William Wilberforce is often cited as a leader in the movement against slavery. Lesser known was his campaign to reform the manners of a society that had become lax, lewd and lascivious (all great words to say that they were more inclined to satisfying their own desires rather than looking out for the good of others).
As I sat over tea today, I entered into a discussion about freedom and boundaries. Certainly the slave trade was a boundary beyond sense and reason – if we truly take into account the thought that we should “do unto others as we would have them do unto us.” At the same time, to be released from slavery still means that you must work within a culture to enhance the culture and not threaten those who make up the culture.
I think many of us think that getting rid of all rules means we are no longer slaves! As Wilberforce would have seen, the riddance of slavery (as practiced at that time) was an affront to the “Golden Rule.” At the same time, unbridled lust and wilful destruction – living without manners – was also an affront to the “Golden Rule.” Somewhere in between is where a society will be seen as “the good.”
Of course, in the midst of all this discussion, there is a recognition that we tend towards ourselves and not others. Only a changed heart – one that seeks the good of others and the proper place of our creator – will truly be able to reform a society. Which is why I keep turning back to Jesus for direction – God as man, God’s change agent for our world.