I am 54 years old. I grew up in a conservative, Republican family which shaped my values and thoughts during my early years. When I became old enough to think for myself, I started to shed many of those and adopt my own. I don’t think like I used to and, even today, find myself questioning some things which I used to hold dear.
I have always been a fervent supporter of the right of free speech, the right to own a gun, the right to assemble, the right to not associate with others I don’t want to, the right to live wherever I do want to, etc. Probably the vast, vast majority of people, especially conservative Republicans, would agree with that stance. In fact, I became actively involved with the Libertarian Party during the 1980 presidential election and actually ran for State Representative two years later. This was directly related to my view that no one, including God, should be able to tell me what I could or could not do and I was more than willing to put my money (and time) where my mouth was. I was my own man, my own master, and I lived that way for years.
In the early 1990’s, I surrendered my life initially to God, grudgingly and out of a position of utter desperation. I hated it and resisted the pull of the Holy Spirit until I couldn’t hold out any longer. Since that time, I have been slowly and gradually been giving over control to Him.
Eventually, there came a tipping point where I could not hold back any more and simply gave up trying to be my own boss. I had been moving in that direction for some time and was finding it easier and easier to submit to God’s will. The final shift happened quite recently, starting with the compound fracturing of my left leg in two places, just above the ankle. This immediately put me flat on my back for a number of weeks, at least three, during which I didn’t stand up at all except to go to the bathroom.
I can still remember (and will never forget) the moment that my resistance to God turned the corner for good. I was lying on the sofa with my leg propped up, contemplating my situation, considering my options, and just generally trying to make sense of where I was. I began to talk with God about this and was quite shocked at His immediate and forceful response. “I can break you any time I want, just like a dead stick.” Clear as a bell. His exact words. I am not making this up!
My immediate response was, “Whoa, I give up!” (not necessarily my exact words, but the meaning was clear), and there has never been any question about my life’s direction ever since. I know Who is Boss and even though I argue from time to time, in the end, I have to admit I’m wrong and need to change course.
What does all this have to do with a discussion of “rights”? Everything, it seems, because I have come to a realization that I have no rights at all. I only have what God gives me and when He takes it away, it does no good to fight about it. What has developed in its place, in my philosophical worldview, is the understanding that, while I don’t have any rights, I do have responsibilities which I am supposed to perform.
Rights, as we know them today in America, are really only limited freedoms which someone has decided to grant us. Freedom of press, freedom to own guns, freedom to marry, et al., are simply concepts which we may enjoy, but which can be taken away just as easily as they were granted. Don’t believe me? Think about anything, anything at all, which you hold close to your heart. Is it truly yours? Can it be taken out of your grasp? If it can, it is not yours at all, but belongs to someone else more powerful than you. Even your life is not your own, you will give it up in the end. Instead, everything that we view as “ours” is entrusted to us to use in a spirit of stewardship. This is not to be confused with ownership. We have no rights, we do have responsibilities. Ultimately, everything we have been given, every responsibility we have belongs to God and we have to answer to Him for the way we use them.
Where does this leave us on the issues of human rights, then? Should we even think about the “right” to keep and bear arms? Should we work to keep our freedoms and maintain our legal right? My answer is and always will be an unequivocal, “Yes, absolutely!” I have a responsibility before God to protect myself and my family from outside aggression. If that responsibility involves the use of guns, then I am obligated to act that way and wouldn’t even hesitate if it became necessary. No one, absolutely no one at all, has the lawful authority to tell me I can’t. In fact, I will go so far as to say that if there is ever a conflict between conforming to legislation which requires me to give up my gun and being faithful to my responsibility to protect my family, I will take the tack of the apostles–“We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Furthermore, when Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, He didn’t even blink. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart AND love your neighbor as yourself.” If I have a responsibility to use firearms to protect my family, then so too does my neighbor and I have no authority to tell him that he can’t. Taken a little farther along, this means that I do not have the authority to elect a Congressman or President who will tell him for me. I can’t support any type of legislation that would restrict, regulate, or prohibit my neighbor’s ability to carry out his responsibility to God.
