Sunday, June 29, 2008

Freedom, Agency & America

I was raised in a home where matters of patriotism and current political events and ideals were a frequent topic of conversation. I will be forever grateful for the love of my country and the principles of freedom that were instilled in me while growing up.

However, this passion I have is also a source of pain for me, and I suspect it is for many of you, as I watch the trampling of our founding documents, rampant selfishness and the subsequent eroding of our liberties that seems to be taking place on a daily basis in America. Consider this quote:

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.

"We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

"It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

The source of the quote, I think, would surprise most Americans. To all those who claim that our nation should remove God from its schools, from its courthouses, from all ways of public discourse, I think it would surprise these individuals that it was a President of the United States who proclaimed these words.

Abraham Lincoln stated these words when he gave his Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer. The year was 1863 and the date was April 30.


Going back to the very beginning, in the Pre-Mortal World there was a war over the principles of freedom. Lucifer’s plan was to save every soul by compulsion, by force, that he might have our loyalty and take the Father’s glory for himself. Obviously, he was missing the entire purpose of the plan. Yes, we needed to obtain bodies, but we also needed to be tested. Without the freedom to choose for ourselves, which is agency, there could be no test.

In an article entitled “In Search of Peace and Freedom” in the August 1989 Ensign, President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are "free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil" (2 Nephi 2:27).

The inspired founders of this nation understood this principle, when they declared:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Later, Abraham Lincoln said that when future generations read these words they would realize that “they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, and so they are.”

Throughout the history of the world, the conflict between those undoubtedly inspired by the Devil to dominate others and those inspired by, as we read in Alma 60:15, “the Spirit of God, which is also the Spirit of freedom” has raged. And it rages on still.

Bruce R. McConkie stated in General Conference in April, 1980: "Nor are the days of our greatest sorrows and our deepest sufferings all behind us...the vision of the future is not all sweetness...All that is yet to be shall go forward in the midst of greater evils and perils and desolations than have been known on earth at any time."

I have often wondered that Mormon, a prophet of God, in compiling the records of a thousand years of history into one set of plates that would be hid away in the soil of this nation to be brought forth and serve as a guide and set of instructions for the whole world in our day; repeatedly included the themes of war, contention, politics and secret combinations. I believe he included these stories because we would need to understand the processes by which a free people can lose their liberty. And more poignantly the methods Satan uses to cause this to happen so that we would recognize them—and reject and oppose them.

Also, that we might learn from their successes and mistakes. Interestingly, I believe the failures and mistakes of the ancient people of this land have to do with their execution of one duty. To teach their children.

The children entrusted to our care come to us with no knowledge or understanding of the history of the world. They are a blank slate. If they are to carry on the causes of agency, they must be taught from their youth the things that righteous men and women throughout history have fought and died for. That this cause is of God.

Satan knows this as well. That’s why he is so focused on making sure we parents and grandparents, teachers and leaders, are distracted by the things of the world. Why he exerts so much effort to see that the causes of liberty and freedom are not taught properly (or at all, even) in our schools. Why our history is revised, our founding fathers defamed. Why he inspires men to dictate to others what is offensive and what is acceptable, by shaming and ridiculing those who speak the truth.

That’s why he inspires men to use our children as the reasons we must give up our freedoms. It’s for the children, we are told. We are told we must not argue with the false and evil principles sometimes taught in publicly funded schools, because the people designing the curriculum know better what to teach our children than we do. What kind of world will we be leaving to the children? We must do as we are told, in order to save the Mother Earth for the children. God has nothing to do with it. Government knows best what to do, give us your freedom, your power, and we’ll take care of everything for you. Does that message sound familiar?

Usually, it is the same people who make such arguments who advocate the murder of the children, before they are even born. Who will not allow our children to pray at school or sing or speak of God in public. Who seek to squelch freedom of speech at every opportunity under the guise of political correctness.

But how do we combat these influences? I believe it is as simple as teaching our children to recognize and obey the Spirit of God in ALL facets of life. By so doing, they will be able to discern truth from the lies of the adversary for themselves.

We must teach them to listen to the Spirit in their classrooms. If they feel uneasy about what they are hearing, teach them to come home and talk about it. Use valuable teaching moments when they arise.

We must teach them to be sensitive to the messages of the music they hear. They will begin to recognize that uneasy feeling as the Holy Ghost.

We must teach them to reject those media influences that cause that uneasy, uncomfortable feeling. To recognize underlying messages and to remove themselves from such situations.

We must teach them that they are Sons and Daughters of a Heavenly King, and as such they are real Princes and Princesses with a divine heritage and responsibility.

We must teach them about their Savior. That they have a Perfect older Brother to whom they may turn for help, understanding and mercy and a perfect example to follow.

As members of the Lord’s Church, which is the Kingdom of God on earth, we have been blessed with everything we need to accomplish this task.

  • Scriptures provide a clear instruction book for our day.

  • Hymns and Children’s songs contain the inspired messages that help to invite the Spirit.
  • Opportunities to serve one another keep us anxiously engaged in a good cause and help us to develop Christ-like attributes.
  • We have a living Prophet on the earth and apostles who serve to warn and guide us as to the things we should do.
  • Baptismal ordinances and covenants bind us to God and enable us to be worthy of His blessings.
  • Prayer and personal revelation give us a direct line of communication with God Himself.

All of these tools—if we use them—will enable us to be prepared for all things we must face.
But we must use them.

“But whoso looketh into the perfect alaw of bliberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1: 25

I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures. D&C 6:34-37

Written by Melinda Turner. Copyright 2008 Mormon-Patriot. All Rights Reserved.

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