This is in response to a blog post concerning Freedom and Law. Maria wrote:
“Freedom” is a cherished concept in America… …In our contemporary culture, freedom has become “freedom from,” or what used to be called licentiousness. The emphasis now is on each person being free from constraints to do whatever they desire. Usually, there is the caveat that whatever we do, we should not infringe on others’ freedom or welfare. This would suggest that freedom and law (which constrains our choices) would be in opposition to one another. I think this is misleading.
True freedom comes only in the context of embracing obedience to God’s law. Did you react to that statement? I imagine that this is a surprising, if not shocking, idea. However, consider this: Human beings tried for hundreds of years to figure out how to fly like birds. For hundreds of years, we failed to fly. It was only after we discovered and obeyed the laws of aerodynamics that we became free to fly all over the planet.
Yes, I reacted rather negatively to the oxymoron that true freedom comes only in the context of a supreme dictator that is God’s law. It’s ironic that she chose a scientific principle like aerodynamics to demonstrate truth and couldn’t rely on prayer, faith, or belief as the context for our ability to fly.
For example, it has become exceedingly common for couples to live together before marriage. This is often rationalized as “we need to see if we are compatible.” God says we should not live together before marriage. Turns out, God is right: high quality research has shown over and over again that living together before marriage increases the risk of divorce, affairs, domestic violence, etc. So in this case, if you follow God’s instructions, you are less likely to experience these outcomes.
Turns out, the primitive humans that wrote about not living together before marriage have no greater authority over the subject than any other societal view. I can quote from Christian sources that cite government surveys to say that as cohabitation has grown it is no longer correlated to divorce rates. The correlation to divorce rates could also have been attributable to the fact that the type of people that wait to live together might be more likely to stay in unhappy marriages because they view divorce as contrary to God’s law.
That, in a nutshell, is my approach. Whenever I am confronted with a decision to make about how I will live, I ask “What is God’s intention?” I turn to the Bible, God’s little flight manual, and I see what God has to say on the subject. If it is not addressed directly, I look for the principles God has provided that are relevant to the question. And then I am free to live my life to its fullest potential, and that is very satisfying indeed.
Yes, it’s an approach and some people are happy running their lives with confusing fairy tales from our primitive ancestors. They fill in the gaps, conflicts, and confusion with their own principles that they then claim are clear biblical principles. I challenge Maria to write out some clear principles for modern society, particularly political principles, and see if all other bible believers believe she has it right. If it worked without dispute then I could agree that the bible has enduring principles. I’m not even going to argue if those principles are worthy of following or not, since it can clearly be questioned if there are clear and enduring principles in there to even discuss consistently.
What do we do without God’s law? Are freedom and law in opposition? We have human law and it depends on which societies we live in as to what that means. Freedoms may be in opposition and we should work together to always improve human laws to balance our freedoms with our restrictions. We shouldn’t infringe on others’ freedom or welfare without a justifiable reason in the interest of the public good. There are basic examples such as speed limits for public safety, food inspectors, etc.
This was a typical article that seeks to say that we would be worse off and possibly in complete chaos without God’s law when that’s the furthest from the truth. We already have a much better system of human laws that can be changed and hopefully improved over time since the laws of the time of the bible. It’s not a guarantee that we improve but at least the laws we create clearly identify the human needs in them with the motivations and benefits for having the law. “God says so” is as meaningful as us saying “because I said so” to our own children. I’ve done much better in teaching morality with human rules and laws with their human reasons for following them.
When you are wondering if you should or should not do something, actually think about who it might impact and the real ramifications if everyone did or didn’t do the very same thing at the same time across the world. That simple thought exercise will guide you much more clearly than most anything written in the bible.