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Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Meaning(s) of Freedom--Happy Fourth!

Happy Independence Day!

Isn’t freedom a wondrous thing?

I don’t hesitate to answer YES! freedom is marvelous and most desirable. But freedom can also be frightening because it can be abused so easily. Freedom is powerful, and without a limit or a check to that power, who’s to say that disaster will never strike in some form or another?

After all, power can—and often is—abused by those who have it, whether intentionally or unintentionally. We’ve seen this throughout history.

And yet, even with the risk, we still consider freedom to be worth pursuing.

Despite the issues that surround our freedom on American soil—ambiguity and strife and questionable morality—we strive to reach a true freedom. (Freedom of speech, for example, is ambiguous and the subject of much strife; political correctness and the opinion of the majority tend to stamp out and punish voices that don’t agree. So really, only one side can have freedom of speech…which, in fact, is not freedom of speech.)

But what does it really mean to be free? What *is* freedom?

To be able to do whatever you want, whenever? Seems childish, doesn’t it?

How about being able to do whatever you want, whenever, as long as it doesn’t bother anyone else? Better?

As an American, I admit that I have many liberties. Although there are many ways in which the government does not seem to support or encourage freedom—censorship, secrecy—we have many freedoms in America—freedom of religion—that other people around the world do not have. I’m thankful for the freedoms that I have as an American, however impermanent and controversial those freedoms may be.

Still, those definitions seem a bit lacking, don’t they?  

They aren’t a perfect or pure freedom. But there is a pure freedom—if there wasn’t, why would we strive so diligently to obtain it? I’m not ashamed to say that this freedom is only found in Christ. I’m not going to preach, so no worries for those who disagree.

Instead, I’d like to share a legitimate question/concern one of my Atheist friends once brought up:

“How is limiting yourself or putting yourself in a box by following some God liberating? How can you say that you’re more free than I am, when you can’t do the things that I can, like drinking or looking at ‘bad’ pictures, or swearing? That doesn’t seem like freedom to me. Seems more like a prison or a cage that keeps you from enjoying LIFE.”

Alright, friend, half-touche. But only half, love, because although I understand where you’re coming from—it does seem a bit strange to call what is limited free, does it not?—I also understand that the concept of limiting allows greater freedom.

It’s a paradox, woot-woot! (I love me some paradoxen. That’s slang or something for me fangirling about paradoxes.) Ok, so, turning this back to the point...

Say I’m a high school senior wanting to get into Carleton…and I get accepted in the first half of my senior year with a minor scholarship not based on GPA (just go with it). I can embrace freedom and choose to party during the second half of my senior year, refuse to do my homework, and practically fail my classes. It’s my choice. I’m free to do as I will.

But guess what? We all know this is coming…

Carleton might look at my ‘untethered’ behavior and say, no, we’ve changed our minds about you. Denied acceptance, loss of scholarship. Now what am I supposed to do?

The choices you make in your freedom will vary depending on where you want to go, what you want to do, and who you want to be/who you are.

Without holiness and/or wisdom, freedom is an oxymoron.

For me in Christ, all things are possible, but not all things are profitable. Not all things edify. Not all things get me where I want to go.

I mean, sure, I could swear like a sailor (do they really swear that much? Never met one), or gossip about my “friends” all the time. I’d be convicted, of course, because that is most unbecoming. I’d be free to do it, but in choosing such a path, have I honestly gained anything worthwhile? I’ve disqualified myself as credible in an onlooker’s eyes; now he/she may be convinced that having a relationship with God is meaningless.

Why eat garbage when you can eat an 8 course gourmet meal, when all you need to do is wait for an hour?

By limiting myself—avoiding the things that I know aren’t going to be worthwhile or get me where I want to go—I am free to obtain that greater thing.

What do you think? Am I just plain wrong?
Have I oversimplified to an extreme?

I’d really appreciate your feedback—leave a comment :)!!

 Why is freedom important to you? What does it mean to be free?

Also, sorry if that was too sporadic for you to follow. I tried :p.

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