“But whoso looketh into the Perfect law of Liberty, and continueth therein. . . shall be blessed in his deed”1
True principles, once understood and rightly comprehended, often have a quality of clear pure simplicity. Yet, sometimes, the more you comprehend, the more depth you perceive the doctrine to hold. Like gazing into a deep pool of crystal-clear water you may be excited and astounded to learn that the doctrine is many, many times deeper than-at first-perceived. Such is the breadth and depth of doctrine regarding the principles of freedom. While looking into this pool of Freedom you may discover depths “never attained to previously nor ever before had thought of.”2
To fully perceive the width and depth that this pool of freedom holds, we must have the “eyes of our understanding opened”3 and our minds “enlightened”4 by the Spirit of the Lord. Because “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty.”5
This article attempts to explain Freedom’s relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More specifically, it shows how God’s law, both revealed and natural, operates to develop, promote, and protect freedom.
What is Freedom?
“What is this liberty, whose very name makes the heart beat faster and shakes the world . . .”6
Freedom is a major theme in the scriptures. James said that the Gospel is the “perfect law of liberty.”7 Paul told the Corinthian Saints that “where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty”8 and admonished Galatian Saints to continue to “stand fast therefore in the Liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”9 Christ himself told his believers that if they continued in his word they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.10 Numerous other scriptures could be cited that portray the idea that the purpose of the Gospel is to free man from captivity, liberate him, and with the proper exercise of free agency, exalt him.11
Freedom, as understood by probably most Americans of the Eighteenth Century, consisted of the ability to exercise what they termed inherent and inalienable rights.12 These “rights” when consolidated into their basic forms consist of at least three basic rights, basic elements of freedom: Life, Liberty and Property. Truth or Knowledge, although not mentioned by our Founding Fathers as such, can be considered another essential element of freedom. After all, wasn’t Christ who said that knowing the truth can set you free?13
To exercise Freedom, you must possess:
- Some degree of physical or mental health and strength–the attribute of LIFE
- Personal freedom of mobility to change one’s location, situation, occupation or habitation according to will–the attribute of LIBERTY
- Ownership and control of property consisting of the free use, enjoyment and disposal of one’s acquisitions–the attribute of PROPERTY
- The requisite knowledge to achieve your desired results–the attribute of KNOWLEDGE or TRUTH. It follows as a logical matter of course that freedom can be increased or diminished by adding to or taking from the amount or quality of these four essential elements.
There is a further requirement for freedom–Law. According to the Founders, two twin pillars upon which Freedom in a well-ordered, civilized society, rested was that of law inherent in the nature of things or Natural Law and law as given by God, Divine or Revealed law.14 The purpose of law (whether Natural or Divine) is, as so aptly stated by John Locke, to “preserve and enlarge freedom” because “where there is no law there is no freedom.”15 To the Founders, it was pretty easy to determine the source of Divine law-that of God as revealed to his Prophets but somewhat more difficult to determine the source of Natural Law. However, God so structured the world, that in the absence of Divine Law, man was not left alone to determine how law should apply to protect freedom.16 God provided man the ability to reason17 intellectually,18 and feel intuitively19 the proper course to guide one’s actions and in the enacting of laws. To the Founders, Man in a state of nature, would by Natural Law which was “discovered”20 by both reason and conscience, be justified in using force for “defense against physical harm, against theft of the fruits of his labor, and against enslavement by another.”21 Likewise man is perfectly free to acquire the world’s bounty of resources to preserve and enhance his life and is perfectly free to roam about at his will and pleasure in exercising his right of liberty. But in such a state of nature, man’s freedom often goes unprotected. As John Locke put it:
The great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property; to which in the state of nature there are many things wanting.
Firstly, there wants an established, settled and known law, received and allowed by common consent to be the standard of right and wrong, and the common measure to decide all controversies between them. For though the law of Nature be plain and intelligible to all rational creatures, yet men, being biased by their interest, as well as ignorant for want of study of it, are not apt to allow of it as a law binding to them in the application of it to their particular cases.
