SGBC Modesto

Right Rights

March 6, 2024 by

William Heinrich

Americans routinely invoke their rights. They invent new rights with amazing regularity. In fact, America was born from a dispute about rights. Furthermore, America formed a Declaration of Independence that invoked the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. She declared it the duty of her government to keep her rights secure. The Constitution of the United States of America could not be ratified without the promise of the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments). The American Civil War and other wars were fought over the question of rights. Even police show when someone is arrested, we hear the Miranda Rights. Today there are; Abortion Rights, Animal Rights, Children’s Rights, Civil Rights, Custody Rights, Property Rights, Gay Rights, Gun Rights, Health Care Rights, Free Speech Rights, Housing Rights, Immigration Rights, Labor Rights, Mineral Rights, Religious Rights, Student Rights, Voting Rights, Entitlement Rights, Women’s Rights, Trans Rights, etc. In all of history there has never been a land so obsessed by rights as America is in the 21st Century.

Where do rights come from and how can we decide accurately what is a right and what is not? The humanist does not believe in God and claims that no rights exist outside of human invention. The Declaration of Independence says we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Who has the correct understanding? The answer must be found in discovering whether rights are absolute or relative. Do rights change with the times or in different cultures or are they always the same for everyone in every time.

In Jay Lucas’ book he defined a right as “a just power to make a moral claim on someone.” If there are no moral absolutes then the word “just” will be reduced to moral relativism. This causes a survival of the fittest in which the rights belong to the strongest or wealthiest or those in governments. Only the Creator has the right to determine rights and disperse rights. Deny absolutes, and you lose the necessary foundation for my rights or the rights of others. The unchanging foundation for rights is God, not man. Murder is murder because God said it was murder. Should the foundation be man, murder may not always be wrong. A good example is murder of the unborn. Before Roe vs. Wade it was murder to kill the unborn, but when man became the foundation, it was decided that the woman has the “right” to kill her unborn child. This is also called subjective rights.

The refusal to believe that rights come from God results from the desire to deny God. If rights come from God, then man is morally accountable to God whether he denies Him or not. Hitler rejected that rights came from God and exterminated the Jews. Rights must be a reflection of God’s justice and His moral standard. Hitler’s actions are the result of subjective, relative rights of human invention.

Something called legal positivism dominates our classrooms today in many law schools. What is being taught to our future lawyers and judges is simply no higher laws except those created by man. Behind this backing is naturalistic evolution. Since man is the product of nature, then rights aren’t eternal absolutes but evolve, thus the increasing battles over rights today. If our rights are not eternal absolutes, then all things are permissible.

When someone denies that God is the source of rights, he risks his soul, for he is denying that there is a just and righteous God. God has the “right” to be worshiped and obeyed. God has “rights” to impose moral standards on those He creates. (Romans 9:21) And God has a “right” to judge and dispense justice. (Act 17:31)  So if rghts are connected to God’s moral standards and those moral standards are clearly written in the best-selling book in the world (Bible), and written in every man’s heart (Romans 2), then legal positivism is actually an attempt to suppress what the positivist knows about God and about his accountability to Him (Romans 1).

You may by now be looking in the concordance of your Bible for a list of the God given rights. Genesis 1:1 teaches God owns all He created. (CF Psalm 95:4-7) So God is an owner of property. It is His by right. Man has the right to own property (see the things that are property of man in the Ten Commandments). Man next is given the right of dominion over creation. This is his duty and right. In the Ten Commandments, man has the right to not be murdered or stole from or lied to. Repeatedly in the Bible man is told he has the right to justice. Men have the right to governments to keep them safe (Romans 13).

However, it is very important to get Rights right. Cries are heard often for rights where rights do not exist. Cries for Gay Rights Marriage, the Woman’s Right of Abortion and Many Human Rights Cry are contrary to Scripture (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). These are called legal rights and can exist in a Law Code while not being legal by the Law of God. These will never succeed in the holy courtroom of God. Another example of these illegal ‘Legal Laws’ is when property is confiscated. Another example was uncovered in the Nuremberg Trials. The German Army was legally ordered to kill Jews but even the rest of the world considered this criminal. Certainly God’s Court found them guilty.

Much more needs to be written. For an example, many want answers to God’s justice in destroying whole cities, nations, and the world by a flood. Perhaps a paper on why God did not condemn slavery would be helpful. Perhaps a paper to answer the critics who judge God; who has the wisdom, power and love to remove suffering, and yet many do not experience deliverance from His hand.

However, only one more thought is to be given in this article. John 1:12-13 says: 

But as many as received Him, He gave to them the “right” to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but were born of God.

The word to focus on is “Right.” The right that God bestows is the right to become His Child. First observe that right is limited to those who receive and believe in Jesus. It is not everyone’s right. It is a God given right that comes from being born again by the will of God. Once one is born again, God gives him the rights of a child of God. Therefore unless we are given this right to became God’s child, we remain outside of His family and in danger of getting what our sins deserve, eternal destruction. Our first birth grants human physical life but our second birth grants a right to be a child of God.

In a time when rights are so important in the world, we should hold up before our world the most important right of all, the right to become a child of God.