Friday, July 8, 2011

Thoughts on Freedom, Rights and Responsibilities


The modern view of freedom tends to look at it as if any attempts to restrict what we want to do as a sin against our "rights."  Thus pornography and violent video games become "artistic" and any attempt to restrict access to these things become a "violation" of our rights.

The view that we have a "right" to do whatever we want is insanely self-destructive.  If freedom is to be understood as the "right" to do whatever we want without restrictions, it means we have no right to object to whatever we might view as harmful or repugnant because it "forces our views on another person."

Yet most people would recognize things like child pornography to be offensive and most people would see this as something which nobody has a "right" to.  (Those who say otherwise are not considered to have a reasonable opinion), which indicates that not all rights are "acceptable," and some restrictions are reasonable.

"Consenting Adults" is a phrase which Shows Restrictions

The term "consenting adults" for example is a term which shows there are restrictions on "freedoms."

  1. The people involved must have reached the age of majority where they are considered competent to make responsible decisions and consider the consequences.
  2. The people involved must freely consent.

Neither a willing minor nor an unwilling adult can take part in such an act.  The minor is not considered competent to be able to give informed consent and a person cannot be coerced to do something which they find offensive.

This means we have an absolute restriction: A person's freedom to do a thing is limited if the subject of the act is unable or unwilling to give consent.  Pedophilia then would be condemned because even if the child should consent, we do not consider the child to be able to give consent as required.

However, once we recognize this, we can challenge the principle of abortion.  If the unborn is a human person, he is unable to give consent to being aborted.  Thus, "Consenting Adults" is a clause which indicts abortion.

Defining Persons Selectively

Some say in response to this, "Well the fetus is not a person."  This leads us then to ask, "Who defines what is and is not a person?"

We have, in history, some examples of the government defining some as being less than human.  Pre-Civil War America considered African Americans as less than fully human and less capable than whites to reason and think clearly and thus could be enslaved.  Nazi Germany treated certain groups (Jews, Slavs, Gypsies and others) as subhuman who could be enslaved or exterminated and practiced the extermination of those who were considered mentally or physically unfit.

We can now look back on these times with disgust and with horror, recognizing that a government does not have a right to decree certain Homo sapiens as being less than human, and such a law cannot change what a person is.  A law which denies the personhood of the Homo sapiens goes against reality, against nature.

Human Rights and Gender

Of course there are some differences which are unavoidable.  All human persons are male or female regardless of race, age, belief or sexual preference.  Both are fully human and both have the rights of a human being, but the two are not the same.  Because both are fully human, one may not be treated as superior or inferior to the other on account of gender.

Gender is not inconsequential however.  Human biology impacts how each interacts.  The woman can give birth.  The man cannot.  This leaves us with two principles:

  1. Differences in gender does not mean that this is all they can do.  (A woman is not limited to ONLY being a mother for example)
  2. BUT since these functions are a part of nature, they cannot be ignored or suppressed.

Race and sexual preferences are not the same as gender.  Race does not change the fact that one is a Homo Sapiens.  Sexual preference does not change the fact of the actual gender.

Marriage, Gender, Race and Sexual Preference

Biologically, the sexual act involves the reproductive organs of two persons, one of each gender.  Acts which do not involve both the male and female reproductive organs is nothing more than sodomy.

Marriage, until the latest usurpations by government, has always been recognized as a family unit joined together by a man and a woman in a permanent sexual relationship which has at least the potential for future offspring and is formed together for that intent (If the man or woman is infertile is irrelevant.  Offspring is accepted as a natural part of the married life.  Infertility caused by age or infirmity cannot be helped but does not make the man any less a man or the woman any less a woman).

Restrictions on marriage due to race (or ethnicity) is an unnatural restriction.  A Homo sapiens male of one ethnicity and a Homo sapiens female of another ethnicity are able to form this permanent sexual union with the potential of having children.

However, sexual preference is NOT an unnatural restriction.  Between people of the same gender, there cannot be a sexual act, only sodomy.  There cannot be the potential for future offspring and such a union cannot be formed with acceptance of this motive.

