What constitutes personal property? The 'personal' part of that question is pretty simple; 'personal' means that something is related to, in essence belongs, in actuality, to an individual, whoever that individual may be. The 'property' part may be a little harder to define: 'property' may be defined as anything from something tangible, as a piece of real estate, or a vehicle, among many other things, to something intangible, as in 'intellectual property'. This, in itself can refer to a wide range of creations of the mind, such as music or art, which, although classified as intangibles, might often become, in reality, very tangible.
What gives any certain individual a right to any certain property? In the case of intellectual property, whether it remains, for the most part, intangible, as in the case of music, or certain forms of art, or whether it becomes very real ( Geppetto's 'Pinnochio' comes to mind ) and tangible, as in something created from the mind of any certain individual, an invention, we would rightfully say that individual has a right to do with his 'property', his creation, if you will, as he sees fit.
Much the same could be said about tangible assets, such as vehicles, and most commonly, real estate. Tangible property rights are usually more 'cut & dried'. In the case of something like a vehicle or a piece of real estate, when a certain individual acquires a piece of property such as this, as long as he legally and lawfully acquires it ( we'll get into this later ), he can rightfully be said to own that property. Legally and lawfully acquiring such property may involve acquisition through gifting, or granting, or that thing may be acquired by paying a certain sum of money, which corresponds to trading one thing of personal value for another.
Tangible property rights are usually easier to prove, as well, than 'intellectual', or 'intangible property rights'. In this case, there is usually a 'deed' involved, or a bill of sale, and as long as such deed or bill of sale can be produced, again, it is fairly 'cut & dried', when it comes to the question of what belongs to whom.
Another form of 'property'; which many of us may not be used to thinking of as 'property', when referring to 'property rights', is 'information'. You've most like heard that famous phrase, 'knowledge is power'; this is a very true statement; much of the loss of our liberties, whether in the short or long run, stems from being too free with our personal information. This is one of our 'property rights' which we alone have the power to reveal, and which no one has a right to ascertain, especially when we know that this 'power' will likely be exercised against us!
'The Cattle on a Thousand Hills' ( Psalm 50:10 )
Ultimately, all things, especially tangible property, may be said to belong rightfully to our Creator. As we have seen already, the creation, the product, of one's mind, whether it is classified as intangible, or whether it becomes quite tangible, can be rightfully said to be that individual's 'intellectual property'. Some might argue, I believe, the fact that we are the creation of an Almighty and Sovereign God, but I believe that our 'Founding Fathers' were definitely NOT a part of that crowd!
This country, founded upon the idea that we were created by God with certain unalienable rights, for many years since its foundation, was inundated by this theme, and every time it became necessary to elect new officials, or re-establish standing ones, an election sermon was preached before the body politic, reminding them of their duty before God and His people, and of their responsibilities in the solemnity of the oaths they were about to swear.
Beginning in the year 2000, in Jefferson County, Montana; Project Liberty Tree, a ministry of Covenant Community Church in Whitehall, Montana, has been delivering an historic election sermon before the body politic of the respective counties, and in 2006, before the State House in Helena, Montana. This year, 2012, will witness the fourth such sermon given before the State House in Helena, and will be themed around this most important subject.
'The heaven, [ even ] the heavens, [ are ] the Lord’s; but the earth He has given to the children of men.' ( Psalm 115:16 )
There is no question, that as the creation of an Almighty and Sovereign God, man himself is subservient to, and indeed is the property of, his Creator. As we read in the text above, and we can also go back to Genesis 1:26-28; God has 'given', or granted, 'deeded', you might say, these rights to the sons of men. As men began to exercise this 'dominion' over the 'earth'; we, through history, have seen the rise & fall of many nations on this earth. The rise & fall of these peoples, or nations, was either because of covenant blessing or cursing, blessing upon one people, or nation, and cursing upon another, usually simultaneously! One nation, even through its wickedness, was raised up to exaltation in order to bring another low. Take, for example, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and God's use of his granted power to show His own power, as recorded in Exodus 9:13-17. Pharaoh unlawfully had taken the children of Israel as His property, but God revealed to him Whose property they really were, by redeeming them from their bondage and slavery to the Pharaoh of Egypt!
Because the dominion of the 'earth' has been deeded to the sons of men, or, more rightly, 'the Son of Man' ( Psalm 2:7-9 ); it belongs, by right of inheritance, to them, although ultimately, as mere creatures, all belongs to the Creator! We can exercise and claim ownership of property, specifically, tangible things, like real estate, but also intangible things, such as music, and even intellectual property which has been rendered tangible by invention or creation, such as vehicles.
This country was founded, as well, and labored successfully under the presumption that the fact, outlined above, is true and faithful, that all things created, are, by right, the property of the Creator, and only deeded to us in stewardship. The rulers in this nation seem to have forgotten this important fact, so is it any wonder that we find ourselves in the decline that we do, and all this, with 'heathen' nations knocking on our door, so to speaking, challenging our weakening power at every step?!
