Oftentimes we hear arguments or read stories about rights. Sometimes folks claim to possess a right that is legitimate, other times not so much. Today, we will have a little civics lesson on from where rights are derived and how to differentiate the two different types of rights in modern parlance.
“Human Rights” is a term we hear a lot with respect to affairs outside of the United States. The United Nations has a council on Human Rights. This is because that council determines what a human right is and what is not. They have no authority to make these determinations except the willing of the governed to accept them. Something that is a human right today could be erased tomorrow at the whim of those sitting on this council. They could decide tomorrow that everyone is the world has a “human right” to have a box of Hot Tamales candy once a month. It is interesting to note that there are a lot of very bad countries who sit on the UN Council of Human Rights and whose citizenry are denied rights we in the USA take for granted, like the right to a jury trial and to face one’s accuser.
“Civil Rights” are what we in the United States have. These rights are understood to be self-evident and to be derived from nature and nature’s God. In other words, civil rights are lasting principles that are not voted on or created out of thin air. They are not subject to the whims of evil dictators or even councils full of evil dictators. The Constitution did not originally include a Bill of Rights (BOR hereafter). The BOR are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution that were added after the constitution was adopted. Some of the founders felt that listing some things as rights and omitting others would mean that the omitted rights were not rights at all! The concept of the Bill or Rights is just to recognize and enshrine God-given and obvious rights into law so there was no reason for confusion.
The first amendment enshrines a concept of freedom of thought and expression. Being able to speak freely means being able to think freely. The right of the press means those thoughts can be expressed through written, an nowadays, any other media. The prohibition of the establishment of a national church and the prohibition from preventing people to worship as they see fit enshrines the right of one’s conscience. Did the framers of the constitution believe that these things did not exist prior to the passing of the Bill of Rights? Hardly. The Declaration of Independence shows that the population of the 13 colonies clearly regarded these things as rights long before there was a United States of America.
To take this to another level, there are a few things today that are regarded as civil rights that simply cannot be. Chief among these would be the right to kill an unborn child in the womb. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was declared in the Declaration of Independence but are not in the Constitution. One has the right to live. Modern science shows us that conception is life, but this is also construed by nature itself. It is self-evident. If we look at the document that shows us the nature of nature’s God, the Bible, we can see that God abhors harming children. This is one of the reasons God told the Israelites to slay absolutely everything in Canaan when they crossed the Jordan. The occupants of Cannan had a practice of sacrificing their children to pagan gods and that had permanently tainted their society. It is also self-evident that one has the right to not be murdered at any stage of life. Stealing is clearly wrong, as well. Life is a gift from God and when a person is murdered, that gift is stolen regardless of the age of the victim. The right to live is not enshrined in the Constitution, yet it is still a civil right because it is self-evident.
Marriage is also a civil right that was not enshrined in the Constitution. The right of a man and a woman to join themselves together in matrimony is self-evident. At no point in history has any civilization recognized same-sex unions as being “marriage”. Even in the pagan societies of days gone by that were OK with homosexuality, the union of two people of the same sex has never been considered something to be enshrined in marriage. If we look at nature and nature’s God for guidance, marriage is an institution specifically for the procreation of the human race. While one may be born with the tendencies to be attracted to someone of the same sex, there is no self-evident profit in enshrining that relationship in any formality whatsoever. Of course, the God I serve views homosexual acts as sin, so I believe those acts should be resisted by people who have such tendencies just like all people must resist the urge to steal and heterosexuals must resist the urge to commit adultery.
So, in the course of human events, when you hear discussions about “rights”, please give some thought at to which type of “right” is being discussed. The United Nations can declare something to be a “human right”, but understand that is a fleeting idea that is subject to the whims of not very nice men. When an American declares they have a “right” to something, give it some thought. Those of us who live under the protection of the US Constitution do have inalienable civil rights. All men have them, but only our country has decided to recognize them and they derive from nature and nature’s God so they are everlasting principles.