independence with your family, and you will understand why it is such a profitable use of a few minutes of your time, once a year!
Primary Source History
Well, you know that Grammar of Grace is all about classical education, which prizes primary source history. How sad that most of the people in the world, so deeply impacted by July 4th, 1776, have only read what others say about what happened that day? We have books and books and books of primary source history, in books written by the men who lived through these events, in the collected letters of the men and women who lived at the time, and in the perfectly preserved documents of the time.
If that sounds like way too much, how about an easy start?
The single most important document in American history is not very long, not very hard to read, and we have an entire federal holiday set aside for us to read it every year! Primary source history? Check. We can do this. 🙂
If you read the Declaration of Independence with your family (or by yourself!) this year, let us know what you thought in the comments below!
Thanks for dropping by; please keep us in prayer!