Misconception of freedom and choice

“When all that says ‘it is good’ has been debunked, what says ‘I want’ remains.” – (C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man)

Almost every issue now seems to be reduced to protecting freedom or choice as the supreme good. Freedom and choice, it seems, eclipses everything else.

This profound error in our thinking is compounded by our misunderstanding of freedom as doing whatever, wherever, whenever and with whoever. The late Richard John Neuhaus put it well when he said that freedom must be morally ordered.

Freedom involves choosing, granted; but it should be tempered by the fact that we can (and do) choose badly or wrongly. That is enslavement not freedom.

We are enslaved by our erroneous view of what it means to be human. Being human seems to mean having a set of desires that we satisfy as quickly and efficiently as we can. Case in point. A 19 year old woman was prosecuted for entering a sexual relationship with a 14 year old girl and the reaction of the baying hordes sheds some light on our current state: “Stop the hate, free Kate”, “Anti-gay oppression.”

Mind you, she faces the same lot a 19 year old male would under similar circumstances, but who are we to hate on Kate? The idea that freedom also involves self-denial, that freedom must be morally ordered, is to our detriment, a completely foreign idea.

The marriage revisionists have used this error in our thinking to their advantage and framed their position as one that protects freedom and choice. However, the absurd logic of their position was brought to the fore again, not by conservative Justices like Alito or Scalia, but by President Obama’s liberal appointment Justice Sotomayor.

She asked the obvious question to those who were arguing that the equal protection of clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution requires states to recognise same-sex partnerships as marriages. If that is true, she asked, then on what ground of principle could we say that states are permitted to refuse polygamous marriages as valid? The answers were not very good.

This highlights the fact that the same-sex marriage “debate” is not about whom we let marry; it is about what marriage is.

“The definition of marriage is plastic”, says New York based writer Keenan. She goes on: “Just like heterosexual marriage is no better or worse than homosexual marriage, marriage between two consenting adults is not more or less inherently correct than marriage between three or four or six consenting adults. Though polygamists are a minority, freedom has no value unless it extends to the smallest and most marginalized among us.”

Once a shared understanding of any common good or virtue has been destroyed, the only thing left is to give people what they want. Unfortunately, we always seem to want Barabbas. The abolition of man and woman (chalk up one for equality), is well underway.

— Adrian Sobers

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