Humans were created as dependent beings who can only flourish within established limits or boundaries. Life within these boundaries is freedom. Life outside of them is bondage.
In our delusional effort to escape authority, we’ve rejected limitations and boundaries – preferring self-rule over submission to divine authority. Our irrational bid for autonomy has produced a kind of bondage to corruption that is threatening our future security and stability.
“The account of Creation resounds with the establishment of boundaries. Almost all human cultures have pursued the task of defining and governing boundaries in human behavior. Every culture survives by the power of its institutions to bind and loose men in the conduct of their affairs.”
“The story of modern Western culture, however — a culture built around the ideal of the sovereign self — is a story of the abandonment of restrictions and restraints in the name of human freedom. Our institutions have increasingly been defined in terms of encouraging liberation from limits rather than cultivating a conscientious honoring of limits.”
“Wendell Berry argued that, ‘we have founded our present society upon delusional assumptions of limitlessness,’ that ‘the commonly accepted basis of our economy is the supposed possibility of limitless growth, limitless wants, limitless wealth, limitless natural resources, limitless energy, and limitless debt. In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define ‘freedom’ as an escape from all restraint.” (quoted by Ken Myers, Mars Hill).
We need a renewed interest in the value of limits, boundaries, restraints.
Could we begin to see these things as values to be honored and protected? Let us pursue a tradition that does not enslave us to legalism but binds us in a loving accountability of mutual protection? But where do we look for these boundaries? Natural law? Divine law? Both?
Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ They answered Him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:31-36).
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1).
Is there a kind of freedom that could threaten true freedom?
Is there freedom that is a form of bondage? Am I free to make decisions that will destroy my life and hurt others? Free to be in slavery?
The demand for absolute liberty of personal choice; the power of each of us to choose and act upon what he or she desires and believes is at the root of our cultural demise. We must face the universal and ugly reality that we are dangerous to ourselves when we embrace freedom without truth and life without limits.
Truth must expose this powerful deception that enslaves us.
We must reject the myth of absolute freedom before in destroys us. The kind of freedom that provides for our well-being requires restraints and limits to protect it from destructive forces both within and around us?
“We are free,” wrote David B. Hart, “not merely because we can choose, but only when we choose well. For to choose poorly, through folly or malice, in a way that thwarts our nature and distorts our proper form, is to enslave ourselves to the transitory, the irrational, the purposeless, the (to be precise) subhuman.”