Chapter 1

What Is True Freedom?

From the booklet No Freedom Without Law
By Gerald Flurry

Freedom is one of the most sought-after ideals in human history. Man’s search for freedom has taken him into the fiercest of protests, struggles, revolutions, civil wars—even world wars. Today, in the midst of free societies, many continue to fight for what they perceive as ever-greater freedoms.

Did you know that what most people call freedom today is really slavery?

The great majority of people today are deceived about what freedom truly is! And yet, we can’t be free until we know what freedom is. Neither can we avoid slavery unless we know what slavery is. Are you sure you know?

An Unpopular Definition

The Apostle Peter taught about true freedom, and it got him into serious trouble because his audience didn’t understand what true freedom was!

Peter talked about people whose idea of freedom was in error: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19; Revised Standard Version). If you are overcome by something, you are enslaved to it. What does that mean, exactly?

Take alcoholism, for example. People may consider it freedom to be able to drink to excess, but many people do that so often, they become alcoholics; they then crave alcohol and feel miserable without it.

Alcohol abuse comes with a staggering price tag, socially and economically. It costs an estimated $2 billion each year to cover health and welfare services provided to alcoholics and their families in the U.S. Include their decreased productivity at work, and some estimate the problem costs America $7 to $10 billion.[1] Alcoholics have higher rates of divorce and marriage separation, crime, automobile accidents, property damage and injuries to persons, depression and suicide. They, their family and their friends all end up being the losers.

It is easy to see—as they struggle with their addiction, ruining their family, their career, their life—that alcoholics are not free. At one time they may have thought alcohol gave them freedom, but in truth it has enslaved them!

The same is true of drugs. We have developed a drug culture in America and Britain. Drugs are increasingly mainstream and popular, moving well past the pockets within the big cities. They are taking over the lives of people of all income levels, all walks of life. Our entertainment is more and more obsessed with the drug world. Often we see high-profile entertainers grappling with severe addiction.

America leads the world in demand for mind-damaging, escapist drugs. Over 77 million Americans have sniffed, smoked, swallowed or injected themselves with illegal drugs; 22 million identify themselves as regular users. Among youth ages 12 to 17, a staggering 10.9 percent are regular drug users! “The routine availability of illegal substances is now a fact of life for young people. Keith Hellawell, the ‘drug tsar,’ said last week that drug-taking among well-educated teenagers from stable families was the fastest growing part of the drug racket. Forget cannabis—these kids are going straight for cocaine” (Sunday Times, Jan. 9, 2000).

Is that freedom? How many of these people have gotten hooked on drugs and cannot stop? Even low levels of drug use can do irreparable damage to their minds. On top of that disastrous effect, how many of these people are injecting or sniffing away increasing portions of their incomes, at their families’ expense? How many are resorting to ever more unsavory activities to fund their drug habits?

Many people would consider it freedom to destroy their lives with deadly drugs. That is not freedom! Instead they have become totally enslaved to drugs!

For many years we have declared a war on drugs in America. What has been the result? Look at the facts and we must concede that we have lost that war!

America is overcome by its drug problem. And “whatever overcomes a man [or a nation], to that he is enslaved.”

We don’t talk much about the war on drugs today. People don’t like to talk about losing a war. Many people began to see their own families and children caught up in drugs and felt they needed to tone down their approach. They didn’t want to be involved in a war so close to home.

The War on Pornography

Another terrible addiction is gripping America today: sex addiction. It is more and more taking center stage in our culture and entertainment. It too is becoming more common, more mainstream, more widely accepted. Our television and movies portray increasing levels of filth. And the problem is made all the worse by the widespread availability of pornography on the Internet.

“The Net is making adult entertainment one of the world’s biggest businesses. … Pornography is becoming part of popular culture and is still the only business that can consistently turn a profit on the Net. … Pornographers, particularly in the U.S. but also in Europe, have been the driving force of the Net” (London Independent, May 21, 2000). The Internet is saturated with pornography! It is big business—people by the millions are lapping it up. The above article called pornography “the economic powerhouse of the Internet, one of the largest industries in the U.S., and the mother of Internet invention.”

