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Freedom’s Menace

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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  1. Paul Rothbard
    November 29th, 2012 at 05:17 | #1

    Hands down. Jesus Christ is the only one worthy of joyful obedience and complete submission. So how does this relate to how we think about a very un-Christian government?

    “Secularization is accompanied by radical individualism which waves an ever increasing list of demands for new rights and freedoms.” – How so? I am afraid this could be left open to misinterpretation of both “individualism” and “rights.”

    Is there a difference between a woman wanting her birth control paid for by the State vs someone wanting to take mind altering drugs with their own money? The first is neither an example of individualism or legitimate rights, while the latter could very well be considered an individual practicing the right to harm one’s self and individually risk the consequences. Which of these types of examples are you referring to?

  2. Paul Rothbard
    November 29th, 2012 at 05:37 | #2

    I guess I am still having trouble connecting how government vs “freedom from government” ties in with the bondage from sin and self vs freedom spiritually through Jesus.

    Do you believe that the secular and the individualists will have government forced upon them or that they will end up demanding it?

  3. Ron Johnson
    November 29th, 2012 at 20:08 | #3

    Paul, my point is that all earthly governments, apart from the leavening influence of Christians acting as “salt and light,” will eventually result in tyranny of some form because we are all victims of our own self-centeredness. We want what we want irregardless of the needs and wants of others. America is free because we once had a Judeo-Christian worldview under-girding our public policy decisions. We are currently experiencing a national identity crisis – that is, we no longer have a consensus as to what it means to be American. With no vision greater than our own self-interest, it deteriorates into a grab for power where the law of the jungle rules the day. I believe that, apart from a spiritual awakening, this is where we are headed.

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