David Hegg | Dependent Independence

David Hegg
David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

By David Hegg

Once again, Independence Day has brought summer into reality. In my growing-up years near Canada, July 4 always seemed to be the first day it was hot enough to go lake swimming. I fondly remember watermelon, rope swings out over the water, lots of friends and laughter. And, yes, we always paused to thank the Lord for the freedoms we took for granted the rest of the year. 

As I reflected on Independence Day this past Thursday, I couldn’t help but ponder the unintended consequences of this idea of “independence.” It was more than just breaking free from tyranny and King George. It was really about becoming a mutually dependent union. It was about uniting as a people and forming what would become the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence, in its chilling conclusion, reminds us of this unity: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”  

Did you catch that? They understood that independence would require them to be dependent on one another, down to their very lives, their estates, and, most importantly, their honor.   

Our Founding Fathers knew that independence would enact the greatest political experiment in the history of mankind. No longer would power be invested in the rulers, but rather it would flow upward from the ruled. And yet, for such a system of governance to succeed, the ruled had to be united around a common vision, a shared ideology, and a deep commitment to mutual dependence. Simply put, they were convinced that independence from England could only succeed if the citizens of this new country were united in their reliance on one another. 

Today, we hear voices from all sides declaring that our democracy is in grave danger. And why is that? The answer is clear and won’t be solved in the voting booth. We, the people, have lost a shared vision of America as the cult of “being my authentic self” has fostered a pandemic of selfishness. It is no exaggeration to say that an increasing number of Americans are declaring their own independence from the rest of us and charging us with being tyrants. Why? We continue to believe in God the Creator, in only two genders, in marriage designed as one man and one woman, and think our children should read well, think critically, and behave morally by the time they graduate high school. We continue to believe the ideology upon which this grand experiment was founded. Imagine that!    

Of course, it must be said that, without top-down rule, the ruled will be a conglomeration of diversity in many areas. I should know. It is said that if you get two Baptists in a room, you’ll get three opinions. My concern isn’t about the deep disagreements we are experiencing. It is about how we allow those ideological and practical differences to fracture the heart of America.  

It is one thing to have a position that others oppose. It is quite another to marshal all your resources to force your opponent not only to accept your view but also applaud it and create space for it in their sphere of existence. That isn’t democracy; it is tyranny.  

So, what do we do? Here’s my suggestion. If you want to take another path that leads you in a different direction, go ahead! Be yourself. Find your authenticity. Do what you want, but don’t measure your authenticity by how many of us applaud you. Don’t make your success dependent on our alignment with your ideology, especially since, historically, your pathway hasn’t led to joy and peace. And, please, don’t label us as haters or tyrants for staying the course and walking the path that continues to live “with a firm reliance on divine Providence.” 

After all, we’re still driving on the main road, celebrating America’s foundations, and coming to understand every day just how essential it is for all of us to disagree agreeably and also fight for the right to do so. That’s what dependent independence looks like and why it matters.    

Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays. 

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