While we, as a nation, head toward what seems to be our inevitable downfall; we must realize the truth of these propositions, and recognizing, yet again, that we have rights only in stewardship as creatures ultimately, and most basically, belonging to a Creator; we must turn to our Creator in true repentance, and begin, once again, to exercise the dominion that He has given us, treating our property, not as our own, but as given to us in stewardship by our Creator.
'You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.' ( John 19:11 )
As we read, in context, Jesus' response to Pontius Pilate, we see a very similar theme to that in the response of God to the Pharaoh's evil actions. This must be our reaction to the evil around us, not that we shouldn't resist this abuse of power, because we are commanded to defend our stewardship, but we should see the evil actions of wicked as a chastening from God, and an opportunity to repent, and turn from our own wicked ways.
When property rights are mentioned; our thoughts, especially in this modern age, with its ever-changing definitions, naturally turn to pieces of real estate, or even probably a vehicle, or a house, or toys, whether they be 'big boys toys', or children's toys, in other words, tangible things. Among the more intellectual crowd: you'll likely hear more about 'intellectual property', things like music, art, and most especially theory, such as 'string theory', or the assorted 'sub-atomic particle theories'. One most important thing that many of us are not used to thinking of as property, though, is life itself! In 1973, the infamous 'Roe v. Wade' decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States, paving the way for the legalization of child-murder, a practice which has snuffed out a multitude of biological lives since that fateful and ominous day!
Life is quite easily the most important and valuable 'property right' that our Creator has vouch-safed to our care; it is also, among many people, unfortunately even some so-called Christians, the least cared for property right!
'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, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'.
This famous passage, among the first in that important document that basically spelled out the foundation of this country, is probably the most quoted among the liberty-minded, especially that important phrase 'Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness'. Of even greater import, though, and far less quoted, is the opening statement;
'When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.'
This statement makes it clear that our founding fathers believed that it was necessary, their duty, in fact, for God's people to throw off these chains of oppression, to covenantally, and actually separate themselves from those 'powers' that had become tyrannical, in depriving them of their God-given rights.After the statements establishing what our most basic rights were, and from where they stemmed, the writers of this important penned these words;
'That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed'.
This is the purpose and extent of the power of government, whatever form it may take: the purpose of any form of government is to serve and protect the rights of the governed, of those who have elected them to that office. When any government 'power' over-steps those bounds, and asserts an authority over the people which neither God or the people have granted it, then the duty of said people is to remove that form of government, and to establish another, one that will serve them, by protecting their God-given rights, most importantly, the right to life!
'And the government will be upon His shoulder.' ( Isaiah 9:6b )
The term 'government' today, is another term that might need, not to be redefined, although there are some who could probably use a complete redefinition of the term, but a resurrection of the true meaning of the term. There are those, today, who, because of the corruptness of the government we have in this nation, have become almost rabidly 'anti-government'! As can be seen from a thorough study, beginning with Scripture, and as lately as 'A History of These United States'; we can see that government is necessary to survival, that, in fact, life would not long persist without some form of government. A simple, mechanical example is the gasoline engine. Another word that is more popularly known and used for 'automotive governance' is 'throttle' Imagine how long a tank of gas, the life-blood for the gasoline engine, would last, if the engine had no throttle, to say nothing of the danger presented by such a scenario! Government is necessary at all levels of life. If we do not govern ourselves; somebody else is sure to step in and govern us! Such has been the case throughout history, and we face the results of this abdication today, in this country, and all over the world.
There is good government, and there is bad government. Handing over, 'in toto', the reigns of government to any certain person, as our founding fathers realized, and thus formed a constitution to prevent, has the potential to become bad government, no matter the intent to begin with. When, however, the governor recognizes that he himself is governed by a Supreme Authority, by his Creator, and guides his own government by this infallible rule, the government cannot then be anything but good! Any form of government that does not recognize its own government by this Supreme Authority, cannot help turning to evil!
Isaiah prophesied over 2500 years ago, long before the revelation of the One he prophesied about, that this coming Savior would be our governor. Jesus told His followers, when He was about to ascend back to His heavenly, exalted position, that they would be rulers with Him ( traditionally, this is the basic meaning of the name 'Israel' ). As followers, disciples of Jesus, the Son of God; we, then are rulers with Him, and thus are to be governors, not only of ourselves, but of our spheres of influence. This, I believe, is what our founding fathers had in mind, both when they penned our declaration of independence from the oppressive powers of England, and then formed a constitution for the United States of America. They realized that, to put it in terms which everyone is very familiar with, 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely', when those in the human condition do not recognize religiously their own governance by the Rightful Governor of the Universe.
