Truth and Freedom

This is what the world has to say about truth, “I have my truth, and you have your truth. Don’t force me to believe or accept what you believe, and I wont force you to believe what I believe.” This is actually a subtle way of declaring that there is no objective truth about reality. That truth is whatever you want it to be or mean. Our culture’s view of freedom is somewhat similar. “Freedom is the ability to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want!” We marry truth and freedom together in a way that allows every individual the ‘freedom’ to discern their own truth about reality and morality. Once they have created their own truth – so long as it is true for them – they are ‘free’ to do whatever they wish with their bodies. This attitude gives birth to a radical subjectivism, where each individual becomes his own God, master and decider of good and evil. Who else was tempted to be their own God, master and decider of good and evil? Wasn’t there a talking snake and some fruit from a tree somewhere we have all read about? We get the point. This philosophy, called relativism, is the ugly offspring of Original Sin.

Let us analyse both of these in turn. Firstly there are two forms of truth; objective and subjective. Objective truth refers to the object. This is plain and simple. It asks questions in relation to reality and morality. Which means that it has nothing to do with the personal opinions or interests of an individual. It has to do with the object, something outside of each individual person. For example an objective truth claim is, “God exists”, or “God does not exist.” This question demands either a yes or no answer to this truth claim. You see, God either exists or he doesn’t. He can’t exist in my worldview and not in yours and us both we ‘right.’ If God exists, then everyone who thinks he doesn’t is wrong. If God doesn’t exist, everyone who thinks he does is wrong. An objective truth claim about reality or morality is that something always and every time is true or false.

There is also subjective truth. Subjective truth refers to the subject. Which means it has everything to do with the personal opinions and interests of an individual. A subjective truth claim could be, “I prefer coffee over tea.” This isn’t asking a question about objective reality or morality, it is simply asking about our personal preference to the object of tea or coffee. Here is the key. Subjective truth claims allow two people with differing opinions to be ‘right,’ at the same time and in the same respect, without there being a logical contradiction. I can like coffee more than tea, and you can like tea more than coffee, and both of us are ‘right’. Because there is no objective truth claim being made about tea or coffee, but precisely our personal (subjective) taste with regard to it. But I do think coffee is better… just saying.

Let us know look at freedom. Contrary to popular belief, freedom is the ability to firstly recognize the good, secondly be attracted to it, and thirdly, choose it always and every time, with ease. What is the ultimate ‘good’ that we should all recognize, be attracted to ultimately choose? It is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says to us “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Elsewhere Jesus says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

There is a powerful relationship between truth and freedom. Without Truth, Freedom is impossible. What the culture promotes as freedom is really addiction and indulgence. The culture says, “I am free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want.” This attitude – particularly in the sexual realm – leads to misery, emptiness and unfulfillment. I speak from experience here also. When I was a porn addict, I was an addict in the name of “sexual freedom,” doing what I wanted to do with my desires and body, but ended up losing my freedom in the process.

In like manner, without Freedom, truth is impossible. We know that conversion by force is no real conversion at all. Where there is no freedom, there is no love! Without freedom, what the church teaches can become an oppressive list of rules we must follow or else we are going to hell! Some of us had this upbringing. We end up resenting the Church and all it stands for, because we were never invited into the truth with respect to our freedom. We were maybe forced to go to mass but never taught what happens at mass. We were forced to practice the faith in the home, but less than substantial answers were given to our sincere and honest questions. This is profoundly important for parents. In order to pass on the faith in any real and engaging way, we must present the beauty and splendor of the truth, so that it can be embraced with freedom.

The beauty of truth and freedom is this. When we freely choose to ascent to the objective truths about reality and morality with respect to Jesus and His Church, this is the ultimate path to freedom and happiness. Once we ascent to the objective, we begin “To taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 34:8), and our subjective experience begins to marry up with objective truth. Not only are we told that mass is a beautiful and powerful prayer, but we experience (subjectively) that truth in our lives. Not only do we know that practicing the family rosary is a good and holy thing, but we experience (subjectively) that truth in our lives by an increase in personal purity or the conversion of a family member.

The greatest truth, about truth and freedom, is that when we freely accept the objective truths about Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, we will subjectively experience the truth by an overflow in freedom, joy and happiness in our own life. 

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