What does it mean to be free to choose? Without impediment or hindrance or obstacle? In some sense, yes. But in another sense, no. The question isn’t only what is it that impedes my choice, but also what is it that constrains my choice. Surely I cannot say that a free choice is an unconstrained one. All choices are constrained by some limit or restraint, but, more to the point, by some purpose or goal or object which is perceived or apprehended as desirable and good.
The question must then become, By what constraints will my choices be shaped? Or better, Which constraints will lead to the best decisions and choices being made? For me to be free to choose rightly, then, would require not so much the wrong impediments to be removed as much as the right constraints to be in place.
But then also we should consider the object of our choosing. What is it that my mind and heart are perceiving as agreeable and pleasing? Is it not the object that drives or constrains my choice? Who chooses nothing? Who chooses what is not preferred over something that is? Who could be held accountable for the choice they make if neither of the choices before them are preferable to them? Our choice is directed, led, drawn out by our love or desire for an object.
But I must see that there is something in me being directed, being led, being drawn. There is something in me that believes that that object will be good and pleasing. The answer to the question, “What do I believe will truly give me what I really want?, is what I most strongly desire at that moment.
We are masters of our will and servants to our desires. We are then never truly free to choose unless our desires have been freed to pursue what is good and right. But good and right according to who or to what standards?
Jesus sets us free from disordered and wayward desires. He creates a new heart with new desires that seek and pursue him; and in him, from him, through him, and for him life as it is meant to be lived. Freedom is not the absence of constraints, but living within the right ones. If Jesus Christ is creator and savior, then it would surely follow that he knows how we were made and why, how we should live and for what purpose. But if not him, then what or who will take his place? You? Me? Do we truly believe that we really know what we want? Is it not true that our desires shift and, therefore, with them so do our choices? Is there, then, any desire in us that can be said to be our true north? No. But there is a True North that our desires can be turned towards and stay pointed to. It is for freedom that Christ has freed us.