WHY WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE PROTECTION OF OUR RIGHTS — PART 2

freedomconscienceThis post is the second of a series. The first post was Why The Law Written In Our Hearts Is Not Enough. Here we discuss the nature of God-given rights.

What Are God-Given Rights?

Our Nation’s Founders Fought For God-Given Rights

Instead of just calling our rights God-given, we now call them “human rights”. Why? Well, here is the excuse.

Attributing human rights to God’s commands may give them a secure status at the metaphysical level, but in a very diverse world it does not make them practically secure. Billions of people do not believe in the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. If people do not believe in God, or in the sort of god that prescribes rights, then if you want to base human rights on theological beliefs you must persuade these people of a rights-supporting theological view. This is likely to be even harder than persuading them of human rights. Legal enactment at the national and international levels provides a far more secure status for practical purposes. (from here)

Is that what happened in the United States? Were people just persuaded without the benefit of theological support to respect each others rights? No. Consider.

Natural law was deemed to pre-exist actual social and political systems. Natural rights were thereby similarly presented as rights individuals possessed independently of society or polity. Natural rights were thereby presented as ultimately valid irrespective of whether they had achieved the recognition of any given political ruler or assembly. The quintessential exponent of this position was the 17th. Century philosopher John Locke and, in particular, the argument he outlined in his Two Treatises of Government (1688). At the centre of Locke’s argument is the claim that individuals possess natural rights, independently of the political recognition granted them by the state. These natural rights are possessed independently of, and prior to, the formation of any political community. Locke argued that natural rights flowed from natural law. Natural law originated from God. (from here)

The ideas, if not the words of John Locke, found their way into our Declaration of Independence. Here is a pertinent excerpt from the SECOND TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT by JOHN LOCKE.

Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate, against the injuries and attempts of other men; but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it. But because no political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offences of all those of that society; there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it. (from here)

Those who founded our nation were familiar with John Lockes ideas. Hence, these words in the Declaration of Independence.

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, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)

Complicated “Rights”

Our “rights” are growing more and more complicated. Positive Rights, the Constitution, and Conservatives and Moderate Libertarians By provides a relatively straightforward and tolerably brief explanation of the term “rights” from a legal/academic perspective.

What Volokh focuses upon in his presentation is something called positive rights. What are positive rights?  Volokh believes “positive” rights should remain limited, but we should not deny they exist. What are “positive” rights? Wikipedia provides this distinction between positive and negative rights.

Philosophers and political scientists make a distinction between negative and positive rights (not to be confused with the distinction between negative and positive liberties). According to this view, positive rights usually oblige action, whereas negative rights usually oblige inaction. These obligations may be of either a legal or moral character. The notion of positive and negative rights may also be applied to liberty rights. (continued here)

Basically, when we observe each others negative rights, we don’t commit crimes against each other. We don’t murder, rob, and enslave our neighbors. On the other hand, when the government insists that we observe other people’s positive rights, we have to give other people something. If we did not agree to give other people something and don’t want our government to give away our life, liberty, or property, that can be especially irksome.

This distinction between positive and negative rights is a 1979 invention by the Czech jurist Karel Vasak. Still unsatisfied by the additional complexity he had added, Vasak split our “rights” into three separate generations.

There are three overarching types of human rights norms: civil-political, socio-economic, and collective-developmental (Vasek, 1977). The first two, which represent potential claims of individual persons against the state, are firmly accepted norms identified in international treaties and conventions. The final type, which represents potential claims of peoples and groups against the state, is the most debated and lacks both legal and political recognition. Each of these types includes two further subtypes. Scholar Sumner B. Twiss delineates a typology: (continued here)

Effectively, first generation rights are negative rights, and the second and third generation “rights” are positive rights.

What is the problem with “positive rights”? Since Libertarians have a pretty good understanding of this issue, let’s hear from one. See the video below.

Prof. Aeon Skoble accepts the nomenclature of “positive” and “negative” rights, but he points out a basic problem with so-called “positive” rights. Unless government infringes upon people’s “negative” rights, government cannot guarantee anyone’s so-called “positive” rights.

Here is the problem in a nutshell.

