Freedom–What is it?

Samuel West, in a sermon delivered to the Massachusetts legislature in 1776, the same year that we declared our independence by appealing to our God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness:

The most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of right reason, and submitting to natural law. When a man goes beyond or contrary to the law of nature and reason, he becomes the slave of base passions and vile lusts; he introduces confusion and disorder into society, and brings misery and destruction upon himself. This, therefore, cannot be called a state of freedom, but a state of the vilest slavery and the most dreadful bondage. The servants of sin and corruption are subjected to the worst kind of tyranny in the universe. Hence we conclude that where licentiousness begins, liberty ends.

When it comes to declaring that a same-sex union is a marriage, that is a prime example of appealing to the concept of liberty as permission for licentiousness.

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14 thoughts on “Freedom–What is it?”

  1. I feel very challenged by your views, Katherine. But I cannot agree that same-sex marriage is a ‘prime example of appealing to the concept of liberty as permission for licentiousness.’ There are far FAR more troublesome issues at work in the world today than people who love each other going about their business. When we speak of freedom, let us speak of love and equality FOR ALL. It is right that our definitions change as society evolves.

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    1. Lucy, you don’t say if you consider yourself to be a Christian or not. Are you willing to identify that aspect of your life?

      Christians know that right and wrong do not evolve. Society is free to evolve in many different directions, but when society attempts to evolve in some aspect that contradicts God’s truth, society will pay a price. The quotation I posted points out that while God gives human beings liberty, a truth acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence, God’s gift of liberty must be expressed within God’s moral boundaries. Those boundaries are not a power trip for God; they are warnings of actions and attitudes that harm people, and homosexual behavior is one of the proscribed behaviors. It is forbidden, because it hurts people and it hurts society. When people use their feelings as justification for their behavior, they are looking within themselves as if they were their own gods. We are not alone in this world. God created it, and in the Bible, he explains how best we can live in his creation.

      God’s revelation is absolute truth for all times in all places. The current attempt to justify same-sex marriage is an appeal to people’s feelings, not to the truth God has given us as the guide for our lives. The truth that marriage is a union of one man and one woman is revealed both by nature and by the Bible.
      Even if you don’t believe that human beings are created by God, you must acknowledge that a human being is created with a gender, one of only two possibilities, not fifty and not mutable. The only union that permits true unity is the union of male and female, using the organs naturally supplied by the working of DNA. Nature says that marriage is the union of one male and one female.
      The Bible tells us more. The Bible records God’s acts and words that establish the marriage relationship as the union of one man and one woman, but in the Bible we learn that this union is a picture of God’s perfect union with his people, the union of Christ and the church, to be consummated at the end of time. Therefore, we trivialize this union at great peril to the human race. We must honor and preserve and respect and promote the union God has established both for our joy and for procreation and also for our instruction in the ultimate relationship of Christ and his church.
      Licentiousness is the use of liberty for self-aggrandizement. We certainly have the liberty, granted by God, to choose how we will act, but when we choose to act against God’s truth, it is a lot like throwing ourselves off a building to protest the law of gravity. We will suffer.
      I am not suggesting any campaign to do harm to people enslaved by the passions that drive homosexual behavior. That enslavement is at least as difficult to escape as enslavement to drugs or alcohol. It is hard. But just as enslavement to any addiction is destructive of the individual, so enslavement by homosexuality drives licentious behavior that is destructive. I feel compassion for people with this problem, but the solution is not to pretend that it is morally right. The solution is to be set free of the enslavement. Licentiousness is actually the result of enslavement to a perverted fulfillment of a need that has a natural and blessed fulfillment. The drive for sexual fulfillment has a blessed solution in the marriage of a man and a woman. All the other avenues for sexual fulfillment are unsatisfying and destructive. That is the consequence of the licentious outlet of a natural drive coupled with abuse of the God-given liberty to find sexual fulfillment.

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  2. Hi Katherine, I think that times have changed from the past, and how we live today, the meaning of freedom has also changed, especially in the area of sexual relationships.

