Sunday, September 9, 2012

Free Will Is Not a Free-For-All

This article expands on a previous article that briefly mentioned free-will.

When some hear “free” they equate it with “all you want, all you can take.” However, guests that do exactly that at a dinner are considered rude and socially uncultured.  Social events are just that, a means for socializing, not for emptying the pantry.

When some get a driver’s license, they think it entitles them to do just about anything possible within the laws of physics. They drive as if they “own the road,” being rude, cutting people off, driving recklessly without consideration for pedestrians, speeding and running red lights and stop signs. But that is not the way state laws intended people to view a driver’s license. It is a document that implies you have taken a certain amount of training and passed an on-road driving test. Had you driven poorly during that test, you would not have a license. So the license means you understand you are to conduct yourself responsibly, lawfully, and with consideration for others on the road. We are free to travel on public roads but it is not a free-for-all. We are free to do many things as long as it doesn’t break the vehicle codes or endanger life.

The first time your parents left you alone at home, they did so with the trust that you would respect their wishes and their property. Although you are free of their immediate supervision, chances are they left you with a list of expectations. If they return to find you have broken their trust, you likely will not be trusted to be left alone again for a long while—(not to mention that you will probably be punished for whatever blatant disregard you may have shown).

What do the three items above have in common? They illustrate that freedom is not the same as a free-for-all. We are expected to exercise restraint and good judgment for the freedom we are given. These aptly illustrate the faculty of free-will that God is said to have given us. Within the limits that he sets, we are free to drink alcohol (in moderation), we are free to enjoy sex (within the heterosexual marriage arrangement), we are free enjoy sports (as long as it does not flagrantly disregard safety and the value of life), we are free to do many things as long as it doesn't break God’s laws.

So a driver who misuses their freedom of travel and drives recklessly may find that they lose not only the freedom of travel but are now caged in a prison cell. Likewise a person that uses their freedom as an excuse for loose conduct will find that they have lost God’s favor and, eventually, lose their future opportunity for life. So we all have a choice—act responsibly with the freedom we have, or act irresponsibly, thinking only of what we want regardless of how it affects others or our relationship with God.

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