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Freedoms vs Fears

July 2, 2015

In early 1941, as the war which would become known as World War II was raging in Europe, President Franklin Roosevelt gave a stirring message to the country that has become known as the “Four Freedoms.”  In it he stated that all people were entitled to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

These freedoms were soon memorialized in Norman Rockwell paintings that many of that generation, or even of my subsequent generation, found inspirational.  They served as a rallying cry for the nation in a time of great uncertainty.  In 1941 our nation was on the cusp of war and we were seeing the war machines of Germany and Japan rolling through Europe and Asia and the four freedoms were a wonderful focus to help energize our nation.

We are again in a time of uncertainty, although one that is not close in magnitude to 1941.  We face social change more than globe-spanning dictatorships.  You would never know that however if you listen to most commentators and leaders, particularly Christian leaders.  They are already banging the drums about our dangerous future.  But are they offering us a contemporary version of the four freedoms?

No.  Instead the pattern I see from them is not four freedoms but four fears.  We are being told in melodramatic language that we Christians need to be afraid of four things. Namely:

  1. The slippery slope fear. We are just one court decision away from a nation that will let a man marry a horse or will allow ten-person marriages.
  2. The religious liberty fear. We are entering a time where we will not be able to practice and preach the sexual codes of our faith.
  3. The moral decay fear. A fear that we, and particularly our children, will be sucked into the spiraling abyss of perversion that is all around us.
  4. The judgement of God fear. Our nation, we are told, has crossed the line into things that will surely incur His wrath.

To be sure, the country has changed.  This past week gave clear proof of something we have known for some time now – the precepts of our evangelical faith are not the dominant influence on our culture. We feel marginalized.  I’ve even seen articles saying we are “refugees,” although I think we’d have trouble convincing the people of Syria, and many other countries, of that last point.

But I confess that I am disappointed that those we have seen as leaders, rather than giving us stirring messages of how to live in such times, they give us lists of things to be afraid of.  So I’d thought I’d take a shot at it.  We have:

  1. The slippery slope freedom. We evangelicals are free to stand on this slope and make it clear that the foundation of our sexual ethic is a life of transformation in submission to Jesus, not some political fight.
  2. The religious liberty freedom. We are free to battle to preserve the rights of churches, synagogues, mosques, faith-based colleges, and other faith-based nonprofits to keep on practicing their sexual codes with complete freedom, while not seeing civil business ordinances as a threat to our faith.
  3. The moral decay freedom. We are free to be the ones who will take full responsibility that our children will grow up with strong moral values and not blame others who differ with us.
  4. The judgement of God freedom. We are free to stand alongside Christians through history, and in most of the world today, and see hardships not as punishments but as opportunities rejoice in the love of God in every situation.

I’d also like to think that we have freedom to say to those who only tell us what we need to be afraid of that we don’t consider them our leaders.


From → Christianity

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