The original lie of the serpent in the garden just seems to keep on cropping up. I guess there’s something to be said for consistency, but that we keep on falling for it reflects rather poorly on humankind.
The devil tempted Eve with the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil by saying that if she ate of it she would be like a god. In essence, he was telling her that she would have no rules to follow, that she could chart her own path, and that she would not need to answer to anyone. Pretty tempting, if you think about it, except for the fact that it contradicted God’s plan for us. Still does, in fact. We were made with a purpose, and at least part of that purpose is to serve God. I would also argue that we are also called to serve others, to a greater or lesser degree. Once you freely render service to another, you are no longer completely free–you’ve given up some of your “freedom” voluntarily to do something for another. Only in this way, by submitting our will to God, and, from time to time, to the service of others, do we really become free.
Throughout the Bible, you see echoes of this temptation to a false freedom–of turning away from responsibility to others, and turning away from responsibility to God. This is how Israel wound up in Egypt (Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery because they turned from their responsibility to family), and into exile in Babylon because their rulers failed to heed God’s will. Likewise, when the people fall into idolatry in the Bible, it is because they feel the rules God gave them were too restrictive (even though they represented the surest path to freedom and prosperity).
So, fast forwarding to today, you see the same temptation to throw off responsibility to others and to God so that you can, quote/unquote, “follow your own path.” The justifications for abortion often center on freeing the woman to live her life without the burden of a child. While raising children is hard, there are other ways to handle it if a woman doesn’t have a support network. Adoption is certainly one, and I also applaud those brave women who stick with it, realize their responsibility, and raise a child on their own. Even though to the eyes of the world they may be tied down and lack freedom to do things, I suspect that embracing their responsibility is actually liberating in the long run because of what they learn about themselves.
Beyond that particular hot button, think about the nature of relationships now that they are carried out primarily in the digital realm. If you haven’t actually met a person face-to-face, you don’t really owe them any responsibility. This may explain something about how hard it is to maintain relationships with an actual other person. We’ve been conditioned to treat the other person as so many pixels on a screen, not as a real, living, breathing person created in God’s image. We’re told that if we disagree with someone else, we don’t need to engage with their ideas, we can just shout them down in the comments section or on social media. The problem is that you aren’t really free if you are unable to think about what you say and how your ideas interact with other ideas–you’re just regurgitating the accepted line of thought over and over, getting more and more trapped because you are unable to use your intellect to interact with others, to learn from them, and to better yourself.
All of this because we fail to recognize that the “freedom” offered by the world is just the same old lie that keeps us from enjoying the freedom that comes from following God’s will and plan.