Religion is a life long pursuit. It is a way of life for those that seek a better understanding of why we are here and where we came from. I am consistently in a state of progression, learning and furthering my understanding of my faith. As I learn more of my faith I have come to learn one thing about my faith that I still find many Latter Day Saints do not understand, and almost all Christians around the world. My religion is a religion of liberty.
As I have been reading past issues of church magazines, the Ensign in particular, this has become evident that from the early days of my church to the modern church today, one theme stands out which is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a religion of liberty! Numerous church leaders have spoken on this very important aspect of the gospel. It has been emphasized over and over again. Recently, while reading the ensign I have come across a quote by David O. Mckay
“In these days of uncertainty and unrest, liberty-loving peoples’ greatest responsibility and paramount duty is to preserve and proclaim the freedom of the individual, his relationship to Deity, and the necessity of obedience to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only, thus will mankind find peace and happiness.” (Improvement Era, December 1962, p. 903.)
David O Mckay
David O Mckay is not the only past prophet to speak of this liberty. Prophets both ancient and modern have spoken on the importance of liberty for a happy and righteous people.
Marion G. Romney said of this important gospel topic
“The issues have changed since the time of Lincoln, but the multipurpose use of the word liberty and its synonym freedom has not changed. The sweets of liberty about which we usually speak may be classified as (1) political independence, (2) economic freedom, and (3) free agency.
I would have us strive for that liberty which comprehends all three of these freedoms, and more. I would have us strive for the freedom of the soul to which they all contribute. I would have us attain that blessed state foreshadowed by the Prophet Joseph Smith when he said, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45.) One who enjoys such liberty is, in the words of Jesus, “free indeed.” (John 8:36.) He is possessed of perfect liberty.”
This is a principle that has been emphasized in God’s gospel since the beginning and was in fact the first principle taught to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In Moses 3:17 we read
“17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
It was given to Adam and Eve the ability to choose what they would do. This was a gift from God Inherited by mankind through Adam and Eve. This was the beginning and the first thing Adam and Eve were given. Without this ability to choose for ourselves the entire plan of Salvation and Gods purposes would not, they could not come to be and mankind would be non-existent to this day. This gift of free agency given to Adam and Eve did not start in the garden however. The doctrine of God is that before we came to earth we were also faced with a choice. The gift of free agency was given to us for our own self-determination where we could choose a life on earth or to follow Satan and his plan to make sure no one would sin by eliminating the choice to sin in the first place.
From the teachings of Ezra Taft Benson
“The central issue in that premortal council was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition—freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter—coercion and force.12
The scriptures make clear that there was a great war in heaven, a struggle over the principle of freedom, the right of choice.
Freedom of choice is a God-given eternal principle. The great plan of liberty is the plan of the gospel. There is no coercion about it; no force, no intimidation.”
The ability to choose for ourselves, the freedom and Liberty given by God was so vital and important that God choose to risk loosing some of his children. We learn in the church that 1/3 rd of the host of heaven Choose Satan’s plan and rebelled with him and were kicked out of heaven. Now this is interesting because while they lost their free-agency and ability to choose with that choice they still had to choose to begin with. Our father in heaven lost many of his children to a choice. This choice would not have been possible without free agency and being at liberty to make this choice.
Liberty and free agency is the gospel. Everything in the gospel hinges on this very principle. Everything and every aspect is solely and 100% dependent on whether we, as children of God choose to follow his path or our own which we will inevitably fail without God’s help. God in his great wisdom knows just how important freedom to choose is for us as a people and his children. Without this vital component of the gospel we cannot hope to achieve exaltation, for we must choose to embrace the gospel for all it’s worth.
Even Christ himself the savior of mankind was not forced to be our savior but rather he submitted his will. When the eternal fate of the entire human race depended on Christ’s atonement, God the Father would not force his hand, but rather upheld even Christ the Lord’s sacred gift of free agency to choose whether he would proceed or not. This speaks volumes about the essential doctrinal point of agency to mankind’s destiny. The immortality and eternal life of all mankind rested on the free agency of one man to choose to atone for our sins or to say “this is to hard I can’t do it”
Mathew 26 vs 39, 42
“39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.”
Christ prayed to God the Father, releasing his will, asking if he could not do what was asked of him, but as he said “not as my will” he freely choose to submit his will, in this moment of great despair and suffering. Christ choose freely to submit his will to God the Father to atone for the sins of mankind. Such a huge sacrifice should not and cannot go unnoticed or unappreciated.
The book of Mormon also teaches of this principle of liberty that all men have been given from God. 2nd Nephi chapter 2 verse 27 says
“27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they 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; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.”
This great gift of free-agency does not however come without consequences. We are all free to choose whatever we will, but we cannot choose the consequences of our choices. This is deliberate and intentional, for without consequence we could not learn and progress to be better people nor could we come back to our Heavenly Father and obtain eternal life because there would be no progression.
Being able to choose for ourselves the way which we will go gives us total and complete control over our destinies. Because this is a God-given gift no secular government can ever truly take our free agency. Our world is heading to a state of no freedom and oppression in all its forms, but it is our free agency that will ultimately grant us success and happiness in the eternities.
Delbert L Stapley said in general conference 1975
“My brothers, sisters, and friends, one of God’s most precious gifts to man is the principle of free agency—the privilege of choice which was introduced by God the Eternal Father to all of his spirit children in the premortal state. This occurred in the great council in heaven before the peopling of this earth. The children of God were endowed with freedom of choice while yet but spirit beings. The divine plan provided that they be freeborn in the flesh and become heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and act for themselves in mortality. It was essential for their eternal progression that they be subjected to the influences of both good and evil.”
Without liberty and the ability to choose our own path, we would never achieve salvation. This gospel doctrine is one that I have come to cherish and I will fight to my last breath to ensure that my children and future grandchildren have that precious liberty that I have come to love and cherish. My liberty was given to me by God and no one else. I do not owe my liberty to some secular government. I do not owe my liberty to some military soldiers who died in a war for it. They did not grant me my liberty. While I have nothing but the up most respect for those that have fought and continue to fight for my freedom I do not owe them for my freedom as that was never theirs to give.
We are solely responsible for fighting for our freedoms and liberties and we must ensure that we are doing so. This is a God-given gift that cannot be taken by anyone and as such we must use that liberty to fight and protect those liberties that our government wish to take. While they cannot ever truly take our freedom they can do everything they can to control our choices and kill, hurt, destroy, imprison and every other imaginable horrible deed for not submitting to their will. That is the beauty of this God-given gift, while governments and people around the world can harm us, kill us, destroy us and control us through fear we still have our liberty. We can choose to defy and stand up against such acts of tyranny and oppression or we can submit to their will. We will always have that choice.
Our liberty will always be ours. It is given by God. No earthly government can take our liberty. I call on everyone to stand up and promote this freedom and liberty and fight the good fight. Work with all our heart and soul to opposed those who would work to take your freedoms. Stand and fight for what is yours. Do not stand idle while your freedoms are being threatened. While your freedom can be taken no one can ever take your liberty. You will always be free to choose, even if you are not always free to choose your circumstances. That is the beauty of the gospel. That is the way God has designed his plan. That is what the gospel is all about. And that is what we must stand for if we are to be free from oppression and tyranny
And that is the Gospel according to Andrew