Thursday, April 06, 2017

Defining Natural Rights

By Douglas V. Gibbs

Benjamin Franklin said that "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom."

The virtue of a society is tied into the definition of natural rights.

In the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence the definition of what a natural right is is laid out in clear language.

a) Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them.
b) We hold these truths to be self-evident.
c) They are endowed by their Creator.
d) Certain unalienable rights.

Which means our rights are God-given (endowed), we are entitled to have them, they are self-evident to us, and they are unalienable (inseparable; even when I don't have access to a right, that right still belongs to me).

If our rights are God-given, then they are also God-defined.  So, among the questions we must ask when determining if a right is a right is to ask, "Would God sanction the item as a right?"

Would God sanction abortion as a right?  If not, then it is not a right.

Our personal individual rights also must not extend to the point where they interfere with another's right.  As the old saying goes, my right to swing my arms stops at the tip of another's nose.

Religious liberties are among the five rights enumerated in the First Amendment.  Should other items, then, who some people believe to be rights, be able to extend to the point that they can interfere with religious rights?  Should a behavior be able to interfere with one's religious rights when it comes to health care, or whether a baker should be required to bake a cake?

God, and our rights, existed before the creation of government. Government has no authority to infringe upon them for our natural rights are our possession.  

Individual ownership of one’s natural rights also means that it is the individual’s duty to protect and defend one’s rights. It is not the job, nor the authority, of government to protect, defend, or guarantee our rights. Government is commanded by the U.S. Constitution to not infringe upon our rights.

Godly moral standards serve as the foundation of the American System.  The Judeo-Christian founding of the United States serves as an irreplaceable element in the construction of our system of liberty.  A Judeo-Christian foundation has proven to be the most appropriate moral standard.  According to the Founding Fathers, we have the law of morality written on our hearts.  John Locke often discussed this.  He called it “Natural Law.”  Locke’s writings about Natural Law carry universal validity, both through space, and time, and were a large influence on the Founding Fathers when they constructed the American System.

According to Locke, Natural Law, and our Natural Rights, are independent things, not connected to social arrangements, conventions, or common beliefs.  Our basic morals and rights are natural as opposed to artificial, meaning they are not brought about by humanity, or law.  No person, or group of persons, can abolish, or amend them.  Our Natural Rights are God-given.

Natural Law includes rules of conduct, but these are not laws simply uttered into existence by some ruler, but are written on everyone's heart.  God gave us the ability to reason our way to recognize them.  Some people may refer to this self-evident knowledge of what is good and evil as being one’s conscience.

Natural Law is the source of our moral behavior, and moral duties.  Parents, for example, under the moral duties defined by Natural Law, should care for their children.  This duty belongs to the parents, and therefore it means that the parents have the natural right to care for their children without interference on the part of others.

We also have natural rights that do not involve duties, such as the right to acquire property.  We have the right to protect our property (which would also support the right to keep and bear the tools necessary for protecting said property not only from a potential criminal element, but from a tyrannical government), the right to speak freely, and the right to limit government to the powers authorized to it, should the political officials exceed their granted authorities.  In the Declaration of Independence, the wording regarding our right to alter or abolish the government is, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

Natural Law, the moral standards we derive from it, and Natural Rights, are all intertwined.  They are all a part of the same overall concept of divine Providence.  They are Divinely given, and are binding on us because they have been commanded by God.  They are in place to provide a maximal benefit to humanity, and to protect us from the consequences of immoral actions.

-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary

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