Secondly, in the state of Nature there wants a known and indifferent judge, with authority to determine all differences according to the established law. For every one in that state being both judge and executioner of the law of nature, men being partial to themselves, passion and revenge is very apt to carry them too far, and with too much heat in their own cases, as well as negligence and unconcernedness, make them too remiss in other men’s.
Thirdly, in this state of Nature there often wants power to back and support the sentence when right, and to give it due execution. They who by any injustice offended will seldom fail where they are able by force to make good their injustice. Such resistance many times makes the punishment dangerous, and frequently destructive to those who attempt it.22
So according to Locke therefore, men would be justified by Natural Law, in organizing a body of men with executive, legislative and judicial powers to defend their freedom. This concept of Natural Law and its derivative, Natural Rights, was transmitted to the Founders through several sources: Classical Greek and Roman political thinkers, philosophers and statesmen23; English law and tradition 24; Enlightenment Rationalism25; and the Christian or Biblical tradition.26 In utilizing these sources the Founders were everywhere referring to Natural Law, and Natural Rights in their pamphlets, newspapers, sermons, speeches, and so forth.
Because of man’s propensity to sin, error, and ignorance man’s ability to reason what is right and wrong intellectually, morally and intuitively becomes clouded. To prevent such clouding or obfuscation God reveals to his Prophets commandments or laws to govern conduct. Revealed law, just as Natural law, was given to man by God to enhance, protect and promote freedom. Two examples where Divine law clearly promotes freedom are the commandments, “Thou shalt not kill”27 or “Thou shalt not steal”28 plainly in protection of Life and Property respectfully. God expects man to govern his conduct by using these two standards of law, the Divine and the Natural. Under these standards it is easy to see why the Founders could express their attitude toward government as such: “The sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property, and when government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.”29
Divine law also promotes spiritual freedom.30 As we learned one of the prime components of Freedom is the principle of Life. The opposite of life is death. The fall of Adam brought death31 into the world: physical and spiritual. Divine law is designed to “liberate” man from the fall by conquering both physical and spiritual death. Physical death through the resurrection and spiritual death through the atonement and “rebirth” process, a necessary prelude to enjoying exaltation or Eternal Life.32
When we die our spirit leaves our bodies. Physical death is a separation of the body from the spirit. Our spirits animate the body and give it life. As James puts it, “The body without the Spirit is dead.”33 But James’ statement has a double meaning as well. Spiritual death is a separation from the “presence” or Spirit of God. Spiritual death involves “being cut off from the presence of the Lord”34 and to be “cast out” from the Lord’s “presence.”35
Both types of death were introduced into the world by the Fall of Adam.36 Both types of death bring captivity or an impediment to progress.37 Both kinds of death are overcome by the Atonement. The atonement of Jesus Christ redeems man from the fall and restores the body to the spirit, thus overcoming physical death38 and making it possible to overcome spiritual death by enjoying the presence of God’s Spirit and capable of enjoying “Spiritual Life.”39
The experience of Adam illustrates what it means to enjoy “Spiritual Life”. Enoch declared that after Adam was baptized, “The Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man.”40 To quicken something means to “cause to be made alive”. Thus, Adam became “alive” in the inner man. Paul, speaking of those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”, are “free from the law of sin and death”, and that the Spirit “shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”41
Those who refuse to repent will continue as spiritually dead. As Paul stated, “The wages of sin is death”42and that some are “dead while they liveth.”43 Alma said that those who harden their hearts against the word will be condemned to this second death, “and now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; this is the time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death, yea he shall die as to things pertaining to righteousness.”44
If we overcome the second death we will be restored to the “presence” of God and receive a spiritual or Eternal Life. We must through a Divine birth process be “born again” into a “newness of life.”45 Eternal life is the ultimate freedom possible.46 Each of the elements of freedom, Life, Liberty, Property and Truth are enjoyed in their fullness,47 and only the atonement makes this all possible.
