Rights vs Responsibilities


In this new year, excitement brews. New Year’s resolutions, the planning of big events, and the shift of presidential power mark the beginning of 2017. While the excitement of a New Year is evident, there is also apprehension. In particular, many Americans (and those elsewhere) have shown unrest and unhappiness with the impending new leadership in America. As a result, some politicians and celebrities vowed to boycott the inauguration. Others have planned protests. What I’d like to focus on in this blog is what we teach our children in this time of transition.

In just two days, there will be a Women’s March on Washington. I’ve included a graphic of the March to make a point. (I do not agree with what the graphic portrays.) While it is admirable to teach non-violence and the exercise of free speech in America, the devotion to this cause, above others, concerns me. I have watched the preparations on news channels, and visited the official website and Facebook page. While I agree with several of the Mission and Vision Statements, some of the Unity Principles leave much to be desired, particularly for Christians.

As a Christian (and a Christian mother), I take very seriously the values and morals that are taught to my children, whether taught deliberately by our family, through tribal knowledge at school, or through the lessons that society teaches in the media. Many of them sound great. Women and men should be paid equally for equal work. Women and men should be free to work and live in safe places, free from sexual harassment. Women and men should be free to express their beliefs in non-violent ways. I can get behind all of these lessons.

However, there are more and more times when the lines become blurred. Instead of freedom to express beliefs, those who oppose those beliefs (or even who have differing beliefs) are spoken of as old-fashioned or judgmental. Instead of a distinction between right and wrong, the right and wrong become subjective.

As  Christian parents, it’s important to decide what lessons we will embrace.  We cannot depend on society to decide for us. As Christians, our authority comes from the Bible, and the teachings of Jesus. So, when society teaches that anyone can express his/her sexuality in any way he/she chooses, Christian parents should disagree with that notion. The reason for this is that Jesus teaches that sexuality should be expressed only between a married man and woman  (Matt. 19). As if Jesus’s teachings weren’t enough, this is a common teaching in the New Testament. Any sex outside of marriage (whether unmarried, adultery, or same gender) is prohibited. 

When society teaches that a woman’s body is hers, and hers alone, implying that she has a choice of whether or not to expel a baby from her uterus, Christian parents should look to the Bible for the answers. When life is created, God does not intend for it to be taken by any person. Christian parents must explain that a life is a life, no matter the age of the person. It is wrong to murder anyone, whether he/she is inside a mother’s uterus or has been born and is living independently of another.

So today, consider what you teach your children. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why do I embrace the beliefs that I hold? Is it because they are socially acceptable or because they are right?
  • Do the views that I hold (and teach to my children) line up with the teachings of Jesus?
  • Do I want my children to learn lessons solely from what society teaches, or do I want to play a major part in the ethics that my children learn and (eventually) teach to their children

As we age, and our children grow up, there will be politicians that we like and others who do not share our beliefs. There will be media that expresses differing views from those of Christian parents. Even churches may express views that we do not share. But the important thing is this: Do we simply embrace what others teach us (whether deliberately or implicitly) or do we carefully consider, decide for ourselves (based on biblical principles), and then choose what to teach our children?

My prayer is that as you consider these questions, you are able to get some clarity. My prayer is that Christian parents dialogue with their children about what society teaches and correct anything that opposes what Jesus taught. If we simply go along with what others say, and embrace their beliefs because they sound good, then we are no different than non-Christians.

Certainly, Americans have rights, and we are grateful for these rights. We should educate ourselves on causes, use our rights (when they align with the teachings of Jesus), and teach these to our children. However, we must decide if we will focus primarily on our rights as Americans or on our responsibilities as Christians.

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