II believe that, if I can love Janice, my wife, that I am free to do anything that I like. Will that mean that my freedom allows me to do anything? Absolutely not.
Freedom has controls and my love for my wife will shape my freedom.
Freedoms have been at play in this week's US elections. Goodness, but how long can an election take? It has been all over our screens and it seemed to be all over our week. Like VAR has done to football, the slow speed of results being declared took the excitement out of it.
It continues to surprise most of the rest of the world that Donald Trump can still garner 70 million American votes. As if to help us point out why we wonder, he kindly spewed anti-Democratic rhetoric from the White House when he felt he might be losing.
One of the reasons for his popularity is how he has heightened people's fears that they might lose their freedoms.
Whatever one thinks of him, he has this amazing ability to rank up fears that don't exist and then speak into those fears as if he is the saviour.
Freedom? Masks in the coronavirus pandemic has been one of his many ruses. Trump was able to somehow make this an issue of freedom and somehow link that with what defines an American. That is Trump's America and, sadly, 70 million Americans agree.
It is a personal freedom, rather than social responsibility. It is a modern version of the American dream, where individual wealth has taken over from the original idea of America, where the huddled masses and the poor and the tired would find a place.
Freedom is a big word in the Gospel of Jesus and the early Church. Jesus is the truth and the truth will set us free.
Freedom in the Bible, however, is never about doing what I want to do. Freedom was always about doing what I should do.
In His letters, particularly to the Romans and Galatians, Paul writes about a freedom from selfishness, a freedom from sins against others.
Christ sets us free from being slaves to our selfishness, so that we can become free to do what is right for all.
It is good to hear the Old Testament prophets, too. Amos even raged against the people of God.
God told the religious that he hated their meetings and their worship, because justice was not flowing like a river. Yet again, the common good was more important than the individual freedoms.
The wearing of masks does not diminish our freedom; it is an act of freedom where we put others before ourselves. The same with social distancing, numbers in our homes and gardens and the privilege of meals out.
Our freedom allows us to do for others as we would have them do for us; keeping each other safe and our health system from being overwhelmed.
So, love God and your neighbour. And we can do what we like, because loving God and our neighbour shapes all our freedoms.
In that love, then, I declare we should wear a mask as a sign of that freedom.
Rev Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast
Apt Bible readings
Some Scripture suggestions for the week ahead:
Monday: John 8:31-38
Tuesday: Romans 6:15-23
Wednesday: Galatians 5:13-21
Thursday: Galatians 5:22-26
Friday: Amos 5:18-24