Eternal Bloggings

Thoughts on The Gospel of Jesus Christ

American Liberty

This post is based on a talk given by President Marion G. Romney, and is available on the lds.org website and in the Nov 1981 Ensign.

America is a wonderful country. It is one of the ‘promised lands’ mentioned in the scriptures. The Lord established it and raised up our founding fathers to lead us in the creation of a government of, by and for the people to ensure our maximum freedom. America once enjoyed more liberty than any other country in the modern world due to the Lord’s hand in the establishment of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Over the years, our liberties have been slowly eroded down to the time of this Last Dispensation.

Often people speak of Constitutional Rights. The fact is that the rights summarized in the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 amendments to the Constitution, are not “Constitutional” rights at all. They are inherent God-given rights. As children of God we are all endowed with those unalienable rights. If it were not so they would not be rights at all. Instead they would be privileges, which can be given and taken away.

Note: Merriam-Webster defines Unalienable as “impossible to take away or give up”.

God-given rights cannot be separated from the children of God.

President Romney said: “Surely we ought always to be alert in defense of our liberty and willing, if necessary, to give our lives for its preservation.”

The Gadianton run governments of the world today do indeed attempt to curtail or outright revoke our God-given rights, as if they were privileges. This is just proof that the war which began in Heaven over the liberty, or agency, of God’s children continues to this day. We further know that any attempt to curtail or take away our God-given rights, regardless of where it seems to originate, is evil, and all evil comes from our common enemy who is the devil.

The Declaration of Independence states:

“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.” Emphasis is mine.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights attempt to clearly define some of those rights based on “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. I say some because it is not possible to define every single right or liberty that a child of God may enjoy.

For instance, we have the God-given right to speak freely, and to worship how, where and what we may. We have the God-given right to bear arms for our personal protection and that of our family and friends. I will not enumerate the rest but you get the idea. These are just some of our unalienable God-given rights, not government granted privileges. In my opinion they are worth fighting and dieing for.

In his talk, President Romney said:

As a youth, I was stirred by Patrick Henry’s famous battle cry, “Give me liberty or give me death!”.

16th US President Abraham Lincoln further expounds on Liberty:

“The world has never had a good definition of [the term]. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not mean the same thing. With some, the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself and the product of his labor; while with others [liberty] may mean for some men to do as they please with other men and the product of other men’s labor.”

Lincoln further said:

“The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act.”

Romney:

The issues have changed since the time of Lincoln, but the multipurpose use of the word liberty and its synonym freedom, or agency has not changed. The fruits of liberty about which we usually speak may be classified as (1) political independence, (2) economic freedom, and (3) free agency.

When the Lord addresses us in the scriptures regarding liberty, He does not distinguish between these three classifications. Thus we can conclude that when the Lord speaks of liberty, or our agency, He is speaking in the broadest terms. He means at least all three types defined by President Romney, which again are: 1) political, 2) economic freedom and 3) general free agency.

The Lord has told us, in Helaman 14:30, that we are free to act for ourselves:

“Ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves”

And in 2 Nephi 2:27 we read:

“Men are free to choose liberty and eternal life or captivity and death”

In D&C 37:4:

“Let every man choose for himself”

And finally in D&C 101:78:

“Every man may act… according to the moral agency which I have given unto him”

Each of these scriptures address our personal liberty or agency. When we use our agency according to Father’s law are we made more free or less free?

Again, I quote President Romney:

Free agency, however, precious as it is, is not of itself the perfect liberty we seek, nor does it necessarily lead thereto. As a matter of fact, through the exercise of their agency more people have come to political, economic, and personal bondage than to liberty.

The Nephites, for example, at one time, by the exercise of their agency, brought themselves to such a state of affairs that their only course led to political bondage. This they did while living under a government providing for the freest exercise of agency. “Their laws and their governments,” says the record, “were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good.” Therefore, “they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.” (Hel. 5:2–3.) Under these circumstances, they chose as rulers wicked men, who would certainly destroy their political liberties, to replace righteous men who had in the past protected and preserved those liberties and would have continued to do so in the future.

In Ether 6:21-307:5, the freewill choosing of a king by the Jaredites led directly to their captivity.

This sequence was repeated in the days of Israel. The people—rejecting government by judges, which God had established—clamored for Samuel to give them a king. Notwithstanding Samuel’s warning that a king would make servants of their children, lay heavy taxes and services upon their backs, and send them to war, “the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, [saying,] Nay; but we will have a king over us;

We also have a classic example of the loss of economic freedom by the misuse of free agency in the book of Genesis. The Egyptians, instead of exercising their agency to provide for themselves against a day of need, depended upon the government. As a result, when the famine came they were forced to purchase food from the government. First they used their money. When that was gone, they gave their livestock, then their lands; and finally they were compelled to sell themselves into slavery, that they might eat. (See Gen. 41:54–56; Gen. 47:13–26.)

President Romney further clarifies:

We ourselves have gone a long way down this road during the last century. My counsel is that we beware of the doctrine which encourages us to seek government-supported security rather than to put faith in our own industry. Remember Pope’s peasant who, having been served the rich man’s feast and finding the consequences, complained:

“An’t please Your Honour,” quoth the peasant, “This same dessert is not so pleasant: Give me again my hollow tree, A crust of bread and Liberty.” (Alexander Pope, “The Sixth Satire of the Second Book of Horace,” lines 218–221.)

It is true enough that when we misuse our God-given liberty through immoral decisions we become less free. Nevertheless, agency is an eternal principle that must and will be maintained at all costs.

President Romney:

With respect to the loss of personal liberty through the misuse of free agency, our daily lives are filled with tragic evidence. We see the alcoholic with his craving for drink, the dope fiend in his frenzy, and worse, the pervert with his irretrievable loss of manhood. Who will say that such persons enjoy liberty?

Our liberty, or agency, is increased or diminished by the use to which we put it. Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency. And the further we go in making wrong decisions in the exercise of our liberty, the more difficult it is to recover the lost ground.

President Romney even states that: “one can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return. He then becomes an abject slave. By the exercise of his agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point.

Helaman 13:32, 36-38:

“But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure.”

The fact that we are originally endowed by our Father with free agency does not save us from the most awful bondage, which is the bondage of sin.

Just as following wrong alternatives restricts free agency and leads to slavery, so pursuing correct alternatives widens the scope of one’s agency and leads to perfect liberty. As a matter of fact, one may, by this process, obtain freedom of the soul while at the same time being denied political, economic, and personal liberty.

To prove this we can look no further than what happened to Paul in 2 Corinthians. He used his agency correctly and suffered awfully at the hands of wicked men, including prison, physical torture and eventually physical death.

Surely Paul, in his soul, enjoyed perfect freedom.

So how do we obtain perfect liberty? President Romney said: “Obedience to the law of Christ is liberty.” And that, brothers and sisters, is how we obtain perfect liberty, but in addition by doing so we also accomplish the following:

  • We restore America to the God loving country it once was.
  • We prosper as individuals, families and as a nation
  • We increase our personal, political and economic freedom
  • We pave the way to and indeed build the Zion spoken of in D&C 45:67-71

67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.

69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.

70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.

71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.

I will end with another quote from President Romney:

Freedom thus obtained—that is, by obedience to the law of Christ—is freedom of the soul, the highest form of liberty. And the most glorious thing about it is that it is within the reach of every one of us, regardless of what people about us, or even nations, do. All we have to do is learn the law of Christ and obey it. To learn it and obey it is the primary purpose of every soul’s mortal life.

It is my prayer that we each follow The Law of Christ back into His presence and that we may enjoy perfect liberty along the way.

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