The Freedom (To Do As We Ought) Convoy
The Freedom Convoy rolling into Ottawa at this very minute has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of Canadians, including Reformed Christians. Started by truckers to protest the federal government’s mandate that truckers must be fully vaccinated to cross the border, this protest – like virtually every large demonstration – has attracted people with a wide variety of goals and plans to achieve those goals.
The common thread for this convoy, though, is freedom. Within Christian circles, freedom is almost always considered to be positive. But freedom, popularly defined as the ability to do what we want, is neither good nor bad. Freedom understood this way allows people to act upon the desires of their hearts, desires which may be sinful due to our depraved human nature or which may be good due to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
For example, people have a great deal of freedom to marry who they want in Canada. From a Christian perspective, this freedom is positive for Joe and Sally, a young Christian couple who wish to be married to each other in the LORD, but it is negative freedom for Adam and Steve, two men who desire to be married to each other by the state. Existing restrictions on the freedom of whom you can marry, such as the prohibition on incestuous or polygamous marriages, are positive restrictions according to Scripture.
This is because true freedom, in the words of Lord Acton, is not the freedom to do what we want, but the ability to do what we ought.
This is the lens through which Christians should consider the Freedom Convoy. Is the goal of this protest to agitate for the freedom to do whatever we want, or the freedom to do what we ought? Biblical “oughts” include attending corporate worship services, caring for the sick and the lonely, and working to provide for yourself, your family, and those in need.
Freedom “wants” might include going to movie theatres or restaurants without having to be vaccinated or wearing a mask. In these instances, it is good to check our hearts for our motives. Are we genuinely concerned the government is overstepping its biblically-mandated authority? Or are we just really wanting to go grab a burger or watch Spiderman: No Way Home? In other words, are we acting according to the God-given pattern for society or the self-given pattern for our own life?
Participants in the Freedom Convoy are advocating for all of the above: the ability to do what we ought to do, the ability to do what we want, and perhaps even the ability to do what we ought not to do. From what I can tell, the general purpose of the convoy – to protest lockdowns and vaccine mandates generally – is to primarily defend the ability to do as we ought, with a lot of freedom of as we want thrown in too. Unfortunately, there is no way to separate the efforts to preserve the freedom to do what we ought from the efforts to regain the ability to do what we want, or even what we ought not to do. It’s simply not possible for the rest of the world to realize that an individual might stand for certain truths represented by this movement but are skeptical of its other goals.
This is where our presence matters. In a world when political movements and political parties and political figures are a mixture of good and bad, it will be very rare that we will be able to be 100% behind a movement, party, or person. But too often our solution is to sit on the sidelines instead of actively trying to shape the future for the better.
So, consider being a part of the Freedom Convoy and prayerfully help direct this energy for good rather than letting those with motivations that are not God-glorifying motives lead it. Support the call for governments to withdraw vaccine mandates and loosen lockdowns; refute the narrative that the government is trying to sterilize the people through vaccination. Participate in peaceful protest; deter those who would support violent protest. Let your speech be seasoned with salt and let your attitude reflect genuine respect for the authority God has placed over Canada; dissuade those chanting “f— Trudeau.”
Through it all, may our actions be guided not by a selfish desire to do whatever we want to do, but a godly desire to do what we ought to do.