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.
- Oregon Passes Sweeping Law Enshrining Abortion Rights and Funding for All (slate.com): Here the objective is to force private companies to participate in the practice of abortion by maintaining insurance policies which REQUIRE them to pay for the murder of unborn children. Why would we want to force our neighbors to pay for something they consider horribly wrong? Are we going to make insurers pay for euthanasia too? What gives us the right to demand such a thing?
- Washington court rules against florist in gay wedding case (foxnews.com): Here we have the courts putting a florist out of business BECAUSE she refused to violate her conscience. The Justices to Hear Case on Religious Objections to Same-Sex Marriage (nytimes.com) tells us that court will take up this issue in a similar case. Consider. We won’t draft conscientious objectors into the military, but we force florists to cater to same-sex weddings? Don’t private businesses have the right to turn down business they don’t want?
- Supreme Court ruling emboldens school-choice advocates (foxnews.com): In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court sided with a religious school that applied for public funds to resurface its playground. The funding would not have not been an endorsement of religion, but the state of Missouri refused funding because the school’s religious character. That is, many in the government apparently see their function as taking from the religious to give to the secular. That is, we have the “right” to educate our children for “free” so long as that education is a secularized provided by government officials chosen by politicians (Who trusts politicians?). And we still have wonder about the source of moral corruption in this country?
- Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms: There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment (washingtonpost.com): As anyone who has ever heard of a football team named the Redskins, there is a move afoot to ban politically incorrect speech. So far the Supreme Court seems reluctant to accept such ideas. However, a this article indicates, ICYMI: Guidestar Labeled Dozens of Conservative Organizations as ‘Hate Groups’ (townhall.com), there are people out there who are determine to label and punish their political opponents as “haters”. Check out Anti-LGBT Roundup of Events and Activities 6.26.17 (splcenter.org).
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.