Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 29th June 1997
From the Pastor: Some Contemporary Buzzwords VI: Human Rights
In the lead-up to the hand-over of Hong Kong we hear much about China's "human
rights record". This is but the latest in a long litany of issues on this theme.
The crusade for human rights had its present origin with President Carter in the
late 1970's who wanted to alleviate the plight of oppressed minorities,
particularly Christians, in the Soviet Union. However, the latter
counterattacked by alleging U.S. violations of human rights in Latin America.
Since then human rights has become something of a cant phrase, with often a
distinctly anti-Christian thrust: hence calls for homosexual rights, children's
rights, to name a couple.|
In response to all this hype I want to put two simple propositions:
2. The second will sound more radical: we have no rights at all,
only duties. The Bible simply does not talk in terms of rights, but informs
us of our duties: the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the
Pauline epistles. If we take these seriously we will inevitably be concerned
about the needs and freedoms of others around us. Think about it!
Professor Cooray of Macquarie University wrote in "The Australian" some years
ago on this theme, observing inter alia as follows: "A duty-conscious society
gives rise to respect for rights .... A right-conscious society in effect
recognizes a few rights (neglects many others) .... (i.e.) those demanded
by the powerful, the aggressive, and the nasty." Let us then hear Christians
pleading that everyone, under God, recognize and perform his duties,
rather than merely join the secular bandwagon of human rights.