Freedom is a Choice, not a right

Here in Cleveland we have been blessed to have some absolutely fabulous weather this summer.  It's that kind of summer that reminds me of when I was a kid.  We used to hang out on the front porches of our neighbor's house and everyone would have either their car radios on or we would gather in someone's basement and listen to one of the many bands that formed from the hundreds of talented kids on our street.  Ahhhh, the good old days, right?  Wrong.  Now that I have two teenage boys those memories are beginning to haunt me.

I just happen to have two VERY handsome boys (they must get their looks from their dad....not).  Anyhow, my younger son Johnny has been very adventurous this summer, riding his bike all over the neighborhood, visiting every girls house on his way to nowhere.  To be honest, I'm not really happy with the fact that he has all this new found freedom.  It's really funny though because when I was his age (and don't tell him this) I would do the same thing!  I would ride my bike to 50 different houses, stop and talk to all the boys, then come home some time just after dark.  But for some reason, his doing it is a LOT different.  Of course, we didn't have cell phones then and there was no way for my mom to check up on me (not that she ever would want to) and there was a great sense of "freedom" I enjoyed, but for some reason, when kids today do the same, we parents totally freak out!

I don't think we should not trust our teenagers or want to take away their "freedom", I think it is our responsibility to restrict their freedom for their own safety and keep a close eye on what they are doing.  Nothing bothers me more than parents who don't care or don't have a clue what their child is doing.  The truth is, I am not capable of policing my kids 24-7 so I have to have some trust, but at the end of the day you can be sure that I am asking the questions!

This leads me to ask, what is true freedom?  Freedom, as I explained to my young son, is not the right to do whatever one wants, it is the right to choose only to do good.  "What?" you may ask.  Let me explain.  People have the gift of free will, but with every gift comes responsibility.  If we were given the right to do whatever we wanted, what would stop us from killing, stealing, raping, lying, hurting, drinking and driving, etc.?  If we choose to do anything evil, mean, or illegal, we are not choosing to be free.  Eventually, one infraction leads to another and then another and another.  Soon we become slaves to whatever we were "free" to choose.  Addictions are examples of how a person's freedom can be taken away from them.  First, we like it, then we can't live our day without it.  Does that sound like freedom to you?

God gives us free will so that we may alway do what it right.  When we choose things that we know are morally or ethically wrong, we are choosing to disobey God, and therefore we are giving up our freedom.  I am writing this article today on the weekend of our countries celebration of its freedom, July 4th.  I hope this is a reminder to all that our freedom was earned on the backs of others.  We enjoy freedom in this country because of the many people who lost their lives so that we can have it.  We continue to enjoy this country because of the many people who continue to give their lives so that we can keep it.  Let's not abuse our right to freedom by carelessly choosing to be selfish.  We parents try to encourage our teenagers to make good choices because in the end we know it is better and healthier for them to do so.  We adults need to also make good choices as examples for our kids.  This weekend, remember the true meaning of freedom and I pray that we "choose" to make good and selfless decisions that will benefit all those who come after us so that they will continue to enjoy this same gift of FREEDOM.  Thank you Lord for setting us FREE and holding us accountable.


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