Good Acts Increase Freedom–Evil Acts Decrease Freedom
|Being a Good Samaritan: Preserves and enhances life (Luke 10: 25-37)||Murder: The destruction of Life. (Exodus 20:13)|
|Lawful Marriage: Makes possible procreation which provides for “New” Life (D&C 132:19)||Abortion: The prohibiting of “New Life” (D&C 59:6)|
|Chastity and Virtue: Protects the “powers of Life” (D&C 121 :45-46)||Sexual Sin: Prostitutes the “powers of Life” next to murder in seriousness (Alma 39:5-6)|
|Obedience to the Word of wisdom: Protects and enhances one’s health (D&C 89)||The Unpardonable Sin: Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. It is spiritual suicide|
whereby you crucify Christ unto yourself (D&C 76:35)
|Liberating the Captive: Using one’s abilities to free others (Jacob 2:19)||Slavery: Prevents the full use of one’s faculties and Liberty (D&C 101:79)|
|Work51, the production of useful property: |
by applying labor to the Earth’s resources,
man can “create” property
|Theft: Prevents use of property (Exodus 20:15)|
|Charity: helps the poor and needy to acquire the necessities of life||Arson or Vandalism: Injures or Destroys property|
|Military and Police Forces: A positive good if used correctly in defense of private property||Robbery: The taking of property by force. Prevents use of property (D&C 134:8)|
|Honesty and Integrity: |
Always adheres to the truth
(Proverbs 12:22; Job 2:3)
|Lies and Deception: |
Prevents and distorts truth
(2 Nephi 9:34)
|Spread the truth |
Colors the Truth (Titus 3:2)
of the truth (Leviticus 19:16)
| Seeker of Truth: |
Acquires knowledge to
| Seeker of Truth: |
To better understand how governments should operate in its role to protect freedom and the assurance of justice, it is instructive to study how God protects freedom in punishing the lawbreaker by removing certain elements of freedom from them or conversely blesses the obedient by increasing their freedom. Men’s actions merit then, in God’s perfect system of justice, either blessings or cursings. A few examples of how a Cursing or Blessing affects freedom in its constituent elements of life, liberty, property or truth is found in the tables below:
|Miriam was stricken with leprosy seven days for complaining against Moses. Which disease debilitated the body and prevented Miriam from exercising or enjoying her full use of the attribute of LIFE (Numbers 12:1-16)||Naaman, in obedience to the word of the Lord, dipped himself in the River Jordan seven times and was healed of leprosy and thus able to exercise LIFE more fully (2 Kings 5:14). Also, Saints who obey the Word of Wisdom are promised health (D&C 89:18)|
|Those who have “faith to be healed . . . shall be healed (D&C 42:48).||Uzza was slain for touching the Ark (2 Samuel 6:6)|
|Those who magnify their callings are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies (D&C 84:33)||Under the law of Moses the death penalty was prescribed for murder (Genesis 9:5-6)|
|Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11:41-44)||He that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death (Proverbs 11:19)|
|Righteousness tendeth to life (Proverbs 11:19) and the law of the Lord is life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:22)|| He that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death (Proverbs 11:19)|
|Israel was led out of bondage by hearkening to the word of the Lord through his Prophet Moses (Exodus 4-14)||The Lord’s people under Limhi came into bondage through failure to repent (Mosiah 11:21; 12:2)|
|Alma and his people were delivered out of bondage by their righteousness (Mosiah 24:16-17)||King Noah and his people “because of iniquity were brought into bondage” (Mosiah 29:18)|
|The people of the Lord were delivered out of bondage (Mosiah 29:19-20; Alma 5:5)|
|Obedience to the Law of Tithing|
brings material blessings
|Because of iniquity |
among the Nephites
their “treasures . . . became
slippery, because the Lord
had cursed the land,
that they could not hold them,
nor retain them” (Mormon 1:18)
|If Israel was obedient |
she was blessed
with increased property
(Deuteronomy 28:3-5, 8)
|If Israel was disobedient |
her property was cursed
| Those who are faithful |
in all things receive
a fulness of inheritance
|Righteous artisans were filled |
with the Spirit of God,
in wisdom, and in
understanding, and in
knowledge (Exodus 31:3-6)
|“And that wicked one cometh |
and taketh away light and truth
through disobedience (D&C 93:39)
|Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery |
upon being baptized
have their minds enlightened
and the scriptures
laid open to their understanding
(Joseph Smith History 1:74)
|“Your minds in times past |
darkened because of unbelief,
and because you have treated
lightly the things
you have received”
[the Book of Mormon] (D&C 84:54)
|Joseph F. Smith’s |
“eyes of [his]
by pondering the scriptures
|The Lord’s comment |
that his people were
“destroyed for lack of knowledge”
|“But the path of the just |
