I say that they can be undone, because any freedom that is not exercised or utilized is subject to being lost. And those freedoms that are so abused as to cross the boundaries of public decency put limits on all who would try to use them.
What freedoms am I talking about? Let me share just two. The first freedom that is abused is the freedom of speech. While we may have the freedom to say whatever crosses our mind, there are some things that need to die within our minds recesses.
Those of you who were adults or teenagers in the early 1970s remember that controversial comedian who shocked our parents and was censored by the same if we weren’t careful. George Carlin did a routine on the seven words that you can’t say on public airways.
These were the same words that earned us the distinct displeasure of having our mouths washed out with soap for repeating.
Unfortunately, those words can now be heard routinely on TV and radio in everything from soap operas to rappers.
The old adage, “garbage in, garbage out” not only refers to computing, but our minds also. And the garbage that enters our minds too often comes tumbling out of our mouths.
The Apostle Paul gave us the remedy for that in his letter to the church at Philippi when he said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
We have the freedom of speech, but it needs to be filtered by common sense and decency.
The second freedom that I would mention would be our freedom of religion. Our forefathers foresaw a nation where people were free to choose how and where they worshipped their God.
According to the pollsters, over 80 percent of our nation still claims to follow after the God they have chosen. Unfortunately, their actions proclaim that the God they have chosen is a sports hero, or a movie star, or materialism, and freedom of religion has become freedom from religion.
We are still free to worship within the confines of our houses of worship, but we cannot allow that worship to affect our words, thoughts or deeds outside of those spaces without being mocked, ridiculed or censored.
While we are still a nation whose majority claims to belong to a particular religion, if we were to total up the number of people who actually choose to exercise that freedom by entering into a house of worship on a regular basis, I fear we would not even come close to majority.
A story is told in the Gospel of Luke of the 10 men healed of leprosy, yet only one returned to thank Jesus. I am sorely afraid that the number would not be any better today.
Freedom is precious, but we need to be careful not to neglect nor misuse these same freedoms, lest we lose them. If you are reading this in newsprint, you are exercising another freedom — our freedom of the press.
As we walk this paradise together, let me leave you with these words: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).