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Freedom Has Become the Ultimate Good in Society

In his book Making Sense of God, Tim Keller writes:

When The Star-Spangled Banner is sung at sporting events, the climactic phrase comes to an elongated high note: “O’er the land of the freeee ….” The cheers begin here. Even though the song goes on to talk about “the brave,” this is an afterthought. Both the melody line and our culture highlights freedom as the main theme and value of our society.

Freedom has come to be defined as the absence of any limitations or constraints on us. By this definition, the fewer boundaries we have on our choices and actions, the freer we feel ourselves to be. Held in this form, I want to argue that the narrative has gone wrong and is doing damage.

Modern freedom is the freedom of self-assertion. I am free if I may do whatever I want. But defining freedom this way … is unworkable because it is an impossibility …. We need some kind of moral norms and constraints on our actions if we are to live together.

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