Thus we can see it is a false analogy to compare the restriction of "gay marriage" with the unnatural laws forbidding people of different ethnicities to marry. The fact is, governments have no right to declare an ethnicity "less than human" and have no right to deny the difference between gender.  Marriage predates government as a basis for society and a government which attempts to change what marriage is through law goes outside of their authority.

Truth and Law

Aristotle defined Truth and Falsehood saying:

To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true.

This is a principle which demonstrates that since a thing is what it is and cannot be what it is not, truth cannot be relative.  If a living being is a male, it is true to say this being is a male and false to say it is not a male.  If it is wrong to murder, we speak falsely if we say it is not wrong to murder.  We cannot abolish the laws of nature, such as the law of gravity.  Nor can we abolish biology.

That which IS cannot be declared IS NOT by a government.  That which IS NOT cannot be declared IS.  This is not a case of "forcing beliefs on another."  It is recognizing reality.  A government which attempts to pass laws contrary to what is true is in fact the one which is trying to impose their beliefs on another.

Legal Positivism

Legal Positivism is the concept that the only legitimate sources of law are those written rules, regulations, and principles that have been expressly enacted, adopted, or recognized by a governmental entity or political institution, including administrative, executive, legislative, and judicial bodies.  In other words, what man defines as law is the only source of law and truth, morality, natural law and other sources are irrelevant.  The problem is of course that whatever laws man invents on his own authority man can undo.  So if man creates the freedom of speech, he can undo that freedom.

This is why the Declaration of Independence states:

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.

The rights which all men possess do not come from the government but from the Creator – which means they are rights which come from outside of us and cannot be taken away from us.  Quite frankly, legal positivism is inimical to the concept of rights and freedoms which our nation was founded on.

Ipse Dixit and Law

Yet legal positivism seems to be the philosophy of the American Government today. There is no longer a sense of understanding what IS true with government seeking to reflect that truth. Rather we have a government fiat declaring what we must do… with the only source of authority being the government saying so. Truth is no longer relevant. Rather we have coercion. Effectively the government says "We have decreed it so it is right. If you refuse to comply, we will take actions against you."

Ipse dixit is a claim which only has the fact that a person said it as its authority.  In America, we often rely on ipse dixit as the source of authority for a "right."  The Supreme Court said abortion is a "right."  Therefore it is.  However, when one realizes that the Supreme Court once ruled "Separate but Equal" was legally acceptable and accepted Internment camps for the Japanese, we can see that the Supreme Court is not a credible source of authority to justify a legally binding position as just or true.

The problem is, of course, that since governments can and do make unjust laws we can and must judge such laws based on a proper understanding of justice.  In speaking out against unjust laws which some favor, we are not attempting to "force views on others."  We are saying the government does wrong and goes beyond its authority when its laws go against the rights (with corresponding responsibilities) given us by our Creator.  If members of the public, if lawmakers believe that the Christian view of good and evil is wrong, that does not make it wrong simply by their declaration that they disagree with Christian belief.  Rather it falls to them to prove their point and not merely say "I disagree.  Therefore what I say goes."


Since we have recognized that certain restrictions do exist in terms of rights and on the other hand that the state does not have the authority to declare certain things as right we can see that the issue of right and wrong is not an issue of the government saying so, but rather we judge the acts of an individual or a government as right or wrong depending on how it matches up to the truth which we can know but cannot change.

As Christians, we believe that God is good and what is right is a reflection of His goodness and also is what is good for us by our very nature.  The government may decree something which goes against what God calls us to do, but we must repudiate what the government says which forces us to disobey God.  We believe that the government has no right to impose laws on us which force us to choose between God and our lives or livelihood.  The government which does so may appeal to force to accept compliance but we are obligated to obey God rather than men and continue to preach God's commands and message of salvation to the whole world.

We must preach in season and out of season, even if men hate us for speaking the truth of good and evil.  They may malign us, using slanders against us.  But we must recognize that God wants the salvation, not the destruction of sinners.  So we must continue to preach the truth to the world.

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