Today’s tough question:
“As Christians, what’s our responsibility to seeking justice for oppression, racial inequality, women’s rights, immigration, and gay rights?”
Where to start with this one? The question contains several of the hot topics of our day.
Let’s start with the premise. Do we in fact have a responsibility to others? The Bible says, “Yes.” Genesis 4 includes Cain’s infamous question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) The rest of the Bible provides the answer: “Yes, each of us has a duty toward others.”
Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) He taught about being a good neighbor in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. God’s Word teaches in Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” The Bible teaches us to care for widows and orphans. God is our Defender, and He wants us to help those who need our help.
But how about some of the categories in the question?
In thinking of universal rights of all people, the preamble to the Declaration comes to mind: “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.”
All people in our nation are endowed with rights including:
- Life – Everyone should feel safe.
- Liberty – All citizens should be able to enjoy every freedom that our Constitution declares.
- Pursuit of happiness – Everyone should have an opportunity to succeed.
We owe it to our fellow citizens to protect their rights with the means available to us.
However, we are not required to promote agendas that violate our beliefs and consciences. All people deserve justice, but not all movements deserve our backing. Supporting fundamental human rights and advancing a particular social position are two different things.
I encourage you to read Romans chapters 12-15. These chapters are enormously helpful guides on our duties to our fellow human beings. Romans 12 is a turning point in the book, shifting from grand, sweeping theology to day-to-day practical application. The second verse of Romans 12 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The verses and chapters that follow are overflowing with timely wisdom.
We can’t let the world dictate to us what positions to support. Many issues are debatable. The human beings involved in those issues, however, are undeniably valuable to God.
We can, and should, defend human rights, especially those rights guaranteed by our constitution and laws. We can, and should, advocate for the expansion of rights and privileges related to causes that fit our values. We are not obligated to support causes that violate our values.
To serve God well, it’s a good idea to give careful thought to your values. Before applying your beliefs to specific situations, you first have to know what you believe. Take an honest inventory of your core convictions, and then see how God moves you to act on your beliefs for the sake of others.