In my WND column last Friday, I pointed out that “every assertion of a fundamental human right necessarily relies in turn upon an assertion about what is right.” Today this fact is more often than not ignored, even by Americans who profess to be ardent defenders of the liberty America’s founders intended to establish and preserve. Madison succinctly summarized the founders’ understanding when he said that “Justice is the end of government, it is the end of civil society. …” But the Declaration of Independence makes clear that the end or aim of the institution of government is to secure God-endowed unalienable rights. (“To secure these rights governments are instituted among men. …”) Justice is thus identified with the security (safe existence) of unalienable rights, because both are identified as the singular end or aim of government. (If A=C and B=C, then A=B.)
This appears even more plainly when we recall that the root of justice (Latin “iustus”) is right (Latin “ius” or “ious”). But in the context of the Declaration’s stated purpose for government, God endows right (i.e., He provides the “income” that establishes it; He determines what goes into it; He is the source of its conceptual substance or meaning). In the Declaration America’s founders declare that the colonies “are, and of right ought to be free and independent States. …” Their free condition is thus identified as a matter or right, a consequence of the substance or meaning which God endows their nature. By invoking their natural right they invoke the authority of the Creator, which is its source and substantiation.
Since the founders’ assertion of freedom invokes the authority of the Creator, the validity of the assertion depends on its conformity with the substance or meaning of right established by that authority. But this dependency has a consequence. It restricts the assertion of freedom within boundaries determined by this conformity to God-endowed right. Freedom is therefore not an unlimited potential for action. The assertion of freedom is valid only for action in conformity with the substance or meaning of right as established (endowed) by the Creator.
By this straightforward logic Abraham Lincoln was bound to conclude that one cannot have the right to do what is wrong. If it is wrong, for instance, to murder innocent people, one cannot claim to do so as a matter of right. If it is wrong, by enslaving them, to violate their God-endowed liberty, one cannot claim to do so as a matter of right.
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