Sunday, 13 November 2011

What is Freedom? Am I Free?

In mid-October I had the great privilege of speaking at a "meal with a message" put on by Queen's Campus Christian Union. I was asked to speak for 5-10 minutes and introduce the topic of freedom to provoke discussion.

Here are a few of the things I spoke about:

If we have a working definition of freedom which is something like this: "Doing what you want to do when you want to do it" then a few immediate problems arise.

1. Is a person who voluntarily puts his or herself in prison really free?
2. Is the person who lives a licentious life of sex and drugs and rock and roll really free?
3. Would we want everyone to have that kind of freedom?

Or could we agree with Jean Paul Satre who posed the question: "Am I condemned to be free?"

Thinking about point 3, is the paedophile, murderer, rapist, just exercising his/her freedom?
In light of that would we want to tighten our definition to "being able to do what you want, when you want, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else"?
If so, have you just put a limit on freedom?

Even trying to define freedom in a way that gives all of us freedom seems to be tricky with only a surface glance.

What is it that drives our actions? Is it just the consequence of random chemical combinations and atoms bumping into one another, or is it our desires within us?

Is a system with a tyrannical cosmic policeman style god any better? Surely that's all "do this" "don't do that". Surely there's no freedom in religion. What can Christianity have to say to help in this area of thinking?

What does Jesus have to say on the subject?
"I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." and "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
Huge claims. Jesus is saying that human beings will only be totally free and be able to live life to the fullest when they have a relationship with God. He is claiming that its only when He, the Son, sets you free that you are really free. If He is the Creator of the universe then surely He would know the nest way to live, the path to a full life. If His claims are true they are worth listening to. Will you check them out?

Obviously I missed some huge areas and only really introduced some others which come into play when talking about freedom. There is a lot more that could be said on the subject, and indeed many people have thought and written extensively about it. But, maybe this will provoke thinking and discussion for you. It's definitely not as cut and dried as people would like it to be.

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