This morning, TGC carries my article on how the war over rights in American culture is an open door for the gospel. I offer some thoughts about how Christians can make sense of all the competing claims over who has a right to what (gay marriage, religious freedom, hair weaving, welfare) and how we can deal with rights-claims in a way that takes justice seriously, benefits our neighbors and helps them understand the gospel.
Christians can explain why people are responsible moral agents who have duties (and therefore have rights). For as long as history records, secularists have been struggling to come up with some kind of argument to justify moral responsibility (and therefore rights) without reference to a transcendent cosmic order. It’s a fool’s errand. We won’t be able to have that whole conversation explicitly every time rights come up; still, the more we can prompt people to think deeply about where rights come from, the more plausible the gospel will seem to them.
I offer the example of two survivors stranded on a desert island, only one of whom has food; they argue over whether the one with food has a right to withhold it from the other. Readers of HT will find their arguments strangely familiar.
FUN FACT about the pop culture image on this post! (90% of a good blog post is choosing the right pop culture reference.) The Beastie Boys originally recorded “Fight for Your Right (to Party)” as a spoof. They were making fun of the emerging trend toward “attitude songs” that are really about nothing, and simply strike a pose in song form. But the 14-year-old boys of America took it seriously and ate it up with a spoon, and the record company milked it for all it was worth. Commented one member of the group: “The only thing that upsets me is that we might [!] have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along to ‘Fight for Your Right’ who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them.”