'But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.'
As we saw above, our most precious of property rights, life itself, was threatened by the decision of our federally constituted Supreme Court, almost 40 years ago. Since that potentially lethal decision was handed down, this country has witnessed the murders of over 54 million unborn babies. Aside from this most important and necessary of rights, a multitude of our God-given rights have been threatened, trampled underfoot, and/or just simply taken away. You do not have the right to drive your own vehicle, unless you apply for, and receive a certain little piece of paper that says you may. In fact; if you are caught driving without a seat-belt, or without having paid the proper fees for exercising your right to use your own property to transport yourself; you may loose even that slip of paper, in some states! In most states you do not have the right to even get married unless you apply for, and receive a permission slip from your public servant!
Our public servants, from the highest levels of the federal government, down to the lowest police detective , have been, for quite some time now, seemingly bent on protecting and serving their own interests, rather than serving the people whom they were called to protect, and guarding their God-given rights against those that threaten! Praises be to God, this is not always the case; there have been for some time, and the trend is picking up steam, those peace officers who are more concerned with keeping their oaths to the people they serve, in actually keeping the peace, while upholding the constitutional duties they have sworn to fulfill, than in serving the agency that writes their paycheck: when you think about it though; 'we the people' are the ones who write their paycheck!
As promised earlier, a short explanation of what is meant by the legal and lawful acquisition of property, as opposed to the illegal and unlawful acquisition, is as follows: the legal and lawful acquisition of any property, especially tangible property, but not limited to that, will usually involve the written consent of the property owner, often in the form of a contract, or bill of sale. As often happens, though; certain property is not only acquire illegally, by sneaky and under-handed means, but sometimes ( often ) by blatantly by unlawful force is seized from the individual! 'Eminent Domain' is one such egregious practice. If any given individual is willing to give up his right of property to the government power who requires it, then that is his choice, but when that 'power' forcefully seizes that property, by any means necessary, whether the property owner will or not, then this is an illegal and unlawful acquisition of property. This not only includes real estate, but can even extend to 'intellectual property', which includes information!
A Scriptural example of 'eminent domain' can be found most infamously in the story of 'Naboth's Vineyard', in I Kings 21. We read in this passage that Naboth was even murdered, just so that the king could lay claim to Naboth's property, which was more pleasing to the eyes of the king than his own!
How can we redeem the property rights that we have lost through our abdication?
In the upcoming election year, and even in the immediately preceding year or so; you have heard, and will likely hear even more, people saying things like, 'if only we can get the right man in office........'; sure, if we can get the right man elected, he could do a lot of good for this country, and he might even turn us back from the brink of destruction ( socio-economically anyway ). God willing, this may happen, but this is not our main problem in America! Our problem is US! You may remember that old saying, 'we have met the enemy, and he is us' ( from the comic strip 'Pogo' ); we can place blame wherever we will, we can complain about our elected leaders and servants all we want, but ultimately, the blame MUST be laid at our own feet: 'we the people' elected these men and women! Through the processes of election, we have the power, the authority, to choose certain ones to lead this country, all the way from the national level, to the most basic local level, the county sheriff, or even town peace officer, 'to serve and protect our God-given rights!
For far too long; we have chosen those to 'run' this country, from the most local, to the national level, that we know are; 1, lying through their teeth, or; 2, blatantly opposed to many of the principles upon which this country was founded, not least of which is clearly laid out, as we have seen, in our 'Declaration of Independence', that all men are created equal ( before God ), and that they are 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights'. We have ceded our rights, in many cases, to these 'politicians' who, like many others in this nation, long for the comforts of slavery, where at least they get to eat leeks and onions, than for the hard-won and dangerous fruits of liberty and true freedom.
These problems have been going on for hundreds of years, and even for millenia, all over the world, because when a people turns from their Creator and trust in, and rely upon false gods, these gods eventually ( usually sooner, rather than later ) totter and fall, often crushing underneath them, destroying in their down-fall, those who have prostrated themselves before them!
National repentance, beginning, not with our elected officials, but with us, 'we the people', is what is desperately needed in this nation 'under God'! Only if we, as a people, will turn back to God, and repent of our unfaithfulness in worshiping other gods, only then will our elected officials, reflecting this choice, begin to once again protect our rights, as is their sworn duty to the constitution, and made sure under God!
Our rights, as established by our Creator, are thus inalienable. Even though we have, willingly, in many cases, thoughtlessly given up those rights; they are still our rights; they are not ours to give, but to have, and to exercise, as God has called us to! Let us all, 'Today', begin to exercise our rights yo the 'property' that God has intrusted to our stewardship: let us turn, with our whole being, heart mind, soul and strength, to the Giver of those rights, to the One from Who flows all our sustenance, to God, the Giver and Sustainer of all life and property!
Charles Haddon Shank