Freedom: Don’t Blame God

Freedom may be the standard most of humanity says it strives for, but true freedom is not an easy fruit to bear and most of those who say they can handle it are fooling themselves.

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The freedom God gave to humankind is the power to act or not act in whatever way they choose,[1] even if it means they will disobey His commandments. Contrary to most atheists’ portrayals of Him, God is not a draconian tyrant who threatens death and destruction upon those who do not bend to His every whim. He is, rather, a loving Father to all His creation who knows that in order to truly love and respect His children, must allow them the freedom to make their own decisions – and their own mistakes.

Of course, single-minded, agenda-driven atheist apologists will quote the Christian belief in Hell and damnation and insist that it proves that, not only is God not a loving father, but an abusive one who threatens horrible retribution for failure to love him. But they misquote true Christian doctrine to make their case. God does not, has not and will not for any reason send a single soul to Hell.[2] This does not, however, mean that Hell does not exist.

God is infinitely loving and also infinitely just and to be in His presence is to also be so. Evil cannot exist in the presence of God, nor can pride or hate. When a person ends up in Hell it is entirely of his or her own doing. The Catholic Church teaches that those who die out of God’s grace and friendship have rejected His offer of salvation through Christ’s suffering and death on the cross and because they are in a state of sin, cannot exist in His presence. This is the true nature of Hell: eternal separation from God’s presence, and His infinite love.

As the nature of Hell is absolute, so too is the nature of freedom. Freedom is something everybody says they want, but very few can truly handle. Freedom is the ability to choose one’s own destiny. God gave that as a special gift to Humankind and He has been trying to save it from its own weaknesses ever since.

Atheists love to pose the question, “if there is a God, why would He allow such horrible things as child abuse, war and poverty?” This can be a very difficult to argue against because it is a valid point. Most reasonable people would not like to think of themselves as being able to sit by and witness horrible things happening to innocent people and do nothing to intervene – so why does God?

The truth is that God hurts when He sees His children hurting one another. God has repeatedly gone to great lengths to save mankind from itself. From helping humanity get started in its new existence outside the Garden of Eden, to His revelation and promise to Abraham and ultimately His own personal sacrifice in the suffering and death of Christ, God has never stood on the sidelines while horrible things happened. More than that, He has always honored the promises He made to mankind – and the most important one of those is freedom.

If God were indeed a tyrant or a sadist, He would not honor man’s freedom to disobey Him. It is true that God made Heaven and the Earth. He parted the Red Sea to save the Israelites from Pharaoh’s vengeance – and just as quickly brought it crashing down to destroy the mighty Egyptian army. He led the King David to victory via the Ark of the Covenant, establishing Israel as a powerful nation in a brutal time and place. He saved mankind from the grip of sin and destroyed death by the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. If God were a tyrant, He would crush humans at the first sign of rebellion, especially in modern times.

God gave clear commandments to human beings, but He does not enforce compliance through force. Countless times over God gave instruction to mankind regarding how to live in accordance with His will. From Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to Moses and the Ten Commandments to Jesus Christ instructing His followers to love one another, God has made crystal clear the path to salvation. But never does God enforce ultimate obedience. Rather, He loves mankind and like a true father, guides them and hopes they make the right decisions, but ultimately honors their right to sovereignty. Freedom is truly a gift – if it is used correctly.

This amazing gift of free will does not come without immeasurable risks. Mankind is vulnerable to sin and the Devil knows this. Lucifer wouldn’t accept commonality with a creature whom God had created in His image. He saw himself as lofty above man and wanted to be, like God, worshipped by what he saw as a significantly inferior creature.[3] The Devil would never accept humanity and because of this, he has worked tirelessly throughout the ages to corrupt souls into committing acts that separate them from God’s friendship – thus in his own way, beating God.

Exploiting the flaws of human beings, the Devil has always been able to steer people towards their earthly desires – which will always send them in the opposite direction to God. It may be asked why God would allow this temptation if He knows it will lead to the destruction of so many? The answer goes back to the recurring theme of the Christian faith – God loves mankind and respects the freedom He gave it. God can absolutely stop the Devil and He will. However, if God stopped Lucifer from tempting humans He would deprive them of a very beautiful opportunity – the ability to resist.

Without temptation, there is no resistance to temptation and thus no opportunity to show God love. The Christian life is one of self-denial, of dying to self and living for God. The Devil knows this – and he uses it. Human beings cannot fathom the vast intelligence of Satan. He is the Prince of Lies, the deceiver of the whole world.[4] Humans do not stand a chance against him. But he knows this and he doesn’t set himself up as an enemy – he sets himself up as a friend.

The Devil does not whisper in one’s ear that they are not good enough. To the contrary, the Devil tells man he is great, so great that he doesn’t need God, or His draconian and archaic rules. Time and again, man falls for this play to his ego, and time and again man falls. For evidence of this, one need only look at the state of the world today. Man is increasingly turning his back on God in favor of modern technological and societal progress. Yet with all this amazing technology and supposedly advanced social philosophy, the world is crumbling.

People commit unspeakable acts, sometimes even in the name of God, but He does not intervene. This is difficult for limited human minds to understand. It is difficult to understand how a loving God could watch as a man kills an innocent child. This is often used as the number one argument against not only the existence of God, but also the goodness of God. But if God were to stop these acts, He would violate the covenant He made with humans from the very beginning. He did not stop humans from torturing and murdering His Son and He will not stop men from doing evil deeds now. But that does not mean they will get away with it.

God is outside time and space, and thus sees everything from a perspective that the human brain cannot even conceptualize. Although things that happen on Earth seem so significant to people, and bad things happening seem so devastating, God sees from a completely different dimension. When a person – especially a child – dies, there is no interruption in God’s sight. And God, who is all-loving and all-caring, will take that child into His arms.

Adults too are destined for the loving embrace of Christ, provided they have not deliberately and completely shut Him out. Jesus warned that there is only one absolutely unforgivable sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit.[5] If a person remains completely closed off to God’s infinite love, even unto death, that person has made their choice – and God will honor it. God will always give man the respect of honoring that freedom, even when it hurts.

Freedom goes hand-in-hand with responsibility and the freedom God gave mankind is no exception. Man has the freedom to choose whether to draw close to God or to turn away. God forces nobody to love Him. And logic dictates that if a person lives a life either indifferent to or in hatred of God, God is not going to force that person to live in eternity with Him. Humans choose their destiny. Humans can choose to spend their lives mocking God and those who believe in Him, disobeying His commandments and living for themselves. What they can’t do is cry victim when what He told them turns out to be true.

 

[1] Paragraph 1731, Catechism of the Catholic Church

[2] Paragraph 1037, Catechism of the Catholic Church

[3] John of St. Thomas, Cursus Theologicus

[4] Revelation 12:9

[5] Matthew 12:31-32

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