Liberty, freedom, and the myth…


How would you define the words above? What does it mean to be free?  Where does liberty come from and is it the same as freedom?  Are they interchangeable?  I am going to argue that they mean two different things.  One word is a myth when applied incorrectly and the other is permissive in its execution.

In the Navy (I am an Air Force veteran so forgive me and inform me if my analogy fails), service members are given liberty to go to shore. But this liberty is not freedom. One might say that they are free to go ashore but what they really mean is that they have been given permission. This is important and I will come back to it.liberty-counsel

Freedom is a myth as applied to individuals. All persons cannot be free to do as they please all the time. The freedoms one person takes will inevitably override or interfere with the freedoms of another person. I cannot be free to fully live out my own faith without me coming into conflict with someone else’s presuppositions for living out their own worldview (whether religious or secular). This comes more into focus when you think about things like television, media in terms of news and the filters used to glean a perspective on events, advertising (think pornography vs “come to Jesus” vs abortion kills vs whatever you want to put on the billboard), and the exercise and establishment of government for the rights and safety of a community. Freedom is limited and that limitation is based on each person’s beliefs about life, or more specifically life’s purpose as defined by our worldviews.

Liberty on the hand recognizes a higher authority for determining the boundaries of freedom. When the Navy service member is given liberty to go ashore they are still subject to recall at a moments notice. They are supposed to exhibit behavior onshore as if they still represent the Navy and any conduct that does not do this results in a loss of liberty.

What’s my point?

America is wrestling with the concept of freedom the myth. There is a divide in the notion of what freedom means. What really needs to be discussed is where we derive our understanding of liberty which include the root basis for determining individual and group rights as well as the establishment of laws to govern society for the protection of its citizens in executing those rights. When we talk about the topics only (abortion, LGBT, health care, speech, etc…) we fail to address the root issue: the presuppositions for the basis of forming our laws. Laws are used to give the boundaries of our freedom as common consensus in society.

So ask yourself, where do you get the liberty to pursue life and happiness from? And what is life’s purpose, not for you as an individual but for mankind.

I believe we find freedom in the truth to the answers for these questions, but it is not a mythical freedom. It is liberty. Freedom that serves a higher purpose than our own selfish desires. I hope you find the Truth and that you relish the abundant life that comes with it.

For those wanting me to cite John 8:32: Please read that passage again and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is it that Jesus is saying He is setting you free from?
  2. Are you given absolute freedom (mythical freedom)?
  3. What are the boundaries associated with the freedom He gives you?

Thanks for reading and commenting!


3 thoughts on “Liberty, freedom, and the myth…

  1. Pingback: I have the election results! | Wadley's Theology

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