I hope you all are ready for a deep and theological post today. Here is a question that stirred my mind quite a bit - and will probably stir yours! Conjured by a friend, this questions deals with a simple, yet very profound word: RIGHTS. Are you ready? Here is the question:
"Do you believe inalienable rights are God-given? If so, how would you define a "right" in this sense? Why would God want to give us such rights?"
(Now, this question was not addressed to me, nor do I really feel adequate to answer it for anybody but myself. These are just my own musings.)
Definition of Right:
According to the standard of truth and justice; to be legitimate; to recover proper or natural position.
Do you believe inalienable rights are God-given?
Yes. We are made in God's image and, thus, instinctively know what is right and what is wrong. And, the principles He laid us for us to follow portray a definite sense of individuals having "rights". For example, He commanded Do Not Kill (murder). This in itself is a declaration that we have a right to life. (The only forfeit to that right is to commit murder.) We are made in God's image - our lives are precious.
I believe God Himself instituted rights. Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, and to give eternal life (Isaiah 61:1-3). Interestingly enough, once Christianity is introduced to a culture, they instinctively come to the conclusion that things like slavery are wrong. It is when Christ is present that a people come to the knowledge that those around them are to be treated as they themselves wish to be treated.
Rights must be from God. If they weren't, they'd be from Satan. And you don't see Satan binding up the brokenhearted or proclaiming liberty throughout the land! He kills, destroys, imprisons, and institutes tyranny. If there were no God-given rights, then the murder of unborn children, human trafficking, tyranny, and political evils like communism would be fine.
Consider the opposite of rights. Liberty = captivity. Life = death. Happiness = sorrow. Which do you think come from God - and which do you think are of Satan? That in itself is strong proof that "rights" are God-given. (Remember, there is no middle ground. It's God or Satan.)
"If so, how would you define a right in this sense?"
In my mind, "rights" is putting someone else above yourself. It's the Golden Rule - Do unto others what you would have them to do unto you.
Why did God give us certain commandments? If there was no such things as God-given rights, we would have no need of those commandments. However, God does not speak for the sake of hearing His own voice. And He clearly instructed us to respect the property of others, to defend the fatherless, to save lives! He even gave rights to animals! (Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.) God clearly wants us to consider the feelings of others and put them above ourselves. We give others the "right of way" above our own wishes and desires. That is my definitions of a right - whatever is honoring and loving another person above ourselves and in a Christ-like manner.
"Why would God want to give us such rights?"
I believe there are three reasons why He would do so.
In the first place, because He is all-loving! He wants us to be happy and to live our lives in the best way possible in this sinful earth.If we were mindless puppets serving a cruel and unreasonable dictator who cared nothing for us, there would be no need for rights. If your "God" is one who does not sanction liberty, life, joy, and peace, then you are not serving the God of the Bible! His very essence is love and the "rights" we hold so dear - namely, life, liberty, and the pursuit of [true] happiness.
Secondly, I think it's because we are made in His image. We aren't pawns on a chess board. And our God is not a respecter of persons. Humans must have rights - or we couldn't acknowledge them in others. We (and God) would then be respecters of persons.
Lastly, I think rights were instituted because of one simple principle - LOVE. While we are walking in true love, we will call to mind the "rights" of the people around us. Fulfilled properly, it's an unending cycle - we treat others with rights and they treat us with rights! Christ Himself set this example - and He wants us to be like Him.
Wrapping all of this up, let me just say that I don't think for one moment that we deserve rights. We deserve nothing. But, thankfully, we don't serve a God who gives us what we deserve! He spared us from what we do deserve (the definition of mercy) and gave us what we do not deserve (the definition of grace)!
We are unworthy, but His principles still do not change. He instituted inalienable rights - and we as a nation and as Christian must do all within our power to preserve them! The cost of those rights is high. Sometimes it takes our all to preserve them - even life, which, as our natural right, we give up in an expression of love for the principle behind it. This is what Christ meant when He said that there is no greater love than when one gives up his life for a friend.
What do you think?