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.