The Declaration of Independence of the United States asserts, “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.” I don’t believe any American would debate the assertion that we have had conferred upon us “certain unalienable rights”, but what exactly does “unalienable rights” mean, and is that definition biblically sustainable?
Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, states that “You cannot surrender, sell or transfer unalienable rights, they are a gift from the Creator to the individual and can not under any circumstances be surrendered or taken.” If this is the same definition that the founding fathers had in mind then “unalienable rights” are those which cannot be taken away from us at any time. Even if we are not allowed to exercise those rights, they are still innately ours. But again, what does that mean, especially in our culture?
It certainly seems like we in America have tweaked the definition of “right” to be anything we want rather than what the Creator permitted us to have. Our definition of “right” is that we are entitled to our life, we are entitled to be free, and to pursue happiness, whatever that means. But is that true? The problem that presents is, at what point does my pursuit of happiness infringe upon another’s pursuit of their happiness? We don’t seem to like to talk about that. For that matter, we don’t seem to want to acknowledge the original premise of who those “rights” come from, the Creator. But in our independent, American paradigm, we don’t seem to evidence a desire to even obey a Creator … we merely want to please ourselves.
Instead, we use this phrase as carte blanche to justify any behavior we desire to do. Everybody is beating the drum for the allowance of his or her own “rights.” One of the problems with this whole rights theory is that people are mistaking rights with free will, or free choice. We equate, “I can take the cookie”, with, “I have a right to it,” but freedom of a behavior is not the same as sanction. Just because we can perform a function does not make it a God-given right. So many assert that their behavior, no matter how out of the norm it is, is a right, and the quest is on to somehow litigate it until it is acknowledged as such.
The fallacy is that if we can somehow legislate any particular action then it will indeed be a right. And when everyone has a right and demands to exercise freedom, that is called anarchy. And that is where unrestricted assertion of rights leads.
Interesting that we base our “right” to anything we want upon the Declaration but refuse to acknowledge any responsibility to our Creator. Yet, God gave free will for us to choose even if that choice was a poor one against His will, but that freedom to choose is not a “right” if anything it may be a gift as is every breath, and even life itself. And freedom to choose is not the right to pursue freedom at all cost contrary to God, that again would be free will.
When it comes down to it, I’m really not sure how comfortable I am with the wording of the Declaration. In the end are not all those blessings we receive from our Creator gifts rather than rights as Black asserts? I do know that our minds should be first set on honoring God – That should be our focus.
Psalm 91:14-16 says, “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. “With a long life I will satisfy him, and let him see My salvation.”
Isn’t that better than any “rights” we could extract from legislation?