Freedom: The True Meaning

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:26-27

Everybody wants to be free.  Many people throughout history have gone to great lengths to procure their freedom, fighting wars, leading rebellions, enduring persecutions, and much more.  Freedom indeed is a great thing to have.

The problem that some people get to when they think about freedom is the idea that freedom means you get to do whatever you want, and also be free from the consequences of those choices.  Freedom just doesn’t work like that.

Lehi says much the same in 2 Nephi 2:27:

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.

I can choose to disobey the commandments of God if I want, but then I have to deal with the consequences.

Another quote from my favorite fiction book ever written also illustrates this logical fallacy.  In Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, pages 15-16, you find this conversation:

“The prospect of freedom?” he said.

“Exactly,” said Lord Vetinari.  “There is always a choice.”

“You mean… I could choose certain death?”

“A choice nevertheless,” said Vetinari.  “Or perhaps, an alternative.  You see I believe in freedom, Mr. Lipwig.  No many people do, although they will, of course, protest otherwise.  And no practical definition of freedom would be complete without the freedom to take the consequences. Indeed, it is the freedom upon which all the others are based.”

In my life I have seen many claim their freedom by doing things with their lives that are destructive, disobedient, and ultimately painful.  It makes me sad that they did not understand that they always had the freedom to do whatever they wanted, but that freedom also meant they would suffer the consequences of every action. Although it may have been that their parents or church leaders were trying to control them in a misguided attempt to help them, God would never try to control us.  He has already given us our freedom and is now working hard as he can to convince us to use that freedom in a way that will bring us happiness instead of sorrow.

Today I am going to follow through on several promptings I felt I received lately.  Just like commandments, promptings come as suggestions, but I have the freedom to follow through on them or not.  I will choose to follow through.

What choices in your life have brought you the most happiness?  What choices have brought you sorrow?  What will be the consequences of the choices you are making now?

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