October 9, 2006, Enterprise Dispatch
Pastor's Column

Framing the issue

Pastor Danville K. Swanson, First Baptist Church, Cokato

It is difficult, sometimes, to keep issues clear. One of the areas where this is true is in drawing lines between rights and responsibilities. In America, we seem to gravitate to the discussion of and the defending of our “rights.”

I, too, am an American and enjoy the rights all of us take seriously.

But, in my life, I have found that for the good of people, our rights need to be set aside at times. As responsible citizens, we need to seek to voluntarily limit our rights for the common good.

We are looking at issues in Cokato which are serious challenges for us as people. Perhaps one of these age-old issues focuses on whether licenses which allow the sale and/or consumption of alcohol should be sold and controlled by the city.

I don’t think, however, that this matter should be decided on the basis of “rights.” I am afraid that is where the battle will be waged. Rather, I think the issue is more basically identifying our responsibilities as citizens. Will alcohol sales be a help or a detriment to our community? My life experience tells me this is not a good thing to add to our town.

After listening to approximately 50 people, who were, at the time, working through an alcohol treatment program, I am convinced that our responsibility here is the greater issue. We ought to look at the vast damage being caused in our society by an abused “right.”

All the people going through treatment said the same thing to me. I lost control. I never intended to lose the freedom. My life and the lives of others have been greatly damaged by this “right.”

So, what do you think Pastor Dan? I think my responsibility is to do the right thing. . . to responsibly oppose the passage of this matter. The Apostle Paul says that “it is good not. . . to do anything by which your brother stumbles.” (Romans 14:21)

Perhaps nothing that is legal causes stumbling more than consuming alcohol. I understand that taking a stand against what seems to be a “right” is not a popular thing; but I believe that it is the responsible thing. Those who need to purchase have little, if any, problems finding the alcohol.

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