Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

If you don't think you could lose your religious freedoms, ask the early saints

One of the most frequent and bewildering excuses people give for not fighting against laws that promote or endorse immorality or otherwise chisel away at religious freedom is that these things are just signs of the times.

We are all familiar with Joseph Smith's statement that goes something like "No unhallowed hand shall stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage,mobs may combine, armies may assemble, but the truth of God shall go forth boldly, nobly, and independent until it has penetrated, every climb, swept every continent, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

And so we feel we have a sort of manifest destiny in the gospel. But rather than impelling us to action in spreading the gospel, it seems to be primarily being used as an excuse for inaction against the rapid deterioration of our religious freedoms.

This sort of manifest destiny is pure garbage. When members went to Missouri to possess the land of Zion they knew that they were taking the land of Zion where the new Jerusalem would be rebuilt. The place had been revealed and they had been given a revelation to go buy up the land there.

If there was ever a manifest destiny in the church, the redemption of Zion in Missouri was it. The commandment was given by revelation. The significance of the event was explained by prophecy. They KNEW exactly what was going to happen. They were going to posses the land which would become a new Zion, a new Jerusalem, in preparation for second coming of Christ.

And we need to realize just how obvious it was to them that is exactly what HAD to happen. They would have felt like they were being unfaithful to their testimony of the church to even question that.

But it didn't happen. Yes, it will happen some day. But when they went to possess the land of Zion anyone telling them that actually they would be driven from their homes and eventually driven to the dessert area of the Salt Lake Valley to try and make a living in a land that nobody else wanted would have been seen as a faithless apostate.

There is no such thing as manifest destiny in the church. It takes faith and righteousness to do the work. When the saints went to redeem Zion they thought failure was impossible.

We seem to think losing our religious freedoms are impossible. We think the Lord won't allow it because it is important to his plan. But the thing is that while redeeming Zion was important to his plan, Zion must be redeemed by the faith and righteousness of the members. The Lord doesn't force Zion to be redeemed. He sends people there to redeem it and expects them to show forth faith and works meet to the task. There is no manifest destiny about it.

And similarly, the Lord is not going to force our religious freedoms to stay in place. We may be thinking that he will force that, because he needs it for his plan to succeed. Hogwash!

If there is any miracle done among the children of men, it is according to their faith, not the other way around. Over and over Ether 12 teaches that sufficient faith was required for all of the miracles.

We need to face the same reality the early saints moving to Missouri faced. There is no manifest destiny in the gospel. If we do not take care enough to keep the blessings God will grant then they will be taken away.

Some may want to pretend we can't possibly lose our religious freedom because of something Joseph Smith once said about the constitution being saved by the Elders of the church. Unfortunately, as I understand, the history of that quotation is pretty dubious - in particular, it had been a very long time since the teaching was given before it was passed on to anyone, and that was by only a single individual.

By contrast, the scriptures clearly state that:

D&C 87: 6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;
 7 That the cry of the saints, and of the blood of the saints, shall cease to come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, from the earth, to be avenged of their enemies.

Isn't the phrase "until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations" clear enough? It was exactly what we read about happening among the Nephites before Christ's coming to them: their nations completely collapsed.

The Lord has not promised us that we will not lose our religious freedom any more than he promised the Missouri saints they wouldn't be persecuted, driven, raped, and murdered. Do we think by our inaction and apathy we are making a better try at our appointed task then they were of theirs? We will not keep our religious freedoms by sitting home watching the news and muttering that something or other seems unfair. Nor will we keep them by failing to fight against enshrining perversion in the law, legalizing footholds by which religious freedom can be squashed under the heel of the new equality.

We must make ourselves heard with a clarion call that will give our enemies pause in their charge. We must not only do that, we must turn the battle against them.

We worry about whether our children are wearing bicycle helmets or are alone at the park or even alone in our own front yards. We aren't sure whether they are safe enough. But what excuse will we offer them when we are the generation that has broken the chain, and has allowed the blood that was shed to bring about a free country to become wasted? When we become the generation that allows religious freedom to pass into obscurity, what excuse will we offer our children and grandchildren who must choose between their God and oppression?

The time for action is long since past. We must make our voices heard. The battle has been raging around us and we have hardly taken note of the conflict other than to nod our heads in vague disapproval. We must raise a noise and make a stand that will give our adversaries pause. We must even turn the tide.

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