Liberty vs. Law?
by Burk Parsons
I have often heard people define liberty as the ability to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Although such a definition may sound good on the surface, it more accurately defines anarchy than it does liberty. While many in our society cry for “liberty,” they are actually advocating a form of social anarchy. By demanding their “liberty” to have the right to choose the life or death of an unborn child, they are demanding the right to murder merely for the sake of personal convenience. By fighting for the “liberty” to define marriage as a union between two men or two women, they are in essence fighting for the toleration of sexual flagrancy.
We live in an increasingly lawless society in which law has become an adversary and liberty has become a god. For many people, the two are opposites, and by defining liberty as the ability to do whatever you want to do, and by defining law as the limitation to do whatever you want to do, many in our society have pledged allegiance to themselves vowing to uphold their own ever-changing versions of self-made law. However, those who persistently cry for liberty at the expense of law have set up a false dichotomy based upon inaccurate definitions of liberty and law.
The two are not at odds with one other; rather, they complement one another. True liberty only comes as a result of established law, and the only established law that exists is the law established by the one and only Law-giver. There is no opposition to His law, and His law cannot be amended. The law of God is perfect, and from it flows true liberty that is defined as the ability to do what you ought to do. And in order to do what we ought to do, we must be firmly established in God’s law. For only when we have immersed ourselves in God’s law are we able to know the truth that sets us free (John 8:32).
God established His law in the first five books of Scripture. However, God did not give us a list of dos and don’ts merely for His own pleasure. By His grace, He provided the Law so that we may obey Him, love Him, and thereby glorify and enjoy Him. Therefore, we turn to God’s unchanging law and the story of our Christian heritage from the fall of Adam to the entrance of the Promised Land. In so doing, we live coram Deo according to the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). For we will not be numbered among those to whom Christ will say: “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.”