By Johan Tangelder - Posted at Reformed Perspective:
Do human rights need God? Bluntly stated, it all depends on your god.
Those who reject that there is a God, say human beings are responsible for their own destiny and create our own morals… and even our own rights.
WHAT THE STATE GIVES THE STATE CAN TAKE AWAY
But the standard secular account of human rights is mistaken. What is widely overlooked today is that a worldview based on godless evolution cannot provide a reasonable foundation for either the universality or the permanence of human rights. How can relativism, so prevalent in the West, guarantee human rights? Philosopher Jacques Ellul properly warned us that it cannot protect “established human rights…against arbitrary power or against totalitarian definitions of right and wrong.”
The truth is that human rights issues are deeply religious issues and therefore the God question cannot be avoided.
But won’t basing human rights on God lead to a theocracy?
Not if we keep in mind what belongs to God and what belongs to the State. As the church father Tertullian (c.160-230) pointed out: “Render to Caesar money. Render to God yourself. Otherwise, what will be God’s, if all things are Caesar’s?” In other words, the State does not bestow human rights, but it does have a duty to recognize and safeguard these rights. It must protect not only specific political rights like (like voting) but also non-political rights such as the right to worship, freedom of association, parental choice in education, and so forth.