The Notion of “Rights” in Secular America

Posted: May 7, 2012 by Josiah Batten in Abortion, Homosexuality, Religious Liberty, Sex
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Human rights are foundational to a free society.  In America our government derives authority from the consent of the governed.  Such consent presupposes that the governed themselves have rights upon which they can act as autonomous people.

The way this plays out in many modern day political issues is really interesting.  To say humans have “rights” is to affirm we are a certain type of thing.  As a theist, this is not problematic at all.  I believe all people are God’s image bearers, and that as a consequence they have certain inherent worth.  But for a secularist, who tries to live without reference to God, humans are not any type of person in particular.  That is, we’re just physical beings.  The conjunction of random mutation and natural selection is not a good foundation for “rights.”

But the “rights” many people talk about today are not “rights” at all, but preferences and wants.  Some women WANT to be able to get abortion on demand.  But the abortion debate gets framed as a women’s “right” to choose.  Of course, this want comes from the sexual revolution and the view that we should be able to have as much sex as we want without any consequence.  Unfortunately the sexual revolution is a war against biology, and one we can’t win.

In any case, it should be clear this isn’t about “rights.”  In a secular society, there are no rights.  Just wants and desires.  Women WANT to have unfettered sex, and that requires a biological war to deal with the consequences of sex.  Personal whim is the only basis for “rights” in a secular world, so what can our society do other than capitulate?

What we can, and must, do is start addressing the demonstrably false presuppositions in play.  Regardless of personal whim, there are moral duties we have to follow.  And quite frankly, those moral duties don’t change when you throw off personal responsibility for your sexual decisions.  The neglect of moral duty does not a right create.

As we said before, to have a right is to affirm humans are a certain type of thing.  But when we obfuscate rights with personal whims, we say the type of things humans are is exactly the type of thing that does NOT have rights.  We’re affirming contradictory positions and conflicting premises.

Of course, this doesn’t merely apply to abortion, we could talk about “gay rights” as well.  This is a whole new class of personal whims now being labeled as “rights.”  A person chooses to enter a relationship that can’t possibly produce children naturally (again, we’re quite fond of our war with biology), but demands to have the “right” to raise a child.

Actually, homosexuals do have the right to raise children.  But they have to enter a heterosexual relationship to do so, just like everybody else (even with artificial insemination the sperm has to come from SOMEWHERE, or with adoption the child did not come from a same-sex union).  What is going on is a demand for society to accommodate what biology has flatly refused to accommodate, and these insane demands are labeled as “rights.”

But we’re here calling the secularist’s bluff.  And they don’t like it (see the Doug Wilson video below).  So we end up with temper-tantrums, emotionally-driven appeals, and an idiotic cultural conversation that can’t move past sound bites and talking points from our ridiculous media.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


  1. James says:

    “What is going on is a demand for society to accommodate what biology has flatly refused to accommodate, and these insane demands are labeled as “rights.”

    This comment is so offensive to someone who has adopted a child. I don’t think I would call it insane if an infertile couple wants to adopt an unwanted child. Perhaps yourself or your future spouse will be infertile and that could be an avenue you want to explore, would you think thats insane? Or hear your partner tell you to just buckle up and live with your infertility?

    If a person has the ability to adopt a child regardless of gender, sexual orientation or race then they ought to have equal protection under the law as every other citizen of the United States. If one group, lets say infertile adult heterosexual couples have the “right” or ability to granted adoption by any person or organization granting such adoption, the same ability should be extended to equity fit homosexual couples. We have created laws that allow for equal protection under the law…even for those undesirables in society such as infertile men and women or even fit homosexual couples.

  2. sweetswede says:

    James, you ripped my statement out of its context. My point, as is obvious from my parenthetical comment in the same paragraph, was that only heterosexual relations can produce children. This is true even for adopted children.

    The difference between a homosexual couple adopting a child, and a heterosexual couple that struggles with infertility is an important one. In the heterosexual case, infertility is an oddity indicating that something is wrong. In the homosexual case, infertility is the completely natural consequence of the relationship. The two situations are not relevantly similar.

    • James says:

      I understand your point that homosexual couples are incapable of reproducing, however, your statement that “biology has flatly refused to accommodate” is a massive pain and guilt felt by people who struggle to have their own children. The pain of being asked about children by family and friends who dont know your situation, you hear it often when first married, its an absolute nightmare and completely isolating. So while I am not homosexual I have come to sympathize with their desire and feel their isolation. If they can be deemed as a fit household to provide care to some unwanted korean, chinese or even american born child, I have zero reason to object. Aboption itself is costly and humbling process that takes a long time, so if they can pass that test I have no reason to complain. Homosexuals are citizens like myself who face various different difficulties, even if different from my own, but still due equal protection under the law. In my case, through my employer, I was able to seek out different avenues for adoption and funding for such an event…I see no reason that equally qualified homosexuals should be denied the same coverage. If anyone can provide a good household to unwanted children, when so many people are incapable of having their own, I say let them raise children under the equal protection of law.

  3. sweetswede says:

    On a secular worldview (which most proponents of homosexual “rights” appeal to), what is the basis for these rights? In this case, it could not be something gleaned from nature or biology. Yet, when we boil things down, these are the only resources secularism has at its fingertips. To have a right is to affirm that we as humans are a certain type of thing. But on secularism, we are not any type of thing in particular.

    When we adopt a theistic worldview (as I do), human rights affirm we are the type of thing created in God’s image AND subject to His law. We are not the type of thing that gets “rights” from a personal whim or a sincere desire.

    I wasn’t making any point about heterosexual couples that have problems with infertility. I believe, on the whole, adoption is a great thing (though typically the conditions leading up to adoption are not ideal). Likewise, on a theistic worldview, I’m not questioning the legitimacy of hetersexual couples, infertile or otherwise, adopting. I am questioning whether whims and desires form any basis whatsoever for “rights” properly understood.

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