The United States Constitutional Republic was built on the concept of immutable rights. Nearly all Americans have bought into this idea, believing individual rights are the path to freedom and prosperity. However, “immutable rights” is but another bill of goods that has further enslaved us, both physically and spiritually.
Rights vs. Responsibilities
The Bill of Rights was a compromise between the constitutional framers and the anti-federalists who opposed the Constitution as originally framed. In theory, the Bill of Rights protects the “unalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” among other things. But have life, liberty, and happiness been advanced or protected since the first Ten Amendments were ratified? Since the Bill of Rights was adopted, have we had less government intrusion or has the Constitutional Republic merely licensed and limited those rights?
The Scriptures provide no evidence of God-given (or unalienable) rights. Even life and liberty are not rights, but rather responsibilities delegated by Yahweh.1 Of course, rights are much more popular than responsibilities. Everyone, including homosexuals and infant murderers, demand their rights. Few are interested in fulfilling their responsibilities.
The Puritan idea of rights and liberty was quite different from what the constitutional framers had in mind:
John Winthrop [first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony] … reminded his fellow-citizens of Massachusetts that a doctrine of civil rights [as in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights] which looked to natural or sinful man as its source and guardian [as in the Constitution’s Preamble] was actually destructive of that very liberty which they were seeking to protect. True freedom can never be found in institutions which are under the direction of sinful men, but only in the redemption wrought for man by Jesus Christ. Christ, not man, is the sole source and guarantee of true liberty.2
R.J. Rushdoony pointed out the sophistry of governments based upon freedom:
….[A] society which makes freedom its primary goal will lose it, because it has made, not responsibility, but freedom from responsibility, its purpose. When freedom is the basic emphasis, it is not responsible speech which is fostered but irresponsible speech. If freedom of press is absolutized, libel will be defended finally as a privilege of freedom, and if free speech is absolutized, slander finally becomes a right. Religious liberty becomes a triumph of irreligion. Tyranny and anarchy take over. Freedom of speech, press, and religion all give way to controls, totalitarian controls. The goal must be God’s law-order, in which alone is true liberty.3
True liberty is found only in the Spirit of the Lord and in the perfect law of liberty:
…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:25)
James was not describing some New Covenant law that freed us to do whatever we wish. That kind of freedom is nothing more than baptized humanism, which eventually leads to anarchism, one of the quickest paths to legal slavery. Instead, James described the same perfect law of liberty—Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments—as did King David:
The law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul…. (Psalm 19:7)
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty…. (Psalm 119:44-45)
Forgiveness (liberty from our personal sins) is realized through Jesus’ blood-atoning sacrifice and resurrection from the grave.4 All other liberty is found in the implementation of Yahweh’s perfect law of liberty. It is never found in the hollow promises of man-made covenants such as the United States Constitution. Yahweh’s grace on the personal level and Yahweh’s law on the community level are our only means to true freedom. When either of these is abused, freedom is also abused:
Whenever freedom is made into the absolute, the result is not freedom but anarchism. Freedom must be under law, or it is not freedom…. Only a law-order which holds to the primacy of God’s law can bring forth true freedom, freedom for justice, truth, and godly life. Freedom as an absolute is simply an assertion of man’s “right” to be his own god; this means a radical denial of God’s law-order. “Freedom” thus is another name for the claim by man to divinity and autonomy. It means that man becomes his own absolute.5
Constitutional rights are now interpreted to include natural rights, human rights, civil rights, political rights, and women’s rights. They also include the right to openly worship and promote gods other than Yahweh, the right to commit sodomy, and even the right to murder your unborn child:
Justice William O. Douglas … joined the majority opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe [v. Wade], which stated that a federally enforceable right to privacy, “whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”6
Former Assistant Attorney General Stephen J. Markman confirmed that the unbiblical rights enumerated above are included in the Ninth Amendment’s unidentified enumeration of rights:
…the Ninth Amendment constitutes a “license to constitutional decisionmakers [sic] to look beyond the substantive commands of the constitutional text to protect fundamental rights not expressed therein.” Rights to abortion, contraception, homosexual behavior, and similar sexual privacy rights have already been imposed by judges detecting such rights in the Ninth Amendment.7
Because the framers failed to expressly establish the Constitution on Biblical ethics, it was inevitable that the Ninth Amendment would be interpreted to include the above list, as well as other Biblical infractions.
The theory of unalienable or natural rights can be traced back to the Age of Enlightenment. The term “natural rights,” as employed by 18th-century men, is not compatible with the Bible. Deuteronomy 28 does not say we have a natural, human, or civil right to anything. Rather, we must serve Yahweh as God in order to receive His blessings:
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of Yahweh thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that Yahweh thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of Yahweh thy God. (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)
People who demand their rights are like children, focused only on themselves. People who pursue righteousness are focused on Yahweh and their fellow man. The former promote a government of, by, and for the people; the latter promote a government of, by, and for Yahweh.
The “rights” already mentioned, along with countless other legal immoralities, can be traced back to the United States Constitution. Had the framers provided for a government established upon Yahweh’s moral laws, the constitutional “rights” claimed by so many people today would be recognized and punished as moral aberrations.
1. YHWH, the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, is most often pronounced Yahweh. It is the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible and was inspired to appear nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In obedience to the Third Commandment and in honor of His memorial name (Exodus 3:15), and the multitudes of Scriptures that charge us to use, proclaim, swear by, praise, extol, call upon, bless, glorify, and hold fast to His name, I have chosen to memorialize His name by using it throughout this blog. For a more thorough explanation concerning important reasons for using the sacred name of God, see “The Third Commandment.”
2. C. Gregg Singer, A Theological Interpretation of American History (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1964) p. 19.
3. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 581.
4. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Jesus and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be requested from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
5. Rushdoony, p. 583.
6. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, quoted in “Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ninth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution.
7. Stephen J. Markman, “The Coming Constitutional Debate,” Imprimis (Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College, 2010) vol. 39, num. 4, p. 5.