License disguised as freedom | WORLD
Here is one reason among many to offer thanksgiving to God for the fall of Roe vs. Wade: It shakes society’s poisoned and counterfeit vision of freedom. All of this is revealed in the current panic on the left over abortion. The recent overturning by the United States Supreme Court of deer also dropped the argument that the supreme moral good is a woman’s freedom of “choice”.
The rhetoric of the pro-abortion argument is now familiar: overthrowing deer is terrible for reproductive freedom, bodily autonomy or women’s freedom of choice. Now, that’s a lot of talk about freedom. Sometimes the rhetoric uses the corollary language of “rights” instead, but the substance is the same.
But what is freedom well understood? Is it simply the freedom to do what we want?
This has never been the orthodox Christian understanding of freedom. On the contrary, Christianity sees freedom as the use of our agency to choose the good, which we can know by reason and revelation. True freedom is always oriented towards good and never towards evil. The habitual choice of the good with our freedom shapes our habits, which in turn shape our character. The usual choice of evil leads to vice, but the opposite leads to virtue towards the fulfillment of the human person, towards the accomplishment of what we are created for.
This kind of right choice requires guardrails for us fallen creatures. For example, the Torah can be understood as the ultimate free being, God himself, teaching his formerly enslaved people how to be free. The law is a tutor. It suits a certain type of creature, not robots with no free will, but sons. This is how Screwtape revealed to Wormwood the intentions of the Enemy: “He wants servants who can finally become sons.
It is for freedom that Christ set us free. We see God’s heart and purpose for us when we reflect on his command and obey his command to choose to obey him. Jesus told us: “If you love me, keep my commandments. We love him because he first loved us. But his love wills our good, and our choice with our free will to obey his commands, which are all for our good, is our own creaturely response to his love. C. S. Lewis (again) explained it thus: “In obedience, a rational creature consciously performs its role as a creature, reverses the act by which we fell, sets back Adam’s dance and returns.”
Killing the baby in the womb in the name of freedom is as grotesque a distortion of the definition of freedom as we can imagine. These days, this poisonous idea of freedom is rampant. Modern people claim to be free to redefine marriage as they see fit, free to construct their “gender” as distinct from sex. Such freedom is, at bottom, an attempt to manufacture the good as they define it independent of the good in the created order –Gods the created order, which is reality. It is a form of idolatry. This kind of counterfeit freedom is ultimately anti-reality, because there is simply no good outside of God.
Thomas Aquinas defined law as “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who cares for the community, and enacted”. The law should always be for the common good, and the good is, of course, built into the common good. When the laws of our nation are true to what law should to be – when they are of the true and focal meaning of the word “law” – it is a good thing. It is a cause for celebration.
deer was, it goes without saying, not for the good and the common good. Any “freedom” he fabricated was a lie from the pit of hell. When people talk about freedom as the freedom to do what they want with their bodies and the little ones in their wombs (because that’s what a ‘fetus’ is, literally meaning ‘offspring’), they’re talking better than they know. It is nothing but license disguised as freedom.
Our job is to confront modern culture, infatuated with a false vision of freedom, with something infinitely better: the Christian understanding of true freedom.