The Idol of Freedom and Personal Happiness

The below is from Lecture 7 of Professor Barrs’ Apologetics and Outreach course taught through Covenant Theological Seminary. Listen the entire lecture here or read the transcript here.

So we live in a culture that is saturated with idolatry. And of course one of the greatest idols, which is the fundamental contributing factor to the breakdown of relationships, is simply the idol of my own personal freedom and happiness, which dominates the American culture. And I would just simply say to us that it is impossible to address any of the moral issues, which we as Christians wrestle with in our society and long to see changed, in terms of the laws of this nation, whether it is sexuality or abortion or anything else. It is impossible to challenge people in any of these areas unless we challenge this fundamental idol.

That is the idol that “I have the right to decide for myself how to live my life and pursue my own happiness.” Until that idol is challenged, it is not possible to change the laws about anything in the area of personal morality. It is not possible. We can work as hard as we want to, and we should work hard at trying to change laws to protect innocent human life and to protect family and marriage as an institution. But all of our efforts in those areas are absolutely in vain unless our nation, as a nation, is weaned from the idol of “my own personal fulfillment.”

That is the primary idol in this culture: that I am free to do what I want to do. And the overwhelming majority of Christians will define their life that way as well. That is why it is so hard to practice something like church discipline in this culture. This is an enormous problem; something like 98% of Americans will say that they believe that they have the right to have control over their own lives. That includes the overwhelming majority of believers, of Christian believers. If we have any belief in God at all, or sense of submission to Him, we cannot say that. God is the one who is in control of my life. Not just in the sense that He is the sovereign Lord over history and over me as an individual, but also in the sense that He is the lawgiver and the judge to whom I am accountable and to whose will I am to live in obedience. Then there is no way that I could possibly say that I am in charge of my life or that I have the right to have complete control over it or the freedom to do what I want to do. For the Christian, that is a nonsense statement. And yet 98% of our contemporaries consistently make that statement about their own lives. So we have an enormous problem of idolatry here.


~ by toddbumgarner on June 13, 2008 11:47 am.

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