Neither birds in cages nor those with broken wings are free to fly. Nor will removing the cage of a bird with broken wings bring it its desired freedom; the wounded bird will be left an easy prey for its foes. 

-Westerholm, Understanding Paul

“Think outside the box.” “Free to explore.” “Dreams soar on the wings of imagination.” Etc. Much of the rhetoric of our society emphasizes the individual. I have even heard an instructor talk about the effectiveness of letting kids pick their own rules for the classroom (but steering how the kids make their “own” rules).

Hence, it’s not surprising that among the common objections to Christianity is the notion that it is restricting

To this sentiment I have found a refreshing response by Stephen Westerholm in his book, Understanding Paul.

We do not live in a value-neutral world where we are free to decide what is best for ourselves. The world – by divine wisdom – has been given an order that is good, promoting our life and well-being. Human freedom amounts to the power people have to choose their response to the divinely created order. We can respect and celebrate and live in harmony with it by being… reverent toward God: a course of life that is “righteous” and “wise”…Or we can refuse to recognize any good that we ourselves do not define and that does not have us as its focus – thus defying the order in which we cannot help but live.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. -Proverbs 1:7