Lacey Smith

On Rights, Government and God

In Current Events, Politics on April 1, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Last Monday about mid-morning, my facebook page started popping up with a bunch of my friends changing their profile pictures to a red square with an big white block equal sign (=) in it. These friends were expressing their support for “equal rights” (which is really code for gay marriage) in light of the Supreme Court hearing on California’s Prop 8.

Without going into my view of same-sex marriage, Prop 8, etc., this got me thinking again about rights. More specifically, what are our rights? How does our view of rights agree with and contradict the Constitution? How do we understand Constitutional rights and is the Bill of Rights all inclusive?

It has taken me several weeks to accurately draft a response to these questions, so if this post seems stale it’s because I have been working carefully to put the right words in place. Sometimes haste is not our friend.

This train of thought is really a continuation of a discussion I had in some depth with my cousin over guns. His argument is that while I might have a right to keep and bare Arms, the government has a right to regulate and limit what I can and can’t keep. “Uninhibited gun ownership is not a god-given right.”

I’m sure many (though not all) of the people who are also supportive of the “right” of couples to marry would agree with him.

I find this incredibly ironic since the Constitution does provide for a right to gun ownership, although my cousin is correct that it is not without regulation – but not the kind the left claims (As Constitutional historian Saul Cornell points out, the Second Amendment is really more of a responsibility and obligation more than a mere right and stems from the need to protect the Union). At the same time, the Constitution does not provide for the right to marry.

However, the rights laid out in the Constitution are not all inclusive. They rights laid out in the Constitution are merely the very most basic, most critical rights to ensure a people can remain free. Slowly, that understanding has been chipped away at until, really, government not God grants rights.

This is antithetical not only to the Constitution, but to the order of God.

Our rights come from God, not from government. Those rights are designed to allow us to do whatever it is God intends us to do on this Earth. Governments’ God-given purpose is to protect those rights. This is it’s only job. Whenever government oversteps this role, it sits contrary to the will of God.

The founders added the Bill of Rights not because our rights only extend to the few included but because they, the founders, were skeptical of government and wanted to protect these critical rights against government infringement. However, you also do not have a right to do whatever you please, even if it “only hurts yourself.”

When rights are considered this way, the phrase “It’s my right,” or any of the variations on that, becomes very different. So is the phrase “You don’t have a right.”

Whenever we get in the way of someone else’s rights, you get in the way of God. The same is true when we lay claim to rights we do not really have.

That is the reason that this Republic is acceptable only for a morally upright citizenry. Any government founded on God’s rights only works for a people who respect and obey God. There are no two ways around it.

Our rights are what make us free. The ability to preserve those rights are critical. Knowledge is power. The misunderstanding of what is a right and how our rights work is a critical element used in the battle against freedom.

It’s time we reevaluate exactly what our rights are and what they are not.

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