Ever since working at the strip club, I’ve been really struggling with the idea of freedom. For countless reasons related to the nature of the adult industry I began employment there assuming that it exemplified freedom. As a concrete example of this supposed freedom I’ll share with you the following conversation I had with various other men after I became a manager.
“Wait, say that again, you cut out.”
“Sorry. Okay. I was saying that as a manager you’re the one who auditions the strippers. I had never considered that that would be a part of the job.”
“So how do you audition them?”
“Well, they just get up on stage and do their thing and then you tell them yes or no.”
“That doesn’t sound bad.”
“It’s actually just bizarre. The way the whole society is so litigation happy actually affects the way I have to turn them down. I can’t just say “no”. I have to give a reason.”
“Yeah. Like I have to say, ‘No, because you’re too soft in the middle, not attractive in the face’ or some other true but horrible thing.”
“You’re telling me besides getting to be around naked women all day, you get to tell people the truth? I have to work with people I don’t like and am pretty much unable to tell them the truth all day long if I want to keep my job.”
“Ha. I never thought of it like that. But yeah, I guess it’s nice to not have to lie.”
The question you must ask yourself, the question I had to ask myself after time, is, “Who is more free?” Was it me as the truth-telling strip club manager or my buddies in their seemingly deceit-requiring jobs?
Fast forward to now. I’m finishing up my second semester at an Evangelical Christian seminary that is being funded by the marvelous privilege known as the post 9/11 GI Bill. Over the last seven months I have read enough and experienced enough to pronounce to you here that the Christian claims and beliefs are more real than even the feel of these keys on my fingers. I proclaim this reality with the understanding that it is precisely through honestly admitting the facts of life as being real (that I’m typing this into the internet, or that H- really is in another city with her grandparents because her school has a ridiculously long two-week spring break, or that I feel longing for H-) that allows me to give assent to there being an actual transcendent, though personal, God of the time-space universe.
On the other hand, an acquaintance of mine (possibly many of you) won’t convert because he says modern science has confirmed through quantum entanglement that the laptop isn’t there. We’re not here. The conversation isn’t happening. Words are the scissors that cut through the oneness (nothingness) that is God, he says.
Who is more free? This acquaintance of mine or me?
As I began to reengage Christianity aggressively a little over a year ago, I had the question, “What are we even talking about? What would it mean for me to be a Christian or live a Christian life?” Here’s an example and then I’ll stop for today.
I served as a pilot in the Air Force for eight years. (Hence my Captain-ness.) During that service, I actively took part in combat operations in Iraq (Babylon). I took part in these operations in Iraq because that’s where you sent me. What should I think of this? Should I take pride in my service as most of you think I should? Or maybe I should give in to the remorse I feel over the fact that it is now without a doubt that the men over there who are plotting to attack the West daily, are doing so not because they are freely choosing to, but because I kidnapped or killed one of their buddies or brothers (or at this point dads, really).
And where is God in my war-fighting past? Since I did in fact serve and since part of orthodox Christian doctrine believes God is sovereign, does that mean God wanted me to serve and continue the bloodshed?
Here’s where I come down on freedom. Instead of believing that I have no choice in the matter (which is what those of you who think that modern science tests and approves worldviews categorically believe), I am going to admit that I choose what to believe. Further, I submit that my choice, the option I have chosen, demonstrates the nature of freedom itself. My choice is Christianity. My choice is to repent, to turn, from my inadequate beliefs and their resultant actions. My choice is to submit to the will of God as revealed in the sixty-six books of the Bible. My choice is to relentlessly insist that you–the reader–are a special being created in God’s image and likeness and crowned with glory and honor. My choice is to keep God in all my thoughts as I forge through the journey ahead. My choice is share my life, highs and lows, with you peacefully and truthfully because I want you to consider precisely what it means to exercise freedom and whether it’s true that Christianity, through the resurrection of the god-man Jesus Christ, is the only worldview that offers mankind the ability to be free.
In the end, it seems God won’t allow me to stop fighting for your freedom. From now on, however, I won’t force you to submit at gunpoint. You’ll have to choose to accept freedom as the gift that it is. For your sake and for mine, choose wisely.
As someone who has chased freedom forever, I’ve come to an understanding that we all serve somebody or something. Where I do have freedom, is in how I choose to be, to interpret, to bring grace or conflict in this very moment. A thoughtful piece Pete – thank you. ❤
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Free will. All this time i thought i was free. But i wasnt. People are chained by expectations from society, and most of all, fear, which comes in many forms.
Anyways.i wanted to be free, and i wanted the rest of the world to be as well. It is only until they realize they arent truly FREE – Took me years and i believe i have lots of learning to do, still. Because of doubts stemming inside the mind. Those who want to be free, i think, have ultimate freedom, will seek it out. And then there are those who just never even get to that point, i guess. The questioning of true freeedom.
Encouragement is alll i have to offer, i think. From then on they must do the work themselves – as we all do.
Im so sorry if this doesnt make sense. But i really enjoyed your post, as freedom has been a huge topic of importance for me lately. So with that i thank you !
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Thank You Captain Pete.
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A very thoughtful post, Pete. There are so many interpretations of freedom – it seems that a lot of our young people (older teens and early 20s) interpret freedom to mean they can say or do anything, but people who disagree with them should be shut down. I do worry… I was told by my philosophy professor in college that you couldn’t be a scientist and believe in God. He gave me a D+ on my philosophy of life paper because of this. And yet everything I see in the living and non-living world reinforces my belief there is a God.
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And now you know.
Jesus don’t like killin’ no matter what the reasons for…..
And your flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore.
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Besides Jesus’ command to love your enemy, the other way to advocate pacifism from Christianity is that we’re not a theocracy. And if you’re killing for your country, that means you value your country more than God. I write these things here, not because you don’t know them, but because popular sentiments don’t promote these ideas. These ideas are not crazy or unrealistic. They are options from which to choose to navigate life. Thanks again for reading, Brother Dave.