In the founding document of this nation, the Founding Fathers set forth their theory of rights with these words:
“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; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).
Aware they could no longer depend upon their “rights as Englishmen” before King George III (1760-1820) and Parliament, they appealed to that Law above all laws, which they believed granted to them certain “unalienable rights,” namely, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These, they believed, had been granted by their “Creator,” who they understood to be higher than the think-sos of the king or the political machinations of Parliament. Whether the English authorities acknowledged such rights was totally irrelevant because such were, in fact, “self-evident” (i.e., intuitively clear and certain). Such a theory of rights was highly evolved and manifested a comprehensive theological/ideological system of beliefs about God, Man, Nature, and Justice.
It is unfortunate that twenty-first-century society has lost its footing concerning such “rights,” for too few remain who really believe such rights to be God-given. Most only see such rights as something derived from the State (viz., the government giveth and the government taketh away). Although there may be much talk these days about “human rights,” “civil rights,” “animal rights,” and even “homosexual rights,” hardly anyone speaks of “unalienable rights.”
As a creature made in the image of God, man has certain God-given rights that cannot be infringed upon or abridged by any other man, group, organization, or institution, and this certainly includes the State. Nevertheless, secularists, who actively promote the idolization of the State, along with the idolized State itself, do not take kindly to those who resist their idolatrous ways. Consequently, secularism becomes more and more institutionalized. Such is in full sway today. As a result, Christians will more and more find themselves in conflict with the State due to its ever-widening influence.
As the modern State becomes more and more pervasive, there is hardly anywhere it does not seek to exert itself. Conversely, a government that knows its God-given place is a government that’s quite limited. Such sees itself as prohibited from interfering with God-given (“unalienable”) rights. That this was unquestionably true of the American government is evidenced by The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution of the United States of America. Both of these documents made it clear that the then-new republic was a limited government, a government that would be most careful not to trample on the God-given rights of its citizens; a government that would, instead, conscientiously and vigorously defend these rights. Alas, this is a history largely forgotten today.