What Freedom REALLY Means
What really sets us apart from the plants and the animals, the sea and the sky? Animals are free to move about, to seek food and shelter. Plants grow, spread their seeds, multiply. But they don't really have much of a choice. They do what they have to do to survive. They live off of instinct. However, the human being has a very special gift bestowed upon him at the moment of creation... freedom.
Gift and Responsibility
This gift of free will and the rational intellect are surprisingly special and among all of creation, they are only bestowed upon man. Made in the image of God, we share these precious gifts. But with every gift comes great responsibility. This freedom that we have to make decisions comes with a catch. There are consequences for every free choice we make.
When God created the first man he gave him everything he could every want, a beautiful home, all the food he could ever want, even a woman to call his own. Did I mention freedom? Well, being an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God He could’ve made this creature of His the ability to only do His will.
But love is free and God creates out of love. He loved man into existence. So in order for this man to be able to love he would have to be free, because forced love is not real love. For this reason he was given the gift of free will and a rational intellect which means he could make good, reasoned decisions. But it also meant he could make bad decisions as well.
So God established boundaries, limits, rules. Not a whole list of them. Just one. You can enjoy the fruit of any of these trees, except for that one there in the middle. Don’t touch that tree. As a father of two young boys I understand all too well the necessity of boundaries, limits, and rules. And I also have witnessed far too often that great gift of free will and intellect exercised poorly by my sons who make bad decisions, who disobey, and face consequences.
Freedom of Choice and Bad Decisions
The possibility of using this gift of freedom poorly has consequences and often they don’t effect just the person who does so, but many others. Adam had the responsibility of leading and loving and looking out for his wife. Allowing her to fall into temptation and then following her in that choice had drastic effects on him, her, and all of humanity. Yet it was an exercise of their freedom.
We see here the fact that not every choice made freely is necessarily good. Our freedom to choose is good. It’s what makes us human. But the way we use that freedom is what really matters. Our country prides itself on being one of the pioneers of human freedoms. And those freedoms are to be protected, defended at all costs.
But again, the freedoms that we enjoy in this country bring with them great responsibility. The most basic of all human rights is the right to have rights, to be alive. Yet the freedom of choice enshrined in our laws impinges on this right. So we see here the bad exercise of our freedom, the result of which has a fatal effect on our fellow man.
Should a woman have the right to choose what happens to her own body? Yes, of course. Should that woman also be able to exercise her free right to choose what happens to her own body at the expense of the life of another human being? Isn’t that in essence saying the rights of one person are greater than the rights of another?
This right to live has recently been opposed by the right to die. People have formed a movement that would afford them the right to choose to die. Not only would this effect those who choose to die, but the doctors who would be forced by law to deal out death. The friends and family would be effected as well. And just like the previous example, this would no doubt snowball into a much larger issue with much more devastating impact on our society. Again, a poor exercise of our freedom.
All the evil in the world could’ve been avoided if God would’ve created us without the gift of free will. But our freedom is essential to who we are. It’s what makes us human. It’s what makes us like God.
Freedoms should be protected, defended, fought for, and celebrated. And once had they should be exercised rightly keeping in mind the consequences, good or bad, that come along with them. For with freedom comes great responsibility.