Mars Hill Forums # 49, #51, #53 and #56 at Trinity College, Boston University, Dartmouth and the Unitarian Church, Portland, Maine: Unalienable Rights and Human Sexuality

John C. Rankin

[excerpted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]

In three Mars Hill Forums in particular, the subject of unalienable rights and human sexuality became the lightning rod for discussion, each during the fall of 2000.

At Trinity College with the Rev. Debra Haffner (past president of the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the U.S. – SEICUS), our subject was, “What is Sexual Morality and Justice?” In my original presentation, I argued that we must define our terms. I defined the God, life, choice, sex order of creation, the dependency of the Declaration of Independence and its definition of unalienable rights accordingly, and that the only basis from which unalienable rights can come from in society, is where the power to give, rooted in God and expressed foundationally in heterosexual faithful monogamous marriage, is in place.

Therefore, any definition of sexual promiscuity, or homosexual marriage, or a cognate, necessarily undercuts the basis for the morality and justice of unalienable rights. Moreover, I may ask, where in history has a pansexual ethic, or cognate, ever been conceived, or provided for unalienable rights? Never. And in fact, it is only the biblical ethics of only Genesis that allows the religious and political liberty of dissent in a civil society, whereas pansexuality does not allow such dissent. Ergo, pansexuality is a parasite of true human sexuality, as evil is parasitic to the good.

In our interaction, I asked Debra if there were any other source for unalienable rights, and she could provide none. It was a new argument for her, and she was truly pensive in response, including  our subsequent email communications.

And in the Q & A session with the audience, the issue of unalienable rights was central. One student, of Hindu background, tried to say that the language of “inherent rights” was equally as good. So I asked her where these rights inhered from, if not from God. She could provide no answer, other than an appeal to a common humanity. I said, okay, but if there is no God who gives unalienable rights which human government cannot take away, and that these rights are simply inhered from human opinion, we have billions of opinions. How then do we proceed? She could not answer, but clearly she was seeking to hold onto human rights apart from acknowledging God, and therefore, in my estimation, being accountable to him. And here I see the consistent embrace of the sex, choice, life, / God reversal paradigm by those who reject God because they ultimately want some form of sex outside of marriage.

In a subsequent forum that fall at Dartmouth College, the same issue was front and center. In conversation afterward, with an atheist from Bulgaria, he sought also to grasp for “inherent rights” that have no need for a Creator. He was likewise unable to give basis for such a hope, or to negate the historical reality of unalienable rights, and their rootedness in only Genesis.

So I asked him what he would do if some group decided that all Bulgarian atheists have no civil rights, and that they should die. Namely, this group had a different definition of “inherent rights” than he had, and their definition did not extend these rights to all people, and they also happened to have the power to enforce their views. He said he would fight to protect his life. I said good, and I would defend him. But, do not “inherent rights” based on human opinion therefore invite war? The exact opposite of what an honestly honored unalienable rights would produce? Thus, my best means to protect his freedom and civil rights, is by honoring the Creator and his gift to us of unalienable rights, and their rootedness in the human sexuality of only Genesis.

Then, in my forum in Portland, Maine, with John Buehrens, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), I made a similar proactive presentation about unalienable rights and  human sexuality, and neither he, nor any in that pansexual friendly audience, offered another and contrary definition – just one person who made a similar attempt to grasp at some concept of “inherent rights.” We will not have true sexual morality and justice apart from the God of only Genesis and his gift of unalienable rights.