On the occasion of the Indian Independence Day celebrations on August 15, homosexuals in Mumbai held a ‘gay pride march’. Their aim was to force the public to acknowledge their rights and freedom in the background of court decriminalizing same sex relations. It’s really amazing that the media too make every effort to make homosexuality as an accepted, normal behaviour. According to them those who oppose are enemies of the society!
We emphasised the degrading value of the present progressive society and the Christian response in our last issue. Now let us consider few things in connection with the rights and freedom of an individual in the light of moral obligation to God and humanity.
It’s a plain fact that no freedom is absolute. While we enjoy the benefits of a free society, we are not free enough to do any thing that come to our mind! Freedom is not lawlessness. We are supposed to obey the rules and regulations of the land. Our freedom entitles us to be free to live as law - abiding good citizens.
Now, the paradoxical reality is this: even the law makers themselves are trying to abolish an existing law to make an evil behaviour acceptable!
That leads us to another truth that the man made statues are not with out fault. Ultimately man is accountable to God and we are supposed to fulfil the Creator’s intentions more than any thing else. To suppress the voice of his conscience man will finally deny the existence of God and try to live as he wants. That’s what we see happening even in the so-called Christian countries.
What should be a believer’s response in such a scenario? Shall we just follow the crowd because the majority or even the law of the land accept it as normal?
One of the wonderful promises of the gospel is freedom. Commencing His public ministry in a synagogue at Nazareth the Lord Jesus read one of the Messianic prophecies from the book of Isaiah and quietly applied it to Him. One of the missions of the Messiah stated there is to liberate those who are oppressed. Luke. 4:14—19; Isaiah 61:1. On another occasion, to a group of Jews the Lord said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” When they failed to comprehend their slavery, Christ clarified, “…whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” Then He asserted, “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John. 8:32, 34, 36.
New life through Christ includes freedom: freedom from Satan, self, sin, and religious rituals etc. Galatians. 5:1; Romans 6:7, 18; Hebrews 2:15 etc. It’s indeed a wonderful experience to feel spiritual freedom through the saving work of Christ. No more bondage, no more fear, and no regret either. Such a liberty certainly leads to spiritual joy and their presence makes even others to feel freedom!
Does it mean a Christian can do anything? Can he live in any manner as he pleases because he is free? No. The word of God states it very clearly:
“For you brethren, have been called to liberty: only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh...” Galatians 5:13
“For this is the will of God, that by doing good…………as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God”. 1Peter 2: 15, 16.
Both the verses warn the believers against using freedom as licence for licentious life. Paul elaborates in the book of Romans: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves who you obey, whether of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?...And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. ….For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.” Romans 6: 16—19.
The Lord has not liberated us to lead an unruly life. Paul argues that we can not remain in a neutral state; either slave to sin or slave to righteousness. Those who boast on their freedom to indulge in wickedness are actually slaves to self and sin. Once an individual is regenerated and began to experience new life in Christ, he ought to be submissive and obedient to the Lord. Then only he will keep on enjoying the spiritual freedom in Christ. That’s why Paul says that a believer must surrender their body to righteousness in the same force and fervour when he lived as a slave to sin.
True freedom emanates from doing God’s will and living a holy life. That’s why the Lord said, “You shall know the truth and truth shall make you free”. The word not only cleanses us but also keeps us close to Christ. Being away from God and the His word one will be entangled in sin again. In other word true Christian freedom is to be a slave to Christ! Remember, it is restriction on both side makes a river to flow forcefully.
Writing to the Corinthian believers, Apostle Paul goes further in this connection. 1 Corinthians. Ch. 8:1—11:1
He says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify”. 1 Corinthians 10:23. Paul will not do something just because it is legal and he has the right to do. He will examine, ‘does it help me?’ ‘Does it edify me?’ That means not all lawful things are good for a Christian! Not enough. In v. 24 Paul adds, “Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being”. That means he is also concerned about the effect of his action on a fellow believer.
1n chapter 8:13 he gives the finest statement on this issue. “Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble”. (Cf 1Cor 9:19) What a conviction? What a commitment? He is willing to forfeit his rights for the sake of a brother. That is the way a true Christian exercises his freedom. He will never argue that ‘it is my freedom’ and ‘I have these rights’. Our concern must not be just our temporary enjoyment but consider the effect of our action on our walk with the Lord. Also we must be concerned about others because the exercise of our freedom should not be a snare for others.
Our Lord forsook His rights and restricted His freedom in loving us, the saints followed it. Let us also make sure that -while rejoicing in the liberty He has granted- ultimately all our actions help one another and bring glory to God.