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What’s Wrong with Human Rights?

What’s Wrong with Human Rights?

For many, the suggestion that there is a fundamental flaw with the concept of universal human rights comes as a huge challenge to their thinking. Here are some answers to a few of the questions that I have been asked: 

How did you come to write this book?

Some years ago, I was in France at a museum devoted to the French Revolution. I noticed some stone tablets on the wall containing the seventeen articles of the declaration of the Rights of Man, compiled in 1789. It was a personal moment of revelation when I realised that each statement was in direct opposition to the biblical commandments of God. Since then, I have investigated the concept of so-called universal and inalienable human rights and I have concluded that, however well-meaning, there is no biblical justification for this ideology. I felt compelled to put these thoughts into a book. 

In looking for ways of combatting injustice, the world may choose to put its faith in the promotion of human rights. My greater concern is that many within the Body of Christ are being seduced into agreement with this deceptive philosophy, despite the warning of scripture: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and on the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

There is a lot of discussion about the concept of human rights at the moment. What, in your view, are the fundamental flaws with it?

The primary flaw is that it’s not God’s way of bringing justice into this very damaged world. Humanity, generally, is not comfortable with the concept of sin, nor with the God who forgives sin. The proclaiming of human rights sidesteps the need to acknowledge and resolve wrongdoing. Promotion of the idea of innate human rights may give a voice to those who are truly oppressed, but I do not believe that it has demonstrated itself to be an effective antidote to human injustice.

Another fundamental flaw with the relentless advocacy of human rights is that there is no consensus on what those foundational rights should include. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has now chosen to exclude the unborn child from the right to life, favouring the right of a mother to abort the child. This competition of entitlement is typical of the confusion that rights-based justice produces. It often seems that whoever shouts their rights the loudest is heard.

Belief in universal human rights is based on ill-defined concepts of freedom, inclusivity and equality. There is no moral plumb line to give a boundary to what rights can be claimed. We are, today, witnessing an aggressive drive to normalise lifestyles which, just a few decades ago, would have been seen as at least dysfunctional and, more probably, sinful. The human rights label is being used to legitimise almost any lifestyle of which human beings are capable, however bizarre, with any opposing opinion immediately attacked as discrimination. Seeking justice through the claiming of rights frequently deteriorates into a fight for being recognised as the one who is the greater victim.

Why should people read this book? How will it equip them to participate in the human rights discussion?

I hope that followers of Jesus, and anyone who is interested in a biblical perspective on this issue, will discover that a legitimate right can only be conferred by someone who has the authority to do so. For human beings, that someone can only be their Creator, if we are talking about the fundamental rights of our existence. However, nowhere in the Bible has God given such rights, except through a well-defined covenant relationship with Him. There are no universal human rights given to us dependent simply on our being born human. Let me be clear: from God’s perspective, we undoubtedly have inalienable value, but we do not have inalienable rights.

I trust this book will equip Christians to stand firm against the pervasive ‘religion’ of universal rights, recognising that it is not bringing the peace and justice so needed in this world. The true answer is for us to offer people the solution of receiving God’s forgiveness for sin, through the payment that Jesus made, by dying on a cross. The exciting truth of the Bible is that there is indeed a precious and legitimate human right, that comes to those who receive Jesus, that is the right to be children of God, together with all the benefits that come from this God-given entitlement.

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What's Wrong With Human Rights? (Paperback)
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