I am responsible to God alone for my life and actions. God is the one who calls the shots and the only option I have is to submit or refuse to cooperate. I will do what I can to resist the “gun grab” by the State and its minions and lackeys, but if the day comes when I am arrested, charged with a crime, prosecuted, convicted, and punished for refusing to abide by a man-made law which prohibits personal gun ownership, then so be it. I will accept that as God’s Will for me at that time and will make the most of it for His glory.
My rights do not concern me anymore.
13 thoughts on “Rights and Metamorphosis”
Once again, very well said. I am learning from you and about you. Thanks Roger.
[…] Rights, as we know them today in America, are really only limited freedoms which someone has decided to grant us. Freedom of press, freedom to own guns, freedom to marry, et al., are simply concepts which we may enjoy, but which can be taken away just as easily as they were granted. Don’t believe me? Think about anything, anything at all, which you hold close to your heart. Is it truly yours? Can it be taken out of your grasp? If it can, it is not yours at all, but belongs to someone else more powerful than you. Even your life is not your own, you will give it up in the end. Instead, everything that we view as “ours” is entrusted to us to use in a spirit of stewardship. This is not to be confused with ownership. We have no rights, we do have responsibilities. Ultimately, everything we have been given, every responsibility we have belongs to God and we have to answer to Him for the way we use them….. (For the remainder of the article, go here.) […]
Not only do I concur with this article I would like to add the following. The God of this world, Satan, unceasingly works through the governments of men to try and thwart God’s coming Kingdom. Satan works to place God’s people in increasing jeopardy by a lawless, unprincipled, electorate who vote for like minded corruption. To rely on the governments of men is to abandon your responsibilities to God.
RIGHTS? America was founded and developed by White Christian separatists who ardently believed in individual freedom , responsibility, and GOD given rights fhat man could not take away or diminish. Look at the Mayflower Compact to our Constitution and Bill of Rights.These men were Patriors, and they wanted to greatly improve on the failed European systems.Love of God , His ways , and love of liberty was in their GENES. Unfortunately, we have slowly been overtaken by a Ungodly and Alien nucleus that does not recognize our cultiral, Biblical , and legal traditions. They are out to destroy our Christian-Anglo- Saxon heritage. We must wake UP, or we will find ourselves in a condition similar to RUSSIA in 1917. The nucleus trying to run our America today is a Alien bunch not birthed and grounded in what was the great Western Civilization developed by our ancestors in England and Northern Europe,Unfortunately, you cannot teach love of GOD, love of Liberty, and love for truth, and righteousness.It must be in your heart and in your genes.
Jesus said that any that follow Him too closely would be arrested jailed and tried before the councils/courts of men,, but He never says we should lose the debate or anything else good, but tells us why we shall be there instead as to ‘Shut the mouths of the wicked and or foolish and especially to glorify The Father.
Perhaps it might be best if more of us did as I did during my early years of law type studies and started looking for test cases, or what I call jumping into every lions den or fire we can find to get some notches in our belts and more confidence or Faith In Him that Is The Word which is able to make even our enemies to be At Peace with us.
Thanks for your comment. I am beginning to see the rise of multitudes of men and women who also think and live the same way I do. Many of them were probably there all along. As time goes on, this number will grow and prosper as we submit ourselves to the Word of God. Satan doesn’t stand a chance.
Thanks for your comment. The Mayflower Compact started with these words–“In the name of God, Amen.” It can be seen in its entirety here. Follow the link. http://www.ushistory.org/documents/mayflower.htm Contrast this with the US Constitution which starts out with “We, the People…” Is it any wonder we’ve fallen such a long way from the beginning of America?
I have to disagree with you, however, on a few points.
First, the love of God and His ways are NOT in our genes. No one is born with these truths inherent in their DNA or makeup. “There is no one righteous, no not one.” (Rom. 3:10) Everyone is born a sinner and must be taught love for God and love for His ways. Some embrace this, many do not.
