The Constitution was no panacea to solve the fundamentally flawed nature of man. It was intended specifically for a responsible, moral people, as existed then in the British colonies of the 18th century, and as the Founders’ said over and over.
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” –John Adams
“For avoiding the extremes of despotism or anarchy…the only ground of hope must be on the morals of the people. I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments.” –Gouverneur Morris
The Founders understood freedom unchecked by morality would result in hedonism and nihilism, as we have today. People do not consider what is just, but what is most convenient for them. In this way people isolate themselves from society to exploit it. The health of society is an afterthought.
The debate over whether the law corrupted the people or the people naturally spoiled on their own is like the debate over which came first, the chicken or the egg. The fact of the matter is the people are spoiled; lacking responsibility and morality, they require a smothering, paternalistic government to regulate every facet of their lives.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold God would “put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.” On this view God and the people are in sync. We discern His purpose and we follow His commandments with pleasure. Living in God comes naturally because we love Him and He loves us (although there is still sin).
Contrast Jeremiah with the Pharisees. On their view, strict adherence to God’s law is the ticket to winning God’s favor. The law does not dwell in our hearts. It is outside us, imposed on us. We follow it for our own good. We do not live in God so much as follow Him.
It is no mystery which view modern America more closely resembles. We are enslaved to ever bigger government because that is our way to salvation. We are incapable of governing ourselves, so we go through the motions of following the rules sent down from our masters in D.C., pretending we’re civilized people.
What are we really but upright cattle, penned in and away from the threat we pose to ourselves.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” –Benjamin Franklin
“Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” –George Washington