What does that say about us? It is Britain and the United States that primarily fuel that endeavor. Are we free? Most people would call that freedom. Is it really? Or is it enslaving us to a lifestyle that will destroy our marriages and families? Are we enslaved to pornography?

Deep down we know that pornography is evil! In the past, even the thought of it caused shame. At one time we also declared a war on pornography, but we don’t hear much about that war anymore. Why? Because we don’t like admitting defeat. We lost that war as well.

What does it mean to lose the war on pornography? It means losing the values that build strong marriages and strong families. Strong families are the backbone of any strong nation. Yet we have been overcome by something we were too weak to resist. “Whatever overcomes a man [or a nation], to that he is enslaved”! Just look at the facts and you can plainly see that America is enslaved to pornography.

Social workers and ministers often discuss a rapidly growing problem. Many people (especially the young) tell these professionals that they are hooked on Internet sex and can’t break the habit. They have become addicted and have lost control.

In the name of “free speech,” our leaders are allowing the evil god of this world to enslave our young people before they even learn how to live! (2 Corinthians 4:4). The most vile pornography is channeled right into their own homes. That easy access only increases the temptation.

The Bible commands us to do just the opposite—flee temptation and fornication. We are going to pay a deadly price for our rebellion against God.

The fact is, the more pornography we have, the less freedom we have. The negative impact of all that obscenity is incalculable.

Destroying Family

Peter paints an extraordinary picture. Imagine someone coming to you enclosed in a cage, handcuffed, their legs bound by shackles—and offering you freedom! “They promise … freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption …” (2 Peter 2:19; rsv). That’s exactly what is happening so often today! The drug pushers and pornographers do not have true freedom!

In 2000 a U.S. court overturned a law that restricted sleazy sex shows on cable to the late-night hours. The court felt the law interfered with free speech. They wanted people to have access to pornography day and night.

Did the courts consider the effect their ruling would have on families? Do we really believe marriages are strengthened when men watch pornography? Does that endear them more to their wives?

God cares deeply about the family. “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife …” (1 Peter 3:7). God commands husbands to treat their wives with a high degree of honor. He wants stable marriages where couples stay together and rear stable children in an environment of authoritative love and care.

Does being addicted to pornography help you to honor your wife more—perhaps the wife that God Himself has given you? We all know the answer to that; it’s just a matter of whether we are willing to face it.

We must realize what this way of thinking is doing to us! It is tearing our families apart and leaving our children, in many cases, without the proper love and protection from their mother and father. This leaves them very vulnerable to drug and sex addictions themselves!

True freedom means being free of dishonor in our marriages. That is the kind of freedom we need more of today.

Consider this as well: In several places in Scripture, children are commanded, “Honour thy father and mother” (e.g. Matthew 15:4). Is a child addicted to sex or drugs more inclined to honor his parents? No—he is probably much likelier to disregard what they say.

Are the courts looking at these scriptures when they make their decisions? Their priorities are upside down.

We need to be free of fighting, divorce and perversion. Free of anarchy and chaos in our families. We need to be stable! Parents must be stable, or what can we expect of the children? They desperately need a mother and father to love them, guide them, teach them—show them how to be strong, how to face life without drugs and other addictions.

Police officers have to deal with the fruits of society’s bad decisions. They can’t avoid facing the truth. Every day they deal face to face with the results of our pornography, our drugs—the results of all the evils we allow to go on in the name of “freedom”!

Under the guise of “free speech,” we destroy marriages and families—the foundation of our nation! Spewing out tons of pornography is not free speech—it is a diabolical plot to destroy America and Britain! And the plan is working extremely well.

America’s Founding Fathers knew that the family was the strength of our nation. Our forefathers would be shocked and shame-faced if they could see what we have done with our so-called freedom today!

Not only do we scorn the Bible, we contemptuously reject our own history!

