THE CONCEPT OF FREEDOM
God likes everyone to be free:
God created man with a free will and said to him in the
Book of Deuteronomy, "See, I have set before you today
life and good, death and evil ... I call heaven and earth
as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you
life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose
life, that both you and your descendants may live, that
you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His
voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life"
Freedom necessitates accountability and responsibility:
A person or any being who has no freedom is not accountable for his doings.
On the other hand, freedom necessitates the
accountability of man for whatever he does whether good
or evil so that he might be rewarded for his good works
and punished for his wrong or evil works. Adam and Eve
were free and when they had had God's Commandment
they could have obeyed or broken it. But they broke the
Commandment and God inflicted punishment on them
Punishment for a wrong doing of a person who has
discretion is double: on earth and in heaven. He may
escape punishment on earth but punishment remains in
the other world not abolished except by repentance (Luke
Likewise the reward for a good deed of a person done by his free will is a double reward. Even though a person does not obtain the reward on earth, it is kept for him in heaven, "your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matt. 6 :4,6).
You are not entitled to absolute freedom:
You are free to do whatever you want provided that you do not impose upon the rights or freedoms of others, nor break God's commandments or public order laid down for the safety and peace of others.
For example, you have no right to violate traffic rules
while driving your car and say: I am free to go wherever I
want !! Nor have you any right to raise your voice and make noise that is disturbing to others and say: I am free to raise my voice as much as I like !!
You have no right to cheat in exams from other papers and say : I am free to use whatever papers I like!!
As you ought to use your freedom in a way that does not harm others or violate the public order, you should also use your freedom in such a way as not to cause harm to yourself.
Your own self does not belong to us. It belongs to God who created it and redeemed it. It belongs also to the community that cared for you and brought you up and thus you have obligations towards it.
Therefore killing oneself in suicide is a crime which is punished by God and rejected by law. The same applies to whoever causes himself harm through smoking or drugs. Such a person cannot say: I am free to smoke whenever I like!! He has no right to destroy himself or deprive the community of his existence and from performing his duty towards it.
Restrictions against freedom are for your benefit :
Restrictions are useful in that they hold you back from doing harm to yourself, to others, or to the community and from breaking God's commandments.
A river has two banks, they do not restrain its watercourse but preserve it.
If a river has no banks it will flow on both sides and
inundate the land turning it into swamps. I wonder if
rivers object to having two banks and say : Banks restrain
It is the same for you; the banks to you are God's
commandments, the laws and the traditions or perhaps
religion and education. Both are for your benefit; for a
child who refuses education and considers it restricting
his freedom, or the youth who refuses the advice of his
parents, his teachers or his guides, seeing in them a
restraint to his freedom, such a person will be corrupt and
will be led astray from the right path. Can straying be
another name for freedom or a consequence thereof ?
Real freedom is to free yourself of your faults:
One should free oneself of faults, bad habits and bad
feelings of the heart, and free one's mind of deviating
thoughts. One should turn away from being subject to
the devil and his supporters, from the influence of bad
company and corrupt association and from every control
over one's will intended to lead one astray.
Such is the freedom meant by the Holy Bible, "If the Son
makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).
He who is freed from sin internally, can use external freedom in the right way:
For example he who is free from hatred,
and oppression, can use his freedom properly when
dealing with people. But if a person is offensive or cold-
hearted and wishes to use his freedom in whatever way
he likes, he will hurt others with his cruelty and
Likewise, a person who is not freed from bodily lusts can abuse his freedom in harming others instead of using his freedom to preserve his purity and holiness.
A girl, for example, who says: I shall put on whatever
dress I like, and laugh or enjoy myself as I want, is in this
way offending others and may cause others to fall besides
herself. Such a girl is not yet free internally, so she uses
her external freedom in a way that causes harm to herself
and to others.
A student who is not serious in his study all year and says: I am free to do whatever I want, is in fact doing harm to himself and is misusing his freedom, and thus cannot succeed in his life because he is not freed within from the domination of diversion.
My advice to you is, use your freedom for your own benefit and for the benefit of others. Free yourself within first before you practice your external freedom.
Some may restrain themselves to attain real freedom:
Such a person does not give himself whatever he wants lest he should spoil himself or lose control over himself and lose the real freedom.
So, such a person proceeds into spiritual training to
control himself, restrain his tongue so that it might not
err, control his nerves so that he may not rage and lose
his friends. He proceeds also with spiritual exercises to
control his thoughts so that they may not wander in
harmful matters, as well as spiritual exercises to control
his body through fasting and vigil and to control it
regarding lusts so that he may not plunge into diversion
and sensual delight and lose his spirituality.
Is it right for anyone to say: I shall behave as I wish, freely, and not restrain myself and force myself to do good? And if so, is such a person really free or dominated by his lusts?
|| The Orthodox Faith (Dogma) || Family and Youth || Sermons || Bible Study || Devotional || Spirituals || Fasts & Feasts || Coptics || Religious Education || Monasticism || Seasons || Missiology || Ethics || Ecumenical Relations || Church Music || Pentecost || Miscellaneous || Saints || Church History || Pope Shenouda || Patrology || Canon Law || Lent || Pastoral Theology || Father Matta || Bibles || Iconography || Liturgics || Orthodox Biblical topics || Orthodox articles || St Chrysostom |||| Bible Study || Biblical topics || Bibles || Orthodox Bible Study || Coptic Bible Study || King James Version || New King James Version || Scripture Nuggets || Index of the Parables and Metaphors of Jesus || Index of the Miracles of Jesus || Index of Doctrines || Index of Charts || Index of Maps || Index of Topical Essays || Index of Word Studies || Colored Maps || Index of Biblical names Notes || Old Testament activities for Sunday School kids || New Testament activities for Sunday School kids || Bible Illustrations || Bible short notes
|| Prayer of the First Hour || Third Hour || Sixth Hour || Ninth Hour || Vespers (Eleventh Hour) || Compline (Twelfth Hour) || The First Watch of the midnight prayers || The Second Watch of the midnight prayers || The Third Watch of the midnight prayers || The Prayer of the Veil || Various Prayers from the Agbia || Synaxarium