Big Brother’s face looms from giant telescreens in Victory Square in Michael Radford’s 1984 film adaptation of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. (from here)

Here of late we have debated whether God or Government gives us our rights (see INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1). During this debate, the debaters have tried to avoid castigating the morals of their opponents. Why have done that? Although I consider the concept of government-given “rights” immoral, I cannot point to myself and honestly say I am not a sinner. We are all sinners.

Consider Jesus’ gripe against the Pharisees. Jesus condemned the Pharisees because they would not admit their sinfulness. He anguished over them because their pride would not allow them to accept salvation as a gift. The Pharisees behaved well, but they mistakenly thought of themselves as good. Only God is good. God is God, not any of us.

When we speak of Government-given “rights”, we speak of a problem that arises out of the pride of man. God-given rights require us to acknowledge the sovereignty of our Creator. God-given rights force us to admit we are as God made us. However, if government gives us our rights, then we have the “right” to use government to mold our neighbors according to our own designs. If government is sovereign over our “rights”, then sin becomes whatever we define as sin, and good becomes whatever we define as good.

If we use the definition of rights provided in the Declaration of Independence, then we accept as the truth “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”. Then we each go looking for God’s definitions of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Instead of looking legal definitions of “rights” that comport with our pride, we humble ourselves and contemplate how God would have us respect the rights of our neighbors. We remember that God is the Master of our neighbors, not any of us, not even the majority of us.

John Locke is the person we credit with coming up with the idea of natural, God-given rights to life, liberty, and property. With the definition of natural rights, Locke stated the objective of a good government is the protection of our natural rights. He did not invent anything; he just expressed what people already knew in their hearts. To protect each other’s rights, we prohibit certain evils.

In a free society, laws prohibit people from doing things that they should not do. Therefore, we have laws against stealing, slavery, and murder. What John Locke proposed that was “new” the assertion the laws against stealing, slavery, and murder protect natural (God-given) rights to own property, the right to liberty, and the right to life respectively.

What about the fact that the Declaration of Independence refers to the pursuit of happiness instead the right to property? The pursuit of happiness is a broader expression. It implies the right to own property and the right to make use of our property as we each think proper (according to our own religious beliefs).

So what in practice is wrong with Government-given “rights”. Consider what we have done with the idea.

In a free society, We the People struggle constantly over the morality of laws. The reason for that is obvious. Because every law is intended to prohibit some evil or to further some good, we cannot separate our political beliefs from our religious convictions. At best, we can ensure our government does not establish a particular religious belief.

The notion that God gives us our rights does not establish a particular religious belief over all of the others. Because it was pertinent, that idea is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, but it is not mentioned in our Constitution. The Constitution does not explain the guiding philosophy of its framers, but Declaration of Independence leaves no doubt about the philosophical principles applied by its signers.

Unfortunately, in our quest for a secular government, secularists have succeeded in using the public schools to divorce instruction in religious belief from the education of children. That is not a healthy situation, and it is why so many of us don’t understand that God gives us our rights, not government. It is why so many people don’t understand why we celebrate Independence Day, not Constitution Day.

Effectively, in our quest to avoid allowing our government to establishing a religion, we have allowed Secularists to promote Secularism. Godlessness, the belief we don’t need to pay any attention to any notion of God is a religious belief. Thus, the First Amendment prohibits the Federal Government from establishing a religion, not the free exercise of religion, and it is time we considered the difference.




32 thoughts on “THE “RIGHT” TO MAKE OTHERS SIN

  1. This is such a great post that I absolutely cherished every word of it. So now I want to go all eccentric for a minute and address the thought about “The right to ownership of property.” I have thought a lot about “Property Ownership” in America and I have come to some unusual thoughts about it:

    First of all I have concluded that nobody in America actually “Owns” property.

    People can “Buy” property (Tongue in cheek definition of “Buy”) and they can get a piece of paper called a “Deed” to property but they can never truly “Own” property in America and I will now tell you why I say this:

    “The government forces all property owners to pay taxes on their properties seemingly forever. As long as any piece of property is under the control of a deed holder (ostensibly “Owner” — Ha! Ha! Ha!) then that person is going to be forced to pay property taxes on that property and so in the end all the “Property Owner” is actually doing is “Renting” property from the government. He or she is never owning anything but is only renting because of the forced obligation to pay the taxes and the taxes are the rent and they never end — so nobody in America owns anything — they “Rent.”

