"Liberalism is freedom, and what we do with freedom is charged to our account," wrote Richard Neuhaus in a commentary of Pope John Paul II's encyclical Centesimus Annus.
It's Thanksgiving week, and while my wife is exchanging recipes for roasted turkey and my kids are jumping in the piles of leaves in our backyard, I am counting both the blessings that the Lord keeps bestowing upon this nation and the ungrateful responses of an increasing number of people who receive them.
Elevated during the last century to its current status of a single global superpower, the United States has become confident that she deserves her prosperity. The wealthier we grow, the more uncomfortable we become when someone reminds us (often with quotes from the Founding Fathers) that Christ is our Sovereign. As children of Adam and Eve, it is natural for us to want to be our own masters. Our pride does not allow us to accept anything as god but the products of our own feeble intellects and the passions of our corrupted hearts, our own idols.
Some feel so enlightened that they turn to hollow atheism and the belief that man is a random combination of molecules that only differs from the slime at the bottom of their pools in his self-awareness. Others embrace spiritualism, strolling around in the mega-mall of man-made religions and filling their shopping carts with a colorful assortment of products from the stacked shelves in consultation with other shoppers. As customers they make sovereign choices in taking only the items that make them feel good, discarding whatever they find inconvenient or offensive, and making up the rest as they move to the checkout line.
Whether you belong to the atheist camp or the group of spiritual "liberals," there is no room for absolute Truth in your worldview. Everyone has his or her own truth, and even if our individual truths are mutually exclusive, they must be nevertheless of equal value.
Whether you see yourself as an accidental product of a series of mutations or a creation of a distant, unknowable, impersonal force, your philosophy allows you to turn your back on God and pretend to be your own judge, priest, and king. But in the comfort of your relativist bubble, it is easy to overlook one tiny problem: You give up the right to hold thieves, rapists, and murderers accountable for their crimes. All you can do is to label such people different, not evil.
You can still say that in your perception they are wrong. But if there is no absolute Right and Wrong, then any monstrous view is just as valid as yours, and you'll have to agree to disagree. You have perverted liberty from being the freedom to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord into a license to do whatever pleases men. In rejecting God's truth we destroy the very foundation of our human freedoms.