is as the shining light
that shineth more and more
until the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18)
|“They that harden their hearts |
are given a lesser portion
of the word until
eventual destruction (Alma 12:11)
|“He that keepeth |
receiveth truth and light,
until he is glorified in
truth and knoweth all things
|“. . . the way of the wicked |
is as darkness,
they know not at
what they stumble”
|“The Spirit enlighteneth |
every man. . . that hearkeneth
to the voice of the Spirit”
|“And if your eye be single |
to my glory your whole bodies
shall be filled with light,
and there shall be no
darkness in you, and that body
which is filled with light
comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67)
Just as God has judged individuals, organizations and nations according to their good or evil acts and either blessed or cursed them, God has “suffered” man to establish governments, make laws, administer them and punish individuals for their evil acts. 52 In administering these laws, civil officers or magistrates likewise judge man according to their evil deeds and issue forth judgements and punishments. Man’s laws to be just must be based upon God’s laws. Punishment for crimes committed under the Law of Moses, for example, required restitution. Punishment for crimes against property typically required the offender to “replace” to the victim anywhere from two to seven times the value of the property “taken” depending upon the nature and severity of the crime. Punishment for crimes against one’s “person” required restitution as well. If the offender knocked out a persons tooth or gouged out an eye, according to Israelite justice, the value of the body part injured was determined and the perpetrator was then required to pay that value to the victim. Only in cases of non-payment or incorrigibleness was the penalty increased to either banishment or death. Punishment in the case of murder required the life of the murderer. This principle of restitution, known as an “eye for an eye” or “tooth for a tooth” is greatly misunderstood by many. 53
Aside from the Israelites under Moses, probably the best example of a society conforming their laws to God’s laws, was that of the Nephites under the reign of the Judges established by King Mosiah and which went into effect upon his death. Before he died King Mosiah established laws which were “acknowledged by the people” and “therefore [they were] obliged to abide by the laws which he had made.” 54 These “laws of Mosiah” we learn were those which the “Lord commanded [Mosiah] to give unto the people.” 55 Since these Nephites had the brass plates which contained, among other writings, the law of Moses, it can be inferred that their legal and judicial system must have been similar to the restitution laws contained in the law of Moses. Under this Nephite reign of law, which was strictly enforced, 56 religious and political freedom reigned. 57
However, almost immediately after the “laws of Mosiah” were put in force, an intense “legal” struggle developed and continued until the laws had “become corrupted,” 58 were ripening for destruction, and “could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.” 59 Those seeking to overthrow Nephite society by corrupting the laws belonged to a “secret band of Gadianton,” 60 operated under secrecy, and “had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.” 61 Those who were chiefly responsible for this destruction were “lawyers and judges.” 62 Amulek said concerning these men that “the foundation of the destruction of this people”, the Nephites, was “laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and judges.” 63 This legal struggle continued until this Secret Combination had destroyed the regulation of the government, obtained “sole management of the government,” 64 and had destroyed “the government of the land.” 65
Comparisons can be made between this ancient Nephite society and the American Constitutional system. Just as freedom reigned after establishment of “law” among the Nephites, Freedom also reigned upon establishment of law under the United States Constitution. Having a system of checks and balances and a separated and limited government with competing powers spread among the different branches of government, was deliberately designed by our Founding Fathers to prevent the “corruption of the laws” experienced by the Nephites. Under the Constitution, no less than thirteen different checks and balances were built into the system. A listing of them follows:
- States and Territories pitted against the Central Government (Vertical separation of powers).
- The Senate against the House (Both houses to pass bills).
- The President against the Congress (Veto power).
- The Judiciary against the Congress (Power to declare laws unconstitutional).
- The Senate against the President (Appointments and treaties have to be ratified by the Senate).
- The people against their representatives (The house is elected every 2 years).
