Is anyone born as a slave?
Or, as Jeremiah puts it: “Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?”
I mean spiritually, psychologically, individually. No. We are free. Born as free as a bird in the sky. Free of the burden of the ego. Free of enculturation. So, the answer is no, we are born free.
So who puts us into bondage?
Jeremiah answers: “Have you not brought this on yourselves?” v17
Which is similar to the profound idea:
What goes out of you comes back to you as what’s happening to you.
Psychologically, we flat out reject our responsibility in the negative aspect of that statement, but on its positive aspects we quickly seize all credit and inflate ourselves with air. Our psyche is wrong on both counts. We are double-blind: blind, both to the evil within us and to the goodness without us. Like Samson; blind in two worlds. The world above and the world below. Frankenstein’s monster is created this way.
In all our running around and moralizing, “I am not defiled. I am not defiled. I serve no Baals!” (v23ff). We loudly announce the approach our self-righteous morality to our own wicked spirits within us, so that they never have to fear being caught. These bandits can happily sit in our blindspot waiting for our inner moral police, our endlessly arguing attorneys, and our hypocritical judges (our entire mock self-judicial system) to leave so they can do whatever they want with our lives, our desires, our actions, and our thoughts. Just look around you, moron. Look at the inner and outer Gotham of your lives.
We have an invisible mole sitting right within our inner police force—spying out our morality. That is a HUGE problem to get around. (Impossible?) If my own moral bloviating to myself IS the thing giving Evil the upper hand in my life, what can I do? How can I hide from myself? How can I keep my exhausting thoughts on the rules of good and bad behavior secret from my evil self?
I must turn against my own moral system which I have corrupted—turn against the lawless laws of the pharisees; reject the unshielding armor of King Saul—and trust the hero. I must, deep within the walls, in the silence of night, give the justice of my broken city over to someone else. Someone that comes mysteriously both from outside and inside. I must trust in that which is both deeper and higher than I—that which completely transcends me. I must become less. I must remove myself and give up control as ruler of the city. I must trust in the one who knows what to do.