By Don Gentry
We are living in one of, if not the most blessed and free nations in the world. Our freedoms come from an incredible document called the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When I listen to many political conversations by those that call themselves Christians, I often hear the phrase “God-given rights.”
I love my country and I would die for the freedoms that many trample upon. I love our constitution and I believe it is the greatest political document ever written; penned by men who sacrificed more than we can imagine, and in a time when most modern Americans would have run for the hills. With that being said, it does not take the place of the word of God, and it DOES NOT define God-given rights.
As we move forward in some pretty heated political times, I want to encourage the use of proper terminology. Some may think that I am talking about semantics, but this is much deeper than semantics. When discussing our political position, I believe we should consider using the phrase “Constitutional Rights” vs “God-given Rights.”
Let me give you some examples:
Personally, I love guns. In Michigan, I had my CCW license. I have been a hunter my whole life, but it pains me when I hear people say, “It is my God-given right to own a gun.” Wrong. Instead, we should say “it is my constitutional right to own a gun.” You will find nothing in the Bible giving you a right to own a gun.
Another comment that I have heard is with regard to Eminent Domain. I’ve heard, “It is my God-given right to own my property and the government can’t come in and take it away.“ Our constitution does provide us limited protection but God says to “render unto Caesar what is Caesars.” He also says to obey our governing authorities, and if someone takes our tunic we are to give them our cloak as well.
I heard many say “it is my God-given right to worship God freely.” Instead, I believe we should say “it is our constitutional right to worship God freely,” as God promises that we will be punished, imprisoned and persecuted for our faith. I am not sure we really want to fight for our biblical right.
I have also heard “it is my God-given right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.” Again, that is only our constitutional right. God says that we are all guilty and deserving of death. When we start arguing God-given rights, we might want to use caution.
I could go on and on but I hope you are getting the point. Because the Bible was so instrumental in the crafting of our constitution, it is easy to mistake where we are guaranteed our freedoms. We need to be conscious of the differentiation.
God does guarantee us freedom and access to freedom but it is a completely different type of freedom. God guarantees freedom from sin and our constitution often guarantees us the freedom to sin. Keep this in mind the next time you’re in a heated political discussion. It won’t take away the tension, but it may help your word choice.