You can take what I am about to write and apply it to just about any political argument you want, and I am absolutely sure that some of you will think that you know exactly what I am talking about.
There are some who would argue that a human right extends to anything that a person wants to do. Because we all autonomous individuals, we have the right to do whatever we want. Of course, we voluntarily surrender those rights every day for matters of public safety. You have the theoretical right to drive your car 150 mph down the highway, but because of our commitment to the rule of law, we restrict our own rights for the safety of ourselves and other people.
The social contract we enter to abide by a speed limit (most of the time) does not mean that we are any less free to drive as fast as we want on the highway. Our theoretical freedom is not impinged it all by the social contract, but we mutually agree that we ought to be penalized for violating that law because we believe societally important to enforce speed limits or any other law you might want to enforce.
The existence of the law does not limit our freedom whatsoever. It is the consequences of breaking the law that potentially limit our freedom, but it is not because of the consequences themselves. Our freedom is limited because we find the consequences of a particular action undesirable, so we voluntarily decide not to engage in certain activities because we personally decide that it is not worth the consequences of violating the law.
I am free to violate the speed limit every day, but I don’t do that because I don’t like the consequences of paying for speeding tickets and eventually losing my driver’s license. If I am okay with those consequences and if violating the speed limit is that important to me, then the benefits outweigh the penalties, and I will engage in a particular activity.
With this understanding of freedom in mind and the fact that we are indeed free to do whatever we want but not free from the societally agreed-upon consequences that we, through our self-elected government, impose on ourselves, we have to be very careful when we make arguments that a particular bill, law, act or ruling is going to substantially limit our freedom.
I think about particularly the underground church in many areas in the world where it is not a good thing to be affiliated with Christianity. I think it would be really easy to say that these people are not free to be Christians, but the very fact that some of them are says volumes to me. They are free to be Christians, and they make that choice because they have found something that is worth so much more than the potential consequences they face for their faith.
This is the kind of radical faith we need. We need to stop thinking of our faith as dependent on what the world does. We are free to follow truth wherever it leads, and if truth is really that important to us, any type of law will not limit our ability to do that. It only determines the consequences we’re going to face.