Do Our Rights Come from Man or God?

“The Constitution is not a Christian document” is commonly touted by secularists, some Christians and politicians alike. They believe it is the final nail in the coffin against the argument that we are a Christian nation.

They are both right and wrong. We were founded on Judeo-Christian principles, but have mostly abandoned them during this past century. Sure, there are exceptions and we may still give lip service and follow some of them, but for the most part we are a secular nation.

They are also right in the argument that the Constitution is not a religious or Christian document. That being said, there is little doubt that the Deceleration of Independence is. You do not have to go far to find evidence of this. The third paragraph states, “The Law of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them.” This is not some vague reference to mother nature or a great energy in the cosmos, but a direct quote borrowed by Sir William Blackstone, a British legal scholar, who wrote a legal treatise on this specific topic (google William Blackstone law of nature and nature’s God).

The Constitution, without the Declaration of Independence, is meaningless. Notice how I did not say powerless, but meaningless. The Constitution speaks about rights, but does not give us the source of those rights. It is meant to be used in context with the Declaration of Independence, which is included through incorporation.

Anyone who knows basic history quotes the Declaration of Independence when asked about rights afforded to U.S. Citizens. The most famous of these rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The most reiterated line in the Declaration is: “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.” This line is also the most hated by secularists.

The problem with secularists is that they are statists. They believe our rights come from man and society as a whole. God, because he does not exist, has no place in deciding what rights we can or cannot have. “Rights” for them are always evolving and changing, never absolute. This is also a product of relativism in today’s culture. The inherent problem with relativism and man-made rights are exactly the benefits they tout.

Man-made rights by definition are fleeting and changeable depending on what party or person is in power or the whim of the people that occupy that country. History has shown us time and again that man-made rights almost always lead to massacres.

Now, many argue that “religion” has caused millions of death throughout history (I do not use the term “religion” and Christianity interchangeably, but that is an argument for another post). This is true. However, you have to go back thousands of years to find deaths at the scale espoused by secularists. Just in the last one hundred years, secularists have been responsible for over 60 million death’s. World War I, II & the Cold War which included Hitler, Stalin, Fidel Castro, Che, and many other tyrannical governments that were directly responsible for unspeakable atrocities.

The fundamental belief that rights come from God are what propelled the civil rights movement. Martin Luther King Jr. did not appeal to rights given by man, quite the opposite. In his writings and arguments, he quoted directly from the Declaration of Independence and chastised Pastors for not following Scripture. God-given rights can only be taken away by God, no one else. So when any Country, State, or person violates another persons God-given rights, they have violated Natural law (God’s law) and must be punished.

This belief even benefits atheists. They need not believe in God to reap the rewards of this, only to freely allow the exercise of this belief. This is not to say that we Christians have not been complicit in violating God-given rights. Christians have been especially prone to hypocrisy and have violated the laws we claim to hold dear. There is no clearer example than Slavery.

At its root, it is absurd to want society to believe all rights come from man and not God. Our nation was built on that belief and it dictated our actions for over a hundred years. Belief in God and the rights He has bestowed on us are the only way we will ever get back to respecting one another and cultivating a free and just society.




  1. I thought this was an eloquent defense, but it still seems obvious to me that rights are (in practice) whatever those who rule (and the majority culture) decide they are, and their origin is likewise decided upon (in agreement) by people. If the empowered majority decides those rights come from God, that decision still is being made by humans and not God.

    1. I agree up to a certain point. Theoretically, if those in powers don’t care, it doesn’t matter where our rights come from. However, if our rights do come from God, then even if they take them away, it is our right to take them back (see Slavery). The argument used to combat slavery was God-given, not man-given. Rights, by their very definition must be given. They are not a privilege, but an inherent worth. Man cannot give inherent worth to another. If God gives rights, we have the responsibility to ensure their safe-keeping. If rights come from man, then there is no absolute right or wrong, therefore slavery was only wrong because our mentality changed, not because it was morally wrong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s