    But thankfully the Constitution gives people the “Natural Right” to pay the rent to the government on the property they erroneously think they own. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a good one!

      There is definitely some truth in that observation. Even after we die, government taxes us. I suspect that is one reason people get confused and think the government owns everything, not God.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think the Native Americans had it right… we just temporarily occupy the land until we and our ancestors just fade away. You try and sell it it’s rather like selling the Brooklyn Bridge.. it ain’t yours to sell. But we go through the motions anyway. There is no rent to pay because that implies someone else has ownership… which they obviously don’t in the long run. Simply put, ownership is simply a civilized way of keeping your neighbor or anyone else from occupying the same space. Charging rent is simply a fee for allowing you to occupy that space with permission of the first guy who occupies it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting thought.

        The Native Americans, at least in this part of the Americas, were hunter-gatherers. Until people start doing some serious farming, it does not make much sense for an individual to own a plot of land. Even then, because farming can exhaust the soil, farmers may clear an area with fire and then move on when the yields decline. That sort of farming has wrecked the soil in some parts of the world, but at one time land was relatively more abundant..

        Anyway, the various Indian tribes established territories that they used for hunting and foraging, but they had no written language. So we have no records of their wars over land except for what the Europeans observed. Of course, the Europeans, using the Indians as proxies instigated more fighting. Google a bit and you may find some interesting articles.

        Were the wars between Indians deadly? There are cliff dwellings in the American Southwest. (=> The Anasazi Indians built their homes on the side of cliffs. I presume they did it both for protection from the weather and other human beings, but we can only guess. What we do know is that the Europeans did not have to teach the Indians to fight.

        Anyway, because we like to eat, we take owning property seriously. How “real” is our ownership? In the long run, we own nothing. Creation, including you, me, and everyone else belongs to God. However, our labors and circumstances do make each of us stewards of some minor things on this little planet for awhile. Why does that matter. The Bible speaks of stewardship. If we are good stewards, He will give us more to manage, and it does seem we can find some joy in being good stewards.


  2. Great post Tom, you really point out well the origin of the philosophy of God given rights and why thy are so important to a free and civilized society. We all fall victim to prideful motivations, believers or not. Having a God to pray to for guidance and to ask to be shown our own inner faults/evil desires is in my opinion the only way to prevent this or stop it in mid process.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for visiting. I look forward more such crisp, clear comments as you explore the multi-faceted dynamics of awareness and (im)partiality and the correlations between knowledge and ignorance on my blog.


        1. Thank you Citizen Tom for the interest & invitation.

          Unfortunately, due to prior commitments and obligations to these fascinating, little-explored subjects, I am and have been engaged in discussions on this over on my blog. Thus, I return the favor… extending to you, Tricia, and anyone else here to stop by and join us, if it pleases you and anyone here. Fortunately, these are subjects with no end — given many human limitations (as well as exceeding brilliance) knowledge and ignorance over time are and always will be in equal measure everywhere no matter who we portray ourselves to be. Thanks again.

          Warm regards.


  3. It is time for Congress to make some – Rules for Rights, in my opinion.

    If interested, check out my latest Post Ten to explain why it is now time to add rules to the First Amendment.

    Regards and goodwill blogging.


  4. Absolutely–human rights come from God and not from the government. Before Locke and his time, Christians believed that government received its authority from God and would be held accountable to God. Locke et al. said that government receives its authority from the people and is held accountable to the people. Therefore, people could now speak and act against the government without fearing that they were sinning against God. When that principle was tested in the American Revolution, many colonists fled to Canada because they feared divine displeasure over revolution. J.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Amen, Tom!

    Something I notice, the “right” to make others sin is always rooted in fear. Fearful people are reacting, not acting. Gov rules and regulations are designed to instill fear. Contrast that with “perfect love casts out fear,” with the idea that grace enables us to follow the rules, so to speak.