Natural rights—or, as they have been un-euphoniously dubbed, “negative rights”—pertain to freedom from the uninvited interventions of others. Respect for negative rights requires merely that we abstain from pushing one another around. Positive rights, by contrast, require that we be provided with goods or services at the expense of other persons, which can only be accomplished by systematic coercion. This idea is also known as the doctrine of entitlements; that is, some people are said to be entitled to that which is earned by other people. (from here)

Biblical Support For God-Given Rights

The first book of the Bible speaks of human rights. Genesis 1:27 says we are each made in the image of God.

The image of God in man also means that murder is a most heinous crime. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, / by man shall his blood be shed; / for in the image of God / has God made man” (Genesis 9:6). The severity of the punishment underscores the severity of the offense. The Mosaic Law is full of examples of how God expects everyone to be treated humanely. The Ten Commandments contain prohibitions against murder, theft, coveting, adultery, and bearing false testimony. These five laws promote the ethical treatment of our fellow man. Other examples in the Law include commands to treat immigrants well (Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33-34), to provide for the poor (Leviticus 19:10; Deuteronomy 15:7-8), to grant interest-free loans to the poor (Exodus 22:25), and to release all indentured servants every fifty years (Leviticus 25:39-41). (from here)

Are there positive rights in the Bible? Not exactly. What the Bible speaks of is our responsibilities towards each other.  When Jesus told The Parable of the Good Samaritan, He gave us an example to follow, not a government program.

Consider this quote from John Quincy Adams.

Jesus Christ. . . . came to teach and not to compel. His law was a Law of Liberty. He left the human mind and human action free. — John Quincy Adams (from here and here)

Additional References

WHY WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE PROTECTION OF OUR RIGHTS — PART 1

Jerusalem_Modell_BW_3
Model of Herod’s Temple (a renovation of the Second Temple) in the Israel Museum, created in 1966 as part of the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. The model was inspired by the writings of Josephus. (from here)

OF A POST TO COME promised to compare the governing approaches of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton with respect to two issues.

  • The growth of the power of government.
  • The protection of our rights.

Here we will consider the protection of our rights.

Why The Law Written In Our Hearts Is Not Enough

Why don’t we care about the protection of our rights? We are ignorant of our rights. Because we don’t properly educate our children, we don’t understand the concept of human rights and RESPONSIBILITIES. I suppose that sounds arrogant, but please bear with me and let me explain.

The notion that individuals have rights is a relatively new idea.  We tend to be more concerned about doing the right thing, and we equate what we think is the right thing with respecting human rights.

What do we think is the right thing? Consider this Bible passage.

Romans 2:12-16 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law 13 (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; 14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.

Without ever hearing about Jesus or the Bible we each know enough to do the right thing (see IS GOD EVIL OR HOLY?), but our pride and our instincts fight with this knowledge. Hence, we constantly find excuses to ignore it.

Consider when and where the Apostle Paul wrote the passage above.

  • The Roman republic was dead, subsumed by the empire its efficient and brutal legions had created. Slavery was common. How well a slave fared depended upon the decency of his or her master (see here, here, and here). Rome defended the institution of slavery mercilessly. The rebellion led by Spartacus provides the most famous example. Roman legions crucified 6,000 of the rebels (see here and here).
  • Even without slavery, Roman society was highly class conscious (see here, here, and here), and the prestige of the Rome depending upon the integrity of its empire. About a decade after Paul wrote the Book of Romans, the Jews  rebelled. Eventually, Roman legions descended upon Jerusalem. They slaughtered and enslaved the population and burned the city, including the temple (see here and here).

Do we live in a better place and time? Yes, but why? The Romans were civilized and in many ways quite virtuous. Yet they had little respect for human rights, particularly the rights of foreigners. The Romans were as savage as any barbarians, just better organized, trained, and equipped.

What is the difference between the Roman Empire and America? The Romans only had the law written in their hearts. They could see themselves and their conduct reflected in their own eyes and each others eyes, but they too often saw only what they wanted to see.

The Bible provides a better mirror. The Bible teaches that we are all children of God, made in his image. The Bible teaches that we must love our neighbor as our self. As Jesus explained in The Parable of the Good Samaritan, every man is our neighbor. Every man has rights we must respect.

When studied carefully, the Bible does what the law written in our hearts cannot do. Whereas the law written in our hearts is intertwined with our fleshly desires, the Bible is purely of the spirit. Thus, the Bible perfectly mirrors our life and conduct with respect to what God expects of His children.

