Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Morning Free Will Comment

This three-paragraph homily floated into the internets a couple of weeks ago. I'm catching it before it gets lost because it's worth keeping...

The fundamental fact of Christian moral teaching is this: sin is the opposite of free will. We are only free when we are able to do the good. We are free when we can do the true good despite any passions or habits we have leading us to lesser, apparent goods. Get this fact down, and the rest of moral theology makes sense.

I was thinking today how this affects the question of free will versus determinism. If freedom is the opposite of sin, then to be determined is to be enslaved to sin. The question "Is man free?" is wrongly formulated; the question should be "Are you free?" To which I answer, "Kind of. Sort of. Well, not really. I am not free--I do the wrong even when I know what is right. I must admit that I am not free, but I hope to be free someday."

Freedom is not ours by nature, at least not anymore, but it can be, through the grace of God. We aren't free, but we are free to be free; we can ask for help.

St. Paul made similar observations. Compare the end of the seventh chapter of Romans.

When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

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