If You Want To Be Free, You Can’t Do Whatever You Want

If You Want To Be Free, You Can’t Do Whatever You Want April 24, 2019

I am waiting for Elphine (not her real name) to finish The Last Chronicle of Barset so I can have a turn, which means I’ve been futzing about with those freebies you get on Audible every month, whiling away the time on the light and fluffy because that’s where I am in my spirit. So I’ve been listening to the very short Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch, and I must say, I’m pretty depressed.

The royal century starts out so well—propriety and poise and decency and corgis. But then, as everyone knows, all the wheels come off the regal train through the 80s and 90s. Divorce and disappointment take the empty place of duty and honor.

And yet, the royal family doesn’t ever seem to lose their mystique. Not only do I habitually wake up before dawn to watch the occasional royal wedding, my first stop on my morning sojourn through the internet is to see what Kathryn and Meghan are wearing. Then I move on to see the pastels of Taylor Swift and only then do I get around to the important news of the day, and Jesus, of course, mustn’t forget about Jesus.

Anyway, as I said a lot of years ago when Hugh Hefner died, it’s interesting to see a whole civilization pitch off the cliff (if we’re still going with the train motif—and we are) into the clear blue sea of philosophical decay and twitter confusion. All the tickets have finally been collected, and the destination turned out not to be what everyone thought when they first plunked down their paltry psycho-sexual currency. Free Love gave way to #metoo. The empire gave way to critical race theory. ‘We can do whatever we like with no consequences,’ gave way to the tragic reality that we absolutely can’t.

The consequences of divorce and infidelity and bland incurious reliance on the appearance of Christian virtue without any actual belief in it is dishonor, death, ruination, and civilizational despair. But at least some of the clothes are still charming.

I mean, I didn’t only look at everyone’s clothes this morning, I also gazed down at Galatians 5:1: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

The world longs to be free—groans even. Everyone is crying out for freedom. But the longing is for a false freedom, a mocking, lying freedom that says you can do whatever you want, that to be free is to be untethered from obligation, virtue, honor, and even truth. ‘Do what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone’ is the most harmful, devastating worldview you can espouse—an enslaving philosophy, a thinking that ultimately binds not only you to death, but everyone else you are busy ‘not hurting.’

To be free—truly free—is to have to stand up against the swift, forceful current of lies, to not give way to the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. And so we can’t really be free, because we are too weak and too selfish. And yet the Christian is free, as Paul goes on to say, because the very strong power of the Holy Spirit holds that one upright, through the gracious work of Christ. I mean, you have to read the whole thing, obviously, not taking my single out of context verse as the final word.

The only way to be free is to belong to the one—Jesus—who conquered not just death, but the inclinations that lead to death. If you want to be free, you can’t have or do whatever you want. You can’t consume other people for your own sexual gratification. You can’t work out your will on the lives of other people. You can’t sinfully indulge yourself and experience the true freedom of goodness and godliness.

Ah well, the person in slavery needs saving, and God has a plan for exactly that—to take all those tickets to a bankrupt and ruined destination and replace them with himself. And also, the clothes will be fantastic when we finally stumble out into his real light.

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