If your only spiritual concerns deal with the propositions surrounding Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, you have spiritual eye problems. Some think themselves particularly far-seeing because on top of doctrines like atonement and inerrancy, they also care about election and sovereignty.
Yet political and societal freedom is also a Christian virtue. South Africa’s apartheid (circa 1964-1994) stood in opposition to Jesus Christ in part because it denied freedom to a majority of its citizens. Those freedoms are melting like ice in the sun when a black bride is pushed into the back of a police car on her wedding day for the crime of carrying on with their planned wedding when government officials decided that was too risky.
Christians love freedom because the Bible teaches that society should be free. Where does the Bible promote freedom?
1. Christians believe in freedom because the Bible teaches men are all sinners.
Jesus is very clear that we are all born sinners (John 1:10; 3:19; 7:7; 8:44, etc.). Because of the virus of sin, we are all untrustworthy. Given enough power, sin will dominate each of us, and history is a clear example of that. The barbarism of the destruction of the Ndebele people by the hands of Shaka and then again by the Shona kingdom in the north is one example. King Leopold’s vile treatment of the people in the Congo is another example. These men acted wickedly because they had wicked hearts. This is the uniform testimony of the entire Bible.
|What is a sinner?|
|Sinners have wicked thoughts continually.||Gen. 6:5|
|Sinners are committed to sinning.||Gen. 19:11|
|Sinners are like irrational sheep.||Is. 53:6|
|Sinners have only filthy rags to offer God.||Is. 64:6|
|Sinners have rotten hearts.||Jer. 17:9|
|Sinners have nothing to offer.||Matt. 5:3|
|Sinners are blind spiritually.||Luke 4:18|
|Sinners are condemned to be executed.||John 3:18|
|Sinners hate Jesus Christ.||John 7:7|
|Sinners are children of Satan.||John 8:44|
|Sinners do not desire God.||Rom. 3:11|
|Sinners do not understand truth.||1 Cor. 2:14|
|Sinners have no strength or ability.||Rom. 5:6|
|Sinners are born with these conditions.||Rom. 5:12|
|Sinners are willing slaves of evil.||Rom. 6:17|
|Sinners are dead spiritually.||Eph. 2:1|
|Sinners are children of wrath.||Eph. 2:3|
|Sinners have a twisted moral compass.||Tit. 1:15|
|Sinners are enemies of God.||James 4:4|
|Sinners are criminals before God.||1 John 3:4|
If this is really the case, then it applies to leaders as well. If we are all sinful, then the leaders are also sinful. If they have a great degree of power, they will use it according to their sinful desires.
Of course, individual citizens are also sinners, but in the capacity as a citizen they do not have power to infringe on the freedom of others. As a dictator, that sinful citizen can act like Idi Amin in Uganda or Sadaam Hussein in Iraq or Muammar Gadaffi in Libya.
Practically each page in history shows a similar story. This is why we want a president, not a king. He must be checked by the courts which must be checked by the Parliament which can be vetoed by the president. The 1.3 million government workers are all a collective group of sinners receiving paychecks larger than the average citizen and carrying power to enforce their ideas on the country.
Christians believe in the sinfulness of man, in fact, if you deny this, you may have forfeited any Biblical right to claim to be part of this religion. But if you agree that men are sinful, then naturally you will be distrustful of giving power to those in authority.
2. Christians believe in freedom because we love our neighbors.
Jesus told us to love our neighbors, and then he showed us what that means by giving to meet the needs of others. We want each person to be able to flourish in society by making whatever choices they feel will best tend to their good as long as those choices do not harm others.
At this point, someone will say that the lockdown is necessary as a means of loving our neighbors so that they will not die. That is a fine sentiment for individuals, but it is extremely tricky for government to determine. It is tricky because you do not know what all the citizens want, because your judgments are clouded by peer pressure, and because authoritative decisions rarely end in freedom. Some citizens choose to take the risk of riding in vehicles even though each day 38 people die in our country from road accidents and 3,200 around the world pass away from car accidents. Has the country voted to relinquish their liberties? Swimming kills 870 people per day around the world. Why have we not banned swimming pools? The USA loses 14 people per day from choking, and those lives would be saved if the government mandated soup as the only diet.
In the book Death by Government, R. J. Rummel shows that government has been directly responsible for 262 million deaths in the 20th century alone. Every one of those lives was lost because government did not respect personal freedom. But the majority of those murders was perpetrated while the officials were saying that they were trying to help. The government should never take away freedom because there is the possibility of risk. That is not loving your neighbor.
A large number of citizens would choose to take the risk of sickness in order to continue working, and when I allow that freedom to others, I am honoring their judgment and their choices.
3. Christians believe in freedom because each person must be allowed to read the Bible and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
If men must be free in the most important decision—what to do with Jesus Christ, then we may safely build a free society on all smaller decisions. The Great Commission presupposes freedom. How can we tell others the gospel if movement, church meetings, and travel restrictions are in place?
Incidentally, the great Baptist Roger Williams promoted the doctrine of religious freedom, and Christians today believe that every religion should be free to promote its ideas in society as well. If a majority of people in society are Islamic, they are free to put Islamic ideas into the government or schools. While Christians may not agree with Islam, they support the freedom that allows Muslims to be Islamic.
4. Christians believe in freedom because lack of freedom results in theft.
About 3,500 years ago, God said, You shall not steal. But in a society dominated by government, every one of those posts must be paid, and usually much larger than the average worker. As the government writes more laws, it needs more “public servants.”
Money for grants, social programs, handouts, and corruption also comes unwillingly from the average worker at a small company or farm. When government has more power, freedom is reduced because theft through unjust taxes are high. When a man has lost a certain portion of his material goods, he has lost the freedom of using them in the ways he would have if they had remained in his possession.
The government—which here in South Africa calls itself Government with a capital “G” and no article as if it were your Uncle Keith—calls the lockdown essential to save lives, but the cost is freedom. At the least, we should be clear on the price if we are forced to pay it.