Have you ever heard a parent tell a child, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out”? We hear it many times, but probably don’t stop to think of the spirit of such a comment and what it means for our society.
Even though we usually consider such a statement as hyperbole and let it go in passing, it ought at least to register with us once in a while that such a parent is implicitly justifying murder for what in reality is nothing more than a child needing an attitude adjustment. Sometimes children do need a hard rebuke, as they are to honor their father and mother. The problem we have here, however, is that the parent is using language that elevates their status from a representative of God to God Himself. We must understand the delegated authority that was given to parents and their limitations of discipline.
Children are called to respect and obey their parents in everything as long as they are not leading them to reject God (Deut. 5:15; Col. 3:20; Eph. 6:1). This does not mean, however, that the parent has been given the authority to rule over their child in any way they please, including threats of putting them to death. Even though this threatening statement is accepted as a norm in our culture, it is blasphemous. Yet parents are sometimes seen as good parents when they make such threats and are applauded for instilling the fear of man in their children. Now, we know that the majority of the time, because of the restraining grace from God, the parent is not actually going to execute this threat. Even if the child does not really believe they will either, the parent has now implicitly declared that they have such a charge over the child’s life. They have declared that they have the authority to take their breath away because they (allegedly) gave them breath. They have now overshadowed the fact that God is the giver and taker of life.
Some may respond to this by saying, “Does not the law of God command that rebellious children received capital punishment?” However, we are not speaking of a small child who is still in the rearing stage of life, or a child who got into some trouble with some kids in the neighborhood a few times. The law was referring to a son persistently rebellious to the point where the parents have no control over them. This child is so rebellious that even with the discipline of the parents they are continuing in sin. The child is most likely a danger to the family and is unwilling to submit not only to the rules of the household but the law of God. This not only makes them a thorn to the family but to the whole society.
Deuteronomy 21:18–21 says,
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, “This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
We even see here in these scriptures that it was not the parents’ duty to administer this punishment on their own, but they were to take the son or daughter out to the elders (v. 19). We also see that this punishment is not executed based on the parents’ anger, but from righteousness and to purge the evil from the midst of the whole congregation. This son is being punished not only for disobeying the parents but because their life is in complete, incorrigible rebellion to the laws of God.
Likewise, consider a couple other relevant passages from the law:
“For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him” (Lev. 20:9).
“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death” (Ex. 20:17).
This dishonoring of the parent deserves capital punishment because it shows the high honor that is to be given to the parent, but it still does not grant the parent ultimate authority over their lives. Parents are never given such authority, but rather their authority is limited and the child’s life is ultimately in the hands of God. Therefore the child has a right to life outside of their parents’ permission, including other unalienable rights.
Parental abuses by the parental State
A nation comprised of parents who speak as if they’re gods to their children will be a citizenry that speaks as if it is God. This means a State that acts, thinks, and speaks like a God who determines all—from cradle to grave—by its own word. Just as parents abuse their authority in this manner, the government has blatantly done the same thing—except its threats are not just talk.
Our fight for our rights in this country are not just personal offences, it is theological. Tyranny echoes the same attitude of the rebellious son who deserves capital punishment: one that rejects God. If we truly believe that the rights we have are not owed to us based on any document by the founders of this country, but because they are endowed to us by our Creator, then any overextension of authority is ultimately an attack on God. For the government to infringe upon our rights is ultimately to blaspheme God. God says he has given us these rights which are unchangeable in this life and the government says they have given them and can take them away.
The certain unalienable rights we have are not decided upon by votes or governing authorities, but they are inseparable because they come from God. This means they are guaranteed, they are owed, they are due to all mankind without permission from any other man or institution. When the State elevates itself to such authority, it is saying God is not holy. It is saying God is not just and his ways are not perfect. It is to say that man knows better than God. This, again, is blasphemy.
This does not mean that everything that some people call “rights” are always in fact rights. Those who are fighting for the right for certain jobs, or the right for mandatory wages, or the right to health care, or the right to education funded by the government, or housing are not the same rights that I am speaking of. Rather I am speaking of rights that can be defended from Scripture and do not force others into bondage, such as the right to life (including for the preborn), the right to protect and preserve life, the right to own property, the right to work and enjoy the fruit of our labor etc. Statists who require alleged rights that actually infringe upon other people’s real rights fall into the same category as the tyrannical government or the abusive parent: trying to play God and replace His Word with their own.
Colossians 1:15–18 is relevant here as well: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
We see clearly that Jesus is preeminent over all things in heaven and on earth because all things were made through him and for him. Thus, when the government violates God’s gift of liberties to man, it is not just rejecting patriotism, it is saying the State is preeminent and everyone exist for the State. Government schools (public schools) are a perfect example of this usurpation since the government declares education belongs to the State for the State’s benefit. Man has been gifted with sovereignty over their own lives under His authority and it is not in the authority of the government to take it away. The government thus attempts to display itself as the image of the invisible God. Its violation of our inherent rights is thus blasphemous to God.
We all say we treasure our rights, but often we get confused as to what rights are, where they come from, and how to defend them as Christians. Anyone who fights for rights simply out of personal pride or patriotism does not recognize he has no foundation from which to argue unless he has a Christian worldview that declares inherent rights given by God Himself. We must learn to uphold our rights and the rights of all people not only for ourselves and our children but so God’s name may be hallowed. His holiness and glory must be first, for He is the true head of all families, churches, and States.
Trevaris J. Tutt is the Pastor/Church Planter of Truth and Grace Bible Church in the inner city of Jacksonville, Florida. He is married with four children: two boys and two girls. He is an entrepreneur and is currently working on writing books to educate and edify the body of Christ on doctrine, apologetics, history, and biblical worldview.