James 1:22-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

Yet the Bible only works if we read it and study it, and it works best when we insist our children read it and study it. Unfortunately, such Bible instruction is not common in America anymore.

To Be Continued

  • What Are God-Given Rights?
  • Where Do The Candidates Stand With Respect To God-Given Rights?

RIDICULE

Praying Hands by  Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)
Praying Hands by
Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640)

In The most Unanswered Prayer that no one admits to, KIA tells us about one of his complaints.

https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/cmon-give-it-up/

(One Christian blogger suggested recently that Unity could only be found among Christians by ignoring their differences and treating them, at least in conversations on the Net within earshot of non believers, as if they were too small to matter.
He’s got one thing right. That would be the only way to have Unity, namely by completely ignoring the glaring and sometimes Huge differences in how they view God, Jesus, Scripture and Salvation itself.

In his post, tries to take ColorStorm to task for being a stupid, arrogant Christian, I suppose. That is certainly what comes across in the comments.

My “favorite part” is ‘s figure. It made me laugh. It contains a reference to 38,000 Christian denominations and the impossibility of choosing the right one. Why is that funny? The number of different sects is actually far higher.  Because every one of us has our own personal beliefs, we are each a sect of our own.

Is there a problem understanding what Christ taught? Yes. It takes work and considerable wisdom, but we are suppose to try. “Rightly Dividing The Word of Truth” by Rob Barkman provides a good explanation of what we should do, but many people do not do what they should do. Too few Christians study the Bible these days.

Many are distracted by what insanitybytes22 describes as The voice of the enemy.

On of the favorite tactics of the enemy seems to be messing with your head. He just sows deception, plants lies, and creates chaos. I think it’s important to understand that the enemy can’t come in unless you allow him to. His power lies in making suggestions, sowing seeds of doubt, as in”Did God really say…?”

People will then take these lies and create strongholds around them, build a foundation and belief system based on faulty thinking. How do I know it’s faulty? Anything designed to keep you separate from your Creator is probably from the enemy. God is a God of redemption, reconciliation, and relationship. He once walked hand in hand with us in a garden, in the cool of the evenings. He died to know us, to bring us into right relationship with Him. (continued here)

Too distracted from God and His Word, we risk the unpardonable sin. What’s that? altruistico has a good explanation.

Although the Bible doesn’t name any one sin as the greatest sin, it does refer to the unpardonable sin, which is the sin of unbelief. There is no pardon for a person who dies in unbelief. The Bible is clear that, in His love for mankind, God provided the means of eternal salvation—Jesus Christ and His death on the cross—for “whoever believes in Him” (John 3:16). The only condition under which forgiveness would not be granted concerns those who reject the only means of salvation. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6), making it clear that He and He alone is the path to God and salvation. To reject the only means of salvation is unpardonable and, in that sense, is the greatest sin of all. (from here)

Who commits the unpardonable sin? Who rejects God? Who rejects salvation? Well, that is for God to decide.

What is the correct Christian belief? Fortunately, there is considerable latitude. That is one reasons there are so many Christian denominations and sects.

Romans 14:1-13 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Law of Liberty

14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11 For it is written:

As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

Romans 14 is clearly the source of ‘s lament. Christians don’t have to separate over small things, but we do. We forget Christianity is about forming a relationship with Jesus, recognizing Him as our Lord and savior. Why do we sometimes forget? Even Christians can be too proud, and pride gets in the way. None of us like admitting how sinful we each are. None of us like admitting we need someone to save us, that we are not good enough to save ourselves.

So how then do we tell which is the right Christian church? Jesus told us.

John 13:31-35 New King James Version (NKJV)

The New Commandment

31 So, when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately. 33 Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come,’ so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

If we have love for Jesus, then we will have love for each other.

WHAT WILL YOU BE ABLE TO TELL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN?

vote for americaLook around the world. Nations are forming alliances and building arms. Chaos reigns in much of the Middle East. The great democracies are befuddled. Our elites seem far more interested in lining their wallets than in public service.

So we as we approach election day in 2016, we find ourselves in a time of impending crisis. And when we consider the candidates before us we grimace. These two? Yet who do we have to blame? How many of us can rightly say we made any effort to support anyone’s candidacy for public office?

