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Dignity, ‘rights’ and creation

August 2013 | by Dominic Statham

Earlier this year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a document offering guidance to employers relating to religion and belief in the workplace (Religion or belief in theworkplace: a guide for employers following recent European Court of Human Rights judgments, February 2013; equalityhumanrights.com).

In this, they stated that they support an ‘individual’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’. In answer to the question ‘How will an employer know if a religion or belief is genuine?’ they answered that, among other things, it should be ‘compatible with human dignity and should not conflict with the fundamental rights of others’.

They then went on to give examples of how such guidance might be applied. In their view, it might be appropriate to exempt a vegetarian from fridge cleaning duties where meat is stored.

However, it would inappropriate, they said, to exempt a magistrate from duties requiring him to place children into the care of same-sex couples, as this would be ‘incompatible with upholding the dignity and fundamental rights of same-sex couples’.

World views

So, they say, a belief is genuine if it is compatible with human dignity. But what makes something compatible or incompatible with human dignity? The answer depends on your world view.

A biblical world view holds that people have dignity because they have been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). So, anything that preserves the image of God in someone confers upon them dignity; anything that mars that image robs them of dignity.

The secular view appears to be that anything that supports a person in living the lifestyle of their choice gives them dignity; anything that obstructs this, or makes them feel uncomfortable in it, denies them their dignity.

These different ways of thinking lead to very different conclusions. For example, according to the Bible, marriage should be between one man and one woman. Such a union was ordained by their creator; he made them to be mutually compatible, so that, both individually and as a couple, they reflect God’s image in them.

In secular thinking, ‘gay rights’ promotion liberates people to live as they wish. Denying the gay community the ‘right’ to adopt children, for example, would prevent them from living full lives.

The secular view is, of course, coming to dominate in both legislation and general practice. When Christian counsellor Gary McFarlane was unhappy about giving sex-therapy to same-sex couples, he was sacked (MailOnline, 30 November 2009; dailymail.co.uk).

He could easily have been exempted from these duties, but simply questioning homosexual practice, it was claimed, robbed homosexual couples of their dignity. In contrast, excusing vegetarians from duties requiring them to clean a meat fridge is seen to preserve their dignity.

Origins

What determines which world view is held? There is little doubt that it is largely established by what people believe about their origins.

If, along with the animals, we are merely the product of natural processes (i.e. evolution), then perhaps animals have as many ‘rights’ as humans. Why then should we eat them? If we are as we are because that’s how nature turned us out, then whatever we feel is surely natural — and if we feel attracted to someone of the same sex, surely that’s natural too.

Belief in creation leads to a very different way of thinking. Those who believe they were created will naturally want to know how the creator intended us to live. Wise people who buy a new car read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. 

Just a cursory consideration of human anatomy makes clear that woman was made for man and man for woman. The Bible also teaches that man has a place far above animals and that animals were made for man. After the Flood, God gave people permission to eat meat (Genesis 9:3-4); Jesus himself declared all foods ‘clean’ (Mark 7:19).

Logic

As always, the secular view is contradictory and self-refuting. The ‘right’ of homosexuals to adopt children infringes the ‘right’ of children to be raised by a mother and father.

The ‘right’ of vegetarians to be exempt from cleaning meat fridges infringes the ‘right’ of others to eat meat free from any sense of guilt. If it is offensive to act in a way that expresses homosexuality to be wrong, why is it not also offensive to act in a way that expresses meat-eating to be wrong?

It is for good reasons the Bible begins with God’s act of creation. Without the creation world view, people lack the framework with which to think rightly about themselves, the family and society. 

This is one of the many reasons why the creation/evolution debate is so important. It really is no side issue. Indeed, its outcome will determine the laws, morality and ethos of our nation.

Dominic Statham

Creation Ministries International (Creation.com)

 

 

 

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