You DO Have God-Given Rights
 
You DO Have God-Given Rights
Written By Oliver Perry   |   05.23.24
Reading Time: 9 minutes

In her interview on MSNBC, the Politico reporter Heidi Przybyla said this about Christians who look to God for their rights.

But the thing that unites them as Christian nationalists, not Christians because Christian nationalists are very different, is that they believe that our rights as Americans and as all human beings do not come from any Earthly authority. They don’t come from Congress, from the Supreme Court, they come from God. The problem with that is that they are determining, men, are determining what God is telling them. In the past, that so-called “natural law,” it is a pillar of catholicism for instance, it has been used for good in social justice campaigns. Martin Luther King evoked it in talking about civil rights.

But now you have an extremist element of conservative Christians, who say that this applies specifically to issues including abortion, gay marriage, and it is going much further than that as you see, for instance, with the ruling in Alabama, this week that judges connected to the dominionist faction, and talking about a lot of other issues including surrogacy, IVF, sex education in schools, there’s a lot in addition.

Setting aside this slander of Christian nationalism, something I’ve previously written about, we see that Przybyla is distressed that people read the Bible and apply it to society.

She’s OK with people using religion to support things like “social justice,” even though social justice is definitely not in the Bible. But she doesn’t think that God could approve any policies that she personally dislikes.

Many articles, such as this one from Hot Air, criticize Przybyla’s disdain of “God-given rights.” A common argument is to point to the Declaration of Independence, which claims that our rights are granted from above:

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…

However, the Declaration of Independence is a weak support for claims of God-given “unalienable Rights.” If we’re truly endowed by our Creator with rights, then we should be able to find strong support for them in the Bible. Read on, and you’ll soon understand these things:

  • God requires that we obey Him. This obedience includes: teaching ourselves, and our children, what He wants of us; working to supply ourselves; protecting the people and things we hold dear.
  • We have the right to act in these ways, and to possess tools that enable our tasks, so that we can fully obey and worship God.
  • Rulers intent on restricting these rights have bad intentions.

Our primary duty is to obey God

The Bible doesn’t describe a right to do this, or a right to own that. Rather, God has given us duties. He has for us individual and community expectations. We can fruitfully discuss rights only after we know why we need them.

Here are the most important of God’s duties for us.

Fear God, worship and obey Him.

Matthew 22:36-38 says,

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment.’”

This commandment sets the rules of engagement. He is God, and we are not. He gets to tell us what to do.

What does this greatest commandment imply?

  • You must acknowledge that you aren’t God (Proverbs 9:10), and repent of the desires and deeds of your own will (Jeremiah 3:12-13); Luke 12:8-9).
  • You understand that God rewards when you obey Him (Psalm 1:1-4; Romans 8:1-2; James 1:12). Part of His reward is that you acquire habits of righteousness (Ephesians 5:1-6; I John 2:3). Another part is is God’s favor on your deeds, summarized in this article from Got Questions.
  • You must fear to displease God. He punishes us for acting like we ourselves are gods. His punishment might be immediate divine action, as with Herod’s death (Acts 12:21-23). It can be through gradual corruption of character (Romans 1:21-32). And you certainly will be called to account for your life on the Day of Judgment (II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-15).

God is not an “absent watchmaker,” who has lost interest in His creation. Nor does He confine His works to those who already confess Him. As this article points out, God is Lord over everybody, whether they call themselves Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or any sort of “don’t believe in God” concept.

Nobody is exempt from this greatest commandment.

Treat other people well.

Matthew 22:39:40 completes Jesus’ thoughts, saying,

“‘The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.’”

It isn’t hard to see that:

  • We must be honest, must not cheat or steal, and not be violent with each other.
  • We should also help each other because, in spite of Cain’s protest (Genesis 4:9) we are our brothers’ keepers.
  • Above all, this commandment means that we provide protection for the weak, and especially for our own families.

The concept of government comes from a community need for justice and mutual protection.

Government gives teeth to the words “treat other people well.” The idea that government should honor God is so important that Moses said the ruler must transcribe his own Bible and study it daily (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).

The Bible has a wealth of advice concerning just and unjust government, too much to recount here. I previously wrote an Illinois Family Institute article on this very topic.

Marry, raise children, and teach them to obey God.

In multiple places in the Bible, God tells us to have lots of children (Genesis 1:27-30; 9:7: 35:11-12). In my view, this is a very important command, for “love your neighbor as yourself” can’t be practiced if there isn’t anyone there.

But starting a family is only a start, for we must also raise, teach, and protect our children.

  • We’re to learn to live in godly ways, and to teach our children to do likewise (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
  • Consistent and persistent teaching about righteousness molds your children to prefer righteous attitudes and deeds (Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). Even though some children may choose to be rebels (Luke 15:11-24), modeling righteousness to them is still the best approach to raising children.
  • Your children, others’ children, and even adults, can learn what righteous living means by watching as you live out your godliness. (Matthew 5:14-16).

To summarize, God wants us to be eager to obey Him.

He encourages us to shape our lives and environment (Acts 19:18-20; Ephesians 4:17-32) to reinforce our obedience. We’re to raise our children in this faith, and also encourage those around us to also honor and obey God. This is good living and effective evangelism joined together.

