Freedom and Identity
Have you ever considered how much IDENTITY is linked to FREEDOM? This is something I’ve been pondering this week. I think that how we understand identity will shape how we think of what freedom is and looks like.
For instance: a musician is most free when he has unhindered access to his instrument and is able to perform, whereas a musician has less freedom when he has no access to his instrument and can never perform. A baseball player is freer when other players play according to the rules and use a ball and bat, whereas he has less freedom is everyone rejects any rules and does not use a ball at all. A fish is more free when it is in the water than when it is free to be on dry land. A chef has more freedom when he has his tools for cooking (knifes) and access to ingredients, whereas he has less freedom when those things are missing. Thus, there is a vital link between identity and how we perceive freedom.
Now, within identity it seems that there are legitimate parameters/limitations and authorities that lead to flourishing: the musician flourishes when he has access to his instrument and everyone agrees to play the piece of music at the same tempo with the same tuning pitch and under the legitimate authority of the conductor; a baseball player flourishes when everyone agrees to rules of the game and submits to the legitimate authority of the umpire; a chef flourishes when he has access to his tools and ingredients and when he submits to the legitimate authority of food regulations and laws of the country which mean that those who steal his food will be punished.
Considering the link between identity and freedom brings us to the two opposing views of considering what does it mean to be free as a human. If naturalism is true—if we are merely a cosmic accident, random time and chance which somehow caused star dust to evolve to lifeless slime that somehow evolved into organic matter then eventually into fish then apes then us—and there is no design for humanity or no one outside of humanity to tell us what it means to be a human, then all our attempts at identity are arbitrary and subjective. The only identity we have is the one we create: metaphysical subjectivism rules.
If Christianity is true—and I would argue it is true—then our identity is given to us by our Creator. We were made in God’s image and possess a particular dignity and worth that sets us apart from all of creation. We were created to live under God’s legitimate and good authority and legitimate parameters for our lives and when we do this, we flourish. So whatever vocation God has each of us—musician, plumber, athlete—when we do these things within his right parameters (Moral Law) and under his authority (submitting to Him rather than what is evil) and for His glory (rather than our own), we flourish.
(Glen Scrivener has really shaped and helped me understand this link between freedom and identity)