How Freedom Works

According to Sweden’s Board of Health and Welfare, from 2008-2018 there was a 1500% rise of diagnoses of gender dysphoria. 1500%. Attach that kind of number to any other mental illness and it would be labeled an epidemic of astronomical proportions. And by the way, that number only reflects the number of girls who were diagnosed. Males are not included in that number.

In another article recently released, Carl Trueman, although not responding to this article, speaks to how this may have happened. I’ll quote him at length:

“The psychological self—the notion that we are who we feel we are and that the purpose of life is inward, psychological contentment or satisfaction—renders identity a highly plastic, malleable thing, detached from any authority greater than personal conviction.

Transgenderism as an ideology is only the most recent and most extreme form of this to grip the political imagination. That we are now to teach our children that not even their bodies are any authoritative guide to who they are is a dramatic and disturbing development, placing immense responsibility on them—god-like responsibility, one might say—without offering any guide as to how they might respond. Yet for all the novelty of transgenderism, it is but a symptom of the psychological self that has deep and longstanding roots in the Western intellectual tradition.

…When the goal of human existence is personal psychological satisfaction, then all moral codes are merely instrumental, and therefore continually revisable, to this subjective, psychological end.

That society seems to have decided that a—perhaps the—major way to achieve this is sex means that any attempt to enforce a code of sexual behavior is an assault on the individual, a means whereby individuals are forced to be inauthentic and, indeed, unhappy. And anyone who therefore tries to enforce sexual codes is oppressive or a “hater,” to use the cheap and lazy means of delegitimizing any critic of the moral mess that is late modernity.”

The point is that when we jettison objective standards of morality, identity, and truth, then we end up with social and psychological chaos like what we see happening in Sweden–and it’s almost certainly the case here in America as well. It’s no coincidence that when our society is the most detached from its most necessary institutions like the family and the church then it’s no coincidence that when the structures that are intended to hold society together are abandoned that this kind of confusion and chaos ensues. In developed countries, anxiety and depression are at all-time highs. Despite people being the “most free” they’ve ever been, we’re in bondage to uncertainty, frustration, and hopelessness.

It’s because that’s not how freedom is designed to work. Freedom does not come from being able to make whatever choice you want that you feel will make you happy. As we’ve seen, that leads to bondage and despair. When you can be anything you want, you end up becoming nobody. Just a hollow suit of flesh grasping for meaning and significance amidst an endless sea of options.

Happiness through freedom comes when all the choices that poison you are eliminated and you are limited to only a few, select choices that are guaranteed to bring you joy and peace.

This, of course, is what the Way of Jesus teaches us: a way that is hard and narrow, of course, because it requires us to sacrifice the platter of options the world offers us and deprive ourselves of worldly pleasures in order to obtain otherworldly delight (Matthew 7:14; cf. Matthew 5-7), and too few people are willing to do that.

Happiness and freedom come at a cost, but the good news of the Gospel is that the cost we must pay is everything that actually robs us of happiness and freedom. True joy and lasting peace, both inwardly and outwardly, can be found in Christ and His Way. But we have to be brave enough to actually walk that path.

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