The backstory of the human race
Humans were created as volitional and moral beings – able to choose between right and wrong.
Humans were created as dependent creatures meant to flourish within established limits. Life within the limits is freedom; Life outside of them is bondage.
God originally gave us a good dwelling place where we could flourish in lives that are blessed in every way. But God put a boundary in place to protect us and to allow us to exercise the gift of choice.
God warned his unique creatures that a choice to reject his boundary would result in the ultimate limitation: death. This explains much of the human story (Romans 5:12).
Romans 5:12 – “… just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
Our delusional escape from life under the authority of our Creator turned into a pursuit of self-determination.
We rejected limitations and boundaries that are not self-determined. We preferred independence and autonomy over dependence and submission to an authority outside of ourselves.
Our irrational bid for absolute freedom of the sovereign self has resulted in bondage and corruption of all that is good. Ever since the choice was made to reject the rule of our Creator, all people born of Adam’s race have inherited a nature that is bent toward self-rule and corruption. We are a people living against ourselves as we foolishly believe we are living for ourselves.
The fall of humanity was a rejection of limits and a bid for self-rule disguised as freedom from restraints (Genesis 3:1-6).
“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.”
“The minimization of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination — this is the culture of which our present leaders and heroes are the spoiled children.”
“In our limitless selfishness, we have tried to define ‘freedom’ as an escape from all restraint” (Ken Myers, Mars Hill).
The powerful deception that enslaves us
“We live in an age whose chief moral value has been determined, by overwhelming consensus, to be the absolute liberty of personal volition, the power of each of us to choose what he or she believes, wants, needs, or must possess…” (David B. Hart).
Our demand for freedom without limits has contributed to profound short-term thinking and devolved into forms of self-serving individualism that threaten the stability and future of our communities and, perhaps even, our nation itself.
“Increasingly unable to discern how our liberated actions impacted others — neither recognizing our debts to the past nor our obligations to the future — we see ourselves as wholly free agents shorn of history or future” (Alexis de Tocqueville).
Quest for life without limits, for unbounded possibility, is enslaving us to a kind of dehumanized society that is chained to passions that are destroying true freedom.
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.
Dangerous to ourselves
When we embrace freedom without truth and life without limits, we become dangerous to ourselves and to others.
- We must reject the myth of absolute freedom before in destroys us.
- The kind of freedom that provides for our well-being requires restraints to protect us from destructive forces within us and around us.
- In our homes, Churches, schools and communities, we need renewed commitment to cultivating conscientious honoring of limits by teaching the values of neighborliness, respect, reverence, responsibility, accountability, and self-subordination. etc…
“We are free,” wrote David B. Hart, “not merely because we can choose, but only when we choose well.”