"... Choose You This Day Whom Ye Will Serve..." - Part III
This statement found in the Book of Joshua, chapter 23, verse 15 is, in my opinion, the most plain presentation of freedom of choice - or "free will" as we say - in all of Scripture. In the few verses preceding and following, Joshua lays out the situation as it is to the tribes and they are handed a choice - serve the God of Heaven or serve the local gods represented by the myriad idols.
This is important to our discussion of Rightful Liberty because it examples the ability to decide what each person would do with regard to worshiping their Creator and Provider. That said, if we have choice in that context - that is to follow Him or not - then it is not hard to discern that when He created us, He did not intend to create robots who merely function out of programmed response. We have the "unalienable right" to free choice and that right extends into all things up to and including the right(or freedom) to choose whom we will worship, if anyone or thing. Bear in mind that this is not about the inclusion of consequences connected to choices made but the right to make said choices.
I could go on citing other examples of our unalienable right of free choice but I'll offer just one more. Adam and Eve were placed into an environment perfect for them. They were given certain few directions(commandments) only one of which carried dreadful consequence: don't eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or they would surely die. (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7) Choice was allowed and we all know what happened there.
Choice has always been a part of the human experience. Domination of man's choice through manipulation or whatever means has been around almost as long. So, where does that leave us?
It leaves each of to determine what we as individuals will do with regard to any topic with which we have to deal with. All of life boils down to choices regardless of the issue. The real issue to be determined is what standard each of us will adopt as our basis for decision-making. Our Founding Fathers drew upon their upbringing - by choice - to construct the form of self-governance we were provided. Yes, that standard was "religious" but they, like the ancient Israelis, understood that following God's Standard was infinitely more beneficial than not. Our nation, since it's inception, has reaped the benefits of that same life action.
Back to the original question: "how far does Rightful Liberty go?" It must be allowed to extend as far as each individual is granted the equal opportunity to exercise his/her own conscience without violating that same right of any/everyone else. What if I don't like what others do? The determination to accept or reject another's behavior is again your choice based on the standard you employ for your life. Likes/dislikes, acceptance/rejection of individual life choices is a part of what determines friendships and tribal relationships.(Family has it's own set of parameters.) The Bible puts it this way: Amos 3:3 "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" That same question has nuances, variations and levels depending on the situation but the basic premise does not change.
We in this nation have been afforded a unique opportunity - self-governance. At the heart of self-governance is Rightful Liberty. Rightful Liberty is not free to do as I please without regard to others but rather doing as I please while respecting the same right of determination of those around me.
The trouble comes when I am manipulated, or otherwise forced into not only accepting but agreeing with what I reject based on my standard of life. Such is where we are as a nation today. Our situation today is so diseased that there are those who are either in power or seek to be who would obliterate Rightful Liberty altogether.
"Houston, we have a problem...."