Thursday, October 15, 2015
Thoughtful About . . . The Contradiction of Freedom
It's a subject being discussed quite a bit these days in hot-topic conversations . . . though sometimes I don't think people realize that is at the heart of what they're talking about.
It's the heart of the Christian faith, something Americans certainly make a show of valuing . . . but often atheists' main objection to Christianity is--though they rarely realize it--our freedom.
Something we want so desperately, but understand so poorly.
Last week, a friend of mine had changed her social media profile picture to be a little thing that said "I Am a Christian." For some bizarre reason, this triggered attacks on her by total strangers on Twitter, who took it upon themselves to insult her in some rather colorful language and accuse her of "liking to be a victim then."
I was so very impressed with how my friend handled herself. Not at all confrontational, she just asked the person to explain what they meant. The root of their argument? That there had better not be a God, because if there were, He was doing a lousy job of protecting people. Just look at all the violence and crime!
My friend's response: "So you want a God who controls you completely?"
The confrontational person certainly didn't take kindly to that. But it sure got me thinking.
That is, in essence, what people are asking for when they say, "Why doesn't God stop these bad things from happening? Why didn't He stop that shooter? That bomber? ISIS?"
When those are the questions churning through our mind, we see only one side of the equation, and it looks grossly unfair. God should put a halt to these terrible thing! Right?!
Wrong. So very, very wrong.
Because if God put a halt to those terrible, terrible things--things people choose to do to each other--then He, being perfectly just, would also have to put a halt to everything you do that isn't perfectly pleasing to Him.
Is that how you would want to live? With God controlling your every word? Your every action? Your every thought? Do you want to live as nothing but a puppet?
I daresay no one, even those of us who strive to be better and live according to God's will, want that. We, by nature, value freedom. Free will. We, by nature, want to choose whether we love God, whether we serve Him. He doesn't demand compulsory service--He softly requests our hearts.
But if we grant that He should give us free will, we have to extend it to all humanity--including those who abuse it.
And there will always be people who abuse it. There will always be people who heed the whispers of the enemy rather than those of God, who take perverse delight in hurting, killing, abusing, misusing other people. Could God stop them? Of course He could. But except for a few occasions where His people are praying and His glory needs to be demonstrated, He doesn't. Because He already let us choose--He granted us that most basic freedom. We don't really want Him to take that away.
Not from us, anyway. But we still wish He would take it away from them, don't we?
At least until we realize that God loves them just as much as He loves us. And because He loves them, He wants them to have that freedom to choose Him too. He wants to reach their hearts, not to bind their hands.
But freedom, as much as we treasure it, terrifies us when it's extended to those whose views are different from ours. Because what if they abuse it? How do we stop them?
Well, as I know I've said before, we don't accomplish it by tying their hands, since God won't. We don't do it by taking away guns. We don't do it by limiting everyone's freedoms.
We do it by praying a revival into the world. By turning hearts to Him. By reinstating the morality that God, in fact, gave us to try to guide us away from these abuses we find so heinous . . . but which also include Him guiding us away from abuses we find pretty nice. You know, like sex with whomever we want, whenever we want, married or not. Like getting rid of whatever child (oh, I'm sorry, fetus [which, now that you mention it, means "child" in Latin, no differentiation between born or unborn]) we find inconvenient. Like putting anything and everything before Him in our priorities and loyalties.
We call those things freedoms, proving how little we understand the concept. Free choice. Free love. Free time.
Those things aren't free--they come with a cost. One America and the world are paying every day when we create a generation, a people, who value life so little that they see no reason not to end the lives of those they disagree with. We, as a culture, have taught them to do that, then we wonder why God didn't stop them?
It's a crazy thing, isn't it? Something we want so fiercely . . . understand so little . . . and don't know what to do with once we've got it. Something we go to war to protect . . . and then give away in terror. Something we say is a basic human right . . . even if that requires changing the definition of "human" so it doesn't have to apply to those to whom we don't wish to grant it.
It's one of God's sweetest gifts to humanity. And one of the things that make people doubt His very existence.
A gift we can't accept without extending it to others too.