We need the tools of obedience

When God created Adam and Eve He gave them duties as well as tools for doing their work. The first and greatest tool was authority and dominion, the permission to use and shape the world to obtain food and supplies (Genesis 1:27-30; 2:15). Tool categories worth noting are:

  • Physical implements are tools. Cain tilled the ground (Genesis 4:2), showing that farm tools were invented right away. Creating objects implies the right to own them, as well as the right to keep them out of the hands of thieves.
  • Clothing and shelter are tools. A building with an indoor fireplace lets you live and thrive in a cold climate. Clothing can be protection against weather and things that scrape against bare skin. A humble winter coat can be a tool for expanding dominion across more of the world.
  • Science is also a tool. By observing the world around us, intelligent people can create rules that summarize how things behave. This leads to improved management of animals, more durable buildings, and complex machines created from mined and harvested materials. We use science to support large populations and improved material conditions.
  • Laws are tools for organizing a peaceful society. They codify the difference between good and bad behavior, and what honesty and fairness mean in actual practice. Laws also help resolve disputes without resorting to violence.

When properly used, tools enhance our the ability to live, learn, and protect the people and things we’ve acquired. We will find it difficult, even impossible, to obey God without the use of physical and mental tools.

What are God-given rights?

We’ve seen that God commands us to obey Him. He has given us permission to use His creation for our benefit. We have His word, the Bible, to guide us into righteous living. We perform our work using physical and mental tools, providing for our families and communities.

With these blessings we’re fulfilling the duties He gave us.

Arguments about rights come when other people demand that we stop obeying God. Our defense?

We have a God-given right to obey Him. This right encompasses:

  • The right to think, and to tell the world about Him. That means we can freely evangelize, and not be censored and accused of “misinformation.”
  • The right to physically gather together to worship him. Being limited to “online worship” is unacceptable.
  • The right to have and raise our own children, teach them right and wrong, and instruct them to obey God.
  • The right to own and use things. This encompasses houses, clothes, cars, books, work tools, defense weapons, and much else that enable our obedience to Him.

There is conflict about God-given rights because rulers don’t like people who put God first in their hearts. For an example of this, look at the book of Exodus (Exodus 8:25-28; 10:8-11, 24-28):

  • Moses told Pharaoh that all of Israel must go to Mount Sinai, along with their possessions, to worship God.
  • Israel had a God-given right to travel there to worship, along with all their families and possessions.
  • In reply, Pharaoh claimed that he was in charge, and that Israel would worship only as he instructed.
  • We know how that story ended.

We’ve a God-given right to evangelize, to teach our children according to our beliefs. And we’ve a God-given right to work out our faith in our daily lives. When rulers come to restrict our activities, to steal our homes, our goods, and our children, then we’re right to flat-out oppose them (Acts 5:29).

Government gives permission, not rights

If there were no God-given rights then we’d have no rights at all. Rulers and governments are unable to give rights because that would restrict their own scope of action. Their self-restraint would last only as long as they found it advantageous.

Rulers can give privileges and favors to their friends, or deny them to others, but these are merely payoffs, not rights. Such favors are easily revoked by the next official to come along.

Rulers don’t like God-given rights, because recognizing them means that they themselves are under authority. It requires them to be servants of the people, rather than lords over the land. That rulers lust to expand their powers is a well-known historical fact. Wars have been fought to prevent such expansion of power, to preserve Christian liberties.

Even now, the progressive quest for a “living Constitution” aims to make its language meaningless, removing its limits on federal authority.

When a government obtains all power over us, its elites are able to mold society to suit their own designs and beliefs. The people, their lives, and their ambitions no longer matter. The people become mere resources for the government’s grand schemes. They’re the ants of the anthill, serving the queen. It’s what happens when we serve the government, rather than the government serving us.

What to do when government denies our rights?

Our governments – federal, the states, and various local bodies – are made up of elected officials and a myriad of bureaucrats. The people in these offices aren’t immune to the temptation of abusing their offices, for they see government as a vehicle to change society.

This overstepping of authority wages war on the people, and hinders our individual and collective abilities to fully obey God.

We’re hindered in our parenting.

For example, by their denying that parents have the right to order their children’s teaching. And also because they’re not sure of themselves, shamefully hiding their deeds from the parents. Quoting one of my earlier articles.

They approve, not merely permit, teaching transgenderism, and seek to indoctrinate students even in kindergarten. They teach propaganda like “assigned sex at birth” and “gender unicorns.” They even seek to reach three-year-old children with these lessons!

To evade parental oversight, they counsel children in secret, and deny what they’re doing.

We’re hindered in daily life through built-in government injustices.

We’re hurt when our officials take sides in the “culture wars,” making it harder for most of us to just go about with life. For example, activist bureaucrats just rewrote the Title IX civil rights regulations to promote transgender values and activities, all at the expense of women’s opportunities and safety. And when you complain, you can be accused of “misinformation” and get censored.

We’re hindered by government ambitions.

You’ve heard about these proposals:

Through these activities governments aim for rule by “divine right.” This aligns with the Marxist dreams these people learned in college, and so religiously pursue.

When our rulers say NO to our living godly lives, how should we respond?

  • We must continue to assert our rights, as well as the government restrictions, that the Constitution guarantees.
  • We appeal to God. Those three wars cited by my article about Christian resistance of tyranny were about these very same troubles. They didn’t win merely through might, but also through their answered appeals for God’s mercy.
  • We use the “lesser magistrate” doctrine. In this, lower levels of government become motivated to shield us from illegitimate demands of upper levels.

Can we afford to obey God and resist illegitimate government acts? Can we afford not to?


Oliver Perry
Oliver has lived in Illinois for decades.  He wasn’t born here, but got here as fast as he could.  He found his bride at church and still adores her.  Together they’ve raised three children to successful adulthood. Oliver sees that even today the Bible speaks authoritatively on society, its government and its laws. He hopes that through these articles you will be encouraged to also think along these lines. For more, check out his blog at FixThisCulture.com....
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