When Our Rights Trample the Rights of Others

human rightsI do my best to live according to what is known as the golden rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Mt. 7:12).” This rule accepts the facts that we don’t always agree with one another, but we can still treat each other with respect and decency (like we want to be treated), even when we disagree. When I disagree with somebody I do my best to understand the other person’s point of view. However, differences cannot always be resolved. Sometimes people will just have to agree to disagree, right? I’m good with that. I’m free to say what I think and live accordingly, and I afford others the same privilege. I feel this is a basic human right. But what happens when your rights trample my rights or visa versa? What if our rights cause harm to others? Then there’s a problem, right?

Let’s take for instance a message I have seen several times posted on Facebook which I have included in this post.


Now this sounds like a simple case of let’s just agree to disagree and go our separate ways. You don’t like something? Don’t do it. Simple right? But each of the items listed above in many cases, is not just a matter of opinion or personal practice because each of these has a way of affecting and even harming the community .  It is ironic how this message ends by referring to our rights. “Don’t like your rights taken away? Then don’t take away someone else’s.” Now I agree with the concept, but I cannot apply the concept to the items listed, because each of the items listed has potential for harming and violating the rights of others. THAT’S WHERE THE PROBLEM IS. Should you have the right to  violate my rights? NO WAY. Just like I shouldn’t have the right to violate yours. So lets consider each of the statements listed above.

Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t get one. Now I will admit gay marriage doesn’t affect me or my lifestyle in and of itself. Homosexuality has been around since the earliest of times. There has always been those who practiced it, and those who consider it wrong and unnatural. As a Bible believing Christian, I consider homosexuality wrong, just like I consider all sorts of sexual practices wrong because the Bible says they are wrong. That’s my authority and that is what I try to live by. I don’t isolate homosexuals from the other forms of sexual immorality.  I don’t feel homosexual sins are any worse than heterosexual sins. I don’t fear homosexuals, I don’t disdain them,  nor do I treat them differently than those committing other forms of sexual immorality.

I have plenty of people that I know, respect, and care for in my life and in my family who do not share my views about sexual immorality. I imagine even a few will read this blog. I think their sexual practices are wrong, and they disagree. I can say what I think, and they have no problem sharing what they think. It is very doubtful that either of us is going to persuade the other to our side. I love these people. I care what happens to these people. I will help these people any chance that I get. We can eat together, play together, and enjoy each other with little discomfort.  I will also hope they change their ways before it is too late, but I don’t have much control over that, and I have no desire whatsoever to force or coerce them in accepting my views.

The homosexual issue, however,  has become a different matter in recent years which causes me great concern because it is beginning to infringe on my right to practice my own religious beliefs. Up until recently, I have been able to preach messages from the Bible against all forms of sexual immorality without violating any governmental laws. But it is quickly becoming the case, that speaking against homosexuality is a “hate crime.” I would like to make one thing very clear, no matter what I preach for or against, I NEVER preach out of HATE. To do so would violate the very foundations of the biblical message. When I preach against something, it is out of love and concern. I don’t hate anybody. If I preach against something, its the behavior, NEVER a person. But to say I can’t preach a biblical message is a violation against my rights. It not only interferes with the separation of  church and state, it violates my individual right to express my own opinions. In doing so, I’m forced to become a law-breaker in that I must obey what I understand as God’s law above human law. If it is a hate crime to preach against homosexuality, then by the same logic, it should be considered a hate crime to preach against adultery, fornication, lying, stealing, etc.

It’s no longer a matter of agreeing to disagree, or you share your views and I’ll share mine. It is quickly becoming I must accept your view and keep quiet about my own when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. Not only so, but now ministers are being prosecuted for refusing to endorse homosexual marriage. It’s not just a matter of homosexuals being allowed to marry which is no real consequence to me. But should I be legally forced to perform the wedding ceremony that violates my conscience? Here is another place where the homosexual issue is promoted over other sexual sins. I have refused to conduct several heterosexual weddings that I felt uncomfortable with doing for one reason or another. I was breaking no law in my refusal to conduct the ceremonies.  But now I read about ministers being prosecuted for refusing to marry a gay couples. Whose rights are being violated here? MINE.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/20/city-threatens-to-arrest-ministers-who-refuse-to-perform-same-sex-weddings.html
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/20/idaho-citys-ordinance-tells-pastors-to-marry-gays-/

Don’t like cigarettes? Don’t smoke one. I don’t smoke, nor do I want to smoke. If a person wants to destroy their bodies by smoking cigarettes with nobody else around, there isn’t much I can do about it and that doesn’t really affect me. But if they light up a cigarette around me or in a public place, then they are forcing others to smoke too.  The harm caused from smoking and second hand smoke is well researched and undeniable. I don’t want to smoke. That is the whole point. Therefore, don’t make me smoke your cigarettes. That would violate my rights and my choice not to smoke.

Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one. In abortion, a life is being taken by another. Nobody getting an abortion is considering the unborn child’s rights. You can talk about convenience and choice all you want. That fact is, in abortion you choice is destroying another human being. By the way, abortion is a bi-product of irresponsible recreational sex which is discussed next.

