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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Paul Dean

Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog

Right about Rights

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.

“I wanna start a fight, so, so what?” I’ve felt that urge before and opened up my twitter app. And that’s why I deleted my twitter account. If your right arm offends you, right? Not that every Christian should do like me. But, “pics or it didn’t happen?” Be careful. Why not “too precious for Facebook?”

But the fight thing: that’s the issue. Christians taking to Twitter to vent; or scrolling through the Facebook feed to comment on hot topics. Some feel the urge to engage. Others are reluctant. Then there are those who tell us we must engage or we’re not fulfilling our gospel responsibility. We’re contributing to the error if we don’t correct it. We’re letting truth fall to the ground if we don’t say something.

Of course we must speak the truth – advance the gospel. At the same time, sometimes being a credible witness for Christ means not mixing it up. Paul said, “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23). It’s also true that “He who passes by and meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a dog by the ears” (Prov. 26:19). Grab that German Shepherd if you want to, but God says it’s not wise.

So how do we know when to comment and when to move on? How do we know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em? And when to play ‘em for that matter? Here are a few principles.

1) Ignore the atheist or contrarian who simply loves to contradict (Prov. 26:4).

2) Don’t get into someone else’s fight (Prov. 26:19).

3) Avoid all foolish disputes (2 Tim. 2:23).

4) Don’t be argumentative (Prov. 26:20-21; 2 Tim. 2:24).

5) Don’t let your emotions drive you to comment when you shouldn’t (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

6) Realize that you’re likely to be misunderstood for a host of reasons, not the least of which is that readers can’t see your body language or hear your intonations (1 Cor. 2:14; Prov. 26:4; Col. 4:5-6).

7) Know that you’re not obligated to answer every person or every comment (Rom. 15:19-20).

8) Set aside God in your heart before you speak (1 Pet. 3:15).

9) Pick your moments; be wise and judicious as to when you speak and what you say (Col. 4:5-6).

10) When you do comment, don’t offer opinion, but root your words in Scripture (Rom. 1:16; 1 Thess. 2:13). In other words, cast down arguments with biblical truth (Prov. 26:5; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:15).

11) Warn those who stubbornly refuse to listen and move on (Matt. 10:14; Acts 13:46).

12) Don’t be ugly, but build up (Eph. 4:29).

It’s not about starting a fight.

Listen to the Dean’s List and find other helpful resources at True Worldview.

This past Friday on our radio broadcast we were talking about Trump’s popularity along with Sarah Palin endorsing him. The tea party is livid over that endorsement wondering what in the world has happened to conservatives and conservative principles. Palin, like so many others, has sold them out, they say.

We simply reiterated the point we’ve been making for years that most so-called conservatives are not really conservative. Like most people, they vote for the candidate who says what they want to hear. That’s called populism. They have no real principled commitment to conservativism because they have no real coherent or comprehensive public policy worldview. Sadly, most Christians fall into this same category.

Our point was that Christians should be different. They shouldn’t simply vote for things they like. It’s selfish at the very least; oppressive in reality; and downright unbiblical in most cases. We need a biblical view of government and public policy. It’s called liberty.

It’s interesting that others are talking about the same thing. Of particular note, a Christian conservative commentator picked up on this theme in his morning show. He lamented long and hard that conservatives weren’t conservative and populism had gained a foot hold in the Republican Party. What to do, what to do? “We need to call Christians back to conservatism,” he declared.

He then cited W. as one of those conservatives. Yeah, big spending George Bush – that W. But that didn’t get a mention. Strangely however, this did: “He allocated thirty-three million dollars for abstinence education.” This is his example of W’s conservativism.

But this example is really a shining illustration of exactly what we were talking about on our show. Allocating money for abstinence education is not conservative – it’s as liberal as it gets. This commentator is not Christian or conservative on that point. W. is a populist on that point and this Christian conservative is voting for what he wants – not principled public policy. In other words, he’s for abstinence and therefore he’s for government (tax-payers) funding abstinence education. But conservatism says it’s not the role of government to fund abstinence education or any other kind of education. Conservativism is against that kind of tax and spend policy. Taxing people for what you want is contemporary liberalism. It’s big government. It’s tyranny. And this man’s proving my point that Democrats and Republicans are all for big government despite what Republicans say. Both use government – just for different spending programs. That’s called hypocrisy. And Jesus had a lot to say about that – none of it good. So this Christian conservative, like most, is really a populist.

It’s bad form to go ballistic over Palin or Trump followers when you’re just like them. Just saying.


Listen to the Dean’s List and find other helpful resources at True Worldview. Also, follow me on twitter @pauldeanjr.