America (in)dependence – Where Freedom Falls Short
Happy fourth everyone! This holiday is always funny to me, I like the irony of celebrating the treason committed by 56 men signing a remarkably well-written document in the heat of summer. Plus the fireworks are good too.
It is clear though that this treason is no longer what we truly celebrate on the fourth of July each year, instead we celebrate the bigger notion of our country, and the even bigger dream of freedom it represents.
What does that freedom really include though? And what does it cost us?
Monday night I caved in and went to see the movie Magic Mike with two friends. I had pretty low expectations, which were unfortunately proved true, but it was a good experience to help me see where our culture is at. I will probably write another post on it soon so stay tuned.
There was a scene that stuck out to me in relation to today being the Fourth of July though. One of the many dance scenes in the movie included a special tribute for the very occasion of Independence Day. The boys marched out in camouflage uniforms, did their thing, then lowered their ranks till they were down to nothing but some very small red white and blue thongs. As they struck their final pose, their audience hooted and hollered for the grand finale of a large American flag to be lowered behind them.
My response – a strongly sarcastic “God Bless America” under my breath. My two friends I was with still say that was the best joke I ever made (not hard to believe) and the funniest part of the night.
Let’s be honest though – I wasn’t trying to be funny when I said it. Admittedly, I tend to use that phrase more often in times of frustration or despair than as an exclamation of pride. That was it’s initial usage anyways, to say a small prayer that God may bless this country, that He would save it from evil and help it to live up to its noble intentions.
On this Independence day, I would say we need that prayer now more than ever. We are supposed to be celebrating freedom, but is freedom really free? What cost have we paid for these things, or who else is paying the cost for us?
Don’t get me wrong I think the ideal of freedom is a great one, and it is part of why I can support our country, but we must admit that we fall short of true freedom in many places. Some people would bring up immigration, our prison system, or various human rights violations around the world. After seeing a movie like Magic Mike – the first thing I think of is our bondage to sex and the importance it has gained in our culture.
The way that Hollywood portrays sex, in movies like Magic Mike, makes it seem carefree and fun. Maybe it is in the moment, but they don’t emphasize the way that it imprisons people in loneliness, traps them into unhealthy relationships, or forces them to view love as defined by sex. Sex can be a good thing, the way God intended it, but the way that our culture has championed it as an independent choice free from consequence is a lie that only breeds further dependence.
Women in real strip clubs or prostitution houses, ones who are stuck in a system we allow, they are not free. Those traded into human trafficking who are herded like cattle for these industries, they are not free. The girl on the news, who was raped and abused, she is not free. Even the men, who are locked into the unrealistic expectations generated by Magic Mike of Fifty Shades of Grey, they are not free.
As a Christian, I hesitate to say that I am ever truly independent, or that I want to be. On one hand I completely support the tolerance freedom allows, and I support the belief that we all have our right to choose what we believe in. Yet I must remind myself that when I committed myself to following Christ, I gave up all independence to surrender myself to God’s will – and in all honesty, I am much happier without that freedom. When I trust his commands for my life instead of what culture demands of me, I am happier. That includes taking God’s word on sex instead of Hollywood’s.
It is difficult when everything about our American culture denounces rules and regulations, things that hold us back and restrict the dream of freedom. I think that’s why a lot of times people turn away from the church, because they don’t like to be told what to do. But we must remember that we are broken people, we all sin, and when given independence we often trade that for other forms of slavery because we don’t know how to use it correctly.
Celebrating freedom today is a good thing, it is good to remember what the founders of our country fought so hard for. It is also good for us to remember that we need to keep fighting for it. Freedom does have a cost, and personally I would much rather be a servant of Christ than a slave to sex or drugs or money. Believe it or not, true freedom is found when we submit to God first, then we can really hope for God to bless America.
What holds you back from true freedom?
How could we improve as a country to actually give freedom to everyone?