the keys to freedom

keys to freedom cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
(click on image to shop for David’s art)

Liar. Maybe intentionally. Maybe naively.

Paul said we’ve been bought with a price, so don’t become the slaves of men again (1 Corinthians 6:20). He meant we are already free. Freedom is ours. It is a reality. These people don’t know it. The keys to their own freedom lie everywhere. The same for the teacher. Unfortunately, they are a part of a system that supports slavery but they can’t see it.

There is a difference between formal freedom and actual freedom. Formal freedom is when we are permitted to make choices within a given system or ideology. Actual freedom is when we question the very structure that grants us formal freedom to the point of undermining its power over us altogether.

Perhaps, like me, you became tired of operating within the system, constantly tweaking and reinventing and renovating it and constantly shifting yourself to comfortably fit in it. You eventually realized that we’ve already been doing that forever without any substantial change.

Perhaps, like me, you realized that you wanted real freedom, authentic freedom, actual freedom, and that the only way to do that was to throw the whole system into question by leaving it.

Perhaps, like me, your departure from the system was a testimony to your family and friends and the system that you believe it had failed and would continue failing to create the culture of actual freedom.

(Does this describe you? I invite you to join The Lasting Supper.)

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  • Gary Hendricks

    Well said David! I played the “formal freedom” game for several years attempting to eek out real freedom. Eventually found that freedom within prescribed boundaries is not freedom at all. Limited freedom is fine for societies (though I prescribe to the most individual freedom possible even there) but not for beliefs. When it comes to what we think…any system of restriction becomes total enslavement.

  • Wayne Rumsby

    BAM!! Yup, I call it “Everything You Need Is Inside The Box Syndrome”—not.

  • Adam Julians

    I love the idea you have communicated of being free whether it is actualised or not.

    What i have some difference in is how you view the system. Does one have to be outside of the system to be free? I know the school system failed me because dyslexia wasn’t picked up when i was growing up. I know the church system failed me when I was falsely prophesied against.

    So what is it we are talking about here? I hope i am right in saying that it’s possible to find belonging in a system or institution while being free, otherwise the logical conclusion would be that there would be no place for the institution of marriage, say, whilst maintaining freedom. And that we all have to be indepedent to be free – that sounfs like anarchy to me! If like me you were brought up in the 70’s with punk rock, then anarchy might sound appealing, but I think I would rather have systems in place than have anarchy, even thought systems, being human run will fail at least some of the time.

  • We are NOT born free…but in bondage…to sin.

    Real freedom is found in Christ and His forgiveness…alone.

  • Gary Hendricks

    No Steve, Jesus took care of that and we are free…from birth to grave.

  • Adam Julians

    Gary – you mentieond “freedom within prescribed boundaries is not freedom at all”.

    “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” .(Gal 5:13).

    The Believer’s Freedom”23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” 1Cor 10:23-24.

    It would seem that there are bouindaries in these scrpture verses of using freedom to serve others and not be self-indulgent would it not?

    Or did you mean something else by freedom within prescribed boundaries?

  • Gary Hendricks

    Adam, in my comment I differentiated between types of freedom and identified that there are instances where limited freedom is appropriate such as in a society of people. The very verse you quote identifies the difference between the “right” to do something and the benefit of it. In other words…total freedom includes the “right” to do even that which is not beneficial.

    I also differentiated between freedom of action, such as in limits of behavior in societies, and freedom of thought which should have no artificial limits placed upon it.

    While I thank you for providing scripture references which serve to substantiate my point…it seems to me that you are challenging a position which clearly has not been made.

  • Adam Julians

    Gary, I hear that you have taken my comment as a challenge to a position that you claim has clearly not been made.

    In what way would you claim that “freedom within prescibed boundaries” is not freedom?

    Would you say that “freedom within prescibed boundaries” is not consitent with the scriptural verses quoted? If so, why?

  • Gary Hendricks

    Do I really need to explain it again? When Paul stated he has the “right” to do something he is referring to freedom. When he makes a case for forfeiting some of that freedom for the benefit of others or of self, he is arguing for charity and/or a beneficial choice.

    Let me make one more attempt at clarity. If freedom is restrained by self choosing, then freedom is still present. If freedom is denied by the will of others then true freedom is not present. This may be good such as when a society imposes laws for the protection of all…or it may not be so good such as when a controlling body (be it government or religion) attempts to control or deny freedom of thought.

    I really don’t know how I could make my point any plainer.

  • Adam Julians

    I see that you think i am slow to understand your intentions Gary.. But you haven’t answered my questions directly so it does take some figuring out if I am to get the answers I have requested.

    So from what you say about “freedom within prescribed boundaries being no freedom at all”, your explaination would indicate that by this you mean that at all times excelt by self – restraint that freedom is not freedom at all. And at such times where there is restraint other than self restraint it cen either be good or not so good.

    So in that case you would see freedom with boundaries as self prescribed and being freedom. And with boundaries prescribed by others as either good or not so good.

    So then, there are boundaries prescribed by scripture, of freedom being used to serve others, to seek the good of others and self, and not be self indulgent. From what you say now you would see that as freedom with good prescribed boundaries i.e. freedom in Christ.