A certain recipe for national disaster.

A Nation Enslaved

Strong marriages build strong children. We need strong children who are not vulnerable to drugs.

Why do children want to take drugs and destroy their minds? The mind is the only thing that really sets us apart from animals. What is lacking in their lives that would make them want to do that to themselves? Why even take a chance on something so destructive? Because their wills are so weakened, they must have something to fill the void their parents have left—in most cases. Of course, drugs don’t truly fill that void at all—they only bring people into slavery of the worst possible kind.

Drug addiction destroys the will! Sex addiction destroys the will! The worse the addiction, the weaker the will to resist, to fight evil.

Our young people today have even lost the will to participate in the military to protect our nation’s freedom. History shows the terrible consequences of a damaged will: When a nation’s will is broken, it becomes weak and ineffective—and, oftentimes, enslaved by an enemy nation!

The courts are trying to protect free speech. Yet what will happen if families fall apart and there is no strong nation left? What good will “free” speech be then? If the family is in turmoil and confusion, if parents are divorcing and children are left to themselves, how important is free speech at that point?

What good is free speech if you lose the very values that made you great? We are polluting and vitiating the public good, the character, that we have possessed as a nation in the past.

Understand: I value free speech highly! I know that I could not be printing these words without the free speech afforded our society. It is a great value that we should protect. I promote it in every way I possibly can.

But let’s get our priorities right. Is free speech more important than family? No, it is not. People behave as if family doesn’t even matter! And yet, family is the foundation of every great nation!

The stability of our nation is at stake. Why do nations die? God asks, “[W]hy will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). Can we really calculate the damage of all these social evils? They add up to the destruction of our nations! Nations collapse by giving in to these evils that are erroneously called freedoms! Not only does our will become hopelessly weak, but our sins cut us off from God’s blessings and protection!

I don’t care who calls it freedom; it is not freedom to get into pornography and drugs! It is not freedom—it is enslavement! It enslaves individuals, and it leads to the enslavement of the whole nation!

What Is True Freedom?

Many religious people like to talk about freedom. But are they getting their definition of freedom from the Bible? “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). If they have a different idea of freedom, they are enslaved. They are not following true Christianity! And that is true of many who consider themselves very religious.

Jesus said to the religious people of His day, “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mark 7:6). Christ condemns a lot of people with this statement! Many people talk about God and Jesus Christ; they act religious. But in truth, their hearts are far from God! They are actually enslaved to a false religion and think they are obeying God.

We must be free from that kind of false Christianity!

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). If you’re going to be a Christian, you must follow Christ.

Christ lived His life in perfect subjection to the law of God. He resisted the pulls of His flesh rather than being overcome by them!

We need to be like Christ—free of human nature! Most people don’t even know what human nature is.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). That is God’s view of human nature, though most people don’t believe that. Do you recognize the evil in your own heart—or are you, like most others, deceived about human nature?

We can see this truth illustrated all around us: If you let a desperately wicked heart run free, it will do great damage!

It is very difficult to keep God’s law. But the problem isn’t with the law, it is with us. We need to change and conform ourselves to that law. We need to replace the wickedness of our hearts with the righteousness of God by writing God’s law in our hearts!

“… Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:8-10). We need to write God’s law on our hearts indelibly—to etch it on our hearts and minds so it will never go away! That will bring true freedom into our lives!

We have been deceived to believe just the reverse—that God’s law somehow enslaves us. That is false! Beware of men—no man can give you true freedom! Only God can do that.

God’s law brings us the ultimate, most wonderful freedom of all. It protects our families. It protects our children. It protects us from all the evil in this world.

We should have joyful freedom. I want to be free! “Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16; rsv).

How beautiful and precious is freedom! True freedom is a wonderful gift! The greatest gift God can give us is to make us truly free.

[1]* To show the proof of these statements written more than 20 years ago in 2001, we have maintained the original text and included an Afterword with updated figures.

Continue Reading: Chapter 2: Justice and Our ‘Evolving Constitution’