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Right about Rights

Paul Dean
Paul Dean

We have to get it right when it comes to rights, not only for the preservation of our rights, but for a consistent worldview that brings peace to a culture and glory to God. “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices” (Prov. 11:10).

A Christian college professor said recently that a major problem in our culture is that the right to sex is trumping all other rights. She’s close, but not quite there. For one thing, in a civil context, we should actually affirm everyone’s right to sex, or at least their right to pursue consensual sex. We certainly affirm that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sin, and that all persons are accountable to God. But we also affirm that we have no right to bind another’s conscience or infringe on their liberty.

So, the problem is not the right to sex trumping all other rights. What the college professor is trying to say is that the right to have one’s sexual proclivities affirmed by all is trumping all other rights. And she would be right about that. I may affirm one’s civil right to engage in a consensual homosexual act, but I do not have to agree that act is right or not sinful. If I am forced to say that it is in fact right, then my liberty is infringed. Just as I have no right to trample on someone else’s liberty, no one has the right to trample on mine.

There is no such right to have one’s sexual inclinations affirmed by all. Such a position is anti-liberty. It’s also anti-diversity. Diversity means that there are people with diverse opinions and lifestyles in a culture. It means I leave alone those with whom I disagree. The moment I force them to agree with me or they force me to agree with them is the moment we live in a police state. Such a state is anti-liberty and anti-diversity.

Of course, there should be no surprise when persons in the larger culture demand rights that are no rights at all and that would ultimately destroy the rights they do have. Their foolish hearts are darkened (Rom. 1:21). And that’s why we propagate the gospel; it’s the only thing that will change foolish hearts. Such change means good for them and the larger culture as well.

While our rights as Christians or individuals is not ultimate, a full-orbed biblical view of discipleship takes into account the influence of the gospel on individuals as well as whole cultures. Making disciples of all the nations means more than seeking a few converts from each nation. It means teaching those converts how to obey Christ that more disciples are made that whole people groups or nations are influenced by the gospel. We have to get this right that people might be made right with God. When that happens, in civil society, we can get right our God-given rights as well.

 
Originally published February 22, 2017.

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