“… freedom is not what the culture tells us. Real freedom comes from a strategic loss of some freedoms in order to gain others. It is not the absence of constraints but in choosing the right constraints and the right freedoms to lose.” -Tim Keller “Making Sense of God”
People want freedom. It is the ultimate value in our society. Freedom to choose, be, and not have any constraints. No person, God, religion, or institution, has rights into what I do, say, or how I choose to live.
But are freedoms without constraints the best way to live? Is it possible? Are there constraints that lead to more freedoms?
Freedoms are good things in many contexts. Minorities and woman have greater freedoms because of new laws. We would never say freedom is always bad and has no place.
Freedoms are problematic when they are defined with no constraints, handles, or boundaries. In a relativistic and pluralistic society all truth, ideas, and philosophies are equal. Regardless if they are true, practically viable, harmful, or rooted in history. The common definition of freedom is, “live and let live.” Constraints of any kind considered evil and oppressive.
But any rational person knows the working definition of freedom in American doesn’t work. Give a child a rule-less world and watch what happens. Allow a person to eat whatever they want. Three Big Mac’s a day will not be good for anyone.
As noted in the quote above, “not the absence of constraints but in choosing the right constraints and freedoms to lose.”
A person who worships money becomes greedy. They’re not free. The woman who worships beauty is not free. They become destroyed with every negative comment about their pimples or hips. Beauty becomes a slave master instead of something to be enjoyed.
A man worships career sacrificing other existential necessities to have status, money, and perceived freedoms. Not free. Shackled to the hours, bosses, and expectations of others. Family and relationships and often God get leftovers or nothing at all. How is this freedom?
Jesus came to offer new freedoms and give new constraints to enhance our joy. He said, “my yoke is easy and burden light,” because we are designed for constraints and freedoms in Christ. When we try to live for things that are going away our hearts always disappoint. We push against God and the ways the universe is created to work.
We don’t need a world of freedom and no constraints. We need a world with the best possible Freedom and constraints designed to make us eternally happy.
Are you free?