Deciphering The Complexity Of God-Given Rights In Modern Times

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Published by Kenneth Garcia


Co-Founder of Biblekeeper, Author & Theologian

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Thomas Jefferson’s opening words in the Declaration of Independence have shaped American life.

“The Creator creates all men equal and endows them with unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The governed grant powers to governments, which they establish to secure these rights.”

These God-given rights were pivotal for American independence. But what exactly are these rights? Did God bestow these natural rights? And what risks do we face in exercising them?

Key Takeaways

  • The Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, is key to American values. It presents “God-given rights”—fundamental human rights not granted by governments. These rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, shape US society and governance.
  • The Founding Fathers emphasized the link between religion and governance, believing that rights are divinely given and should be protected by the government. This reflects the profound impact of Christian principles and the Bible on US laws and societal norms, showcasing the country’s moral base.
  • Defining and exercising “God-given rights” pose challenges. These rights, seen as universal, have varying interpretations and have been used to justify actions like slavery. This highlights the complexity of interpreting religious texts and the need to separate personal beliefs from universal human rights in diverse societies.

What Are God-Given Rights?

God-given rights are inherent to human nature and not derived from old books or documents. Human power cannot overshadow their divine and enduring nature.

The Bible provides moral guidance, defining our privileges and rights. God grants these rights.

The American Founders believed that everyone has rights given by God, and the government’s role is to protect these rights. These rights clarify the treatment we deserve from others, including our government.

a sacred moment where a divine entity grants God-given rights to a devout soul

What Are Your God-Given Rights?

Your God-given rights are inherent, not earned, and are defined by the Bible. They include equality, freedom, and dignity, as we are created in God’s image. These rights guide our treatment of others, as stated in Galatians 5:13–14, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Human rights[1], the closest concept we have to God-given rights, apply to every individual on earth, regardless of their circumstances. Human laws do not legislate them, nor can they revoke them.

The 1948 United Nations document, “A Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” affirms these rights as every human’s birthright. Key rights include:

  • Freedom and equality for all.
  • The right to life, safety, and independence.
  • Non-discrimination applies to everyone, regardless of their social status or occupation.
a scene of divine empowerment where God bestows God-given rights

Are God-Given Rights Natural Rights Ordained By God?

Yes, God-given rights are natural rights ordained by God. God, not governments or society, bestows these fundamental human rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, upon all people.

The concept of these rights has roots in classical antiquity and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Prominent Enlightenment philosophers like Hugo Grotius, John Locke, and Thomas Hobbes expanded on these traditions, advocating for inherent liberties grounded in a non-denominational “natural law.”

These rights are universal, apply to every individual on earth, and clarify the treatment we deserve from others, including our government. They are the closest concept we have to rights given by God.

The Founders drafted your God-given rights within the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, under the framework of natural law. The Constitution was designed to protect these rights.

Understanding the US Constitution requires comprehension of the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that American governance is founded on safeguarding these rights.

Accurate judicial interpretation often involves faith in God, absolute truth, and the right to religious exercise. The Founders used this as a guide, establishing the natural law and belief system.

They believed in the core principle of human equality in a civilized society but also understood that natural rights could be severely misused if they were not aligned with reality.

a surreal ethereal realm where God bestows God-given rights

What Is The Biblical And Historical Perspective On The Concept Of Rights?

Our Rights Originated From God

The Founding Fathers believed that our rights came from God. In monarchies, the sovereign authority was thought to be divinely granted to the ruler, who determined the people’s rights.

The USA, however, was the first nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Its founding documents assert that everyone has inherent worth and God-given rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Country’s Moral Foundation Was Based On Christianity

The Founders viewed Christianity as the nation’s core belief and governing principle. They believed our rights, particularly regarding human treatment, should be learned from the Bible.

As stated in The Rights of the Colonists, these rights can be best understood by studying the New Testament and the teachings of the head of the Christian Church.

Our societal moral standards should be based on God’s word, reflecting a government that aligns with God’s standards. The Founders were clear that the rights they outlined were based on Biblical principles and Christian morals.

The Protection Of Our Rights Is The Duty Of The Government 

The Founding Fathers believed in the government’s duty to protect God-given rights. If a government fails to do so, it’s the people’s responsibility to establish a new one. We should appreciate those who strive for our rights.

The preamble of the Declaration of Independence indeed asserts that people must dissolve political ties and assume equal status, as the Laws of Nature and God entitle them.

a sacred grove setting where God imparts God-given rights, capturing a moment where nature merges with the divine

What Is The Danger Of God-Given Rights?

The danger of God-given rights lies in their potential misuse by those claiming to speak for God. Historically, practices like slavery and racial segregation were justified as God’s will. Opposition to same-sex relationships was often religiously motivated.

Human rights are universal and not subject to religious preferences. They are inherent at birth and apply globally. However, interpretations can vary, especially in countries influenced by religious leaders.

Defining God-given rights is challenging as they rely on individual interpretations of religious texts. Even when higher authorities guide it, human understanding, which can be flawed, ultimately determines the interpretation. Thus, a human’s interpretation can be mistakenly elevated to divine law.

the moment of God bestowing God-given rights upon a devout individual


When we refer to a right as God-given, we mean that certain aspects of life and existence are the natural rights of every human, regardless of societal circumstances.

A government that disregards its accountability to God is more susceptible to corruption. Recognizing this, the Founding Members established a constitutional republic “under God” to protect citizens from future governments that might deny these God-given rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Rights Granted By God?

The rights granted by God, also known as “God-given” or “natural” rights, are fundamental human rights believed to be given to all people by a divine entity. These rights, which often include life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are thought to exist independently of human laws and institutions.

What Is The Meaning Of God-Given Right?

A God-given right, also known as a natural right, refers to a special privilege or authority bestowed upon someone by a higher power. People often use this term to describe fundamental human rights that they believe God or a divine entity gives to all people, rather than governments or society.

What Is The Meaning Of God Rights?

God rights could refer to God-given rights, which are fundamental human rights given to all people by God. Alternatively, God rights could refer to the rights of God or divine rights, which pertain to the sovereignty of God, implying that as the ruler of the universe, God has the right to do whatever He wants. Lastly, it could refer to the righteousness of God, which is about the moral perfection of God, and the approval or justification that comes from God.

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