Responsibilty Verse Rights

August 25, 2011

Scripture: “If any who are dependant on you become so improverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves. They shall remain with you as a hired or bound laborers. [Leviticus 25:39-40, NRSV]

Commentary: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came to the US in 1974. When this Russian dissident was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal they ask him what he thought about America. He said, Besides cowardice and selfishness. We hear a constant clamor about rights, always rights but so very little about responsibility. Solzhenitsyn spoke to the Columbia University graduates in 1978, in that address he said, “The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer.” The ancient Israelites were not  so soft; they put a premium of personal responsiblity. If you could not pay your bills, you were expected to sell yourself to someone who could. You would become their bond-slave. By Jewish law, no Jew could enslave another Jew but he could retain him as a bond-servant until he worked off his debt. The ancient Israelites expected men to work and provide for their families. It was not he governments responsibility to provide for them, nor their neighbors. Rights were earned by responsible behavior. We don’t seem to understand that irresponsible people do not deserve rights and they cannot manage freedom. Broad civil liberties can only be given to and preserved by a moral people. George Washington and John Adams understood this and so did Solzhenitsyn.  Rights without responsibility is a misconception of freedom, a liberal pipe dream. There can be no freedom apart from responsible behavior. Prisons are filled with irresponsible people who proved that they could not handle freedom.

EXTRA: Exerts of the Wall Street Journal interview can be found in Chuck Swindoll’s living on the Ragged Edge, page 74-75. You can read Solzhenitsyn address to Columbia University on-line. It is good, I just gave you some highlights above. “The Miracle we need,” said Solzhenitsyn “is a profound change of heart”. I would call that REVIVAL and we certainly need it. Have a great day and thanks for reading the blog.