When Freedom Becomes a License for Evil
It has been said that every positive has a negative. That is not true in every case, but it is in many. Surprisingly, the ideal of “freedom,” which we cherish so much, is not without latent liabilities.
When the colonies won their freedom from British tyranny, it was a new day for America. No longer would there be taxation without representation.
When Abraham Lincoln signed the “Emancipation Proclamation” (without the approval of Congress), such ushered in a breath of fresh air for African slaves (at least in principle). Freedom will be cherished always.
But when the leaders of our fledgling nation framed the Constitution, not even they fathomed the implications, much less the potential abuse, that lay in the future.
For example, they did not at first see certain implications in the words, “all men are created equal”; especially that this equality would include the slaves and women. Slaves were not considered “whole” persons, and women did not have equal rights with men, e.g., the right to vote. This would come in time as the definition of “freedom” was expanded.
Of course some things they did acknowledge, e.g,, a Creator and His creation, now are outlawed from the educational system. How time does change things! Freedom expanded; freedom repressed!
A Specific Example
In the First Amendment of the Constitution, the fathers wrote in part:
Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.
This noble sentiment was designed to prevent a government of tyranny. But the pioneers of the new republic never dreamed where this well-intentioned principle would lead the nation ultimately, when recklessly applied by leaders bereft of common moral intelligence.
Neither freedom of speech, or press, is absolutely unfettered. Laws against slander and libel restrict both speech and literature. As Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, no one has the right to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater. And one is not at liberty to write a death-threat letter to the President.
Justice Holmes wrote:
The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to cause a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent (emp. WJ).
Note the added emphasis. Words must be evaluated not only in terms of “present danger,” but also in view of the evil that ultimately may result. Little weight has been attached to these concluding words.
Reaping a Whirlwind
We are seeing an absolute plague of sexual crimes in this country, eclipsing anything our forefathers imagined in their wildest nightmares. Is there any right-mined person who is not alarmed?
Rape, sexual torture, child molestation, public nudity, spouse-swapping, communal “marriage,” serial “marriage,” homosexual perversion, etc., reflect a societal moral disease that is worse than the “Black Death” that stalked the world from the 14th century onward.
Whence the origin of this corruption that is consuming the visceral organs of America?
Jesus declared that such horrible actions as listed (and others) proceed “from within, out of the heart [minds] of men” (Mark 7:20-21). Corrupt the mind of a person, and his body will follow rapidly.
Since the mid-50s, particularly the Roth v. United States decision (and several rulings subsequent to that), which permitted obscenity to be measured by “community standards”; (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:12b), this nation has been on a free-fall course towards unbridled sexual chaos. Pornographic entertainment (via live shows, literature, movies, video, TV, and the internet) has desensitized society and evolved an insatiable appetite for increasingly depraved interests.
Virtually anything has become “legal” in its own place. An F.B.I. agent recently stated that federal authorities now are deluged with pedophilia cases!
Who is responsible for this maniacal degeneracy? Culpability is widespread.
The aggressive movements of sexual perverts, some judges of lower courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court, share a degree of guilt — as does a sex-drunk society. These, in concert, have stamped a societal “OK” on this immoral malignancy — all in the name of “freedom.” An inspired apostle warned against using one’s freedom as a license for vice (1 Peter 2:16).
The Role of Government
From the divine vantage point, the role of civil government is for the protection of society. Ideally, governmental powers are for the promotion of “good,” and not “evil” (Romans 13:3a; cf. 1 Peter 2:14). Any civil power that promotes evil eventually will fall under the weight of its own foul degeneracy.
Today in this nation there is a festering imbalance of tolerating evil and opposing good. And it is highly doubtful that such will get better before it gets worse.
What Can Be Done?
What can Christians do to help remedy the situation? We can pray that God’s providence may prevail towards a solution. We must commit our lives to purity. It is imperative that we teach the truth regarding sexual chastity, and speak out forcefully and intelligently against the evil of debauchery. And when feasible, a boycott against those who promote filth may well be appropriate.
Scripture references: 1 Thessalonians 5; Mark 7:20-21; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Peter 2:16; Romans 13:3; 1 Peter 2:14