Many people are convinced that God is a strict judge who leaves us no freedom. They often imagine our Father as a stern authority figure imposing harsh rules for life.
As a teenager, I thought the same thing:
Is God really pure love if He allows bad things to happen in the world? Why did He give us the Ten Commandments if He gives us free will? Why do I have to confess if I am supposed to be free to make my own decisions?
He Gives Us Freedom So We Can Choose Him
As I grew older, I began to look at God’s freedom from a different perspective. My eyes were also opened through the experiences of people I meet in my profession as marriage and family therapist.
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I began to discover that the freedom Heavenly Father gives us is much greater than we realize.
Even the Sacraments Can’t Change Free Will
Unfortunately, I also realized that people often allow others to take away the freedom that God gives them. For example, God gives us freedom in deciding to receive the sacraments. A nun once told me:
“God does not want to impose anything on us, not even the sacraments. If our heart is locked, God does not enter it without our permission.”
This is true even if something has been granted under ecclesiastical law, as the sacram`ents are.
I remembered a lady who told me during a counseling session how she had worked hard to make her marriage a success. She tried constantly to be a good wife, respectful to her husband. She prayed for him and for their marriage every day.
But the sacrament hadn’t blossomed. She wondered what else she had to do. Why wasn’t God, Who was good, granting her request?
I asked the same nun about this predicament. She replied:
“She could move mountains, but the marriage wouldn’t flourish until her husband decided to do the same.”
We freely choose to marry, and we are free to choose to become parents.
God created us as husband and wife. He created us so wonderfully that we get to choose to try to create a family. Conceiving a child and giving birth is a miracle.
When We Take Away Freedom from Others
Life is a gift that God never takes from us. We have the freedom to end our earthly life with unnatural death. With technological and medical advances like abortion and euthanasia, people have taken away their own freedom to live.
In my work, I often meet parents who have divorced. I am saddened by their stories when they tell me how suddenly someone else—family court, a social worker—can determine whether they are suitable enough to be parents.
Divorced parents may need help with new living arrangements and child care, but their best interests and the interests of the child are not always served by family court. It would be much more helpful to recommend family therapy along with custody schedules and division of assets. In some cases, two parents separate even further instead of learning to co-parent successfully.
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We often misinterpret the freedom God gives us.
Following God’s Laws Makes Us Free
The Bible says:
“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.”1 Peter 2:16
We should be grateful to God for the freedom of life, for the freedom to make decisions, and for the parenthood that is given to us when we choose freely for Him.