When Rights Go Wrong

by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International

We’re told that the earliest government on earth was established in a garden, a perfect environment for the first co-regents over all that God created.  They ruled over wild and domestic animals and tended the plant life.  Their instructions were clear:  Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth and govern it.  Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground. (Gen. 1:28) Most of us learned this while we were children.  We learned, too, that sin entered the picture, and the next generation came into being, not within the garden’s sin-free setting, but exiled outside of it.

Families grew in size and became clans; clans became tribes that combined to make nations.  Nations formed alliances along shared values. Now, thousands of years and many generations later, this drama steadily unfolds.  The Sovereign God of the universe continues to expand his Kingdom of Heaven on earth, steadily prevailing against the gates of hell. The smallest unit of government, however, and perhaps the most critical to his purposes continues to be the human family.  Like smooth pebbles on a surf-kissed beach, or sturdy bricks that make an imposing barrier, the many families alive today combine to make up either works of glorious art, or of evil-dripping gloom, depending on who is in charge.

In today’s world, the mosaic of family life is complex even bewildering.  Challenges to God’s original plan abound and the billions now alive on our planet are bursting with creative energy, much of it like our earliest ancestors, full of corruption and violence.  Men and women continue to deprive others of their God given right to life, to enslave one another with selfish cruelty and to thwart one another in their rightful pursuits of happiness.  We know, too, that one person’s right to claim God’s gifts can collide with others’ rights and thus we see the need for government.

If you are a “head of household,” a parent or co-parent with leadership responsibility, you know what it is to govern others.  A great deal of biblical wisdom exists to guide you and is readily available. You know what it is to deal with immature, growing family members who often insist on personal rights that infringe on the happiness, even safety, of fellow family members.  This could be a good time to come together and talk about what an ‘inalienable right’ actually is.  Discuss how people living in close proximity in your family ‘kingdom’ can develop attitudes and actions that bring peace and harmony in a fair and just manner. For instance, did you know there are such things as alienable rights?

Tyranny exists when one individual’s personal rights so infringe on others that actual discomfort, damage, or danger exists.  One of leadership’s roles at any level of government is not only to safeguard the rights of citizens from outside, negative impact, but to so manage events within their area of responsibility that citizens do not put each other at risk.  In today’s world this is a complex task.

Any numbers of ways exist to improve one’s governing skills. Finding and implementing these may take some creative planning and a willingness to be flexible with time and other resources.  Depending on the ages and maturity of your family members, you’d do well to enlist everyone’s participation finding ways to make it challenging and fun.  Make prayer a vital part of the process.

It may well be that your family will become more like those in the early Church as recorded in the book of Acts.  As the Good News of the resurrection of Jesus spread like wildfire across the known world of that day, the very building blocks of the growing Church were family units.  Would that history would repeat itself in this respect.

…he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.  Acts16:34

 We must not just please ourselves. We should help others and build them up in the Lord.

 For even Christ did not live to please himself.  Romans15:1-3

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