Ten Things About Private Property That You Need to Know
In our last Superheroes in American History series episode, we learned about Quality Character. And today, we meet our fourth superhero, the sidekick to Quality Character: Private Property. Admittedly, these two seem like odd companions. But as you learn more about Private Property, you’ll quickly catch on as to why they go everywhere together.
John Locke was clued in to this relationship: “For men being the Workmanship of One Omnipotent, and infinitely wise Maker: All the Servants of one Sovereign Master, sent into the World by his Order, and about his Business, they are his Property, whose Workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure . . .” “Of Civil-Government” (1689) –Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, ©1965 by Rosalie J. Slater, p. 125.
1. Man is God’s Property
See, Quality Character and Private Property are best buddies because they both recognize that man is God’s property. If you’ll recall, Quality Character recognizes that any power working in him is from God. And Private Property recognizes that this is because each person is God’s property. Since both acknowledge they’re nothing without God, they work perfectly together!
Rosalie J. Slater said it beautifully in her poem that Biblical Classical Homeschoolers learn:
I Am God’s Property
God made me for His purpose
He fashioned me to be
An image for His glory,
Almighty Father He
2. Christian Stewardship and Ownership
While others will help take care of Private Property, ultimately he belongs to Holy God. However, this is not merely in relation to material things and spiritual matters. Much deeper, it’s related to the most sacred of all—conscience.
According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, a steward is a manager. Also according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, ownership is a legal or just claim. You then, are to manage your conscience. You then, have the legal and just claim to your conscience. No one else does!
James Madison recognized the importance of this when he said: “Conscience is the most sacred of all property.”
The Apostle Paul also expressed thoughts along these lines:
“[I]n that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,” Romans 2:15 (NASB)
In the Bible we also read the importance of having a pure conscience:
“[L]et us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22 (NASB)
Lastly, for now, we additionally read in the Bible:
“[K]eeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” 1 Timothy 1:19
Seafaring or not, Private Property does not want to suffer a shipwreck of faith! Quality Character is always nearby to hold Private Property accountable to protecting his conscience. That’s what friends are for! Right?
4. Private Property and Faithfulness
From the Bible we learn:
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:14-30 (KJV)
“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4:2 (KJV)
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:2 (KJV)
From these verses alone, we can see the reciprocated relationship. Faithfulness to God is of great importance to Private Property. And Private Property is of great importance to our Faithful God.
5. Private Property is to Be Respected
John Locke addresses this in “Every man has a Property in his own Person”—in which Rosalie J. Slater simply explains as:
“John Locke also states that one has an individual responsibility to preserve oneself, and also a responsibility towards the preservation of the rights of others. Note, however, the importance he puts on self-preservation. This does not come in competition with Christian duty to sacrifice for others. One’s duty is to take care of the property which God has entrusted to us—our own person—our bodies as well as our hearts and minds. If we do this we can then better preserve and help our fellow man.”
–Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, ©1965 by Rosalie J. Slater, p. 231
In taking care of ourselves, we’re respecting ourselves which in turn enables us to help our fellow man. The bottom line is this: proper attention to our appearances and conduct allow us to show respect for our fellow man. This really is basic to our form of government in America.
6. God Gave the World to all Mankind
Lest you think this is heading into social justice, be assured that it isn’t!
Here’s another great nugget of wisdom from John Locke (he knew Private Property quite well):
“Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man as a Property in his own Person: This is no Body has any right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever then he removes out of the State that Nature hath provided, and left in it, he hath mixed his Labour with, and joyned to it something that is his own, and therby makes it his Property. It being by him removed from the Common State Nature hath placed in it, it hath by this Labour something annexted to it, that excludeds the common Right of other Men. Page 64:27 “Of Property”
If you’re still with me, thanks for sticking around. Here’s an example to share with your students:
Let’s say you go out to state land to chop wood (after buying your permit of course). Since your labor—time and work of your hands—go into chopping that wood, it’s yours. Load it up into your trailer to take it home, it’s yours. Stack it on your property for seasoned firewood, it’s yours. Yes, it came from a “State that Nature hath provided” from “Earth . . . common to all Men,” but once it was mixed with your labor and something of your own (trailer, land it’s taken to, etc.), it became your own.