Second, even though the men and women who settled this country and developed the ideas and framework we built America on were overwhelmingly white, northern Europeans, America has grown into a “melting pot” which has embraced anyone who wished to be free, regardless of their nationality or skin color. The fact that we have walked away from that heritage speaks more about our heart condition than it does our genealogy.
Third, the “alien bunch” you refer to are not alien at all. They were and are as American as you and I. (Understanding that there is some controversy over President Obama’s birth, which I do not intend to argue about.) They have simply decided, with the complicity of a very large number of other Americans, to abandon the Word of God and substitute it with something man-made.
This is not about “us vs them”, however. Our fight is not with people. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (spirit world).” It is because the battle is in the spirit world that we will never be free if we only strive to change one form of civil government for another one. It is, as you say, in our hearts.
Thanks, David. Sometimes I wonder whether I am having any effect and then someone says “Beautiful!”
Thanks for the comment.
I used to look for “lions dens” which I could jump into. Now that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, I don’t do that anymore. Instead, I prefer to simply speak as I know I should and let the chips fall where they will. You do have a point, though, in that it would be best (better) if more of us started looking for ways to get involved. Far too many Christians simply go through their lives without ever making a difference socially, culturally, and politically. However, we are either for Him or against Him, and as the pressure mounts inside the pressure-cooker we call America, we will see more and more people abandoning this irrelevance in favor of forthright and outspoken righteousness.
I often wonder about things degrading to the point where tyrants come knocking to steal our firearms. One response is Acts 5:29 as you quoted, but then I also think of Gideon:
“And there came an angel of Yahweh, and sat under an oak which [was] in Ophrah, that [pertained] unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide [it] from the Midianites. And the angel of Yahweh appeared unto him, and said unto him, Yahweh [is] with thee, thou mighty man of valour.”
While the subject is not wheat I think the principle can carry over. Gideon was a “mighty man of valour” for using a strategy of avoidance concerning the tyrants of his day.
Another example still: In I779 British tyrants were going after colonial powder stores. In this year a 76 year old Rev. Naphtali Daggett sniped at British tyrants of his day. When troops closed in on him, allegedly, a British Lieutenant asked “the old fool” what he thought he was doing opposing the King’s troops. Naphtali’s response was, “Exercising the rights [responsibilities?] of war, son. . . ” as he reloaded his pistol. The Lieutenant supposedly asked Naphtali if he let him go would he no longer fire on the British. Naphtali answered instead, “There’s nothing more likely. . . “. So they arrested him.
Fight back? Passively be arrested? Exercise avoidance? There may be no right answer only what God leads each man to do in each situation. I offer this to stimulate thought and suggest that, even though Yahweh is not constrained to save by few or many, the most effective place for a Christian in such a circumstance may not be a jail cell.
Thank you, Lee. I agree with everything you have said.
Ironically, I started a new blog recently called The Gideon Project, in which I posted two full-length articles concerning the Christian response to the issue of self-defense. You can see them here. The first concerns Esther, the second Abraham. I will probably write more.
David, who was a man after God’s own heart, ran like a scared rabbit before Saul. He lived to fight another day and eventually became king. This is a valid biblical concept of self-defense.
If a Marine squad or SWAT team broke down my door at 2:30 a.m. and poured in fully armed, screaming, and ready to kill, I would obey them without question. The last thing I would be thinking about is “pry my gun from my cold, dead fingers.” What a silly statement! Under this scenario, if I tried to defend my family, I would be dead instantly and that would do no one any good. While there’s life, there’s hope–even if it means incarceration in a prison camp somewhere in North Dakota. Which is entirely possible these days.
I’ll give them a read. Your writing stimulates thought and I enjoy it.
May Yahwehs’ enemies end up incarcerated in ND instead, but only until we find oil under them, and then He move them to someplace *much* warmer. 😉