    Those are internal controls innate to us who know grace, rather than fear based external controls like Gov provides. There are some 365 fear nots in the bible or so they say, and one reason I suspect they are there is because fear short circuits our critical thinking skills, it makes us reactionary,and we are prone to sin in the resulting chaos.

    Even our bleeding hearts get it all wrong when they are ruled by fear, because we react to make the fear go away, rather than thinking things through so we can come up with effective solutions. I heard the other day, “ten thousand people are going to die if we don’t pass this policy.” It’s become this whole culture of fear mongering.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great comment!

      Most forms of bigotry are based upon irrational fears.

      Some fears are, of course, quite rational. Not a good idea to visit a zoo and try to pet a tiger.

      Thus, the best way to handle fear, when time permits (sometimes we have to fight or run) is to take the time to pray and think before we act. Politics usually permits taking our time. When a politicians wants to rush legislation nobody has read through the system, that is a bad sign he is up to no good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the statement here, ” …Some fears are, of course, quite rational. Not a good idea to visit a zoo and try to pet a tiger…..” —- I want to add a statement of my own if I may: “Some fears are, of course, quite rational. Not a good idea to try to reason with a terrorist who has his sword out with the intent of lopping off your head.” — The problem is that if you dare mention anything to criticize such actions by such people you suddenly find yourself tagged as a bigot.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That is a curious problem.

          When I was a boy, ants fascinated me. So I watched and studied them. From my readings about them, I have learned that ant have a sort of democracy. For example, how do they decide where to put their colony? As it happens, it is a matter of persistence and numbers. Based upon their instincts, some ants will start moving the eggs and pupa to to one location, and another group will start moving the eggs and pupa to a different location. Eventually, there is a “winner”. At its best, our democracy is not much different. If we want to see what is right done, then enough of us have to care to do what is right, and we must persist.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. A couple thoughts…
    Philosophical principles can be formed from elements of religious thought (and vice versa), but philosophical principles are not religious thought.

    The government shall establish no religion, true.. but free speech establishes free exercise of religion, does it not?

    You said, “In a free society, laws prohibit people from doing things that they should not do. Therefore, we have laws against stealing, slavery, and murder. What John Locke proposed that was “new” the assertion the laws against stealing, slavery, and murder protect natural (God-given) rights to own property, the right to liberty, and the right to life respectively.”

    Well, not all laws are great moral convictions that require us to be humbled in front of whatever deity.
    For example, speeding is set by law. It is regulatory. In fact, all laws as set by man are regulatory in nature.. including killing, theft, etc. If you kill then you will have to address that with your Maker. But given most “Makers” work in mysterious ways we as humans don’t just accept the default that God alone will punish him in the afterlife, but for now he’s free to go. That alone does not absolve you, as a murderer, from the human responsibility of having illegally terminated the right to exist of another human being. Letting God alone sort our your sins in the afterlife is likely not going to keep the killer from killing again. Who bears that responsibility?

    My concern is that all religion is an interpretation of that religion’s doctrine, presumably passed “down” to man in some written form for man to make heads or tails out of. If religion itself becomes part of government, then someone will judge me not by man’s law that regulates life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, but by his interpretation of his version of God’s law. Sounds a bit “Inquisition” like to me.

    Our differences in politics is one thing, Tom. But there is no way we will ever change any religious beliefs here. So I am not trying to sway your religious convictions. It’s just that there is often a measure of hypocrisy that comes with any religion. I am just detailing that a bit is all.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Doug

      Hypocrisy is in the man, not necessarily the religious belief.

      Observe the difference again between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The first appeals to God. The second is regulatory. To prevent the establishment of any religion, even secularism, we have a government that does not take sides on strictly religious issues.

      Did the framers of the Constitution consider moral issues? What is good? What is evil? They most certainly did. Because they understood the sinful nature of man, they tried to devise a system of government we could not corrupt. They knew some of us would try, and they understood the tendency of any man to abuse great power.

      Why do we have laws against speeding? No moral issues are involved? Why do we prohibit reckless driving, of which speeding is one form? When someone speeds, he endangers the lives of others, and that sort of behavior we consider evil. We expect the government to stop people from doing such evil things. All evil things? No, but we certain don’t want the government to step aside and just let some people harm other people.

