Rights, Safety, Freedom and the Noetic Effects of Sin
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2006 Jul 07
The desire for sexual freedom is being pushed further with each passing day. Combine that push with contemporary notions of political correctness related to so-called rights and/or liberties that are really no such thing and what results is a formula for disaster: deadly disaster. Consider this report from AFP: "Gay activists in Australia won the first round in a struggle against being banned from donating blood if they have had male-to-male sex in the previous 12 months."
The Red Cross's aforementioned policy is being challenged as discriminatory. Michael Cain "argued that blood services should consider whether people had safe sex, rather than their sexual preferences." In this up-side-down culture in which we find ourselves, "bans on gay men giving blood [are] also being questioned in Britain and the United States." Cain continued: "It's about the global gay community and trying to get this fixed for everyone so everyone has the same rights...It's not about me anymore."
Well, that's the problem Mr. Cain, despite your words to the contrary, your actions say that it is indeed about you. Even those who hold to a strict libertarian position do not maintain that a person has the right to harm someone else. A civil society cannot survive if persons have the liberty to harm one another. Such a position is not one of liberty but of self-focus and self-destruction.
How devastating it is to a culture when we arrive at the point when personal preferences destructive of others become rights. We may argue that an individual has the right to drive his car as fast as he likes. However, the eight year old girl crossing the street has a right not to be run over by that individual. Her right to life supersedes his right to feel the need for speed. Rights must be prioritized.
Not only is the prioritization of rights a biblical concept, but it used to be a matter of common sense as the Christian worldview dominated the West and her thinking. Unfortunately, the noetic effects of sin have taken their toll on our cultural mindset. In other words, sin influences our thinking. Such an influence is seen in the Garden as man was given dominion over creation but told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sadly, the desire to be like God, knowing good and evil, led Adam to overlook his wife's sin and partake of the forbidden fruit himself. His desire to focus on himself and his own lusts that were contrary to God's command manifested in a sinful action. Again, that sinful action emanated from unbiblical thinking.
Consider how much more the individual born dead in sin has had his thinking influenced by his sinful nature. The Christian worldview tempers that thinking to a certain degree in a culture permeated with said worldview. However, when that worldview no longer permeates a culture, an individual is left to a conglomeration of worldviews in his mind, none of which produces the righteousness of God. Thus, the noetic effects of sin will only be multiplied from year to year and person to person as common grace and restraint of sinful thinking has been removed with the result being thinking that is ultimately destructive of self and others. This process is what happened to Adam and it is that process that affects the West today.
In light of the fact that so-called safe sex is not one-hundred percent effective, the desire to give blood that is possibly infected to ostensibly help others is so convoluted that it can only be explained by the noetic effects of sin. To call the banning of such donations discriminatory is to miss the point completely. When my father had polio at twelve years of age, he was quarantined and his house was marked and roped off, and rightly so in that context. No one clamored for the right to infect others during those dark days.
When Cain argues that what should be considered is not sexual preference but whether or not one has had safe sex, he makes a colossal error. Sexual preference was not the criterion: whether or not one had had male to male sex in the previous twelve months was the criterion. Further, safe sex is indeed the issue: for male to male sex is by nature unsafe. That is not discriminating on the basis of sexual preference but on the basis of sexual activity that is potentially deadly, and, I might add, such discrimination is not only right but obligatory in a civil society. Discrimination is not always evil. We still discriminate between those who molest children and those who do not by locking up those who do. Such discrimination is just.
Such convoluted thinking is not only a call for Christians to engage the culture in terms of that thinking, but it is indeed a call for Christians to make sure that they are different from those in this culture in terms of their actions. Christians must live pure lives that when they speak the truth in love, their words have weight. The gospel must be preached that persons might be saved, and at the same time, that those who are unsaved are influenced by a Christian worldview. It is the influence of the gospel that changes hearts and mindsets. It is the influence of the gospel, the operation of the Holy Spirit, and the extended reach of common grace in a culture that will counteract the noetic effects of sin. Only then will the warped thinking highlighted above be seen as warped by the majority. In that context, no one will call for the right to harm others. Only in a culture dominated by the Christian worldview will we all be safe, and indeed free.
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