    I think we need to adapt to the changing of times instead of expecting that “The most perfect freedom consists in obeying the dictates of right reason, and submitting to natural law ” should be followed by everyone.

    I can agree however, that when a man ” becomes the slave of base passions and vile lusts” he can also effect society in a negative way and cause misery in other peoples lives as well as his own. This is where responsibility of ones sexual desires needs to be addressed.

    Not sure if I agree with the statement ” where licentiousness begins, liberty ends” when we speak of the same-sex marriage. As saying a same-sex marriage is a sign of permission for licentiousness is not quite true, as everyone has different genes and are unique.

    If one is naturally drawn towards the same sex, one becomes much happier and feels free when they can be with the same sex in a relationship, instead of “obeying the dictates of right reason, and submitting to natural law ” when it does not feel natural to do so.

    I am too a Christian but I have accepted that things change and times change, and to adapt to these changes. When I do, I feel happier and feel free to live the life I choose without conflict and pain.

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    1. Before I respond to your comment, I’m curious about something. Barna group defined a Christian worldview this way for polling purposes.
      • God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.
      • Absolute moral truth exists.
      • The Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches.
      • Satan is a real being, not merely a symbolic representation of evil.
      • No one can earn entry to heaven by doing good works.
      • Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth.
      Do you agree with all these statements? Your answer will help me understand your other statements, and I will respond to your whole comment with this added understanding.

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      1. Katherine, to answer your questions:
        *I believe that there is no God so to speak that rules the world. We are part of something out there and believe that we are the universe, we are all one with this universe . We can create our lives as we choose by thinking and acting what we want to experience.
        * I was brought up with the bible and in a Christian family who all believe there is one God and that we should pray and go to church, and live by the rules and principles of the Bible. I am not sold on this as you can tell from my first point.
        * I don’t believe that is a such a character as Satan who is evil or a place in Heaven such as Hell as I am not a total believer in Heaven.
        * I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience in a body. We all have purposes here on earth, and its our calling to find these and fulfil it. When are bodies decay and die (our vehicle to be here on earth), we spirits rise up into the mass universe and become part of the spiritual world.
        * I don’t know that Jesus lived so don’t know if he lived a sinless life. According to some he was the rebel against the rules and regulations of that time, and that is why he died on the cross. As said not a total believer in the Bible and there being one God who rules us.

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      2. Thank you for your answer to my questions. I think it is logical to say that if someone does not believe in God, then that person does not consider God’s words to be authoritative. It is God’s authority to which I point when I consider homosexuality to be licentiousness. Because I accept the biblical teaching that homosexuality is a sinful way to express the God-given drive to sexual fulfillment, I also consider same-sex marriage to be a perversion of God’s gift to human beings of the marriage relationship.
        I agree with all the statements I listed for your consideration.
        As I read your comments, I feel led to ask why you consider yourself to be a Christian. You are clear about your rejection of the existence of God, and you say you don’t know if Jesus lived. You say you were brought up with the Bible, but you don’t accept its authority. It is not for me to say who is or is not a Christian, but I wonder why you self-identify that way. I would have expected you to claim humanism or even full-blown atheism since you reject the existence of God. Can you help me understand what you mean?

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      3. Jane, that clears up my confusion. I would like to invite you to read one gospel, the gospel of Mark, and simply examine the life of Jesus in order to reconsider his claims. Since you are a thoughtful person, I believe you would find the experience worthwhile. Thank you for your comments.

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  3. But…you must study all history, literature, speeches and essays instead of just those that you choose to follow. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

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    1. I’m not sure what your point is. Why do you quote the First Amendment as if you think it refutes my argument that “declaring that a same-sex union is a marriage . . . is a prime example of appealing to the concept of liberty as permission for licentiousness”? Or were you trying to agree with me? I respectfully request that you help me understand what you intended.

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  4. “And they did what seemed right in their own eyes.” OT wisdom that just repeats itself as a reminder of those who disregard God’s word.

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    1. Indeed. This is why we must study history and study great literature, speeches and essays. We need to recognize when something that has fallen out of common speech needs to be brought back in. Thank you for your comment.

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