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The Perils of Freedom

February 16, 2012

In that same conversation with a friend, I was told that freedom was not a God-given right, that the Bible certainly didn’t preach freedom.

Made me wonder what Bible she reads.  Or what “freedom” she speaks of.

Today, freedom seems to mean “free to do whatever I want free of consequences.”  That’s one too many “frees.”

The Bible is full of people doing whatever they want, many of them God’s favorite people, like Abraham, Moses, David… everyone but Jesus, in fact.  He didn’t strike them dead very often (even in the Old Testament), and even then, only in accordance with clear consequences He spelled out in advance.

That’s really beginning with a sidetrack, because the perils I speak of are summed up nicely by John Adams:

“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Now, JA made many other statements critical of religion, and even went so far as to say that the democracy wasn’t founded on the Christian god, and that every democracy eventually commits suicide; that it will invariably consume itself.

And I agree with all these sentiments.  The government was founded to secure our rights based on a series of checks and balances, including secular voters, not theocracy.  However, the PEOPLE of America must be moral and religious (I think he really meant moral and/or religious, because non-believers can be moral and do well in this life, if not in the next).

Freedom is a dangerous thing.  Another quote by JA is appropriate:  “The government is wholly dependent on qualities it cannot provide its citizens.”  Those qualities are, in fact, things citizens cannot give themselves, either.  At best we can aspire to them.

Morality is only easy when we live in a bubble that is easily controlled.  As dangerous as the greater world is, the strongest assaults on our morality are from within ourselves.  Failure to realize that morality is often a guard on our base desires (as opposed to putting us above them), we can rationalize away the consequences on ourselves and others, and use our freedom to “consume us.”

Look at sex, for example.  There is absolutely no objective, rational excuse to pursue it outside of a monogamous relationship.  The dangers of unwanted consequences, such as HIV, STDs, pregnancy, emotional abuse or disunity, are blithely ignored.  Industries of imperfect prevention or immoral efforts to end the lives of predictable consequences become acceptable.

Or education is another example.  The consequence of not finishing high school is ignored (yes, I know that’s a simplification of a major social problem), but there are ways to survive: crime, public assistance, entry-level jobs, the military.   Oddly enough, the lack of education limits freedom, since options are removed from the table.

I suspect that every problem we currently have is rooted in failures of morality and religion.  Until those are addressed, every other solution is a band-aid.

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