What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: j.cliss
Actions have consequences.
This maxim is easily understood by most individuals, especially when their actions have produced negative consequences. With the help of hindsight, we can look back at previous actions and see their consequences—both intended and unintended. But do we keep this principle in mind when pondering future actions?
The war in heaven was a major determining factor in shaping our eternal lives and the path we would follow. Our decision as to whether we would follow Christ or Satan had a simple consequence with everlasting implications. We all know this, but do we understand the impact of this war? The principles we fought over are at the root of ongoing struggles around the world in our own day. Thus, the action we took in response to the war in heaven is one we must continually take if we are to follow God’s path. Then-Elder Benson agreed:
As important as are all other principles of the gospel, it was the freedom issue which determined whether you received a body. To have been on the wrong side of the freedom issue during the war in heaven meant eternal damnation. How, then, can Latter-day Saints expect to be on the wrong side in this life and escape the eternal consequences? The war in heaven is raging on earth today. The issues are the same: Shall men be compelled to do what others claim is for their best welfare or will they heed the counsel of the prophet and preserve their freedom? (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965)
If the war in heaven is raging on earth today, are we sure we’re fighting for the right side? Are our actions on the side of freedom as they once were when we decided to reject Satan’s plan of force? Or do we instead favor the use of force in select cases to coerce others into doing good? It is imperative that we understand the potential consequences that will result from our current actions in this regard. But with the ongoing and increasing suppression of liberty—including in our own country, once considered the model of freedom—it would seem that there is a disconnect between the choice we once made in heaven, and the choices many of us are currently making and supporting. Pres. Hinckley spoke to this effect when he said:
I cannot understand why so many have betrayed in life the decision they once made when the great war occurred in heaven.
But it is evident that the contest between good and evil, which began with that war, has never ended. It has gone on, and on, and on to the present. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)
On another occasion, he said:
That war, so bitter, so intense, has never ceased. It is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. They’ve indulged in lying and deceit. They’ve employed money and wealth. They’ve tricked the minds of men. They’ve murdered and destroyed and engaged in every kind of evil practice to thwart the work of Christ. (Gordon B. Hinckley, via Quoty)
As important as the decision was in the war in heaven to follow Christ, it is in the past, and we are faced with new and increasingly important decisions whose consequences (seen and unseen) will affect ourselves and numerous others. The “freedom issue” is one that pervades our thoughts and actions—in essence, either we have faith in the individual and allow him to retain and make use of his agency and freedom, or we abandon this trust and seek to use some type and amount of force to coerce him to do the right thing.
What, then, are we to do? How does one ensure he’s on the right side of the battle? President Hinckley likewise addressed this issue:
Brethren, the war goes on. It is as it was in the beginning. There may not be the intensity, and I am grateful for that. But the principles at issue are the same. The victims who fall are as precious as those who have fallen in the past. It is an ongoing battle. We of the priesthood are all part of the army of the Lord. We must be united. An army that is disorganized will not be victorious. It is imperative that we close ranks, that we march together as one. We cannot have division among us and expect victory. We cannot have disloyalty and expect unity. We cannot be unclean and expect the help of the Almighty. (Gordon B. Hinckley, The War We Are Winning)
Be united. March as one. Oppose division. Be loyal. Be clean. While they sound simple, these are no easy tasks. The mere mention of any political issue in Sunday School is enough to raise the room temperature a few degrees. If we can’t unite behind necessary actions and support these enduring principles, what hope have we of unity? It is important, as always, that we seek first to obtain God’s word, and understand the pattern of the freedom issue, and what it means for us today. Only then will we have the ability to truly march as one in defense of the same principles we fought for in heaven.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1)