Does God Have Civil Rights?
Los Angeles, the 14th Amendment and God
God has all the rights of the universe. This is part of his glory that we are commanded to declare to the white and black and brown and yellow and red nations of America. To mention a few:
- He has the right to forgive sin (Matthew 9:6).
- He has the right to command unclean spirits (Matthew 10:1).
- He has the right to take his life back from the grave (John 10:18).
- He has the right to execute judgment (John 5:27).
- He has the right to give eternal life (John 17:2).
- He has the right to cast into hell (Luke 12:5).
- He has the right to fix times and seasons (Acts 1:7).
- He has the right to create any kind of person (Romans 9:21).
- He has the right to control plagues (Revelation 16:9).
- Every right in the universe has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:19).
Rights are rooted in being. Humans have rights because human being is different from animal being. Humans axe created in the image of God. Therefore we possess a dignity of being that animals and plants do not have.
The 14th amendment says that “no State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Thus these fundamental rights are rooted in personhood – personal being. We may deprive bugs of life, liberty, and property because they do not have personal being. Humans are persons because we are created in the image of God who is a Person.
Therefore God has absolute rights, because he has absolute being. As the source and original of all personal being, he has all the rights that persons have who are created in his image. If beings beneath God have rights because they are nearer to God in their being, then God has infinitely greater rights than all human persons.
So why are we not outraged that God’s rights are not acknowledged in America? Why do cities burn over the denial of a man’s rights but not over the denial of God’s rights?
“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). So all that exists is God’s property. It exists for his purposes. But contrary to the 14th amendment he is deprived of this property without due process of law. People take houses and cars and businesses and parks and schools and theaters and newspapers and TV stations and use them without any consultation with the Owner at all. They deny his ownership and act against his stated purposes for why these things exist. His rights are violated every day. Where is the outrage?
The root of every injustice in Los Angeles or anywhere else is the pervasive human injustice against God. Where the rights of our Creator and Savior are daily denied with impunity, we should not be surprised that the rights of persons created in his image are denied in a cavalier and selfish way. Until God is given his rights, no human rights will have significance beyond convenience. And when they are no longer convenient, they will be ignored, whether by violent police, traffic violators, looters or murderers. The end of godlessness is anarchy.
So I call you to declare in America the hymn of Charles Wesley,
Then let us adore and give him his right,
All glory and power, all wisdom and might:
All honor and blessing, with angels above,
And thanks never ceasing and infinite love.
©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. ©2014 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org