Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage sent out a 4th of July message in which he went full-on theocrat, arguing that “true” freedom is not the freedom to do what you want, but merely the freedom to do what God commands you to do — and not to do what he forbids. As interpreted by Brown, of course.
In the First Letter of Peter in the New Testament, we are exhorted: “As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil.” The freedoms we enjoy are not freedoms to do as we would, but freedoms to do as we should.
As defenders of the truth of marriage, we know how important it is to get this understanding of freedom right. In the Obergefell decision, the Supreme Court claimed a freedom to do precisely one of those things which a State may not “of right” do: to redefine marriage as created by God, the unique union of one man and one woman. It enshrined in law a “freedom” for men and women to do as they want rather than the true freedom to do as they ought. It put the desires of adults above the rights of children, and tried to supplant God’s law with a law of human making, thus using freedom as pretext for injustice and wrong.
On this Independence Day, I hope you will join me in recommitting yourself to the cause of freedom, which is nothing less than the cause of Truth, including the truth of marriage. It was not Peter, but the One to whom he committed his life, who outlined this connection between freedom and truth: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”Let us thank God that we live in a nation where we are free to do what we should, where that freedom is protected and upheld in our founding documents. And let us ask God for his help in using our freedom not as a pretext for evil, but always in service of the truth on which our freedom is ultimately founded.
You know, the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence thought deeply about the idea of freedom and what its limits were. He defined it this way:
Liberty then I would say that, in the whole plenitude of it’s extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will: but rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, within the limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’; because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual.
Notice there is no mention of God here. The limits on rightful liberty are not, according to Thomas Jefferson, the commandments of some god, but the equal rights of other human beings. This is consistent with Enlightenment ideals, with the views of philosophers like John Stuar Mill; it is entirely inconsistent with Brown’s twisted ideas on the matter. On the day that we celebrated throwing off the diving right of kings, Brown wants to be the divine king of rights. Not gonna happen.