Tuesday, November 03, 2009

We Have No Rights

Let's be clear. God's Word shows us that you and I have no "rights."

The notion of "rights" is helpful in the civil realm. But Christians must acknowledge that the very notion is a fiction. The Bible doesn't support the notion that we have certain "inalienable rights." The Bible only recognizes that, as human beings made in the image of God, we have certain responsibilities to one another and that the simple privilege of living is a gift from God we don't deserve, that the amazing privilege of eternal life with God is a gift we cannot earn granted by grace to all who believe in Jesus Christ.

The Bible says this: "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

One of my frequent prayers is, "Thank You, God, for not killing me." Death is what my sin warrants, but God is gracious, charitable. God has given me the miracle of life!

Even more amazing, God has given me a life with Him forever through Christ!

When I consider what I deserve, I am stunned by God's gifts to me.

Adrian Warnock, riffing off a tweeted message from his pastor, talks about all of this eloquently here. John Schroeder has additional thoughts here. David Wayne also shares a pertinent quote from Oswald Chambers.

[UPDATE: A blogging lawyer completely misunderstands the point of this post, thinking that I live each day in quaking fear that God is going to zap me when, in fact, I'm amazed by the graciousness of God, Who has every right to zap me, and doesn't. Then, a commenter says that I'm "insane" and for good measure, accuses me of being anti-Catholic. I have no idea what's up with that. Go here.]

[ANOTHER UPDATE: For an intriguing secular take on the notion of "rights," see here. The prologue and footnote to this post demonstrate that it is possible for believers and secularists to dialog respectfully and even agree on ways in which we can all live together, irrespective of what fringe folks say in either the religious or secular communities.]


Jeff Branch said...

Interesting - read all the links, and a good and thought provoking post. Mark - I would like to ask you a question somewhat related to this. Could you send me your email. Mine is jobranch@yahoo.com


David Schraub said...

Do we have the right to not be destroyed by flood (see Gen. 9:11)?

There is an argument that we don't -- that the idea of a "covenant" doesn't actually bind God, since by what grounds do we claim the right to enforce a contractual obligation upon a deity? The problem is this sort of logic seems to render nugatory huge swaths of the bible -- if a divine promise doesn't actually have any binding force, then God presumably was just messing with us in Genesis -- but then how do we know She/He isn't doing the same with the whole bit? For the idea of divine commandment to make sense, it has to come paired with some rejection of divine capriciousness -- else it is not law in any meaningful sense (see the travails of King Rex).

I think there is a strong Biblical strand implying that human beings do have valid moral claims against God (I'm admittedly drawing for the Jewish theological tradition), and that God recognizes the validity of such claims. See Job 42:7-8, Gen. 18:22, Gen. 32:29; Anson Laytner, Arguing With God: A Jewish Tradition (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1990), J. Jonathan Schraub, "For the Sins We Have Committed By Theological Rationalizations: Rescuing Job
From Normative Religion," Soundings 86:3-4 (Fall/Winter 2003): 431-462,
Elie Wiesel, The Trial of God, trans. Marion Wiesel (New York: Random House 1979).