7. Private Property Has No Room for Anything to Go to Waste
I’m going to paraphrase what John Locke says about “The Measure of Property.” In essence, once something that was common becomes your private property (as discussed above) and it perishes in your possession, no bueno.
Let’s say it sits out for too long and it ends up rotting—it’s no longer useful for firewood. Why not? Well, rotten firewood contains a lot of moisture. Therefore it’ll smoke, smolder and potentially cause creosote to build in your chimney. Yeah, and then there’s the fact that it tends to contain insects that you likely just don’t want to have invade your home.
So, the wood rots in, some guy’s possession because he didn’t see to it for any number of reasons. All the while, it could have been used by someone who needed it. If this happens, then he has offended against the common Law of Nature. Why wouldn’t he admit he couldn’t get to it and find someone to give or sell it to who could use it?
Back in the day, the person responsible for this would have been liable to be punished because he invaded his neighbor’s share. Really, the wood (or food, or whatever the case may be) could have given him a Convenience of Life.
In Luke 12, the parable of the rich man addresses laying up treasures . . .
8. It Takes some Enterprise
Throughout Scripture, we see where God gives individuals opportunity to take possession of what He has provided for mankind. That said, some effort must be given by individuals in order to claim individual rights to those provisions.
Like it or not, Private Property absolutely has to do with putting forth effort. Such as the illustration Rosalie J. Slater gives:
“While God gives us both seed and harvest, opportunity for individual enterprise is also given.”
–Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, ©1965 by Rosalie J. Slater, p. 234
9. A Property in One’s Rights is a Part of America’s Form of Government
In John Locke’s famous paper A “Property in One’s Rights” he addresses an individuals rights in these categories:
- Purpose of civil government
- What liberty (freedom with responsibility) depends upon
- Does one have a right to defend one’s rights?
Much of this is addressed in Dr. Max Lyon’s book Government Takes All: What’s Left for Me?. I highly recommend this easy and quick read for busy individuals. As we learn the truth, we will be set free! Plus, as we submit to God’s Wisdom in setting up these principles, we will be free!
10. Private Property’s Nemesis
You knew it was coming, didn’t you? Indeed yes, Private Property has an enemy—his name is Socialism.
Yes, people, we have to go there. Because our very liberties depend on understanding why this matters. More than that, our posterity depend on us!
As you may be aware, Socialism is constantly at war with Private Property. Undoubtedly, he really works for a more sinister enemy of liberty (but he gets addressed a little later on).
This villain preys upon individuals who are:
- Have relinquished their God-given role
The first four, really care for others and feel that the best way to help other is through the government. Aside from this being contrary to God’s principles of government (yes, Holy God tells us what these are in the Bible), an institution can’t care for people. And it can never replace the helping hand of another individual. Relationships y’all. You know? God is about relationships. And He wants to work in and through His people to help others so that He may be glorified.
The next four either likely need help but are uneducated/ignorant about who to go to for it (hint: it’s not the government). Or else they’re lazy and selfish—they want “free” stuff and money. They don’t mind at all that hard earned income is stolen from tax payers.
But, if we learn to be still and KNOW that He is God, we can be witnesses to and give testimony of His care and provision! God does care and provide for all of His Creation. But, if we don’t follow His system of gov’t then we don’t get to share in this.
Who does it rob from?
- One doesn’t get to share in the experience of God’s provision,
- Others don’t get to see God working,
- In the end it isn’t God Who receives the glory.
In the end it isn’t God Who receives the glory. Think about that.
“I’m on such n’ such program through the government and because of that I get to . . . “
Can an individual turn around and say, “God provided such and such through the government program and because of that I get to . . . “
Truly, no. Not when actions from the government are forcefully taking (stealing) from others. God would not put in place one system of government to break HIS system of government.
Socialism preys. And he finds satisfaction in that the church (made up of individuals) around the world is content to hand over their role to the government. Therefore, read the Bible to see who God told to take care of the needy, the widows, the orphans. Surely, you’ll find that it has to do with self-governing individuals—as individuals take on the responsibility which God gives them. In the end, it all comes down to faith and trust in our Heavenly Father for His timing and provision as He sees fit.
Other superheros of American History:
Our First Hero:
10 Things You Need to Know About Individuality
Our Second Hero:
10 Things You Need to Know About Self-Government
Our Third Hero:
10 Things You Need to Know About Quality Character