Friday, 4 October 2013

What is Freedom?

(Created on January 17, 2010, *Updated on Jan 31, 2011)

Because I’m Stephen, I’m talking about the deeper sense of the word.  I thought of this rant after reading in the Edmonton Journal an assortment of complaints about the increased security in airports.  Many people complained that this is an infringement on their “personal freedom.”  The letter of the day claimed that the renowned terrorist Osama Bin Laden had won, being as he succeeded in taking away the freedom of Americans.
I am not going to state my personal feelings regarding the actual security in airports, mostly because I rarely fly so my opinion would be a bit biased.  But I will touch on what people like to call freedom.  The way I see it, people like their freedom to do what they want, but is that really what freedom is?  Do the confinements of regulations that seem to impede on a person’s freedom really do just that?

I once got in a discussion with a Satanist on Nexopia (back before the reign of facebook).  He mentioned that his religion was better than Christianity because it gave him freedom to do what gave him pleasure.  Christianity on the other hand did quite the opposite, telling people to reject themselves and serve God.  It was then I shared an illustration that I heard from my bible study teacher back when I was still in high school...

Let’s say there is a school in the middle of the city, probably one between grades K-6.  This school yard was surrounded on all sides by incredibly busy streets, cars zipping past at high speeds (I now realize that’s what school zone speed limits are for, but stay with me for the sake of the illustration, please).  In order to protect the children the school set up walls around the school yard.  The children were forbidden to go outside the restraints of this fence.  The rebellious youngsters may complain that this is an attack on their personal freedom.  But is freedom to do what you want to do truly freedom if it doesn’t include the freedom to be safe?

Sauntering over from the schoolyard illustration straight into the airport we can see a deep connection between the children’s complaints and the traveller’s discomfort.  What I argued with the Satanist is, Christians experience an even deeper sense of freedom.  For the biggest restraint and danger in the world is death.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to die (this, of course, is the result of the sin problem).  To me, this is like being a prisoner; you are not free to escape your mortality.  So humans are prisoners regardless of their situation in life.  The freedom Christians experience is from death.  We are free to live! 

So really the topic of freedom is broken into two different options for the reader (in the broadest of spectrums, of course).

1.  You can have the freedom to live as you please, and do what you want.  Harm and death may come to you and those close to you, but it is all worth it because you are free to do what you want.
2.  You can sacrifice some freedom in a few areas in your life, which cuts down on your personal freedom.  But this sacrifice is but a fraction of the freedom that you initially had.  With this sacrifice you gain freedom not from harm and death in the short run.  However, this also opens up a door to you to live past your first death, giving you much more freedom than those confined by death.

Yes, I realize that many out there would disagree with these two options that I have given.  This is not the place where I will convince you of its truth, for that would be lengthy and I will do my best to somehow persuade you through my other writings.  But, this rant is to show you that from a Christian perspective, we are incredibly free.  So if you aren’t a Christian, don’t pity us, we pity you. 

Yes at times I wish it was allowed in my faith to break the rules of scripture, but in the end I am aware that these rules are to protect me.  I prefer my freedom to be safe than the freedom to do a few things that are spoken against in the bible.

*I would like to add something a friend of mine said as a response to this article...
"I have a feeling I would disagree with you on freedom in regard to airport security, but in regard to freedom spiritually, I agree fully. although actually it's a bit of a paradox. The choice man encounters is this:
1. Die to self, become slaves of Christ, and then enjoy freedom to do what is right, leading to fulfillment of the requirements of the law through Christ in us, and ultimately death of the body but eternal life of the soul as that life was originally intended.
2. Remain slaves of self and the devil, with "freedom" to pursue sinful desires and passions leading to condemnation of the law by our own filthy works and ultimately death of the body and eternal life of the soul but essentially death because of existence apart from God.
Freedom in both areas is not possible."

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