Thursday, October 20, 2016

Helaman 1:5-7 -- On Freedom vs Compulsion

"Nevertheless, it came to pass that Pahoran was appointed by the voice of the people to be chief judge and a governor over the people of Nephi.
And it came to pass that Pacumeni, when he saw that he could not obtain the judgment-seat, he did unite with the voice of the people.
But behold, Paanchi, and that part of the people that were desirous that he should be their governor, was exceedingly wroth; therefore, he was about to flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion against their brethren."
Helaman 1:5-7

This is part of a story where the chief judge Pahoran dies and three of his sons kind of run for office as his replacement.  I'm not sure if it was what we think of as traditional voting, but "the voice of the people" decided on Pahoran junior.  Pacumeni is disappointed, but Paanchi is mad, and he decides he wants to start a rebellion because he didn't win.  Luckily, he's caught and prevented from doing that, but even after he is caught, his followers get together and decide to murder Pahoran junior.  It turns into quite a mess, and even kind of causes, or at least exacerbates, a war.  Whew, what a mess.  Glad we don't live in those days, eh?

Obviously, there are a few parallels to our modern society, here and actually in many other places in the Book of Mormon.  What strikes me today is how much the Lord cares about our freedom.  Free Agency is what the War in Heaven was fought over, and, as Gordon B Hinckley has said, it is a war that "has never ceased."  We were asked then, and are asked now, pretty much every day, to make a choice about whether or not we support God's plan and trust him.  Our choices are "between truth and error" and "between agency and compulsion" as Gordon B. Hinckley said later in the same talk.  That's a hard choice sometimes.

We don't always want to be responsible.  We don't always want to let others make choices that we think are insane, and we might sometimes be okay with someone choosing for us when we aren't sure what to do.  We often don't see how important our freedom is until we don't have it anymore.  That's another area where we might need to trust God more.  He is more protective of our freedom than we are.

Freedom is such a huge idea.  It's the core of who we are, of growing, progressing, learning, changing, and loving.  Would love be valuable if the government controlled it and could turn it on or off with a switch?  Maybe in a sick manipulative way, but not really.  The value in love is that we choose it; it is given freely and sincerely.  And that's why so much of our lives have value... because we choose them.

Today, let's think about our freedom, and let's not take it for granted.  Let's dive in and use it for great and good things.  Let's thank the Lord for it, and embrace truth and freedom.  Let's make choices that improve the world, and align with God's plan... not because we have to, but because we choose to love him and follow his great plan of happiness.

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