It’s not surprising that this wonderful Greek word (translated “liberty”) was used by Jesus to mean the forgiveness of God under which sinners would no longer be held captive and banished from his presence but set free for ever.
The English words “liber-ation” and “liber-ty” have a chequered history. “Liber” is of ancient origin. Around 500 BC Liber was one of many Roman gods – the god of freedom. Wikipedia tells us more: Before his official adoption as a Roman phallic deity, Liber was companion to two different goddesses in two separate, archaic Italian fertility cults..... He was a god of viticulture and wine, fertility and freedom. He was a patron deity of Rome's lower social classes.
Given that our words “liberation” and “liberty” evolved from this 2,500 year old origin, it’s worth asking ourselves: Are we all seeking a truly liberal society? Do we want to be free to do as we wish to do, to be what we wish to be?
By 186 BC Liber-god culture had become so socially disastrous and so widespread that the Romans tried to counter it by laws and by force – so as to turn back the tide of social and moral anarchy. Thousands were put to death.
It is certainly intriguing to realise that my strong desire for personal liberty impinges on others and on human society. If I have a peculiarity (I have many), especially a minority one, I want to have it endorsed as accepted by all. I am then free to pursue it openly and without an iota of opprobrium – even if deep-down I’m ashamed of it. If anyone says they dislike it, they will have taken away my liberty. That must not be. Others must not have the liberty to make me feel (let alone stop me) that I’m not at liberty.
But think again. What about those who are so intent on a personal freedom that they pursue it intently? Is it possible that they themselves are, despite appearances, not actually free at all? Are they free from the thrall of their own personal freedoms? From addiction to their own freedom?