Recent months have witnessed some amazing scenes around the world. Human aspirations for freedom gave rise to what has been called the “Arab Spring.” The sight of human beings risking life and limb in the pursuit of liberty and justice has been breathtaking.
It has also been fascinating to observe people, living in freedom, exercise their right of expression to address the burning issues of our time. From political debates, to public speeches, to the “Occupy” movement, opinions and ideas are constantly being voiced. It is wonderful that so many people can be this free. But there is a catch.
Freedoms and rights come with responsibility. It is the responsibility of every free person to exercise his or her individual rights and liberties without trampling on the rights of his or her neighbors. There are moral and ethical limits to human liberty. Freedom and liberty require self restraint. History is replete with examples of attained freedom for the oppressed morphing into another form of oppression over others. The revolt of a mob of people can easily turn into mob rule. The French Revolution is a prime example.
Respect for the rule of law and the rights of our fellow man must be observed in order for freedom and liberty to prevail. When self restraint is lacking, demonstrations can become angry mobs, protests can turn into assemblages of squatters, and political debates can turn into mud-slinging contests. No human government or manmade law is perfect.
However, civil society requires law and respect for the law, or chaos and confusion result. I Corinthians 14:33 tells us, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” Satan is the real author of chaos and confusion because he knows it results in our harm. Every country on earth has some good laws, some bad laws, some silly laws, too much law, or not enough laws. One thing is certain. Civil society cannot exist without law. Without the rule of law our highways would be treacherous, the airways fraught with danger, and our food and water could be deadly—just to name a few.
This one element that makes it all come together to promote liberty, justice, and human rights is personal restraint and acceptance of personal responsibility. To all people who live under the law, write the law, and enforce the law, God says in Matthew 22:39, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The ultimate law which governs human affairs is the law of God. God’s law is perfect and guides us toward a life full of the richness and blessings of life—real liberty and happiness for us and our neighbors.