In the minds of children, what is freedom?

Published 9:31 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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“In some places without freedom, girls aren’t allowed to go to school,” says Haley, age 8. “The only people I can think of who would like that are the boys! Boys in our class torture us!”

One time I asked a girl about the same age as Haley why God created boys. “So you could pester them. I love pestering boys,” she replied with a gleam in her eye that could only come from being truly skilled at her craft.

While women who can’t attend school probably feel enslaved, others, like Erin, 6, define freedom as “being out of school on weekends and holidays.”

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If Caroline, 5, had her way, teachers could take a permanent holiday because she defines freedom as “playing all the time and eating what you want.”

I wonder how long someone could survive on pizza, ice cream and chocolate cake?

When America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they proclaimed that certain rights were inalienable. In other words, they believed these God-given rights superseded all government decrees. These non-negotiable rights include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“It’s something when George Washington and his men fought for you to be able to do what you want,” says Spencer, 7. “Like if someone told you to go to a certain church, you don’t have to go.”

Many Christian colonists came to America to escape religious persecution. Some kept running after they arrived. Roger Williams, a Baptist minister, fled Massachusetts in the dead of winter and settled Rhode Island. The state constitution he established provided a haven for all religious dissenters and a model for the framers of the U.S. Constitution.

The idea of inalienable rights given by God permeates the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The framers realized that a relationship with God is a matter of the conscience and heart, which no laws can coerce.

“Freedom is having the right of speech,” says Laiton, 9. Yes, Laiton, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, the right to assemble and freedom from the control of a state religion.

When Jewish rulers forbade the apostles Peter and John to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, Peter and John said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

“God tries to give everyone a big life of freedom,” says Cody, 7. “We have freedom because God is the Holy One. God gave his only begotten Son to die on the cross.”

Jesus submitted to unjust charges, beatings and crucifixion to bear our sins. After three days in the grave, he broke death’s grip forever for himself and for all who believe in him.

Living in a free country means very little if you’re enslaved by substance abuse, lust, jealousy, anger, bitterness or guilt. Actually, the wonderful political freedoms we have in America are like a dim shadow compared to the true freedom Jesus offers.

Paradoxically, spiritual freedom comes through declaring dependence, not independence.

Think about this: True freedom begins by believing in Jesus Christ and totally depending on him as your liberator from spiritual death. Only then can you break the old patterns of enslavement and experience the true freedom of his abundant life.

Memorize this truth: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5:1).

Ask this question: Are you living in spiritual freedom or slavery?

(The Kids Talk About God website contains free, online content for children and families. Print free lessons from the “Kids Color Me Bible” and make your own book.)