by Singa Terhormat
Scripture tells us that Man early on made the mistaken choice of partaking of the forbidden fruit thereby making him disobedient to God and leading to his downfall. The opportunity or freedom to make a choice is a gift given to Man by God, which even the angels do not possess—the gift of freewill. Over time the prophets of God have continually reminded Man that the gift of freewill or freedom to make choices comes with the responsibility to exercise it correctly and also serves as a test of Man’s gratitude to God in that he should exercise it in obedience to God’s commands.
The gift of freewill grants Man freedom to make choices. As taught to Man early on, that freedom is not absolute and not without consequences.
Today we see manifold instances of Man leading his life in a manner where the freedom to do as he pleases seems to be the paramount consideration. He dresses as he pleases, eats whatever he fancies, carries on his trade however he wishes, spends his earnings however he likes and entertains himself in whatever way he desires and so on.
Man today cherishes his unrestrained freedom and will readily and quickly oppose whatever limitations are imposed upon it, unless he, in the first place chooses to agree to such limitations. In so doing, Man believes that he, and he alone, knows best what is good for him and how best to regulate his affairs.
This is exemplified in the system of government in place today where Man alone decides what is legal and what is illegal in the society he lives in. Parliament or Congress or whatever similar institution that Man has created is often vested with the power to pass whatever law it pleases, perhaps constrained only by a Constitution in place that was drawn up by some of their number. Such laws, or in some instances the Constitution, is touted as the supreme law of the land.
This is democracy at work, where the will of the majority holds sway, constrained only by convention or by a written constitution drawn up by Man. Large sectors of mankind hold to the belief that such democracy, crafted on or modified from the Westminster model, is the best form of government that can be had.
Democracy however, to the extent that it permits Man unrestrained freedom to make choices in the exercise of his freewill and to absolutely legislate and regulate his own affairs has resulted in disastrous consequences for Man. One needs only consider the growing instances where Man has legalized same-sex marriages to appreciate the dangers inherent in unbridled freedom and the fallacy that Man knows what is best for himself .The fact that such legislation approving same-sex marriages emanates from the so-called developed nations that supposedly have the best-educated and most capable people the world has ever had is all the more alarming.
Any attempt to curtail such licentiousness on the part of Man in exercising unrestrained freedom is often met by stern opposition and there is no shortage of those who will beat the war-drums in their battle-cry for absolute or near-absolute freedom.
These “warriors” for such unbridled freedom must be reminded of the worshippers of freedom described by the poet, Kahlil Gibran.
“At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.”
It is not meant by the aforesaid that Man must discard his sense of reason absolutely. Reason, being one of the special gifts to Man by God, is certainly to be used, even in matters of submitting to God, but even “Reason” must submit to God. Thus where a command is clearly from God and is couched in clear and unequivocal terms, it is not open to Man to consider whether he may or may not obey. His freedom in the exercise of his freewill must end there.
Man must choose and decide whether he is to be the servant of God or the slave of Reason. Man must decide whether he is to continue earning the displeasure of God by partaking of the forbidden fruit.