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Love & Freedom

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My church group is studying “The Reason for God” by Timothy Keller.  This week’s chapter was on the perception that Christianity is a “straitjacket” that compromises our freedom.  Keller’s conclusion is excellent:

“What then is the moral-spiritual reality we must acknowledge to thrive?  What is the environment that liberates us if we confine ourselves to it, like water liberates the fish?  Love.  Love is the most liberating freedom-loss of all.

“One of the principles of love – either love for a friend or romantic love – is that you have to lose independence to attain greater intimacy.  If you want the “freedoms” of love – the fulfillment, security, sense of worth that it brings – you must limit your freedom in many ways.  You cannot enter a deep relationship and still make unilateral decisions or allow your friend or lover no say in how you live your life.  To experience the joy and freedom of love, you must give up your personal autonomy.  [...]

“A love relationship limits your personal options.  Again we are confronted with the complexity of the concept of “freedom.”  Human beings are most free and alive in relationships of love.  We only become ourselves in love, and yet healthy love relationships involve mutual, unselfish service, a mutual loss of independence.  C.S. Lewis puts it eloquently:

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I’ve begun reading Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God at the recommendation of a pastor friend of mine.  The following excerpt from the introduction describes exactly the viewpoint I’ve come to consider to be profoundly important for our society.  I honestly believe that the failure to take this approach in forming one’s beliefs is one of the greatest problems facing Americans today.  It affects how we interact with and respect one another, and how we determine those beliefs upon which our worldview is based.

“A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection. Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts—not only their own but their friends’ and neighbors’. It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs to skeptics, including yourself, that are plausible rather than ridiculous or offensive. And, just as important for our current situation, such a process will lead you, even after you come to a position of strong faith, to respect and understand those who doubt.

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