Modern understandings of freedom are grounded in the idea of the absolute autonomy of the individual.
We moderns believe that freedom is the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want it, and however we want without any constraints. This definition sounds attractive, but if it is true then inevitably my freedom will eventually impinge on someone else’s freedom.
For example, someone’s absolute freedom to smoke could rob another person’s freedom to breath clean air. Another example: my freedom to choose to play loud music on my stereo could potentially rob someone else’s freedom to live in peace and quiet.
By now you get the point: true freedom cannot be defined as the ability to do whatever one wants, when they want it, because one person’s freedom could be another person’s limitation.
What, then, is a better account of freedom? From a Christian perspective, true freedom is the ability not to do whatever we want, but what God wants. When the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt, the only choice they were given was to serve the Pharaoh and do his bidding. Pharaoh determined all aspects of Israel’s life—when they worked, when (or if) they rested, and whom they worshiped.
The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. Yet, upon their deliverance from bondage, their freedom from Pharaoh meant that they were now free for the service and worship of God. The ten commandments were given as laws through which Israel could live into this newly received freedom.
I’ve heard a lot about freedom lately as it relates to the recent government mandated facemasks. Many people refuse to wear them because they feel that the directive is a threat to their right to choose to dress how they want. Some feel that it should not be the responsibility of government to tell its citizens what they can or cannot wear.
In my opinion, such sensibilities reveal an unbiblical understanding of what being free actually means. It’s not to do whatever one pleases, but rather it is the opportunity to do what is morally right by God and by neighbor.
Through Christ’s atoning death on the cross and God’s raising him from the dead, we Christians are now free from sin and free for loving God and each other. So, exercise your freedom and put on a mask.