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Does true freedom consist in doing whatever we want?

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Edifa - published on 04/30/21

Christ has come to liberate us from the sins that hinder our progress to the Father.

What is freedom? Ask a teen and don’t be surprised if you hear: “Freedom is doing whatever I like!” So, does this mean the freedom of doing good or evil? No. Our bad actions have grave consequences; real freedom is choosing among good options.

How can we make our young people understand this truth? By saying, “You can, but everything has consequences” instead of “You can’t.” 

A free person finds happiness far from the tyranny of pleasure and the eyes of others

It is vital for young people to realize that our physical ability to do something does not automatically translate into a moral permission to do so. Morals are not there to police or coerce, but to set us free.

For instance, we must be truthful with our daughter if we find cigarettes in her bag. We should not accuse her, but make her think about what compelled her to start smoking.  Was it peer pressure, the fear of passing for someone “uncool” in the eyes of her friends? Was it to defy us? There will come a time when she wants to quit. That’s when real problems will start: “The reason why you can’t tell your body, ‘I don’t need this substance,’ the reason why you can’t do without it, is because you’ve become addicted, a slave of sorts. So, you are not free. Drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, many things can enslave us.”

We must explain to our child that alcohol and sex are not bad in themselves. Sexuality in particular, can be beautiful and moving when it’s an expression of committed love. It’s the way we use them that can be bad. So, it’s important for a person’s will to guide their body.  If they let themselves be guided solely by their sensual desires, their freedom will be lost.

This loss of freedom often results from confusion between pleasure and happiness. We may observe that what makes pleasure so attractive is its immediacy. But it’s fleeting. As for happiness, it takes time to find it but it can last. There is pleasure in happiness, but there is not always happiness in pleasure. A free person is someone who can find happiness far from the tyranny of pleasure and the eyes of others. The free person is someone who has chosen to follow Christ, who frees us from all forms of tyranny.

Inès de Franclieu

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