The Responsibility of Freedom

Our nation was founded on the principle of freedom. We value our freedom and believe it’s worth fighting for. Recently, however, I’ve noticed that the meaning of the word has begun to change. While people heatedly defend their personal freedoms, it seems that many have forgotten what freedom really means.

The ideals of liberty, equality, and patriotism sparked the revolution for freedom. Many people have given their lives across the years to secure and defend that freedom. This sacrifice leaves us with a responsibility. We must live lives worthy of their sacrifice. Therefore, freedom is not an end goal. Rather, it is the beginning of a tremendous responsibility.

To sustain the vision for our country, our freedom must be built on a foundation of values and morality. Without this stabilizing foundation, we lose any expectation of honesty, equity, integrity, justice, or conscience. In other words, we lose the hard won freedom that required so much sacrifice to obtain. Christianity is built on the moral foundation of God’s law with Jesus as the cornerstone. Although our nation was not founded as a Christian nation, our forefathers could not ignore that these values would be necessary to maintain a functional society.

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.

In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.

The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice?

And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

Samuel Adams

God’s Law has been used as the basis for civil law in many societies. Almost predictably, nations weaken as the drift further from God’s law. The same is true in our spiritual lives. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice to provide us with freedom from sin and death. But our freedom was bought at a price, and it comes with a responsibility.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus didn’t free us to live comfortable lives of complacency. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we have a new responsibility to turn away from our past and to embrace all he commands.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:20-23

What does this mean to us today? It means that there is no such thing as total and complete freedom, not physically or spiritually. If we were truly subject to no one and nothing we would be living in a lawless society. We may be “free” to do many things, but we are not required to exercise every freedom.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 

1 Corinthians 6:12

The responsibility of our freedom is to consider how our choices impact others. We won’t always agree on what choice is best, and that’s okay. But when a choice has the ability to cause harm, we have a responsibility to decline making that choice. By prioritizing our values, we preserve our freedom and honor the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to acheive it.

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