      Atheists, secularists if you will, insist that our laws are based upon logic, a sort of “if you scratch my back, I will scratch you back logic”. Given the way people behave, I don’t see much reason to believe that logic has much to do with our laws. Even the most logical atheists understand the difference between right and wrong, and they definitely don’t like being wronged. Most of us don’t even like seeing someone else wronged. Deep down there is a conviction of some sort, an anger that flares in recognition of evil.

      What causes us to sin, to hurt ourselves or others? Pride is at the root of almost every sin. When people use the government to force their beliefs upon others or to even enslave others, that is wrong.

      You like Obama? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t, but you definitely don’t like Trump. Don’t you think it makes sense to limit the size and power of government so that when some guy you don’t like is in charge he cannot mess up your life too much. Is it better to be able to run your own life or someone else’s life?

      To maintain a just government, at least just as we can manage, we have to set our emotions aside or focus on the rules themselves. That is what the framers did. If we endeavor to understand what they did and why they did it, we might even be able to keep the Constitution they wrote working for a while longer. What is not too likely is that without a lot of prayer we will be able to write something any better.


      1. We differ in our politics, Tom.. but there’s no question you have found a center in your beliefs and that I cannot nor will not argue… unless your beliefs, or anyone else’s, for that matter, infringes on my rights.
        But your first sentence…
        “Hypocrisy is in the man, not necessarily the religious belief.” If it takes man to have a religious belief at all and to give it meaning, and you say (religious) hypocrisy is in the man, then does it not follow that religion itself either IS hypocrisy or pushes man to it?

        You also said…
        “You like Obama? Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t, but you definitely don’t like Trump. Don’t you think it makes sense to limit the size and power of government so that when some guy you don’t like is in charge he cannot mess up your life too much. Is it better to be able to run your own life or someone else’s life?”

        A fair observation… but if we can say that our government is set up for one man to lead, as only one man CAN lead, I would rather that one man have a latitude to act in the nation’s best interests if time does not permit debate and discourse. Limiting the size and power of government is far different than limiting the powers of the president. The Constitution sets the rules… unless we the people change it. If anyone objects to the size and power of government the Constitution contains the rules for changing it. While in our nation’s history we have been very fortunate not to have had self-proclaimed dictator or control freak wannabes that have attempted to use the system for bad ends, our form of government is not immune from leaders making mistakes, either from carelessness or ignorance. I don’t want Trump as president because he is ill-equipped to handle the job. But I see absolutely NO reason to pass laws to try and keep another Trump from becoming president in the future.
        A similar situation developed after FDR died. He was so popular that he served multiple terms; a generation knew of only him as president. The republicans changed all that later by limiting the president to two terms. That was simple politics. But that law only served to tie the hands of Americans if a future president was of particular value and “We, the people.” wanted to keep him in office. In other words… Congress, republicans.. did not want “We the people” allowing the same guy to serve too long. That was a totally political and ridiculous change that did not benefit the country. Yet both parties have learned to appreciate the change because they know any president can only cause “damage” for 8 years at best.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Doug

          Hypocrisy is “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.” The Bible is a book. It is the Word of God. We can pretend it is something it is not, but the Bible has no such capacity.

          Is term limits a good idea? I tend to think so. I think it would be a good thing for all our politicians.

          When I was an officer in the military, we had an up or out system. Either you got promoted, or you found a civilian job. If that is a good idea for military officers, it ought to work for politicians too.

          When a politician is an incumbent, it is extremely difficult to beat him in an election. After FDR died, the country, not just the Republicans, amended the Constitution because FDR’s long stay in office scared people. Roosevelt was beginning to look indispensable. In a republic, we cannot allow anyone to become indispensable.

          Consider the fact that George Washington quit after eight years. What was his reason? Whatever it was Washington helped to establish a peaceful transition of power. We should see that as routine. Someone might be able to do a great job for 6 or 7 terms, but then the election of a new president would become a crisis, not anything approaching routine.


          1. Ditto.

            Always appreciated the security police. Made it easier to sleep it night.

            Worked at bunches of TS installations while on active duty and after I retired. Always found the security police/personnel to be very professional.

            You don’t look that old in your picture. Must have kept of the PT after you got out.

            Use Thomas Paine’s picture to hide my years.