- The State legislatures against the Senate (Originally Senators were elected by State Legislators).
- The Electoral College against the People (Republic v. Democracy).
- The People against the Central Government (Jury nullification).
- Both Houses against the President (Impeachment).
- An Executive Check upon the Judicial Branch (Through the power of the President to pardon offenses except impeachment).
- Congressional Check on Judicial Power (Through the power of Congress to limit the Federal Court’s Appellate Jurisdiction).
- State Check on Federal Power (By application of 2/3 of the State legislatures, Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments. With an amendment strictly limiting what a new Convention could do, the Convention route could be a good check on a Congress unresponsive to the popular will. Without such limits however, a new Convention could be dangerous).
“Rule by Law” rather than arbitrary rule by men, was another principle the Founders believed in. Under the Constitution, only limited and carefully delegated powers were given to the government, all others were retained by the people. Furthermore, this law was equally applied-no one was above the law and no one was to be denied rights without due process of law. Knowing what happened to the Nephites of old, through the corrupting effects of Secret Societies can help us prevent a similar occurrence. In fact, Moroni was greatly exercised in alerting us modern-day Gentiles of one particular Secret Combination which would seek to “overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries.” 66 If America is to survive she must base her laws upon both Natural Law and God’s law and take efforts to protect those laws from debasement or corruption.
- James 1:25.
- Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith History 1:74.
- Doctrine and Covenants 138:11.
- Doctrine and Covenants 76:12.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17.
- Frederick Bastiat,The Law, pg. 51.
- James 1:25.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17. (see also Alma 61:15)
- Galations 5:1.
- John 8:31-32.
- See for example, Isaiah 58: 6; Exodus 21: 2; Luke 4: 18.
- See the Declaration of Independence.
- Also consider these comments by Ezra Taft Benson concerning the attribute of Truth: “Ye shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). In these words the master pointed out that the fundamental characteristic of Truth is freedom. Every fundamental principle of Truth, properly applied, will free man from doubts, from fears, suspicions, prejudices and those qualities which make for misunderstanding, pride, lust and selfishness. Every principle of truth in its own domain can free man to achieve the greatest good, the most majestic nobility of which he is capable. Each new truth challenges man to greater achievement and service. Using this simple standard you may examine each issue with confidence. It matters not whether the inquiry at hand be a consideration of politics, science, ethics, or religion. If it is a true principle it will stimulate man to greater achievement of the kind which builds true character and lasting inward security. (Ezra Taft Benson, Church News, Jun 13, 1953)
- See for example this statement from William Blackstone, “Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws. . .” (William Blackstone, as quoted by Verna M. Hall, ed. Christian History of the Constitution of the United States, p. 253)
- John Locke’s full quote is, “The end of the law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom” (John Locke, Two Treatises of Civil Government, II, 57; quoted by Ezra Taft Benson in General Conference April 1968)
- Romans 2: 14-15. “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” The Reverend John J. Zubly, for instance, in a speech given on July 4, 1775, paraphrased Romans 2:14-15 in stating, “To the generality of mankind he gave no written law, but yet left not himself without a witness among them; the words of the law were written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while excusing or else accusing one another: It cannot be said they were without the law, whilst that they were to do, and what they were to forbear, was written in their hearts. (John J. Zubly, D.D., The Law of Liberty, a speech given before the Provincial Congress of Georgia, July 4, 1775, as quoted in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco, 1975, p. 515)
- “The essence of law does not depend upon words and clauses, inserted in a code or statute book, much less upon the conclusion and explications of lawyers; but upon reason and the nature of things antecedent to all laws” (Trenchard and Gordon, as quoted by Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, p. 456)
- 4 Maccabees 1:48 “For in the day when God created man, he implanted in him his passions and inclinations, and also, at the very same time, set the mind on a throne amidst the senses to be his sacred guide in all things. . .”
- Latter-day Saints claim that it is through the Light of Christ that these abilities are manifest. See for example, Moroni 7:15-17 which states, “For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night. For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given unto every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to to evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.”
