The Freedom Debate…

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When you have been married to someone for forty-three years, it is an amazing thing to experience seeing your spouse change. Of course you change too. However in most marriages, some things don’t change, feelings about personal important ideas, positions you take regarding society, you know, big ideas that reflect a person’s core values. I have long ago discovered that it is not my job to try to influence my spouse into becoming more like me, adopting my core values. The position I have adopted is to appreciate her as she is and enjoy the great good she offers and forget miniscule disagreements and learn to live with larger differences.∗

We don’t spend a lot of time talking about this, but we know we both have different ideas about freedom. Her contention is that people in our society have too much freedom, that this just leads us to abuse our rights. In essence, people can’t handle that much freedom; she feels the news every day is full of people who don’t know how to stop before they damage themselves or others. I, on the other hand, have an opinion that freedom is a necessity in our society. We all have a right to exercise our will and if we overstep, individuals who overstep will face consequences. I would not curb freedom; I just [naively she thinks] feel it is our right to make our mistakes in life even though our errors may make life difficult for others.

I begin this post with this personal revelation for a reason. The book that I comment on** has an attitude that God’s promises to make and bless Israel should make Israel accountable to God. If Israel is not accountable, they are subject to God’s judgement. It is a clear cut case. Pastor Labberton says it is all about that Covenant made with Abraham, you will have a son, your offspring will be as numerous as the stars, and your descendants will be given the Promised Land.

If…[and here is the catch]…

We live God’s way, meaning living under God’s law, enacting the character of God. The more man can do that, the more man can live the life that God intended all of us to live. It all hinges on putting God first.

Does my wife’s view on freedom fit well into God’s Old Testament plan?

Let’s explore…

What were the Ten Commandments but statements designed to get us to put God first, avoid the worship of other God’s and consider our neighbors. Labberton says The Commandments instructed the Israelites to avoid overreaching, pointing to “covetousness, adultery, murder as putting the sinner’s name above God and others”. Yahweh seeks a people who reflect His name in how they act in the world. Over and over, God’s people broke the commandments and they suffered at God’s hand.

King David is an Old Testament example of a man who tries to be consistent; after all, he is a “man after God’s own heart.” Yet what does he do? He commits adultery with Bathsheba, arranges the killing of Uriah and fails to own up to both acts. What happens to Israel is decay and dissolution before David confesses his sin before God.

The prophets in the Old Testament are charged with telling the Israelites about their sin, yet they fail in their practice of righteousness; they have Sabbath festivals [that God hates] and they can’t keep their people from intermingling with other cultures.

The Old Testament is full of man’s failure to honor God. In fact, Labberton states “When Israel’s words and acts were inconsistent as those of the alien and stranger, Israel always faced a crisis.” The inability to follow God got so bad that God’s people were sent into exile, they were given a new language, a new culture, a new pressure to assimilate.

What was God trying to tell them? Show Me you belong to Me…

Ok, you knew it was coming.

Maybe my wife may be right, human beings do need some guard rails. Maybe freedom does not need to be taken away totally, but we need parameters. Total freedom is an ideal but is it practical? I have to admit that when one goes to the Old Testament, the Israelites don’t handle their freedom very successfully.

When God took away their freedom as they endured captivity, they should have learned something and they did. The Babylonian captivity had one very significant impact on the nation of Israel when they returned to their land—they would never again be corrupted by the idolatry and false gods of the surrounding nations.

Did they learn this by having unlimited freedom or did they learn this due to less freedom.

I leave it for you to decide.

I think you know…

*My wife is my editor. I never post anything without her careful reading. Just one example of the great good she does for me all the time.
**Mark Labberton The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor

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