Friday, November 25, 2016

Doctrine and Covenants 42:29 -- On Love, Obedience, and Puppetry

"If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments."
Doctrine and Covenants 42:29

The idea that obedience and servitude are expressions of love can seem very strange.  In our society, where we see so many abuses of power, we often think of voluntary submission as brainwashing, and chosen service as slavery.  Obedience without question is frequently seen as inherently unwise, or even immoral--a rejection of freedom and personal responsibility.

I'm not sure that this statement works in any other context.  Perhaps to a limited degree in parenting, but in general, it isn't something that we can say to or expect from each other... for us, it would be asking other people to be our puppets, rather than encouraging them to be independent and whole.  It's like the whole "real boy" idea in Pinocchio, right?  God is both Geppetto and the Blue Fairy, encouraging personal responsibility and promising to make us new, and more real, as we learn to be obedient.  The obedience that he asks is designed to teach us to do right and to become good, and will help us grow up and become whole.

We, on the other hand, often ask for obedience as proof of love for much less wholesome reasons.  For power, for pride, for other selfish desires... we sometimes think that people *owe* us obedience because of their love, or that doing what we ask is proof of love.  Turns out that we're a lot more like the people tempting Pinocchio off the path than we are like God or Geppetto, encouraging him to become better.

Today, let's remember that God is encouraging us to be more than we are and teaching us how to return to him.  Let's offer service and obedience to him because we trust him, and we know that the things he asks will help us to be happier and better and to succeed in a very long-term way.  Let's learn to be "real" and express our love for God in the way that he asks--drawing closer to him through obeying his laws (laws that help us succeed, and that show his love for us), and by helping others draw closer to him as well. :)

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