What does it mean to be truly free? Free to follow our desires, or to be free to control our desires?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I once heard of a man who visited his friend in a rural part of the USA. He was amazed to observe that when he got out of his car, he left his key in the ignition! When he questioned his friend about the wisdom of doing this, his friend told him that there had been no recorded car crime in the area and he was sure that there was no risk of this car being stolen. What a wonderful freedom from the complications of locks, alarms and other security devices! But at the root of this freedom was the fact that everyone obeyed the law that forbids theft.

Individual rights.

For someone who does not love God, rules in relationships seem an unnecessary intrusion and a threat to their personal liberty. ‘Don’t I have a right’, they protest, ‘to be free to use my body as I like and fulfil my desires as I like?’ In fact, according to the Bible, the opposite is the case. Such a person is a slave to their desires, and the consequences – unwanted pregnancy, STIs, broken relationships and fragmented families – are very unpleasant.

Freedom in Christ.

What blessing comes from treating each other with respect and self-control.

In contrast, true freedom is the liberty of a Christian to do what God wants him/her to do with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that ‘it is for freedom that Christ has set us free’ [1]. In fact, a desire to please God by being obedient and struggling against temptation is one of the essential marks of a true Christian. Deep inside we want to submit to His rules – and more and more so as we progress in our Christian lives, though not without times of temptation and difficulty. And we see such freedom expressed in the way that faithful Christian conduct relationships. What blessing comes from treating each other with respect and self-control, and one expression of this is by seeking to avoid stirring up our own and others’ sexual desires at the wrong time. How much fear, misunderstanding and pain can be happily avoided!

  1. Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”