We are not free in a world that permits people to do things that are objectively wrong. So although we’re free to choose between good and evil, at least initially, the degree to which we remain free to choose depends on what we choose.
Freedom, therefore, could not accurately be defined as the ability to do whatever we want – that is a lie. We don’t control the consequences of our actions any more than we can inject heroin into our veins and decide whether to become addicted, or jump from a 100-story building and decide whether we’re going to live. Whatever the consequences, but for the soul-saving principle of mercy, we have no choice but to accept them. In other words, choose wrongly – whatever that might mean under the circumstances – and we risk compromising our freedom and power to continue choosing.
To be sure, no one whose passions are unbridled or whose appetites are unrestrained is free, as evidenced by the fact that for those that succumb to their baser instincts tend to involuntarily lose control over their own lives.
Freedom, then, properly understood, is to be free from sin, i.e. things that are objectively wrong.
In other words, freedom and virtue are inextricably linked – they are two sides of the same coin. You can’t be free without virtue, and you can’t be virtuous without the freedom and power to choose – good over evil.
In the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “No one on earth has any other way left but – upward.” That is, at least, if they want to be free.