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Krieg Barrie/WORLD

Freedom to love

A joyless bondage if deeply desired is still a joyless bondage

Issue: "The other campaign," Feb. 9, 2008

One cannot love unless one is free. One cannot be free apart from consciousness, in the moment, of being enveloped in God's love. (Oh, for freedom!) This is the whole of the matter. The rest is details.

The freedom I mean is freedom from need. All the business in the songs of "Does he need me?" and "I need him to need me" has to go. It is abject bondage and misery. The horrifying thing is that those in this bondage don't see it as bondage. Or more inscrutably, those who see it as bondage want it anyway. Those in bondage choose it. They would kill to have it.

This curiosity of human nature (It must baffle the angels no end. The only way I can write about it is as a privy insider to the infected race, testifying personally to the truth of what would otherwise be too mad too contemplate.) is partly explained as a failure of imagination. Morally, it is a failure of faith. The offer of real joy is repeatedly extended from heaven; the creature repeatedly rejects it.

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A woman loved her husband but felt he did not love her back. He had other interests besides her-like friends, or reading a book. She cooked and cleaned and worked her fingers to the bone for him, to get his attention. She had little "pep talks" with him to urge the seriousness of her plight. She interspersed these with the "silent treatment." Nothing availed.

The husband tried to reassure her. She was not reassured. He kept trying till, over the years, he became a defeated shadow of a man. Ironically, her happiest times were these, for at least she knew by his deep sighing that he was paying attention to her, that he was thinking of her. And when he was thinking of her, she knew she existed.

It's a wonder to me that anyone at all can manage to love even half badly. What but a hand grenade of grace thrown into her profound solipsism can show the woman what she is doing? Her strategies are darkness. They do not produce what she intends, but the opposite. Plead with her from the light, and paint pictures of the joy of freedom, but she will block her ears and shut her eyes, for light understands the darkness, but the darkness doesn't comprehend the light.

But let us imagine better possibilities, things pertaining to salvation (Hebrews 6:9):

The woman, after all this, receives unmerited favor from above. The light that has often tried to break in upon her, she one day sees and rather than refusing it again, seizes it. The hardest part is this first crossing of the great divide. She believes and surrenders to the love of the Trinitarian God. What she thought would kill her does not.

The idea of God's love begins to dominate her life. Out of it flow new adventures. Because she is loved, accepted, cherished, delighted in, by a Lover who will never leave her or forsake her, or be distracted from her, or too busy for her-a Lover who not only doesn't mind her barging in, but insists on it as a much desired daily rendezvous-she finds inner resources.

She is able to ask forgiveness of her mate, even in cases where the fault is not mainly hers, and even if he does not admit blame. She is able to overlook unintentionally hurtful remarks because she is confident in her status with her Lover-"The King is enthralled by your beauty" (Psalm 45:11). She is able to overlook deliberately hurtful remarks because she has behaved that way herself, and so knows the misery of its origin and is pained into praying for her mate's release. She "believes all things" about her mate and is able to visualize his future glory, when all blemishes will be removed to release the real saint.

Heaven has already begun. Already all our needs are met, and we can love because we don't need. We can also have a joy that is not hostage to another's insistence on misery. Already "the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8). Why wait another hour? "For freedom Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5:1).

If you have a question or comment for Andrée Seu, send it to

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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