The rights and wrongs of rights and liberty

In the greatest nation on God’s green earth, there are laws to rein in unjust behavior. In fact, law and order have kept this nation the most free, peaceable, and sought-after place of residence in the world. This freedom speaks to what the original Constitutional framers had in mind when the government in America was first established and included three things to be sovereign and originating from God:  The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In an effort to live civilly among each other, the framers saw that sinful men could dwell in peace and harmony by the protection of these rights through a small government that was designed for this purpose. They established it to work so that the citizens would lend their consent to be governed; for no man has the authority to rule over another otherwise—only God has that power—and the framers understood this. The beauty they saw in a necessity for a three-tiered government brilliantly and presciently lent to the heart of sinful man to thwart the ungodliness of a tyrant’s rule. Freedom from religious persecution was not the least of these considerations. And God has blessed this nation, I believe, precisely for its biblical underpinnings.

Through these constructs, society is able to function orderly and lends civil rights to men against predation and chaos. By so doing, the founders have laid the groundwork for peace and prosperity for all men, which is biblically based.

Even so, still some cast a jaundiced eye toward these renown men of old. As the stain of slavery seems so indelibly etched into the fabric of our conscience, even strides to make good on past mistakes appear lacking. The stain has become a permanent reminder, and their faults continue to go unforgiven by some and, seemingly, have tainted any and all good.

While most of the apostles and disciples of the Bible are often lauded as holy men, without the power of Holy Spirit, they were anything but. Let’s be real, some of the ancient figures of the Bible were cowards, liars, and deserters. Without the workings of the Holy Spirit, through the grace of God, their words, deeds, and actions often missed the mark. It’s odd that those who may cast aspersions toward our Founding Fathers because they had sin, are slow to mention how sinful the disciples were, too.

So, as Christians, do we have rights to our own lives…our property…our freedom to worship…our bodies under the established government? Some would say that we do not have any rights and that by submitting to authority, one has to throw all rights out the window. But where does it say that these things are mutually exclusive? Scripture bears out that it’s not so cut and dried.

When accosted by authorities, apostles Peter and Paul always submitted to them to keep the peace and order, and both agreed and exhorted their fellow Jews to do likewise. While the apostles often bumped up against the King and his cohorts, they always respectfully submitted, but they did not always obey. In fact, Paul used the law to work in his favor when his rights as a citizen were on the verge of neglect.

Today, some would advocate that Christians should dismiss their own individual rights while these same advocates sanction rights to others, who call for their rights to be acknowledged, when they perceive to be insulted or defamed. Can we have it both ways?

For the sake of God’s glory, we should often turn the other cheek, be defrauded, be defamed, have our dignity insulted, even pray for those who despitefully use us, yes. But God never says we need to obey an unlawful law.

Being absent of privileges or rights, our society can easily devolve into a land of tyranny and persecution where there is no peace. War, mayhem, and every evil prevails where there is tyranny without governance and laws to protect the citizens. Our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all from Him. Happiness to the founders meant blessed and was the pursuit of God—not worldly delights. Our rights as God’s creatures do not derive from government, nor does government own the rights of God.

Using the laws of society are still within a Christian’s jurisdiction as Paul demonstrated. Even Jesus, himself, said to “render under Caesar the things that are Caesar’s…”