Archive for November, 2012

When Freedom = Choice

November 29th, 2012 No comments

When freedom is reduced to mean simply the license to do what we want, when we want, then “choice” becomes the cardinal virtue. Freedom becomes synonymous with the right to choose. Choice itself, rather than the content of our choice, becomes the virtue. We end up valuing choice instead of making good choices.

This is readily apparent in the modern debate over “women’s reproductive rights” where a woman’s absolute right to choose what she wants to do with her own body trumps any other moral considerations. It makes no difference that her choice will involve the destruction of her own child. The choice itself is what makes the action virtuous, even though it involves trampling the rights of the tiny woman within her own womb.

This is why our forefathers built our legal system on the transcendent truth found in God’s Word. For them, freedom was not merely the ability to choose, but rather the power to choose what is right and good. These terms – right and good – have no meaning apart from an absolute standard. After all, what is “right” and what is “good”? Who defines the meaning of these terms?

Historically, that standard was found in the character of God and His revealed truth found in the Scriptures. If there is no standard by which to measure our freedom, then freedom becomes whatever you want it to be. The tolerance of choice becomes the chief virtue, and truth is “trampled in the streets” (Isaiah 59:14-15). The result is moral anarchy masquerading as enlightened freedom.

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Freedom’s Menace

November 28th, 2012 3 comments

In this series of blog posts, we have been highlighting some of the main points from Os Guinness’ latest book, A Free People’s Suicide. In the last blog, we discussed the great paradox of freedom; namely, that freedom’s greatest enemy is freedom itself!

You might ask, “How can this be?”

As we observed, true freedom requires restraint, and the only form of restraint that does not contradict freedom is self-restraint. Herein lays the problem. When freedom is re-defined to mean license, or the right to do whatever I want, then self-restraint becomes a worthless commodity.

POGO described it this way: “We have met the enemy…and he is us!” The fallen human heart is the heart of the problem. Blinded by our own self-love, freedom is viewed through the jaundiced lens of what is best for ME. Guinness observes:

“America today is a republic in which the private trumps the public, consumerism tells Americans, “It’s all about me,” and citizens constantly tell the government to “get off our backs” when the government is their own justly chosen representative and it supposedly governs only with their free consent. In such a world, self-love will always love itself supremely, love itself at the expense of others and love itself without limits.”

Freedom rooted in self-love will eventually devour itself. A freedom that bows to no authority and submits to no outside constraint, according to Guinness, is both “disordered and deranged…and a mortal menace to the society that harbors it.”

Perhaps this explains why the growing secularization in America is accompanied by a radical individualism which waves an ever-increasing list of demands for new rights and freedoms. When God is jettisoned, Self becomes the new King. And “When men will not be governed by God,’ as William Penn so acutely observed, ‘they will be ruled by tyrants.” Tyranny is the fruit of our radical devotion to the imperial Self.

Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of your joyful obedience and complete submission. When He rules the passions of the human heart and His commandments serve as a guide to our behavior, we are empowered with the strength to restrain our selfish desires and to live for His glory and for the good of others. This is true freedom.

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Freedom’s Grand Paradox

November 21st, 2012 1 comment

Americans, like no other people in the world, are defined by their collective love for freedom. Ours is a nation conceived in liberty, a liberty secured by the great sacrifices of our forebears who pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to ensure future generations would enjoy the fruits of their labors.

The challenge before us, and every future generation of Americans, remains the same – How do we sustain this freedom we have received? Herein lies the difficulty. According to Guinness, “freedom is far more difficult to sustain than most Americans realize.”


Because at the very heart of freedom there lies a grand paradox: the greatest enemy of freedom is freedom itself!

He goes on to highlight this paradox in the form several challenges:

A historical challenge: Throughout the landscape of history, free societies have been few and fleeting! What we enjoy today can be gone tomorrow. This is why we must attend to freedom with great care and vigilance.

A political challenge: Free societies must remain free on two levels at once. We must keep the formal structures of liberty in place (i.e. our Constitution) while, at the same time, fostering the informal spirit of liberty which are found in the habits of our hearts. We must have both internal character and external structures for liberty to flourish.

A moral challenge: According to Guinness, “Freedom requires order and therefore restraint, yet the only restraint that does not contradict freedom is self-restraint, which is the very thing that freedom undermines when it flourishes.”

These three challenges remind us of our need for God if we hope to remain free. The self-restraint necessary for freedom to flourish is only possible when we allow Christ to transform the human heart. Freedom requires virtue, and it takes a supernatural encounter with the sinless Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, to live a righteous life.

Even as a wineskin is necessary to contain the wine, likewise freedom also requires a standard or a structure if it is to be preserved. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). Jesus is both the wine and the wineskin. He is the Source of our freedom and His Word is the structure which defines and preserves our freedom. Only Christ can solve the challenges we face with the grand paradox of freedom!

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