    Where in the original statement you asserted that “freedom within prescribed boundaries is no freedom at all”. Can you understand why that might have communicated that you wanted to say is that freedom in Chirst is no freedom at all?

    Thank you for your clarification.

  • Adam, this really piqued my curiosity: “I know the church system failed me when I was falsely prophesied against.” Would you be willing to share specifics?

  • Adam Julians

    Hi thanks for your question. I’ve shared what has happende to me a few times on this blog. I am in a process of healing form this and in the light of that, I’m starting to doublt the wisdom of having been so vulnerable in sharing before – it still hurts!

    How shall I put it? I discussed a difficulty I had expereinced with a female member of my family where I had been mistreated to a person in leadership with pastoral responsibility. Instead of receiving pastoral care, I was treated as the one who have been doing the mistreating rather than the one mistreated.

    The leader claimed they were being prophetic in stating that men have the power, and her telling me that she was doing what she was doing because this is how God deals with things, by adressing men in the first instance. This was wounding to me and added additional burden to that which I had already carrying as a result of the family situation.

    The pastor in a meeting cam in support of her when I said I had lost respect for her because of what had happened in that he couldn’t have me being like that. At the same time he said “we love you and we value you”. I appreciated his sentiment but for me, the way things were handled made continuing to go to that church unbearable.

  • Gary Hendricks

    Adam – “Can you understand why that might have communicated that you wanted to say is that freedom in Chirst is no freedom at all?”

    Nope…don’t really see it being taken that way at all. If you have a point to make then perhaps you should simply make it. Of course as mature and ethical individuals we use restraint in the application of our freedom. And encouraging someone to to use such restraint is not the same as taking away their right to choose.

    I really don’t believe it is that difficult of a concept.

  • Adam Julians

    So you don’t see how the assertion that you made abuot freedom with boundaries could be read to mean that freedom in Christ is no freedom at all. I think my point has been made clearly. In case you don’t understand or have a misunderstanding of where I am coming from, I shall expand.

    There could be some interesting discussions had about the light of what consititutes freedom. You have made an individualistic point about freedom in that any self retraint is not a limitation on freedom. But that prescibed boundary in the assertion you made is no freedom at all. But that ther could be good boundaries and not so good boundaries applied.

    Where I would dffer slightly in your view would be in the individualistic nature of the approach. The westen mind says “I think therefore I am”.(Descartes). Other parts of the world say “I am because we are”.

    My cuation in giving credence to what you assert is in the promotion of individualism. In the light of what you say about freedom, and boundaries being no freedom at all, it dependons on the person to have perfect slef awareness and ability to apply that to have the fulles of freedom. And that any boundry applied otherwise is no boundary at all.

    i look at human history, and experiences and I see often times of one’s or a people’s groups freedom coming at the expense of another’s or another groups freedom, putting them in slavery or opression of some form. The ones with the power this have the freedom they want at the cost of others freedom.

    So – one personf could claim they have the fullest of freedom and don’t want any prescribed boundaries fomr others because that would be no freedom at all if adhering to the assertion you make. Well, in the case that shuch individual is imposing on other’s freedom s then I would take a different approach. I think in the sne of freedom for all it is better that this individual have boundaries either slep prescribed or prescibed by others for the greater freedom for all.

    So by way of engaging with what you said about “freedom with boundaries being no freedom at all”. I would say I wou;d be in agreement some of the time wiht you (when such boundaries restrict freedom to live life to the fullest). I would say I would be in disagreement with you at others ( where an individual is using their freedom and position of power to restrict other;s freedom and / or opress).

    Do you take issue with any of that or is ther any part of it you are in agreement wiht ?

  • Cole J. Banning

    But clearly we are called as Christians to work towards both formal and actual freedom for all. I know that nobody has denied this, per se, but I’m surprised no one felt it important to explicitly state it either. Otherwise claims of “actual freedom” can quickly turn into apologism for oppression.

  • Gary Hendricks

    No Adam…I think I have spent enough time on this exchange. You seem to keep pressing the point as if I am implying that we should not in any way exercise our freedom with responsible restraint. Of course I am in no way implying any such thing. The definition of freedom is not changed depending on the responsible or irresponsible application of it. Either you are deliberately manipulating my statements, or simply failing to grasp them. .

  • Adam Julians

    I see ,so you want to make out I am deliberately manipulating what you say or failing to grasp your statements. Maybe you are right. Maybe also you are right in wantin to assert that i am pressing the point in making you out to say that we shouldn’t exercise freedom with responsible restraint. It’s possible.

    I could equally say some things just a nonsensical about your comment, but why be insulting abuot what you have wirtten?

    Don’t leave in a huff – leave in a minute and a huff. Marx brothers – gotta love em.

  • Gary Hendricks

    Not in a huff. Merely beyond interest in a pointless game.

  • Adam Julians

    It’s a shame things have ended like that. No game playing on my part but if you want to see things as having been on the receiving end of that and nothing untoward on your part, then that is your perogative.

    There was a possiblity of a good conversation there. It’s a fascinating subject about freedom, what freedom in Chrst looks like. and distinguising that by way of attaingin life in its fullesst for all. I think this is a wonderful thing to explore. And also to be aware of the freedom in Christ versus the dangers of a worldly freedom, how to avoid the pitfalls of that.

    Oh well, never mind. another time maybe.