Ask the Bible Guys
We recently received a question from Ben, via e-mail. He asks, "Do you think that the right to privacy is a biblically based right which Christians should defend? Why or why not?"
In America, we know that there are rights afforded us by our Constitution - as amended. When the Constitution was finalized, it was presented for adoption by the individual States. In their subsequent conventions, as recorded in the document that came to be called the Bill of Rights, a number of the States "expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added."
In response to the States' concerns, Congress then wrote up twelve articles "extending the ground of public confidence in the Government," to "best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution." Except for the first two, they were ratified on Dec. 15, 1971, becoming the "first ten amendments to the Constitution." These ten amendments were not added to declare or support their faith (which, for most of the founders, was unquestionable), but to meet the concerns of the people of the new country that past abuses of European nations would not rear their heads here.
These same founders, however, did proclaim certain God-given rights as justification for our independence. The Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienble Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men..."
We often hear the terms "Right to Privacy," or "Separation of Church and State." These are, in fact, not necessarily accurate abbreviated descriptions of the coinciding amendments. The U.S. Constitution states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The current concept of "separation of Church and State" actually supports the exact opposite of the intent of the first amendment.
Likewise, what is often referred to as the "Right to Privacy" afforded us by the Constitution is found in the fourth amendment. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The Constitution, declaring and limiting the powers of the Government sought to prevent abuses. Remember, however, that as it is amended, the newer amendments supercede previous ones. Today, technological advances make intrusion all the more easy. They may argue that the same technological advances that provide us convenience now necessitate their increased access to our activity.
Regardless of the dynamic nature of our rights (and their progressive erosion), do we have certain rights according to the Bible? The Bible does not seem to secure for us the "Right to Privacy." In fact, it seems more to enumerate our duties, responsibilities, requirements, and certain conditional gifts.
Even the gift of eternal life is granted on the condition that we come to God with a broken and contrite spirit, repent, confess our sins and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Eternal life, then, is not a right - it is a gift.
Other gifts (such as the gifts of the Spirit, and the gifts of the ministry) are also granted under certain conditions, not the least of which is one's ability. (Matt. 24:15; Rom. 12:6)
It seems difficult, from a biblical perspective, to defend something that is not, as such, derived from the Scriptures. Well, politically then, should we defend the Constitution and the rights it grants us? Paul said, "I am set for the defense of the gospel." We are not called to be "political." We are called to be saints. We must bring the light of God to the nations: not by protest, but by example.
We welcome your participation. If you have a question regarding a passage of scripture or a doctrine, or have an item you would like us to include in a future issue, please send it to us (see contact informaiton).