How would you define freedom?

Is it being able to do whatever you want?

There is a big theme that is going to come up this week as I start teaching my students about sociology tomorrow and how different worldviews look at it differently. One of the key ideas when it comes to Secularism is personal autonomy. This is the belief that people should have the freedom to decide what is right for their own life based on what makes them happy. The reason why this matters is that it isn’t only secular students who believe in personal autonomy. Many Christian students also think this is the correct definition of freedom. So, is this what true freedom is? Is it doing whatever makes us happy?

I don’t think it is. Dr. Sean McDowell says, “Freedom is having the capacity to do what you know is right.” You could also say that true freedom is having the ability to do what we were created to do.

Christianity teaches that there is a God who created us and gave us a moral law that we should follow. They aren’t just a “list of don’ts” like I discussed last week but are guidelines that create healthy living. They are also guidelines that give us freedom! But you may be wondering, how is someone free if they have to follow guidelines?

Think about a train for example. Is a train free when it is on or off the tracks? Even though it is “restricted” by the tracks, the tracks allow it to be free and to do what it was created to do. Leaving the tracks would destroy the train and make it useless. We also live in a free country but understand that there are guidelines. The laws of our country are what allow us to live in peace and be free to flourish.

So, is true freedom the ability to do whatever I want to do? No. We cannot do whatever makes us happy even if that is the message from our culture. Freedom is doing what we were created to do and doing what is right. This means that in order to truly be free, we first have to discover our purpose. After we know what we were created to do, we have to live it out and do what is right. This is what brings true freedom!

What are other definitions of true freedom that you have heard? Comment below!