Yesterday, Adrian Warnock addressed the nature of freedom in discussing the current political leadership in the West along with the policies in the war on terror and toward the Middle East, with a focus on the situation in Iraq.
The spread of “freedom” has become a panacea for the world’s ills, but in order to evaluate this argument, we have to ask what definition of freedom are we using and who controls its meaning? Without getting into a long and tedious discussion, let me say that as a Christian I have to understand freedom within the context of scripture. I have to ask myself, what does the Bible say about freedom.
Immediately upon asking that question I am faced with the intersection of two scriptures in the Gospel of John, both of which are statements by Jesus.
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 14:15 “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
At first glance those two statements seem to contradict each other, at least to the modern secular mind, since it wants to define freedom as “The condition of being free of restraints.” However, I would argue that freedom is never absolute in a moral and ethical society, which by its nature Christianity fosters and demands. Instead, I see these two scriptures as forming the boundaries of freedom. Everything has boundaries (except God) without which it ceases to exist as something definable and real. Freedom also has boundaries. To use two old debating arguments: I am not free to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater, just because I can, and your freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.
Janis Joplin had a famous line in her song Me & Bobby McGee.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing don’t mean nothing honey if it ain’t free, now now.
I have always liked that line, since to me it intimated the truth of the Gospel, God’s free gift of salvation in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, where once received, there is nothing left to lose.
In the end, it is all in the definitions and who we allow to define the meaning of things for us. As Christians, we are constrained by the Word. Freedom’s definition and how we are to understand its application comes from God and his Word, not our own desire to “be free from restraints.” From the first demand placed on Adam to the last soul to accept the offer of salvation, it is obvious that biblically, freedom includes in its definition certain restraints, with definite and distinct boundaries.
You ask why is this significant? Well, as Adrian noted in his article:
Should our nations continue their march to anything goes? Or should we espouse a moral code that becomes more and more enshrined by law? One of the tests for Turkey to come into the EU has been will it make adultery legal. Is that a gift to Turkey of the west? [emphasis added]
The answer is straightforward; it all depends. It depends on who controls the definitions. Does God? If not him, who?
Just a few thoughts from the rim…