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Friday, December 20, 2013

Our Only Divine Right

"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 those are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness..." This is probably the most quoted line from the Declaration of Independence by Americans. It sets forth the basic foundations of the justification for the United States to become independent from the kingdom of Great Britain, and tells us the rights we have which can not be taken away. I, however, disagree with a few
things in that quotation. The least of which are "unalienable" (I prefer inalienable), and "pursuit of happiness" (which is just a fancy way of saying, "obtain, and maintain property."). The largest thing I disagree with, however, is those "rights." I see them as privileges (instead of rights) for those who are following the social contract of their society. This means that the enforcer of the Social Contract (i.e. the government) can take those away from you. They can take your property (eminent domain), take your liberty (jail/prison), and take your life (capital punishment). Oddly enough, the government isn't the only one who has the ability to take take these privileges away. There exists thievery (property), kidnapping (liberty), and murder (life). With this information, it becomes less evident that we have"inalienable" rights. One might ask, "is there anything that is truly mine?"

The Origins of Man

To understand our God given gifts, we must understand the origin of man. In the Book of Moses, we can find the beginnings of man. "... every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth" (Moses 3: 5). God has said that our spirits have existed longer than our bodies have. He has even revealed this to the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1: 5), but that is drifting from the question I wish to answer. If we look further for the origins of us, and our spirits, we must look to another book written by an ancient prophet. "if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal. And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all." (Abraham 3: 18-19) There are two types of spirits, those that have that "intelligence" and those that do not. "What is that intelligence?" You ask? I would venture to say that the intelligence is having the ability to choose (AKA agency). This was the original state of man. They all wanted an equal chance to achieve the same goal: Immortality and Eternal Life. Our Creator gave us the opportunity to utilize our intelligence in a Grand Council in heaven. The plan made us shout with joy! We chose to keep using our intelligence. We wanted the right to choose. If we wanted this right for ourselves, we agreed that others would have that right. Thus that leads to the Fall of Adam, and the need of a Savior, who was chosen before the world began... But I am straying, again.

The Use of Our Agency

I do not wish to confuse "liberty" with "agency." Agency goes much deeper than the outward action of choosing fries or tater-tots. It deals with the what we choose to believe. We chose to have the freedom of choosing how to think, believe, and act. This is a spiritual principle. It can be seen in the penumbras of the law as seen in the United States Constitution. It is also clarified in the first amendment to the Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." This is an outward expression of the spiritual truth that we had agreed that others may have the right to choose what they believe. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we recognize the law, and sustain and uphold the law in the lands we live/visit, which is a commandment of the Lord (12th Article of Faith). We also uphold His divine teachings. In the Book of Mormon, there grows persecutions. Then "king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God. And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men" (Mosiah 27: 2-3). King Mosiah was a righteous king who followed after what he knew of Christ. In the testimony of Luke, we read of a situation which arose with John, and another man. John said to Christ, "Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us." (Luke 9: 49; see also Mark 9: 38) In other words, the man was not a part of their "church." The man was not COMPLETELY following Christ and His teachings. John did what he thought was best, which is commendable. Christ, when hearing these words from His beloved disciple, lovingly replied, "Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us." (Luke 9:50; see also Mark 9: 39). You will never hear the true Church of Christ speak down on anybody because of their belief. You will never see the true Church of Christ trying to prohibit others' freedom to believe. Individuals in the Church, however, are fallible. A true Christian will not preach against anybody because of their belief. They will do their best to nurture and cultivate the soil to grow and endorse the true use of agency. God has revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith Jr., "... that religion is instituted of God... human law [does not have] a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul." (D&C 134: 4) Thus saith the Lord, "no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience..." (D&C 134:2)

Our Duty as Human Beings

Therefore our 11th Article of Faith states, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." There are many religions in the United States, and many of them have holidays this time of year. What I have shared doesn't only apply to Christians. Voltaire said it wonderfully when he said, "I may not like what you are saying, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This also applies with belief. "I may not like what you believe, but I will defend TO THE DEATH your Right to practice it." Phil Robertson, from Duck Dynasty, has accepted this true Christ-like behavior and it is reflected when he said, "I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like him, I love all of humanity."  Today, I see many things trying to suppress this true Inalienable Right. For example, governments forcing small private businesses to do something that is against their consciences, and general public trying to boycott a business for practicing their freedom of expression of their religion. If you are striving to punish someone for what they believe, I invite you to repent or, at least, to have a desire to repent. Strive to understand others' beliefs, even if their belief is no belief. It doesn't matter if you are a Latter-day Saint, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other belief. Become friends with them. Understand the true Spirit of Christmas. When you do this, the Lord promises peace to your soul, and peace to a government, and peace to the world. Remember, "... by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." (Alma 37: 6)

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