One of the prophetic and most discerning voices of recent times was that of Francis Schaeffer, who died in 1984. Schaeffer pointed out that civil societies are most appealing and healthy when they combine freedom and order. Christ came to set us free (Gal.5:1), but this is not to be a recipe for doing what one likes (Gal.5:13). As Peter said of the false teachers in his day: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). We cannot live without freedom, yet we cannot live without order.
Societies with a Reformation base knew something of that combination in something like the right proportions. Without that foundation, modern Western societies first opted for freedom without limits. By the 1960s this was obviously descending into moral chaos. Some of the youth revolt of that decade was quite understandable, but without any form, it led to the breakdown of the family unit, and the promotion of promiscuity, abortions to deal with unplanned consequences, the cult of homosexuality, and a loss of necessary modesty and restraint.
By now one would think that Western societies would be the most liberated in all the world. Instead, there is a giant foreboding that freedoms have not been gained but lost. We are closer to an imposed order than at any time we have been since the 1930s. Freedom has proved illusory; it has actually brought about coercion. People with freedom-loving slogans are busy trampling over freedoms and the rights of individual conscience. Human beings are idolised and demeaned in the same breath, but there is little comprehension as to what is actually occurring.
The Psalmist declared: “I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought Your precepts” (Ps.119:45). In Christ, freedom and order go together; outside Him, freedom becomes disorder, and order becomes oppression. It is happening before our eyes.