Friday, February 01, 2013

With Love There Is No Need For Rights

With Love There Is No Need For Rights

Anytime you study morality, you end up talking about what is wrong and right.  However, our lesson begins with this quote: 

“People love to talk about “human rights.” From the Magna Carta (1215) to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) to various United Nations declarations, the idea is promoted that human beings possess certain “inalienable rights,” rights that no one can rightfully take away from us. They are ours by virtue of being human (at least that’s how the theory goes).
The questions remain: What are these rights? How are we to determine what they are? Can these rights change, and if so, how so? Why should we, as humans, have these rights, anyway? 
In some countries, for instance, women were not given the “right” to vote until the twentieth century (some nations still deny it). How, though, can a government grant to people something that is their “unalienable right” to begin with?
Hard questions, and their answers are inseparably linked to the question of human origins, the study for this week’s lesson.”

I believe the premise here is that if I am moral I will do what is right; therefore I will respect other people’s rights.  Conversely, if I am immoral, then I will do what is wrong; therefore I will infringe on someone’s right.  The appearance of this concept of having rights came to be in order to prevent abuses.  Indeed, this concept of human rights appeared when it was common for only royalty, nobility and clergy to have rights.  Everyone else was at the mercy of the royalty, nobility and clergy.  These believed that it was a God given right to be above everyone else.  So, they ruled every aspect of lower classes lives.  So, the most heinous abuses were committed under this ruling system. 

The solution to this was to create these documents with edicts to be followed by all regarding how others should be treated.  This curtailed the far reach of influence over the people’s lives by the ruling classes.  Everyone was free to make their own choices according to their own conscience.  Among others, Freedom of religion, of thought, of expression were guaranteed by these documents.  So, laws are created to protect those rights.  Which means that we have also a list of duties to make sure others rights are not violated.  These laws may not guarantee your rights immediately, but it can guarantee that the one whose rights have been violated can be heard and awarded reparations for the damage done by the violators.  These laws that protect are externally imposed.  And, when anyone breaks them they are penalized.

However, there are three issues laws cannot deal with.  One, the law cannot heal the pain.  When the rights of someone are infringed it comes as a result of some kind of abuse.  The victim’s 1st concern is the pain caused by the abuse not the infringed right.  While man’s law can punish the victimizer, it cannot heal the pain.  That only happens through grieving.  Also, the law cannot cause reconciliation.  Lastly, more often than not when the right infringer is punished he is not really sorry for what he did.  He is sorry that he was caught and angry to pay the punishment.  His heart is not changed.  And, for reconciliation to happen you need two things: a person that has repented and asks for forgiveness, and a person that forgives.  Both victim and victimizer need a change of heart. 

The Bible talks about a change of heart; God’s law and scripture written in our hearts and minds (Romans 12: 2; Jeremiah 31: 33).  So, what man’s law seeks to impose becomes natural to man.  I will not abuse my fellow human being because God’s love permeates my heart.  It is not because my fellow human being has rights, but because God’s love moves me to put others first and have mercy and compassion on them.  When I act with mercy and compassion the rights of others do not matter, I will treat them right regardless.  My rights will not matter either.  To put others first I give up my right. 

That is what Christ did.  As Paul exhorts us to follow Christ’s example he describes how Jesus gave up every right, without denying any good to anyone.  We read in Philippians 2: 3 - 8,

Phi 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Phi 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Phi 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phi 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Phi 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Phi 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus did nothing on His own, only what the Father ordained (John 5: 30; 6: 38).  And, at times when He could have asked the Father to rescue Him, Jesus held His peace.  Consider what Christ told Peter after Peter cut a young man’s ear, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  For Christ, others came first.  Not because they had rights, but because He loved them.