Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Question of Free Will

on January 3, 2012

Without free will, we would be like animals

I wonder why we were given free will. Intellectually, I understand—God gave us free will because he made us in his image. He made us to be rational, thinking human beings with the ability to make choices. If he had not given us free will, then we would not have been any different than an ape, a parrot or any other animal. We were purposefully given cognitive abilities, a soul, a beautiful home, and a question—will we choose to love God or not?

On some level or another, this makes sense to me intellectually. Until I look at my life, all of my mistakes and goof ups, the broken relationships, my love ones and their regrets, this sad, sad world, it is then that I no longer understand. Free will gives us the ability to choose, and sometimes we choose wrong, sometimes we choose right, sometimes we can’t tell if it’s wrong or right until many years later. And sometimes I wish that we didn’t have to choose at all because sometimes it isn’t as clear as black and white.

Free will seems to be the crux of humanity. Somehow it makes us beautiful and at the same time makes us the most dangerous being on earth. For with free will, we are given the ability to love one another at any time and the ability to take that love away at the drop of a pin. We are given the ability to make a mess of our lives and to hurt those closest to us.

What would have the Garden of Eden looked like?

It’s a pessimistic thought, really. Perhaps not totally Christ-like. And yet it is the truth. I wonder what it was like for Adam and Eve. They were not placed into a broken world, but into a beautiful world with beautiful relationships. They were naked in mind, body and spirit. Their lack of clothes not only showed the perfect union between Adam and Eve but also between them and God. What would it have been like to be totally naked before our spouse and our God—I’m not taking about physical nakedness but where we drop all of our guards, walls and masks to be in perfect union with one another and with God?

Unfortunately, free will ended that. Adam and Eve were graced before the fall with gifts of perfect unity, but when they listened to the serpent, that unity was broken. And unfortunately, it was broken for all. As a result, we have this sad world with dissent placed between husbands and wives, children and parents, best friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

It isn’t all pessimistic however. We were given a way out, one that God devised before Adam and Eve were removed from the garden. A woman and a man showed us that we can live in this broken world with free will and be in harmony with God and with one another. Where Eve used her free will to listen to the serpent, Mary used her free will to have faith in God. Where Adam chose not to stand up for God’s commandment, Jesus laid down his life. Both were given the same weaknesses as we have and both were able to use their lives for the good of all.

Jesus chose to sacrifice himself for us

Jesus and Mary set an example for us. It is like they are saying; look, free will isn’t just for us to destroy one another, but for us to use it for good. Despite my past, despite all that is broken due to poor choices, I find hope in this. I find optimism among the pessimism. After all, one cannot know white without knowing black, love without knowing hate, right without knowing wrong. One cannot know what it is like to be whole without knowing what it is like to be broken. And we would not know these things without free will. It is through Jesus and Mary, ultimately through God, that we are given hope.

I may not always understand or even like free will. Without it maybe we wouldn’t be such a sad world. But without it, we would not have known Jesus and Mary. Without it, we wouldn’t have the ability to know God. In this light, I suppose that I can accept free will—maybe only with a prayer that God grants us the wisdom to use it correctly.

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2 responses to “The Question of Free Will

  1. A great post raising many questions about free will. But, why free will?

    Imagine for a moment you are God. You love your creation (man) and you wish your creation to love you back in return – as perfectly as you love him.

    As God, you have two choices. To create a pre-programmed being who will love you intensely and will obey your every Word. A robot in fact. But then, let’s face it, this is hardly true love, freely given, is it? It’s only your program reflecting your love back at you.

    Your second choice, which portrays your true love for your creation, is to allow your creation total and absolute freedom. Freedom to love you or not. Freedom to obey you or not. In fact, free will, and to enjoy or suffer the consequences of the choice made.

    And when we, God’s creations, chose wrong, He gave us another chance through Jesus Christ. Now how loving is that?

    God bless.

    • Pamalogist says:

      Well said! The thought of not having free will made me think of one of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books. There’s a scene of perfect, unmoving people. The young character found it incredibly boring. I don’t remember much more than that from the book. But robots is a realistic example as well. Thank you for clarifying!

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