By: Nick Walter
Say you’re at the store with a friend of yours, Jonathan. Standing in line to check out, Jonathan sees a pack of gum. While the cashier is looking away, he quietly slips the pack of gum into his pocket, and the two of you leave the store without him paying for it.
After walking out, you turn to your friend. “Jonathan, why’d you take that gum? That’s stealing.” Unperturbed, he pulls out a piece and starts chewing. “So?” “So? Stealing is wrong!” you reply. Calmly, he looks back at you and states, "To me, stealing is right. So it is.”
Jonathan, of course, is incorrect. He may feel that stealing is fine, but that does not make it fine.
But why? Why are things like stealing, assault, and lying all wrong? Is it just because a bunch of people got together and decided as a society that they are wrong? Or is it because there is something about these acts that is off, that is unnatural, that is inherently wrong?
And what about the issues that are hotly debated today – such as abortion and gender identity? What determines right and wrong on these issues?
Similar questions have troubled humans for millennia. And we continue to debate controversial issues today, both in courtrooms and in coffee shops.
Sometimes, we disagree about whether we can even find a solution to these issues. Some say truth is subjective, and dependent upon on what society says, while others say truth is found in deep, bedrock truths about human nature that are defined by our Creator.
As conservatives, we are often asked why we fight for certain causes. Why do we believe, for example, that babies in the womb are real, living humans with the same right to life as everyone else? Why do we say that a person cannot change their biological sex? Why do we fight for everyone’s right to live out their beliefs in every area of their lives, private or public?
Because we believe that Truth does exist. That it can be found. That there are answers to life’s toughest questions.
We believe that there is a definite answer to the question: “Are babies in the womb living humans?” The answer is yes, because what side of a birth canal you’re on doesn’t affect your humanity any more than the color of your skin does. We believe there is an answer to the question: “Does how you think about your ‘gender’ determine your sex?” The answer is no, because there are thousands of differences between men and women written into our genetic code. Not only that, but the two sexes are halves of a reproductive whole. Each sex uniquely complements the other. And we believe there is an answer to the question, “Is stealing wrong?” The answer is yes, because although Jonathan may not like it, each person has the right to freely own and use private property without others taking it for themselves.
That is why we fight for these causes, especially for free speech and religious freedom. We recognize that to answer these questions, people must be free to figure things out for themselves. To think. To talk. To discuss. To disagree, often fiercely.
And they must also be free to practice the religion of their choosing, to make common cause and share with others their religion. How else is a believer to show that they walk their talk, and show that their way is worth following?
And this also means that when we conservatives fight for free speech and religious freedom, it is freedom for all we seek. Granted, Truth may not come easily in such an open forum, it but it likely will not come at all if the debate only airs one side, or the forum is regulated and directed by government authorities.
Truth is out there. We can know it. But we can only know it if we are free.
Nick Walter is a Law Clerk at Alliance Defending Freedom. He graduated Cum Laude from Oakland University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. Nick is now a third-year law student at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.
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