In our free society, businesses generally have the right to make their own rules about what to sell and what limitations may be placed on that (understanding there can be legal issues in play). If we cannot support a business’ right to have some of their own rules, then perhaps we don't believe in freedom as much as we may think. We may not like a decision made by a particular business, but these are their decisions to make, and I support their right to do so whether I like it or not.
Likewise, consumers get to decide where they will go or not go to purchase or not purchase whatever they may choose, subject to the business selling what the consumer wants. I do not go into a business and demand they sell what I want, my way, even if that’s not what they sell. “Have it your way” may be what a certain burger restaurant used to have as their slogan, but that’s not typically the way business works. They might try to accommodate as they can, and we all appreciate that.
I am all for freedom. Freedom for the business. Freedom for the consumer. Let each do what they will (with moral accountability). That’s what freedom looks like, like it or not.
Yet freedom in a free market system is not what really what I want to think about. The above is part of our cultural reality. We cherish freedom, but if we are going to be consistent, we must allow both the business and the consumer to be free (even though we expect regulations within reason). Yet there is a much greater reality, a greater freedom that we ought to be concerned about. This is the freedom we have in Christ. Think of the discussion Jesus had with some of the Jews who had believed in Him (John 8:31-36). He told them, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (vv. 31-32). They protested that they had never been enslaved (well… anyone remember Egypt?). They were misunderstanding Jesus’ point. He came to bring spiritual freedom from sin: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (vv. 34-46). True, eternal freedom is found in Jesus when He cleanses us from sin.
This freedom in Christ, however, is not a “Have it your way” style that might be found in a “fast-food” type of religious environment. This freedom is based upon Christ’s will, His work, and His way. There are not multiple ways to this freedom. If we don’t like what He offers, God gave us the free will to reject it. However, we do not have the ability to reject it, then honestly expect that we will receive the blessings of that freedom anyway. “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).
We are free to serve the Lord and please Him, unshackled by the slavery of what sin does to us. We are free from our sins when we submit to His grace (cf. Rom 8:1-2). Yet we are not free to demand from God that we get our will, that we get to serve Him our way or present ultimatums to Him. That’s a fool’s course of action when it comes to the Lord. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas 4:7). “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (v. 10). Paul wrote:
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin … So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:6-11).
One danger we face is taking a concept of cultural freedom and expecting that spiritual freedom works exactly the same. It does not. Culturally, we have the freedom to protest what we don’t like, for example (whether or not a Christian should do such is another discussion). Should a child of God ever protest God’s will? In Christ, we are free and thereby receive all the spiritual blessings that come with His will (Eph 1:3). We are not free to do whatever we want. Let us be careful that we are not making demands of God for the sake of our cultural concepts of freedom. If we want to protest God, we are fools to expect that God will just bow to our demands. Let us rather appreciate freedom in Christ the way God gives it. This is the only way to be free indeed and to have the freedom that endures into eternal life. Sin and its consequences will no longer keep us in slavery.