          2. Oh.. and thanks for the kind Security Police words. I met some good officers in my day, too. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  7. I find that the problem with much of the language of the founding fathers is that were heavily influenced by deism of the 18th century. In fact, John Locke, who is regrettably, by proof of his words, an anti-catholic bigot, as we can see in his work “Letter Concerning Toleration.” When he gets to Catholics, he’s anything but tolerable, asserting that Catholics refuse to be “subjects of any prince but the pope.” Of course, I’d certainly argue that the structure of the Church, the Pope is Vicar of Christ–Christ’s representative. So Catholics, in fact, at times in conflict simply chose to follow God rather than man. (Acts 5:29) Although, Catholics in this country, regrettably, in the name of assimilation have done this less and less.

    As discussed here previously, I am also weary of Thomas Paine’s point of view in Common Sense in regards to 1 Samuel 8. The reason being is that God anointed Kings to the Ancient Hebrews; however, Paine fails to note that democracy possesses all of the sinful natures of Monarchs. I could argue that the IL State Legislator is more tyrannical than King George. Many claim that we should avoid theocracy; however, Spain, although Protestant historiography still has convinced the general public otherwise, by setting up a proper sense of separation of Church and State, were able to avoid the hysteria that engulfed the rest of Western Europe during the Inquisition. It’s good that contemporary scholars are now attempting to right the ship showing that People would often choose ecclesia judgment, as the courts were more merciful as they could not exact capital punishments.

    In my research of history, the separation of Church and State fueled by both the Reformation and the Enlightenment has led to secular modernity. Of course, this isn’t to say that those living in the time didn’t have good reason. Most did blame religion on conflict not realizing that it was the poltical intrigues of men that led to conflict rather than religion, as we can see by the example of the 20th century. Also, in England, King Henry VIII, assuming the head of the Church, murdered even faithful Anglican theologians , who disagreed with Henry’s theological opinions.

    However, the minority faithful of all of Christianity have learned, and maybe too late, that the establishment of a secular order, only creates secular zealots who are just as capable of persecuting those who do not submit to their ideology.


    1. @Philip

      I am not certain I want to fight again the political/religious wars that erupted after the Protestant Reformation. It took centuries for Christians accept the fact that Jesus expected us to tolerate our differences.

      Was Locke a bigot? Suffice to say he thought the Catholics of his day were bigots. Since his “Letter Concerning Toleration” is short and anyone can read it online, I think it best to let folk judge for themselves.

      Otherwise, I find your comment quite interesting. It goes off in an unexpected direction. Apparently, you are among a rather small number of devoted Catholics that would like some kind of theocracy.

      What I have observed from my study of history, such as it is, is that people tend to got to extremes. Why? We don’t study the basic principles of Biblical wisdom well enough, I suppose.

      How we govern ourselves does not matter as much as putting the right people in charge and not tempting those people with too much power. We are sinners. That makes it difficult for each of us to govern ourselves. Hence the need to be born again in the Holy Spirit.

      What 1 Samuel 8 explicitly points out is that the people of Israel wanted to be ruled like other people, by a king instead of God. Then that little chapter explains in detail the abuse of power we can expect from an absolute ruler. Even David, God’s anointed, abused his power, and I suppose that is the point God wanted us to understand.

      What the framers of our Constitution tried to do was to limit the power any one man or group of men could acquire. Then they tried to set up checks and balances to maintain those limits. Worked, for awhile, but their design has slowly been eroded. I don’t think the framers expected to to last forever, but what else could they do?

      Did the framers intend to secularize society? No. The Constitution design and the words of the First Amendment make that clear. Unfortunately, in the 1830’s we started setting up a public school system, in part I fear because of the prejudice against the Catholic schools.

      What is a zealot? Well, someone can believe in something wholeheartedly and devote his or her life to it, and that may not be a bad thing. If someone is zealous for Jesus, that is a good thing. However, if someone is a prideful zealot and insists upon forcing others believe what he or she believes, that’s trouble. Such zealots, instead of using the government to protect their neighbors, will try to use the government to coerce their neighbor.

      There are all kinds of zealotry, pagan, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, secular, and so forth. Foolish pride more than anything seems to be at the root of the problem.


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