By Diana Waring
Freedom in relationships—the amazing impact freedom brings to relationships—that’s where we are going in this column, but we have to start with a brief history lesson from Russia. When we talk about a family “living in liberty,” questions inevitably arise concerning parental—or even church—authority. So, before the questions begin, consider a real-life example of what can happen when authority and freedom collide outside the bounds of love.
In the 1800s, an ancient political theory known as anarchy—“an absence of government and the absolute freedom of the individual”—became popular, especially in Russia. Believing that authority and freedom could not peacefully coexist, and given the brutal conditions of life under the tsar, many Russian anarchists chose to use violence against rulers in their attempt to gain political freedom during an authoritarian age. It is fascinating to note that the tutor of Tsar Alexander III viewed the Western form of political liberty (defined as “free from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views”) as dangerous!1 The end result of the rising tensions between individuals and groups who were seeking “freedom” and authoritarian rulers who were keeping “control” of the masses was the destabilization of Russia, a major factor in the overthrow of the tsar and the success of the October Revolution by communists in 1917.
Assuming that you do not reign as a tsar in your home, your children are probably not going to seek the absolute freedom of anarchy! On the other hand, if your children are “born free and running wild,” will they discover the safety and joy that come from a Biblical model of parental authority? The challenge we each face is to discover the middle ground: appropriate liberty for our children with an appropriate authority for us as their parents—and to develop both of these with 1 Corinthians 13-style love. (more…)