I am a starry-eyed patriot. I hang an old WW2 flag on my door every holiday that gives me the excuse to do it. I point out the flag to my daughter when we see it, and we practice saying “United States of America,” which is hard for a four-year-old to get her mouth around. Having traveled around the world, I say with fervor, “There is no land like the good ole USA.” Today I remember and mourn, with the rest of you, the buried brave.
Are you free when you must keep the rules?
I read a quote somewhere last week about God being the author of freedom. Being critical by nature, my thought was first, “But what about the rules?” Right from the beginning, God restricted man. Adam and Eve were told, “You can do anything you please except, do not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or you will die.”
Mortality was foreign to immortal Adam and Eve. Death is being removed from life found in connection to God. Why tempt them to do something that God knew would separate Him from His loves, cause Him pain and ruin His creation? Is that freedom? I would think true freedom is found in the absence of regulations and the temptation to break them.
American slavery as an example.
In the 1860’s, the conscience of American culture was different than ours. Cocaine was fed to children like sugar to give them pep and vigor. Church clergy, as well as upstanding leaders of the community, smoked like chimneys. And the most heinous act: Christian men and women bought and sold people. It was even believed that the Bible promoted enslaving the black race! Abolitionists were like ecologists in the 1980’s; a nagging nuisance to the white majority.
Not only did the white majority believe enslaving Africans to be lawful, many believed it was their God-given duty to protect and care for their slaves. This sentiment is called Paternalism. The black slave was considered a lower human, childlike and simple. Their ways were cute and amusing. Most slave owners believed their ownership was for the good and betterment of the slave race.
“What would they do without us? We provide them with a better life, ” was the delusion many believed.
“I am a papa,” a Georgian slave owner might say. “God has given me all my children to care for. I provide my blackies with food and shelter. I give them medical attention and instruct them in the Lord’s ways. It is good for them to be under my care.”
What is wrong with this sentiment? They owned slaves! Sure, the slave had enough to eat. Sure, he had shelter. Sure, many had an honest and good owner. But they had no choice. The slave was forced to obey. Slaves would risk torture and death to escape to freedom. Freedom was the one thing the “papas”, the slave masters, refused to provide.
But not our Papa.
Freedom is in the choosing to obey the rules.
If God had placed Adam in the Garden and provided for all his needs, without also providing the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he would have been no better than a slave owner. God knew that to care for a man without giving him the choice to leave, is owning a slave. Without the tree, Adam would have had no choice in the matter; no freedom. That is not good, and God is good.
With choice comes freedom. God is the author of freedom.