In a post yesterday, I discussed the issue of rights. We said that rights were something with which we are all born. It is not something that we can earn or purchase. Rights are ours because we are human. Being that we are human, these right cannot be taken or stolen. Even if these rights are not granted or oppressively stripped from a people, those rights are still that peoples’ though they may not be able to enjoy them. Thus, God’s rough treatment of those tyrants who so treat their people.
Today, we will discuss more fully what we barely touched on yesterday: Namely, our humanness being the source of our rights. Yes, being born human has granted to us these rights, but from where have they derived? The animals are born, but they have no right to property. The rabbit does not cry over the violation of his right to life while the wolf gives chase. No, man is unique in his having certain rights. So, why does man have rights?
Well, we first need to understand that these rights pertain to our standing before the law and society. So then, we must come at least to the place of John Locke.
We read in his Second Treatise on Civil Government:
“. . . we must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.”
In other words, by the order of God’s creation, mankind is absolutely free to do with his things as he sees fit, within the confines of natural light. Now, I dispute Locke’s thinking of natural law, but the light given to all men should restrain us. From where does Locke derive his understanding of human rights and liberty? Scripture, of course.
Psalm 115:16 tells us:
The heavens are the heavens of the Lord,
But the earth He has given to the sons of men.
God, though the rightful owner of the earth, gave this possession to His image bearers. We see this giving of the earth to man in Genesis 1:28
God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Here, God gives man power over the earth and freedom to live with a purpose under the protection of His Law order. At this time, the Law was practiced perfectly by Adam, but though that changes, this mandate does not. We see it repeated to Noah (Gen. 9:1) and then in the New Testament, God gives this mandate through the risen Christ.
And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
This then is further expounded for us in Hebrews 1 & 2, when we see that these rights come through the second Adam. This law order and these rights are given us so that God will bring all things under the feet of King Jesus.
Our rights have been given us by God, for the purpose of revealing the King, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow we will look at the consequences of this truth.