My country’s Constitution states, “all men are … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”*
Today, I keep hearing about other “fundamental human rights,” such as:
- freedom from slavery and torture
- right to have an abortion
- freedom of expression and opinion
- freedom of movement
- right to a fair trial
- 4G Internet service
- freedom of religion
- right to work
- LGBTQ etc. rights
- right to education
- freedom from discrimination
- travelers’ rights
- right to personal ownership
- right to marriage and family
While many of these should be included in basic human rights, some shouldn’t for various reasons, for example: should all people of the earth expect 4G Internet service as a fundamental right? For many of us, we can only dream of fast Internet. Many of my friends live in third-world countries, where they’re fortunate to have electricity. Yet, I’ve never heard of the right to reliable electrical service or the right to clean water or the right not to have to soak veggies in a special solution. How about the right to nutritious food? I didn’t find that in anyone’s list.
Years ago, I read a book titled, Have We No Rights? by Mabel Williamson, who was a missionary in China. It is thought provoking. She discusses the issue of being willing to give up all personal rights for the spreading of the gospel. I decided both to agree and disagree with her.
The Apostle Paul referred to his rights as a Roman citizen, and we know Jesus and Peter paid taxes. God gives authority to governments.
Do Christians have fundamental rights?
I think so. We have the rights afforded to us by our government, companies, and laws worldwide. We have rights as citizens. Citizens can appeal to government leaders, embassies, and other entities and ask for protection and help. Persons can take matters to court, if need be.
We have rights as Christians, as well. The right to:
- pray—Pray without ceasing (1 Thesalonians 5:17).
- exercise our faith—And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men (Acts 24:16).
- follow Christ—And he (Jesus) said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).
- meet with others in a local church—Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is (Hebrews 10:25a).
- give a personal testimony of God’s grace—For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
Some governments prohibit a Christian’s owning a Bible and exercising one’s faith in public, especially meeting together with other believers. The Christian must then choose whether to obey God or man and, if necessary, pay the cost of non-compliance. About sharing the gospel, Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). We see examples of this all through the New Testament. Some paid the ultimate price. Hebrews says of those tortured, exiled, and killed for their faith: the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38a).
No one can take prayer and a relationship with the Lord from a Christian, since the Holy Spirit dwells in his heart. This intimacy between a believer’s heart and God is what being in Christ is all about.
A Christian also has the right to live his daily life to please God—every day. Whatever the cost, he can choose to obey the Lord.
Do Christians have rights?
Yes, I think so.
* Constitution of the United States.