In my Ignorance and Democracy post and in Pseudo-Polymath's responses here and here, it's come to my attention that I need to make clear my views on rights and responsibilities and how they relate to God. Most of this comes right out of the comments on Pseudo-Polymath's second post. He's been saying that because I have a responsibility to raise my children well I must therefore have a right to raise them in the way I choose. I initially responded that I don't have a right to raise them however I want, because I have an obligation to do it well. He seems to have clarified his position to say that he doesn't have a right to raise them however he wants, but he has a right to raise them in a godly way. I'm not quite sure if this is what he means, but that's what he seems to me to be saying. My response is just that it sounds funny to say that I have a right to love my neighbor or to pay my debts. I have a responsibility and obligation to do those things. A right is usually something I'm owed by others, derived from my own status and not theirs.
I think many people see rights as fundamental and responsibilities as derivative. I have a right to life, and therefore the government has a responsibility to protect me. I think the biblical view is the reverse, at least with many things we in the United States will end up calling rights. I think I have philosophical reasons for this, too, but I don't have the time today with all the grading I have to finish by Monday to give those reasons. I more just want to state what my view is to make sure we're not talking past each other.
We all have God-given responsibilities, and any talk of rights is derivative of those responsibilities. I have property rights only because God has put stuff under my care, but it's not really a moral right. It's a responsibility. The same is true of parenting rights. Children are a gift from God, but familial relationships will be superceded in the resurrection. It's therefore really just stewardship. Besides, they grow up and have their own lives, even if familial ties still give them some reason to consider parental advice as adults. Perhaps the image of God grounds a moral right to life. If so, that's different. I just don't see how these oher things can be rights for me to demand things of others.
It seems to me rather that people have God-ordained responsibilities to respect God's stewardship directives, which means they have to allow the God-appointed people to manage what they have authority to manage, whether that be property, children, the environment, or whatever. That doesn't mean I have a right to their respecting of God's appointments. It's not about me. It's about God. God is the one who has that right. It violates God's rights if they don't do it, but it's not my right for them to respect God's careful apportioning of authority. It therefore seems to me to be encroaching upon God's rights to say that I have a right to raise my children in a way different from how the government wants me to. If they fail to allow me to raise them the way God intends, then they've violated God's rights and perhaps my children's rights but not mine. That's why I don't think my rights as a parent should be the ground of laws preventing the government from controlling my parental choices. I just don't think I have such rights.