In American society, we are constantly bombarded with ”rights”: women’s rights, civil rights, human rights, children’s rights, parents’ rights, homosexual’s rights, immigrant’s rights, victims’ rights—even criminals have lawyers that specialize in rights of violators of civil law! The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fights tooth and nail for the right of freedom of speech (a right that seems to be extended to all except those who espouse and promote Christian values). One hot-button topic and a rights issue that has caused much controversy and gained tremendous support and popularity among the left-leaning population of America is abortion rights.
That abortion is sinful there can be no doubt. Abortion, or more correctly stated murderous infanticide, is very clearly and strongly condemned in the scriptures:
These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look , a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
The word “abomination” literally means “disgusting” and carries with it the sense of extreme hatred and detestation. To Jehovah God, hands that shed innocent blood is a disgusting, detestable thing; a thing worthy of extreme hatred! Is there any blood more innocent than that of a child? Is there any creature more defenseless and helpless than a child in the womb? How disgusting and detestable is such a heinous act as the murder of an innocent child, and that with the consent of its own mother!
A statement heard loud and long from abortion rights activists is, “A woman has the right over her own body and thus she has the right to an abortion.” Sadly, some have bought into his folly. People who would never ascend to guiltlessness of murder outside the womb readily argue that as long as a “fetus” is in its mother’s womb, it is the “woman’s choice”; the woman has the right to abort (murder) the child. Some professed Christians also go so far as to say that while they do not agree with abortion, a woman should have the “right to choose.”
This mindset has carried over into many other areas, such as homosexuality. While one might not practice homosexuality, they may affirm that a person has the “right” to be a homosexual if he so chooses. Is this true? Does a person have the “right” to choose that which is disgusting and detestable in the sight of God? Does man indeed have the right to sin?
Look up the word “right” in the dictionary and you will find multiple definitions. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary provides no less than 36 different usages of the word “right.” As we are considering it here, the word “right” is used by Webster as follows: “Just claim; immunity; privilege. All men have a right to secure enjoyment of life, personal safety, liberty and property. We deem the right of trial by jury invaluable, particularly in the case of crimes. Rights are natural, civil, political, religious, personal and public.” Clearly set forth is the idea of “rights,” both those enjoyed individually and those enjoyed collectively as a nation.
One fact that begs to be emphasized, however, is that along with rights comes immunity. In other words, if a man has the right to do a thing, he cannot be held guilty and penalized if he, in fact, does that thing. For example, if a man acquires a permit to hunt on a federal game reserve, even though that land is posted NO TRESPASSING; NO HUNTING, he has secured that “right.” If he is found hunting on that land according to the terms agreed upon, he cannot be prosecuted by the government for trespassing and hunting on posted land. Why? He has been given the right and privilege to be on the land and hunt and is, therefore, granted immunity.
Using this same logic, we must conclude that if a man has the right to sin, he must also have immunity from guilt and penalty that comes with rights. The Bible is clear that sin carries penalties with it:
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isa. 59:1-2)
For the wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:23)
Man no more has the right to sin than he has immunity from the penalties of sin:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done whether it be good or bad. (2 Cor. 5:10)
But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Col. 3:25).
A problem regarding the “right to sin” may be that some confuse the freedom to choose to obey God’s will with the right or privilege to sin. God has created man with free volition, i.e., God allows man to make his own choice to obey or disobey. This free volition, also referred to as the free agency of man is clearly established throughout the Bible. Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but they were also given the freedom to choose whether or not they wanted to obey God in that command (Gen. 2-3). Joshua admonished Israel,
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Josh. 25:15).
Jesus also, speaking to His disciples, affirmed man’s freedom to choose, saying, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
The freedom to choose between right and wrong, however, does not affirm the right or privilege to sin. The Bible also makes this point clear. While God has given man the freedom to choose between right and wrong, He has also legislated punishment for those who choose to do wrong. To Adam and Eve, God declared,
And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:16-17).
God’s prophet Ezekiel forever affirmed this same truth saying,
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezek. 18:20)
The New Testament also sets forth penalties for those who violate God’s laws (Rom. 6:23; 2 Thess. 1:1-9, et al).
Do I have the right to sin? No! Will God grant me immunity from the penalty of sin? Yes, but only if I apply the blood of His Son to my sins through obedience to His will:
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. (Heb. 8:12)
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (1 Pet. 1:18-19)