Freedom of Choice

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Freedom of Choice

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We prize our freedom of choice. We want freedom to choose what we do, where we live and who we will elect to government office. We want the liberty to decide how we will spend our time and money. We’ll decide how to entertain ourselves—what music we’ll listen to, what movies and television shows we’ll watch, what magazines and books we’ll read.

We’ll decide how we want to live and what standards we’ll live by. After all, we know what’s best for ourselves, don’t we?

Maybe not.

Freedom of choice, you see, also involves freedom to make bad decisions: decisions that are shortsighted and uninformed; decisions that will come back to haunt us; decisions that look good on the surface but have unforeseen, unintended and untoward consequences.

We humans are notoriously shortsighted. We’re used to thinking in the here and now, not considering where we’ll be and what we’ll have to deal with 10 years, 20 years, 30 years out into the future.

That kind of thinking gets us into serious trouble.

A generation ago many Americans demanded greater freedom. They wanted more freedom of speech and expression, so obscenity and pornography laws were struck down. Standards in television, movies and music were relaxed to the point that today virtually anything goes.

They demanded a right to privacy and freedom of choice that encompassed all things sexual, including various sex acts, the number and sex of partners and the means for prevention and even termination of unwanted pregnancies. Judges and lawmakers relaxed laws to accommodate their demands.

People also demanded religious freedom—not freedom of religion, but freedom from religion. Religious authority and influence had to go lest they might infringe on other freedoms. So school prayer was banned. God was evicted from classrooms and government corridors and forbidden to show up in public. Over time, even history books were rewritten to remove most references to the strong Christian convictions and beliefs of America’s founding fathers.

Now we wonder why rape, murder, robbery, assault, venereal disease, divorce, illegitimate births, mental illness and a whole host of other social problems have grown dramatically.

Regrettably, many other nations have followed the United States’ example when it comes to such matters of culture. They, too, are experiencing the sad consequences of their choices.

Why have so many presumably enlightened choices turned out so badly? Quite simply, we didn’t consider the consequences. We didn’t appreciate why certain standards had passed down from generation to generation. Nor did we appreciate the original source of many of those standards.

The founding fathers were clear about what they believed and why. George Washington, the nation’s first president, affirmed his faith in the religion of Scripture. “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible,” he wrote.

John Adams, who succeeded Washington as the nation’s second president, in an address to the nation’s military said: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

In the same speech Adams noted that the government had no power “capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” He recognized that freedoms must be tempered by self-control, wisdom and sound judgment rooted in biblical standards and values. Without them, freedom is little more than license to gratify our baser instincts and selfish desires.

Right and wrong ultimately come down to their long-term consequences. Are the consequences good? Then the choices and actions are likely right. Are the consequences bad? They’re almost always the result of wrong decisions we’ve made.

The right choice is the one that reaps widespread and lasting benefits. The choice is wrong that ultimately makes things worse—that produces sorrow, suffering and problems.

When it comes to choosing right and wrong, we should remember the words of Moses recorded in Deuteronomy 30:19 Deuteronomy 30:19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live:
American King James Version×
when he presented his countrymen a choice regarding right and wrong: “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.”

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