Have you ever noticed how much value we place on choice? Nothing is out of bounds as long as we respect an individual’s choice. We live in a culture of consensual morality. Nothing is immoral sexually, as long as it is freely chosen. A doctor can murder as long as the patient, be it a pregnant woman or a terminally ill adult, chooses death. Even traffic laws can be tied back to choice. You cannot speed or drive intoxicated because you may injure someone who had no choice in the matter.
We believe we possess the right to choose virtually anything we want, and if we hear even a hint of our rights being infringed upon, we respond with incredible vigor. Pro-choice advocates are afraid of regulations on the sanitation and safety of an abortion clinic because they believe it will lead to the restriction of a woman’s right to choose. And gun advocates are against universal background checks because they believe it is the first step in the government taking away all our guns. We are so afraid of losing our right to choose we give up common sense.
Freedom is an incredible gift bought at a great price. I am grateful that I live a country with the right to free speech and assembly. I am thankful for the freedom to choose what I watch and read, but how does our view of freedom fit in the kingdom of God? Is our culture’s view of freedom (All things are permissible as long as they do not impose on another’s right to choose.) compatible with the kingdom of God?
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus confronts people whose hold on one thing or another keeps them from fully following him. There are the three men in Luke 9, the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10, and even Nicodemus came to Jesus in the middle of the night (probably because he was concerned about what the other Pharisees would think). I often wonder what sort of things we might be clinging to a bit too tightly? Today I am wondering if choice is a common distraction from following Jesus in the American church.
Choice, when you really get down to it, is a way of keeping ourselves on the throne of our lives. It keeps us in control, and is directly opposed to the starting point of following Jesus, surrender. Political freedom is great, but we cannot confuse it with the freedom offered in Christ. And we need to be vigilant against our high value of political freedom infiltrating our lives as disciples, a life built on the foundation of loving surrender to the will of the Father.