2nd Amendment Apologetics culture Depravity Ethics Evil Morality Perseverance Rights Teleological Theology

Christian Rights Make Christians Right When it Comes to the 2nd Amendment

Christian Right?

It would be easy to run away with the idea that if something is “a right” then it is permissible for the Christian. In other words, if something can be proven to be given to us as a right then it is alright for us to participate in its enjoyment.

But, any pastor worth his salt will quickly tell you that that is not necessarily true. They may even tell you that even if a right is written in the US Constitution that does not render it permissible for the Christian. Most of the time their opinion is grounded in the fact that the US Constitution is not equal to the Bible in that it is not inspired (God breathed), as much as Americans like to believe otherwise.

An uninspired constitution is neither infallible nor inerrant, so anything coming from its pages must be measured first against the Canon of Scripture.

To that I say, Amen!

An exception

I do take exception with something deeper than merely the US Constitution’s lack of inspiration though.

First of all, if the Constitution gives people a right, it may not be permissible for the Christian to be sure. But neither does the fact that the Constitution proclaims a right to the people automatically forbid its enjoyment by Christians. The prior statement is incomplete and so is the later, so more work must be done than naive rhetorical argumentation.

Secondly, if something can be proven to be right (moral), then it is permissible whether the Constitution allows it or not. That is why it was more important to discuss the “rightness” of self-defense before the “right” of self-defense, especially for the Christian.

Rights are right

This introduces another issue though; many preachers and teachers who would make the statement, “self-defense may not be right for the Christian, even if it is a right”, overlook a detail I’m afraid. It is a philosophical detail that is as important to us now as it was in 1776.

If something is “a right”, it is by definition “right’ because of the nature of what “rights” are. That may be a little confusing…

In this article I intend to discuss two particular ideas. (1) What is a right? And (2) does self-defense qualify as a right?

If I am able to prove the first, then I, along with the Founders, believe the second will be self-evident.

What is a right?

There are really two major schools of thought on the question, “what is a right”. Both of those disagree on one major point and usually agree on the other. One philosophy is that of Christian or theistic thinkers and the other is that of atheistic and usually Neo-Darwinist thinkers.

Both schools of thought would normally agree on the idea that rights are universal. That means of course that a right is something that is given to all people. There are particular nuances within each of those philosophies. Some non-theists might say on one hand that rights are given to all people but on the other hand might deny that the same right has always been given.

Christians would probably answer that although a right may not have always been enjoyed by all people, it still existed as their right in all places at all times.

I am writing from a Christian point of view so I will assume the later.

The real disagreement comes between the two philosophical ideas on the origin of rights.

Where do rights come from?

While Christians say that rights are God-given, atheists deny that and point to evolution or culture as the origin of rights.

Once again, because I am writing from a Christian point of view, and this particular article is not attempting to argue for theism, I am assuming that rights are God-given. In fact, I don’t believe that any liberty that may be claimed to be a right actually exists as such unless the Creator endows it and is inalienable.

It is the fact that God endows inalienable rights to his creatures that makes those rights transcendent. And, if a right is not transcendent or if it is not endowed by a transcendent Right-Giver, then it is not a right at all. It is an opinion.

Right rightly defined

So, let me offer you a definition of a right. A right is a self-evident, absolute liberty given by God to all people.

Anything else that claims to be a right is mere opinion. Opinions change and can be given and taken at the whims of majorities or kings.

Rights are liberties that even though kings or governments may attempt to prohibit, cannot be contained. This is because we can easily observe rights as a gift that they have no “right” to take. We all know intrinsically that if God gives us something it is not mans place to take it away from us.

Founding principles

The Founders understood this well. That’s why Thomas Jefferson worded the Declaration appropriately, and that’s why they were willing to die for their rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness[1]-US Declaration of Independence

Locked in

They did not pull this idea out of thin air though. This was a more ancient philosophy, but a certain philosopher in England had recently articulated it. His name was John Locke. He put it this way…

“The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions: for men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by his order, and about his business; they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last [198] during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for our’s. Every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so by the like reason, when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.”

The idea of a right as God-given comes from the idea that we are all His creation, created in His likeness, and therefore “furnished” with liberties that are immovable or unchangeable. Rights are gifts or common graces given to his special creation, mankind.

So what’s wrong with rights?

I don’t believe my Christian audience needs to be convinced any further so the question I’d like to ask you is this: if God gives us a right, can it always be wrong to enjoy it? Or put another way, does God endow us with inalienable rights that would be immoral for us to claim?

If you’re honest, you’ll answer “no”, and then we can both extend a hearty “amen”. If a right is really a right then Christians have a right to it. Rights are the kind of thing that are right to have because they are God-given.

That doesn’t answer the question though,  “is self-defense a right”.

Rights are basic liberties humans enjoy that should be obvious to all of us.

It’s easy to recognize that humans are created in God’s Image, given life by him, and have a right to life itself. So then, if God endowed us with it, it is not our right to steal it whether it is our own or another’s.

Consequently, it is our right to preserve our own life and the lives of others if someone acts against God’s image-bearer to steal his or her God-given right to life.

In other words, the fact that God gives us life and that it is not within the liberty of another to steal what God has given, results in another endowment-the right to defend our God-given right to life.

Locke puts it this way…

“And that all men may be restrained from invading others rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is, in that state, put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation

You see, it’s obvious (self-evident). Rights, as God-given liberties are inalienable in so much that we are endowed with other rights that are made necessary to defend the originals. In other words, the 2nd Amendment and our Bill of Rights are not infallible but they are not arbitrary either. They are well thought out descriptions of liberty that we enjoy based upon the fact that we are image-bearers of God and that God’s character is one of a sovereign, life-giving, immutable Creator.

We may not steal God’s gifts from others or ourselves; congruently, we may defend those gifts from people who would either steal them or change them.

Consistently right

Finally, before you balk on this philosophy, let me remind you of a thing or two you’ll be giving up if you disagree with the theory of inalienable, endowed rights.

Christians base our idea that abortion is wrong on the idea of inalienable rights endowed to unborn children. You can’t consistently be pro-life and anti 2nd Amendment.

Christians also base our idea that chattel slavery is wrong on the same thing. Don’t use the slavery card if you’re not willing to back it up with the right to keep and bear arms.

You see, Christians are not only right to keep and bear arms if they so choose; it is our right to do so. They are in fact one in the same. Or, Christian rights make Christians right when it comes to the 2nd Amendment.

Excerpt From: John Locke. “Two Treatises of Civil Government.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: John Locke. “Two Treatises of Civil Government.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: John Locke. “Two Treatises of Civil Government.” iBooks.

Excerpt From: John Locke. “Two Treatises of Civil Government.” iBooks.

[1] Federer, W. J. (2001). Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced according to their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions. St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch.

Donnie
I was born in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, born again at a very young age, married a beautiful and likeminded woman, moved to Tennessee, and raised two children in the Southern traditions of loving God and neighbor, exercising manners, and being stewards of the land and its bounty. After becoming involved in youth ministry in our local church, the need of teaching people "what they believe and why they believe it" became painfully apparent, especially in my immediate context (rural Southern churches). We began an apologetics/theology ministry there but have since moved on. After serving in church leadership and being called to faithfulness and duty to protect our congregation from a rogue pastor under church discipline of his previous church, my experiences in this biblical process shape much of what I believe about how churches in the South have become weak and why nominal Christianity is prevalent. I love the Church and Southern culture so you can expect to read about apologetics and theology as well as church and culture here, written southern style, by the grace of God. Deo Vindice
http://www.southernbyhisgrace.com

Leave a Reply