Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What is Liberty?

Many in today's world seek for Freedom and Liberty, but those two terms are really vague. What exactly does it mean to be free or liberated?

Some might say that it means to be unaffected by any outside influences (such as the law, family, or standards). Others decree that liberty is to have no intervention on any behavior, whether moral or otherwise. Might I suggest another definition.

Throughout The Book of Mormon, we read the promise, "inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper" (1 Nephi 2:20, Alma 36:1, 2 Nephi 2:9, Alma 37:13, Jarom 1:9 among others).  This promise was worded slightly different to the people of Jared: "Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written" (Ether 2:12).  

Liberty means to be free from bondage and from captivity. Relatively few of us will ever be subjected to physical bondage, though that does still happen in this world. No, for most of us, there is a much greater threat to put us into bondage: sin. The interesting part of this particular bondage is we can choose whether we're subjected to it. "Wherefore, men are 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). 

Through "the great Mediator of all men", Jesus Christ, we are able to choose liberty for ourselves. It does take conscious effort to "serve the God of the land". We must consciously and constantly be choosing the right way. We must become disciples of Christ in order to have everlasting liberty: both here and in the world to come. And becoming a disciple requires discipline. It requires us "“to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in,” not just some of the time, in a few places, or when our team has a big lead" (Jeffrey R Holland, "Israel, Israel God is Calling").

We are to love God and all men! How do we do that? That's the hard part. Jesus taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). Our first responsibility is to keep the commandments of God, and then have compassion upon all the children of men.  We must stand up for laws on moral issues, and "not offend him who is your lawgiver" (Doctrine & Covenants 64:13). For we, then, are serving Him, and he will bless us with freedom from bondage individually, which will lead to collective liberty. For he said, "I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed" (Doctrine & Covenants 98:8).

So, what exactly is liberty? Liberty is obedience to God's commandments.