“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
Within every civilized society, certain “rights” are granted, at least to its citizens. Governments are ordained by God for the primary purposes of promoting order, protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty, Rom. 13. In the process, citizens have certain “inalienable rights” that are God given, and it is the primary responsibility of governments to guard them. Even in the barbaric Roman Empire, the Apostle Paul could make an appeal to his rights as a Roman citizen, Acts 22. In America, we enjoy the fundamental rights given by God and protected by our Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights.
But what is a “right”? It comes from a legal term meaning “to lead straight, direct, rule, to stretch out.” According to Wikipedia, “Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement … rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory.” Rights are essential in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and ethics. Rights are often considered fundamental to civilization, being regarded as established pillars of society and culture, and the history of social conflicts can be found in the history of each right and its development.”
Rights are the foundation on which civilizations exist. In America, the primary ethical standard governing our “rights” was the Bible, which outlined the traditional cultural norms that guided our nation for the first 200 years of our existence. Most Americans lived by the “universal standard of right and wrong” across our nation. Our Declaration states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …” We thank God for our rights, and a government that has traditionally protected them. But in the last few decades, rights have been unjustly regulated and ethically redefined!
For example, on June 27, 2015 our nation was forced by the highest court in the land to recognize “Same Sex Marriage,” legitimizing the union of two individuals of the same sex. Throughout world history, marriage was ordained for one man and one woman by Almighty God and recognized as THE pattern of marriage across the world. Yet, now it has become a “fundamental right” in America for such perversion to take place.
The distortion of our God given rights has been the focal point of the abortion issue. Many pro- abortionists claim they do not view unborn children as “persons,” but only as “potential persons.” Thus, the baby maturing in the womb is not worthy of the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” that is due to persons outside the womb, nor do they merit the protection of life granted by the 5th and 14th Amendments granted to “persons” in the U. S. Constitution. Adding to this perversion of the definition of rights, though people have learned of the ghastly practice of abortionists selling body parts of murdered unborn infants, multitudes continue their support of this practice under the disguise of “rights.”
In the book Ethics for a Brave New World, John and Paul Feinberg wrote of the English philosopher and writer Aldous Huxley, and his vision of a Brave New World. “He meant those words ironically, because Brave New World is Huxley’s frightening vision of a world in which freedom is dead and all concepts of morality forgotten. Life is manufactured and controlled from beginning to end by modern technology.” You likely realize the conclusion of the authors. “Huxley acquired his copyright for this book in 1932. It is incredible to see how similar our world is today to many things Huxley only imagined for literary impact.”
This is the changing culture we find ourselves serving the Lord in today. It is in view of our changing culture that we must understand the point at which rights have become wrong, when there is no valid, ethical standard limiting the right itself.
In defense of abortion, the argument stated is “Women should have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies.” You hear this from pro-abortion politicians, Planned Parenthood, talk show hosts, entertainers, professional athletes, etc. Sadly, multitudes have ignorantly accepted this ideology. It is the most popular, yet one of the most irrational arguments used.
Americans enjoy a liberty that is arguably the greatest the world has ever known, yet many people have not learned or have forgotten that rights correspond with sensible, logical and ethical responsibility. F. LeGard Smith defined America’s obsession of individual “rights” and the perversion of them. “… at the core of [our cultural] revolution is choice: the right for us to decide for ourselves, and the right of others to decide for themselves … In order to maintain our own right of choice, we have become willing to honor all the choices of others.” In our culture of relativism, our rights have become idols that govern our lives – and nobody is supposed to question the validity of another’s views or assess the results their rights may have on others. In the current trend, if one even questions the choices another makes he / she is confronted with the charge of denying the Constitution!
But clearly, the definition and purpose of the God given rights our fore-fathers sought and fought for have been perverted and mutated into a philosophy that would be abhorrent to them! They knew that rights of individuals were granted by God to men for the good of society, and must be enforced by just and impartial laws. That’s what the Declaration of Independence states, as quoted above.
Would God give us “rights” to make choices against Truth He has revealed in His Word? The “rights” we enjoy are not given by men so we can do whatever our totally depraved nature desires to do; He gave us rights to have liberty to do what we ought to do! And what we ought to do will be to the temporal and eternal good of self, family, and society.
Our fore-fathers were men of great learning and wisdom, men with a vision of true patriotism and a clear vision for the American cause and traditional way of life. They honored the God of the Bible, and developed the Laws we hold dear as Americans according to His Word. They fully understood the depth of human depravity, and the absolute necessity of God’s Laws to govern a free nation – and our “rights.” Consider the following quotes:
- “Without morals a Republic cannot subsist for any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion … are undermining the solid morals, the best security for the duration of free government.” Charles Carroll
- “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” President John Adams
- “We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self- government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves, according to the Ten Commandments of God.” James Madison
Our founders knew the power of Psalm 33:12, and the necessity of Exo. 20. As noted earlier, the “rights” we enjoy are not given by men so we can do whatever our totally depraved nature desires to do; He gave us rights to have liberty to do what we ought to do! And what we ought to do is revealed in Scripture and results in the temporal and eternal good of self, family, and society.
Furthermore, rights by their nature are limited by the rights of others. I may really like your home, but do not have the right to take your property or camp out in your back yard. My rights are limited by your rights. So when people speak of their rights to do as they choose, they have denied the clear teaching of Scripture and seriously twisted the meaning of rights and liberty.
But America has forgotten these basics, and the cultural war rages. That is the reason we have the silent war raging against life – ungodly people have possessed too much control and influence in government and educational institutions. We have removed our godly heritage and have replaced it with a freak idol – the modern concept of “rights.” Psalm 9:17, Pro. 29:2. There is another way to see the foolishness of the secularist argument.
Does a woman have the right to do as she chooses with her own body? The reasoning used by the pro-abortion advocates is so illogical and nonsensical that it could never be used legitimately to defend a cause in any just and impartial court! Do people have the right to use their body to attack another person for no just reason? Do people have the right to use illegal narcotics? Do women have the right to prostitute themselves? Do people have the right to stand in a freeway and stop traffic? The answers are glaringly obvious. Rights are limited by Law and the rights of others.
From another perspective, why does the woman’s right to choose what she does with her body supersede the baby’s right to life? It is obvious the baby’s body is not a part of her body. Unborn babies often have different blood types than the mother, each has different fingerprints, different genetic makeup, … What she does with her body affects the baby!
Some argue you cannot legislate what one does with their own body in private. Can I rob my neighbor in private? Do I have the right to commit crimes if I am in the privacy of my own home? Their defense is indefensible.
Rights are governed by that which is inspired, authoritative, just and right, which is ultimately based on the Bible. God has made it clear in His Word that life begins at conception, that a human “person” is formed at conception and that life should be protected by Law. Nobody has the “right” to take an innocent life, and those who endorse and advocate the murder of unborn babies are an affront to God, and do immeasurable damage not only to the victims, but to the world. No person, or government, or ideology can legitimately condone whatever evil that may be desired and make it a “right.” Those that do so defy God and will reap what each has sown.
Pastor Richard Rogers
Calvary Baptist Church of Sturtevant, WI
Board President, Baptists for Life of WI