Also, “But we were not sent here completely in the dark. Each of us was given a portion of God’s light, called the “Light of Christ,” to help us distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong. This is why even those who live with little or no knowledge of the Father’s plan can still sense, in their hearts, that certain actions are just and moral while others are not.” President Henry B. Eyring, April 2017 General Conference.
- “Kings and parliaments did not make law, according to the medieval tradition; they discovered what was the law and promulgated it” (Clarence B. Carson, The American Tradition, p. 40)
- Ezra Taft Benson, The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner.
- John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, as quoted in Free Government in the Making: Readings in American Political Thought, compiled by Alpheus Thomas Mason and Gordon E. Baker, New York, 1985, p. 35.
- “The origin of justice is to be found in law, for law is a natural force; it is the mind and reason for the intelligent man, the standard by which Justice and Injustice are measured. . . but in determining what Justice is, let us begin with that supreme Law which had its origin ages before any written law existed or any State had been established.” (Cicero, Laws, I, 19) “My lords, let us consider just law. Does it bring tranquility, good order, piety, justice and liberty and property to a people? Does it nourish patriotism and the way of a manly and upright life? Then it is a good law, and deserves our utter obedience. But if it brings pain, intolerable burdens, injustice, sleepless anxiety and fear and slavery to a people, then it is an evil law passes and upheld by evil men, who hate humanity and wish to subjugate and control it.” (Cicero, quoted in A Pillar of Iron, p. 163)
- “The essence of law does not depend upon words and clauses, inserted in a code or statute book, much less upon the conclusion and explications of lawyers; but upon reason and the nature of things antecedent to all laws” (Trenchard and Gordon, as quoted by Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, p. 456)
- “Nature and Natures law lay hid in night, God said, Let Newton be and all was light” (Alexander Pope, as quoted by Clarence B. Carson in The Rebirth of Liberty: The Founding of the American Republic 1760-1800, p. 59)
- “As men we have God for our King, and are under the law of Reason: As Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the law revealed by him in the Gospel.” (John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity)
- Exodus 20:13
- Exodus 20:15
- Alabama State Constitution, Article 1 Section 35.
- See for instance, 2 Nephi 2:27 which states that 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. . .”
- The opposite of Life, one of the elements of freedom.
- This doctrinal interpretation is my own. In no way does it reflect an official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I realize that it is in the province of the Prophets and Apostles of the Church to explain the meaning of scripture binding upon the whole Church. My interpretation, however, is what I have arrived at through my own intense study and prayer and while I fully believe this interpretation is true I accept full responsibility for any errors of doctrine that it might contain.
- James 2:26
- Helaman 14:16-17
- D&C 29:41
- Moses 6:48 “Because that Adam fell, we are, and by his fall came death. . .”
- Jacob for instance in 2 Nephi 9:8-12 states that if we were not to receive the resurrection our “spirits must become subject to” Satan and would remain “captive spirits”. Furthermore, in D&C 45:21 the Lord states that bondage is an “absence of your spirits from your bodies.”
- Alma 11: 41-44
- Articles of Faith 4
- Moses 6:65
- Romans 8:1-13
- Romans 6:23
- 1 Timothy 5:6
- Alma 12:16
- Romans 6:4
- Within the plan of salvation, wherein we can progress and become like God, there are three stages of life we must enter into. Each of which involves a “birth process”. Consider what the Lord told Abraham, “they who keep their first estate shall be added upon” (Abraham 3: 26) which implies that each stage of progression is preceded by a “birth” whereby the individual is “added upon” with greater powers of life. Each of these three stages are: 1. The Spirit birth (see, for instance, Acts 17: 28-29 where Paul states that we are the “offspring” of God. Or Hebrews 12: 9 where Paul speaks of God as being the “Father of [our] Spirits.”); 2. Mortal birth; 3. A “Spiritual” birth, which enables us to enter into the Kingdom of God and gain Eternal Life (see John 3: 3-5). Spirit birth brings life as a Spirit, with a Spirit for a body. Physical birth brings physical life with a physical body. Spiritual birth brings about a “Spiritual Life” with a “Spiritual” body. A Spiritual body is one which has been glorified and sanctified, thus D&C 88: 26-29 states, “Wherefore, it [the body] shall be sanctified; yea, notwithstanding it shall die, it shall be quickened again, and shall abide the power by which it is quickened, and the righteous shall inherit it. For notwithstanding they die, they also shall rise again, a spiritual body. They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body; even ye shall receive your bodies, and your glory shall be that glory by which your bodies are quickened.”
Baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost comprise what is called the “gate” to this spiritual birth. Consider the experience of Adam when he was baptized:
That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
. . . And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water. And thus he was baptized, and the Spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. (Moses 6: 59-61, 64,65) It is thus, the power of the Spirit that “quickens” or gives life, as the Lord said in a revelation to Joseph Smith that the comforter, or Holy Ghost, “is the promise which I give unto you of Eternal Life” (D&C 88:4) or that the “power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
The powers of the Spirit are powers of intelligence and life, and when a person obtains the Glory of God he has an endowment of “Life” which other beings do not possess. Eternal Life, therefore, is more than just being in the presence of God or living the way that God lives, but it is an actual added endowment of life. Parley P. Pratt expressed it this way:
An intelligent being, in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection that is possessed by God Himself. But these . . . attributes are in embryo; and are to be gradually developed. The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all these organs or attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key To The Science Of Theology, p. 61.) Pratt, in the same book mentioned above also said, “the flesh, bones, sinews, nerves, all the organs, all the particles of the celestial body, must be quickened, filled, surrounded with that divine and holy element which is purer, more intelligent, more refined and active, fuller of light and life than any other substance in the universe. (Key To The Science Of Theology, p. 86.)”
- D&C 93:19,20
- Genesis 3:5
- Moses 6:56
- David O. Mckay, Conference Report, April 1940.
- “Production is a spiritual, intellectual, and ideological phenomenon. It is the method that man, directed by reason, employs for the best possible removal of uneasiness. What distinguishes our conditions from those of our ancestors. . . is not something material, but something spiritual. The material changes are the outcome of spiritual changes” (Ludwig Von Mises, The Freeman, July 1985, p. 402)
- D&C 134:1-2 for instance states, “We believe Governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. We believe that no government can exist in peace, expect such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”
- W. Cleon Skousen however, has done a good job of clearing up this misunderstanding. Consider for instance the following:
The object of each judgement was not to avenge the wrong, but to restore the victim or offended party to his original position as far as humanly possible. This was done by compensation for injuries he had suffered, loss of time at his employment, the fear or other trauma to which the victim was subjected, or further damages appropriate to the circumstances. None of these fines or payments went to the court or to the government. Everything went to the victim.
In addition to these damages, there could be punitive damages to discourage the offender from committing this offense in the future. Punitive damages went to the victim.
In trespass cases, the offender had to pay for whatever damages occurred plus one-fifth to discourage any trespass in the future.
The death penalty was mandatory for any premeditated or deliberate and intentional slaying of another. This is indicated in the following verse, “moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death.” This meant that no satisfaction in the way of compensatory damages, his labor or goods could be worked out for a murderer. But in this same passage it clearly implies that “satisfaction” could be worked out for lesser offenses. This gives special meaning to the concept so frequently quoted: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” In all of these offenses which did not involve the deliberate taking of human life, the offender is allowed to negotiate with the offended person to provide “satisfaction” so that he does not have to lose his eye or be burned or wounded, etc.
Ezra describes four devices by which judges could compel an offender to provide “satisfaction” to his victim: “And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the King, let judgement be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. (W. Cleon Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law: It’s Coming to America, Ensign Publishing, SLC, 1996, pgs. 50-51.)
- See Alma 1:1-2
- Helaman 4:22
- Alma 1: 17-21
- Alma 1
- Helaman 4: 22
- Helaman 5: 3
- Helaman 8: 1
- 3 Nephi 6: 30
- Alma 10: 27
- Helaman 6: 39
- 3 Nephi 7: 2 It is also interesting to note the Lord’s commentary on the destruction of the city Jacobugath during the great destructions incident to the crucifixion of Christ and the wickedness of that city being “above the wickedness of the whole earth, because of their secret murders and combinations; for it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land” (3 Nephi 9:9)
- Ether 8:25