Don’t like sex? Don’t do it. I like sex. Sex is good. It feels good, it’s healthy, it’s fun, fulfilling, and just plain AWESOME. I really like sex. Out of all the things my wife and I do together, SEX is my favorite.  I consider it one of the greatest gifts God has given to mankind. But can sex be abusive? Can sex violate the rights of another person? Can sex be treated irresponsibly? Can sex be harmful?  ABSOLUTELY! If you don’t think so, you might consider how you feel when your spouse decides to venture out sexually with another partner. How do you feel when you are forced to have sex against your will? I believe the word that comes to mind is VIOLATED. How would you feel is your mother was so promiscuous that she had no idea who your father was? How do feel about needing to support people through your tax money because they had no control over there sexual urges and just jumped from lover to lover with little concern for the babies they were producing? Let’s face it. sex isn’t the problem. Irresponsible sex is, and irresponsible sex is a burden do everyone.

Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them. I will consider this one along with alcohol together below.

Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it. Does anybody really think that porn only affects the one who watches it? The harmful and addictive nature of pornography is  well known even by those who watch it. Don’t think so? Do you have any objections to your children viewing it? How do you feel when the only way your spouse can enjoy sex with you is be imagining having sex with somebody else? Does anybody really consider this a harmless vice??? You may want to think of porn’s role in rape. What about sex trafficking? Do you really think all those videos are produced by willing participants? What about all the teenage girls who are kidnapped, enslaved, and forced to perform all those atrocious acts for somebody’s sick viewing pleasure? What if it was your daughter who is captured? No rights violated here, right? Come on people, porn affects us all rather we view it or not. WAKE UP!

Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink it. This one is so personal to me that I’m tempted to write more than what is really needed. I recognize the fact, that there are many people who have the ability to drink responsibly. I have no problem with you, even though I seriously doubt that you always drink responsibly.  Such people drinking a little alcohol doesn’t affect me at all, at least not yet. But I do consider alcohol one of the greatest menaces to society ever created. Because of this liquid poison thousands of lives are ended every year. But that’s not the worst of it. How many family’s are ripped apart because of it? How many people are in prison for crimes committed under its influence that would not have been committed if the person was sober? How many jobs are lost? How many people have been injured. I don’t know the statistics, but I bet many of our prisons would be empty if you removed  the involvement of drugs and alcohol.

Yes, I consider drugs and alcohol together. I think it is a tragic mistake to think alcohol is not as bad as the illegal drug use that takes place. In reality, alcohol is the worst of all of the drugs out there because it is so accepted and ubiquitous. Take a look at the statistics. You will find illegal drugs barely scratch the surface compared to the damage done by alcohol. Can anybody really maintain that alcohol doesn’t hurt anybody but the user? Come on, really?

Now let me say something to the responsible drinkers. First of all, very few would admit to drinking irresponsibly. I have met very few people who will admit they are too drunk to drive. Nevertheless, I know many people who have no problem drinking moderately. My hats off to you; I can’t. To me having one drink would be like having one potato chip. It took two DUI’s, jail, a wrecked career,  and lots of money to convince me of that, and I would be considered a fast learner. Alcohol impairs the mind and lowers self-control. Is that ever a good idea? I think that is, well, irresponsible. The problem is most people don’t know if they can drink responsibly or not. I also want you to consider in important question if you consider yourself a “responsible” drinker.  Have your ever driven a motor vehicle while legally intoxicated? Although I’m sure there are exception, every responsible drinker I know would have to answer yes to that question. I rest my case.

Don’t like guns? Don’t buy one.  I am a gun owner, but I don’t like guns, and I certainly don’t want every one to have the right to own one. Do you??? There are so many who really have no business having guns, perhaps even I would qualify in this category.  I am grateful for the protection my weapons offer me. I am grateful that I can legally own a gun. I feel much more secure owning a gun than I would feel if I could not. However, I must admit I don’t want everybody owning guns. Some are criminals that will use their guns to commit crimes. Some are mentally and emotionally disturbed. I don’t want them owning guns either. The problem is it is really hard to know who should own a gun and who shouldn’t. Guns kill people and that violates their rights. I don’t know the answer. I want my gun, but I really don’t think it should be easy for everyone to get them.

Freedom and rights are normally a good thing. However both need restraints. Freedom should never be interpreted as being free to do whatever you want. If freedom is to exist, it must be freedom with restraints and responsibilities. Each of us has the freedom of choice, but your choice will always be accompanied with consequences. You should not have the freedom to engage in activities that harm others. That is why we create laws. That is why I will continue to speak out against certain activities. If you have no regard for other’s in your choices, you will face punishment from others. After all has been said,  the golden rule is the way to live:  “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Mt. 7:12).” If we all lived by this simple rule, we would have a lot less problems.

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About Ken Sayers

I'm currently employed by a children's home where my wife and I care for a cottage of girls who have been displaced from their families. I'm a middle age man with two grown children of my own and one grandchild. I have worked as a United States Marine, a youth minister, a preacher, a childcare worker, and a truck driver. My hobbies include photography, horses, playing guitar, writing, and fitness.
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