What are our options? Well, let me show you a comment from NovaDemocrat and my response. Note that NovaDemocrat goes by multiple monikers. Note also that I have rendered in bold print the most relevant portions of each comment.

novascout

Tom – re you 05 August comment @ 1812 hours: When you address me by a name I don’t use, and attribute to me things I have not said and political loyalties I do not have, I worry that you have gone completely around the bend. You might want to have that checked by a competent mental health professional. I can see no point in or explanation for such behavior other than some kind of delusional psychopathology, or such a limited political vocabulary that you can’t discuss issues of the day without resorting to grade-school name-calling and crude deflections away from substantive discussions of the issues. It’s a fairly embarrassing thing to watch. I can imagine that it must be very hard for those closer to you than I am.

Trying to be as fair and charitable to you as possible, however, I do like the Douglas Adams quote (Tom’s note: see here). The problem with it is that when you direct it at me saying it explains why “you guys” will lose, you’re way behind the news. “We guys” (i.e., traditional conservative Republicans) have already lost. We lost big-time when Trump took over the GOP for this cycle. A major part of my concern for Trump is his lack of knowledge, experience, or character that would qualify him to hold any public office, let alone the presidency of this Republic. However, beyond that, my further concern is that he has essentially just hollowed out the Republican Party, my chosen political home for decades, of all principle and purpose and left us with a candidate who believes in nothing, knows nothing, and has no particular plans for how to make things better. Trump, to this point, has been nothing but hot air and hostility. Clearly there is a low-information, insecure swathe of the electorate who can be manipulated by this, but Trump is a clear and present danger to the health of the Nation. He has no apparent knowledge of the Constitution, let alone reverence for it. (His plan to protect Article 12 notwithstanding). People like this can be found pontificating at bars and Elks Lodges (although I may be unfair to the Elks in using them as an example), but they don’t run for high office.

So we Republicans have already lost and have lost badly, regardless of what happens in November. The only honorable, patriotic course for us is to withhold our votes from Trump cast them for the Libertarians or write-ins, hope that the Republic, given the strength of its Constitutional structure, can endure Mrs. Clinton for four to eight years, and try to build back a respectable, responsible political party true to the traditions of the GOP that will provide the citizens with a choice of competent candidates in 2020 and beyond.

(from here)

Citizen Tom
@Novademocrat <= We strive for truth in labeling.

I don’t give D. Trump much credit, but even if he owes the news media for their devious efforts to foist him on us, he still earned nomination. He beat the other guys, and politics ain’t beanbag.

Sure, politics ain’t bean-bag. ‘Tis a man’s game, an’ women, childer, cripples an’ prohybitionists ‘d do well to keep out iv it. — Finley Peter Dunne (from => http://politicaldictionary.com/words/politics-aint-beanbag/)

Glad you enjoyed the Douglas Adams quote. Definitely funny.

You don’t like the monicker Novademocrat? Please note that we are operating with limited data. We know very little data about what you stand for, but we have heard abundantly about what you are against.

Your latest comment shows yet again what you are against, a Republican, but it doesn’t provide a clue as to what you stand for.

You know as well as I do that your so-called honorable, patriotic course just amounts to voting for H. Clinton. In fact, in the same paragraph you effectively admit as much.

What is honorable about such posturing hypocrisy? Nothing, of course. After two victories by Barack Obama, don’t we know that much?

We have a choice between Trump and Clinton. The honorable thing is to compare and contrast the two, not to slam one candidate and ignore the sins of the other. The honorable thing is to pick the best candidate.

We must pray for our choice and for God to bless the best we know how to do, even if we have hold our nose when we vote. Otherwise, in a stinking fit of self-righteous hypocrisy we will once again condemn our nation to the worst of the two.

(from here)

When we come to the end of our lives, there is little left we can do for the future, for our children and grandchildren. If we have been wise, we can take satisfaction in knowing we have done our best, even if we accomplished little. If have been indifferent, we simply have nothing to say except “I did not care.” If we have been unwise and simply chosen wrongly, perhaps our Lord will forgive us.

Revelation 3:14-22 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Lukewarm Church

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

Lukewarm is no excuse for indifference. That’s true of both religion and politics.

Note that I did not call NovaDemocrat a hypocrite. It is his advice I condemned as hypocrisy.

Note also that NovaDemocrat left a reply to my comment here.