A Wide Road With Little Freedom
A family of three—father, mother, and small daughter— were at home in Sydney, Australia, when the house caught fire. They tried to jump through the windows, but these were barred. Because of the security bars, the firemen could not save them. The mother and father perished in the smoke and flames. The daughter later died in the hospital.
HOW sad that this family died because of installations that were supposed to protect them! It is a comment on our times that this family is not alone in having its home safeguarded by bars and security locks. Many of the neighbors also have homes and properties resembling fortresses. Why? They are seeking security and peace of mind. What a blight on a “free” society when people feel safe only when cooped up like prisoners in their own homes! In a growing number of neighborhoods, children can no longer safely play in a nearby park or walk to school unescorted by a parent or some other adult. In many areas of life, freedom is evaporating like the morning dew.
A Changed Pattern of Life
The days of our grandparents were different. As children, they could usually play where they liked without fear. As adults, they had no obsession with locks and bars. They felt free, and to some degree they were free. But our grandparents have seen the spirit of society change during their lifetime. It has turned colder, more selfish; in many places love of neighbor has been replaced by fear of neighbor, which contributed to the tragic event mentioned above. Paralleling this growing lack of freedom has been a steady deterioration of moral values. Society has become enamored of a “new morality,” but in reality, a situation has now been reached where it is hard to see any morality at all.
A former lecturer in education at the University of Queensland, Dr. Rupert Goodman, writes: “Young people are now exposed to a different, hedonistic . . . lifestyle where the ‘self’ is central: self-indulgence, self-awareness, self-fulfilment, self-interest.” He also says: “Values such as self-control, self-denial, hard work, thrift, respect for authority, love and honour of parents . . . are foreign concepts to many.”
Indeed a Broad Way
Those familiar with Bible prophecy are not surprised at this widespread self-centeredness, for Jesus Christ warned his listeners: “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) The first road, with ample room for many travelers, is “broad” because it is not restricted by having Bible principles govern morality and everyday living. It appeals to those who like to think as they please and live as they please—with no rules, no commitments.
True, many who have chosen the broad way claim to enjoy their freedom. But most of them are driven by a common spirit of selfishness. The Bible says they are governed by “the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” This spirit moves them to live “in harmony with the . . . flesh, doing the things willed by the flesh,” whether that be immorality, abuse of drugs, or ruthless pursuit of wealth, prestige, or power.—Ephesians 2:2, 3.
The Broad Way Leads to Disaster
Note that those traveling on the broad way are driven to do “the things willed by the flesh.” This shows that they are not free at all—they have a master. They are slaves of the flesh. And serving this master can lead to many problems—pandemics of sexually transmitted diseases, broken homes, bodies and minds that are sick from drug and alcohol abuse, just to name a few. Even acts of violence, burglary, and rape find their roots in the self-centered thinking nurtured on this permissive broad road. And, while this “road leading off into destruction” continues to exist, its fruits will become ever more hurtful.—Proverbs 1:22, 23; Galatians 5:19-21; 6:7.
Consider two real-life examples from Australia. Mary gave in to temptation, misusing addictive drugs as well as committing immorality.a But the happiness she sought eluded her. Even after having two children, her life seemed empty. She reached her lowest point when she learned she had contracted AIDS.
Tom was hurt in a different way. “I grew up on a church mission in north Queensland,” he writes. “At 16, I started drinking heavily. My father, uncles, and friends were all heavy drinkers, so it seemed the natural thing to do. I got to the stage where I would drink anything, from beer to methylated spirits. I also started betting on horses, sometimes losing most of my hard-earned wages. This was no small amount, for my work at cutting sugarcane paid quite well.
“Then I married and we had children. Rather than face my responsibilities, I did what my friends did—drink, gamble, and fight. I was often locked up in the local jail. But even this had no effect on me. My life was a downhill slide. It was a mess.”
Yes, by giving in to wrong desires, Tom and Mary hurt not only themselves but also their families. Sadly, many other young people tend to be seduced by the liberal, misguided spirit of freedom offered on the broad road. If only young ones could see through the veneer, the charade. If only they could see the realities of the broad way—the harsh taxes that all traveling on it must eventually pay. True, it is broad and easy to get onto. But its very broadness is its curse. The course of wisdom is to take to heart the undeniable fact that “he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh.”—Galatians 6:8.
There is, however, a better choice. It is the narrow road. But how restrictive, how cramped and narrow is this road? And where does it lead?
a Names have been changed.