that while we must stand along side our libertarian colleagues in this fight, our conception of freedom will eventually differ from theirs.
The exercise of authentic freedom, as opposed to the legal, civil construct we are accustomed to arguing for, recognizes the boundaries that the truth has made around it. So, we must always remember that just because we can say something and we have the civil right to do it, it doesn’t mean it is moral to do so.
Stepping outside those moral and conscientious boundaries changes the very nature of an act from genuine freedom to license. The difference between the two is the truth. Lose the truth and you are not arguing for the exercise of freedom any longer but rather being a pimp for sin. Here is a small excerpt from my favourite encyclical from Pope John Paul II:
At the root of these presuppositions is the more or less obvious influence of currents of thought which end by detaching human freedom from its essential and constitutive relationship to truth. Thus the traditional doctrine regarding the natural law, and the universality and the permanent validity of its precepts, is rejected (4)
Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist. The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil. To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and “being at peace with oneself”, so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment.
As is immediately evident, the crisis of truth is not unconnected with this development. Once the idea of a universal truth about the good, knowable by human reason, is lost, inevitably the notion of conscience also changes. Conscience is no longer considered in its primordial reality as an act of a person’s intelligence, the function of which is to apply the universal knowledge of the good in a specific situation and thus to express a judgment about the right conduct to be chosen here and now. Instead, there is a tendency to grant to the individual conscience the prerogative of independently determining the criteria of good and evil and then acting accordingly. Such an outlook is quite congenial to an individualist ethic, wherein each individual is faced with his own truth, different from the truth of others. Taken to its extreme consequences, this individualism leads to a denial of the very idea of human nature.
These different notions are at the origin of currents of thought which posit a radical opposition between moral law and conscience, and between nature and freedom. (32)
(Source: Veritas Splendor)
The corollary to rejecting the truth and upholding freedom as a god unto itself is to descend into a meaningless and arbitrary existence at the service of rank egoism and an ultimate loss of identity and purpose.
True freedom is the servant of the truth which, in turn, sets us free to understand the meaning in life, to live for something more than putting in our bleak days on this earth.
We have meaning and purpose in this life and in the next….
“We were meant to live for so much more” – Switchfoot.