This week we ponder another question that has plagued philosophers, writers, theologians, scientists and also characters in movies. The interaction between Adam and Eve and the serpent, aka, the devil, Satan or in some circles, lawyers (just kidding about lawyers) begs the questions, “Why free will?” Why would God set up a “world” where created beings could go against the commands of God? Jim Carey and Morgan Freeman discussed free will in the film Bruce Almighty. God, portrayed by Freeman, both lamented and celebrated that humankind was created with free will: the ability and nature to choose. Later in the movie, Bruce, played by Carey is given all the power of God to do as he pleased but one thing he cannot do is override free will. He ultimately discovers the great dilemma of having omnipotence but at the same time total impotence in controlling another’s heart. Sadly for those of you who read this blog hoping for a resolution you will leave wanting. I am so sorry; I just don’t know the answer. But I do know that having free will is the state of our existence and I do know God has ever since The Fall worked on restoring our relationship with Him.
In a twist of perspective in looking at free will as exercised by Adam and Eve, I submit they refused to acknowledge the “gift” of free will when confronted by God. Each stated they had no free will as another being dictated their choice and action. Adam quickly blamed God and Eve – “the woman You gave me . . . .” Eve directing fire at the serpent essentially said, the devil made me do it. In one form or another, we have been abdicating our free will in this manner ever since that fateful moment. I recall a case I prosecuted a number of years ago where choices were poorly made. An estranged couple ran into each other at a convenience store in Tulare. Quickly this encounter became an argument. She said something and just as quickly, in a fit of anger, the man struck the woman, breaking her jaw and knocking her to the ground. Others got involved. When the ruckus was over, one man lay dead (the estranged boyfriend) another man hospitalized with a gun shot wound in the head, a woman with a broken jaw and arm, and a third man doing life in prison for manslaughter and attempted murder. Most of us have not taken another’s life but Jesus did equate our hateful thought life with murder. Life and relationships are often very complex but reduced to its simplest elements we each have a choice on how we act and respond in any situation. We can claim someone else made me angry or wounded me so my reaction was justified. All this says is the other person’s action dictated mine or I didn’t have any free will in this. This notion of always having a choice is simple but so difficult at times to live out. I have fallen short many times. You may claim this is impossible to do as I am only a human. This is why we need a Savior. We always have free will and as followers of Christ we always have the opportunity to choose Him. How many times have circumstances spiraled badly because we did not choose Christ-likeness? God implores us to “walk in a manner worthy of the high calling of Jesus Christ.”
Whether or not God laments or celebrates free will or really is incapable of overriding free will, is another blog but I know He did create man and afterward said of all He created, “It was very good.” I think He was referring to all the relationships He had and has with us. Shalom.