Recently I was able to listen on the local radio as they played Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech speech in its entirety. It remains today a monumental moment for the civil rights movement.
But in order to get the full gravity of what Mr. King was saying and indeed understand the foundation of what he based his involvement in the civil rights movement, we need to only look to his memorable Letter from Birmingham Jail.
It is here Mr. King stated that “An unjust law is no law at all” and in order for a law to be just, King believed it must reflect God’s law.
This understanding places the “law” higher than the courts or a government in that it is not merely created, but discovered. Man does not create what is moral and just, we discover it and for a Christian it is revealed in God’s word.
It is this law that Mr. King appealed to in his pursuit of racial equality and it is this law that is today, the basis for universal human rights.
Not a very popular thought in today’s morally relativistic society to be sure. But the concept of a universal moral law is essential for the upholding of universal human rights.
Today’s moral relativism falls short here as it loses any ground to condemn an action as wrong or immoral without an absolute authority or standard in which to draw upon. All that is left is opinion or preference, which ultimately takes society down the path of power or “might makes right”, or even “the majority is always right”.
Maintaining a higher law is essential today in the continuation of universal human rights and the freedoms associated with them. Rights that are ‘God given’ or ‘natural rights’ works as a balance of power for the state but also puts a responsibility on the citizens to use these ‘God given rights’ responsibly for the benefit of yourself and your fellow man.
As your reading this you may start to see the far-reaching consequences of not regarding such a law. For instance abortion and euthanasia both are possible when human rights are granted not by God or a recognition of the inherit rights of an individual but rather by manmade government. Rights that can be given or taken away deny the reality of a higher law and make possible some of man’s most tragic history. A state deciding who gets to be a person and all the benefits associated with it is a recipe for oppression in the worst form. Today we celebrate African Americans as human beings in every way as white men was not because the state created these rights but rather recognized this fact and this is the what Mr. King understood so well.
It is here where the civil rights movement today is still very much alive and needs to find inspiration from Mr. King’s words and powerful statement writing from a jail cell in Birmingham, declaring that the code of justice is not man’s law but rather God’s. Dr. King fought for the rights of the African Americans in the 60’s today the fight is for the unborn and tomorrow the rights of the disabled and sick.
This is an excellent way to pray for our nations government because it actually falls within God’s intent for people to live out the God given rights that he has created for each of us. Also for the Church as well to continue to bring the revelation of God’s higher law into society.
“Heavenly Father, thank you that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. That you have created each of us in your likeness and have created us with ‘rights’ that are part of who we are as human beings in your image. Lord we pray that your law, the highest law will be upheld and recognized by our government leaders and courts, that revelation of a universal law will be honored and esteemed in future legislation. And for the church in Canada, may you give her wisdom and fresh understanding of the importance of bearing witness in word and deed to your law. Amen”