28 Jun What Does the Bible Say About Human Rights?
Does the Bible Address Human Rights?
A right is something you are entitled to, often defined by the government or societal standards; however, did you know that the Bible addresses human rights? Human rights are specifically rights that every human should be entitled to. As God’s Word, what the Bible says should be the final authority. In this article, I’ll share specific Bible verses and the context behind them and how they address human rights.
So, what does the Bible say about human rights? Here is a list of some of the principles that the Bible lists as basic human rights that everyone should be entitled to:
- Right to Equality (Galatians 3:28, James 2:1-5, Leviticus 19:15)
- Right to Liberty (Galatians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 3:17, 2 Peter 2:19)
- Right to Justice (Isaiah 1:17, Proverbs 20:10)
- Right to Life (Psalm 139:13-16, Isaiah 44:24)
These are just a few, yet important, human rights addressed within the text of the Bible. What the Bible actually says about human rights has been debated for years. Now, let’s break down these bible verses to say what the Bible really says about these human rights.
Right to Equality
What is equality? Equality is being judged and treated impartially regardless of the color of your skin, your gender, or where you’re from. 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 unalienable rights…”
Through these words, the Declaration itself declared that equality is one of the basic human rights that everyone should have. Throughout the Bible, you can find statements that back up the idea that equality is a human right. Here are just a few verses that do this:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This concept is the same found throughout the pages of the Bible as God address how we should treat and judge one another.
Right to Liberty
What’s the difference between liberty and freedom? Freedom is when you can do anything you want without the risk of consequences while liberty is freedom within a framework. In America, we are free to do what we want as long as we follow the laws in place and our freedom doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others. That is liberty. Likewise, God provided us freedom through Jesus in the framework of being led by the Spirit, knowing Him, and following the Bible.
Here are some bible verses that discuss how liberty is a basic human right:
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2 Peter 2:19
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
You can see in this last verse that most of the liberty talked about in the Bible refers to spiritual liberty. The great news is that often times, the spiritual side of things will end up effecting the physical side of things. If the Bible mentions becoming spiritually free, it implies that there should be physical effect to that as well. Many religious groups that grasped this understanding were able to effect change in the physical realm as abolitionists, most recognizably the Quakers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Right to Justice
Justice is often thought of in how it applies to the legal system; however, what justice really mean is that the outcome of a situation is equal to or determined by the effort of input, much like the concept of sowing and reaping. For example; proper justice would mean that a legal sentence given should be determined by the severity of the crime. In other terms, ‘the punishment should match the crime.’
The Bible talks in-depth about justice, both from a spiritual stand-point but also a societal one as well. Here are some bible verses for you to read:
Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
Diverse weights and diverse measures, They are both alike, an abomination to the Lord.
While Proverbs 20:10 could also be talking about ripping people off when selling them a product, it’s also completely applicable to how God views justice. The final outcome should be determined by the input.
Right to Life
One of the most basic human rights is a right to life. While this seems like a given, it unfortunately is not. Without life, a person cannot exist. The Declaration of Independence states that, “(men) are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” This document recognizes that God has the authority is the authority to determine life and existence. When men or government try to do this, they are just playing God.
Here are some bible verses that describes God’s view on the right to life:
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself.”
God made a declaration that everyone, those is the past, present, and the future, are worthy when He sent His One and Only Son, Jesus, for all of mankind. That means he has a plan and purpose for everyone, those who have been, those who are, and those who will be. A life is not a mistake! If your heart is beating, that means God has a plan for you!
These are just a few of the human rights that God defines in the Bible. Another human right discussed in-depth throughout the Bible is the right to own property. You can learn more about what the Bible says about this by reading my article What Does the Bible Say About Property Rights?