All of the men had obtained, temporarily at least, economic freedom, but to none of them did their economic abundance bring freedom of the soul. While perhaps it is seldom, if ever, contended that either political independence or economic freedom alone brings perfect liberty, it is not, however, uncommon for free agency to be considered as synonymous with freedom of the soul.
It is one of our greatest heritages. For it we are deeply indebted to our Father in Heaven, to the Founding Fathers, and to the pioneers. God gave it to man in the Garden of Eden. See Moses And the pioneers, led by the inspiration of heaven, gave their all to perpetuate it. Surely we ought always to be alert in its defense and willing, if necessary, to give our lives for its preservation. Free agency, however, precious as it is, is not of itself the perfect liberty we seek, nor does it necessarily lead thereto.
As a matter of fact, through the exercise of their agency more people have come to political, economic, and personal bondage than to liberty. The Nephites, for example, at one time, by the exercise of their agency, brought themselves to such a state of affairs that their only course led to political bondage. This they did while living under a government providing for the freest exercise of agency.
Under these circumstances, they chose as rulers wicked men, who would certainly destroy their political liberties, to replace righteous men who had in the past protected and preserved those liberties and would have continued to do so in the future. The freewill choosing of a king by the Jaredites led directly to their captivity.
See Ether — This sequence was repeated in the days of Israel. Samuel therefore anointed Saul to be their king. In due time, just as Samuel had predicted, heavy burdens were laid upon them, their sons and daughters were made servants of the king, and war came. The nation was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, both of which were, in their turn, carried away into captivity.
Not only did they lose their political freedom, but their very political existence as nations was terminated. We have a classic example of the loss of economic freedom by the misuse of free agency in the book of Genesis. The Egyptians, instead of exercising their agency to provide for themselves against a day of need, depended upon the government. As a result, when the famine came they were forced to purchase food from the government. First they used their money.
When that was gone, they gave their livestock, then their lands; and finally they were compelled to sell themselves into slavery, that they might eat. See Gen. We ourselves have gone a long way down this road during the last century. My counsel is that we beware of the doctrine which encourages us to seek government-supported security rather than to put faith in our own industry.
With respect to the loss of personal liberty through the misuse of free agency, our daily lives are filled with tragic evidence. We see the alcoholic with his craving for drink, the dope fiend in his frenzy, and worse, the pervert with his irretrievable loss of manhood. Who will say that such persons enjoy liberty?
Notwithstanding the fact that through its misuse, political, economic, and personal liberty are lost, free agency will always endure because it is an eternal principle. However, the free agency possessed by any one person is increased or diminished by the use to which he puts it. Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency. The further one goes in the making of wrong decisions in the exercise of free agency, the more difficult it is for him to recover the lost ground.
One can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return. He then becomes an abject slave. By the exercise of his free agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point. There she was shot, and she died setting the barricade on fire. He thought of the young girl with the torch in her hand, and that is how the statue of liberty was conceived. Do you place yourselves in such a position that you cannot exercise your free agency?
All we have talked about to this point is only a preamble as we begin to discuss ourselves and our own free agency, which these documents proclaim and protect. Joseph Smith could not have restored the gospel without freedom of religion. Do you think it an accident that Joseph Smith was born just a few years after our land had become free and after we had gained these documents ensuring our unalienable rights?
No, it was not an accident. Do you place yourself and your families in a position where you have no alternative but to listen to television programs, or view movies, or read magazines or books that are degrading? Our free agency can be used for accepting or rejecting; we may avoid evil. But there is also something positive we can do about this problem. We are in a position to express our personal beliefs in public forums and in elections. Our founding fathers in New England used town meetings. Today every citizen still has the right to discuss an issue as a citizen of the community in a town meeting.
Do the communities that you come from have such public forums for freedom of speech? Does your legislature and do you by your vote put in the kind of men who will protect that right? Moreover, we are in a position to withdraw personal time and financial support from those books, movies, television programs, magazines, and political and public establishments that do not uphold the standards of a free people. That does not seem to be an easy question, but the answer is easy. A justice of the Supreme Court summed the problem up this way, in essence, after the court had worked for weeks trying to come up with a definition of pornography: We cannot agree on what the legal definition of pornography is, but show it to us and we know what it is.
One basic truth that I have learned over my twenty years in business is that the devil himself will not participate in any venture, such as pornography, that does not make a profit. The other day I went down to a grocery store on an errand. I bought about a pound of plums, which was my little venture on the side it was not on the list , a loaf of bread, and one other item. And as I was checking out, I looked across the stand; and there were magazines that absolutely appalled me.
I could not understand how a proprietor of a store could tell his own young son or daughter that that display represented freedom. I ask you today, young men and women, what are our freedoms? We have the freedom to accept or reject. We should talk directly to the offenders about what our rights are as well as what theirs are.
Let me give you a few examples that I have noticed in my life. First of all, most of us are part of that famous silent majority. Have you ever sat with your family in a restaurant and heard profanity to the point that you could not take it any longer? I have my wife and children with me. It is a part of their way of life, but they will be shocked if someone reminds them. When a workman steps into your car or your home, he may have conditioned a reflex to pull out a cigarette and smoke it.
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I have found that not one of them is offended when I remind him that his smoke will permeate our clothing. I can tell you, the odor of one cigarette smoked in our home by a workman remains in our home or our car for days. Once he realizes that, he is understanding. But when you exercise your rights, he pauses, and then you can start telling him why you do not smoke and explaining a few of your own beliefs. He will enjoy it. Nobody wants to offend knowingly, but smoking is a conditioned reflex.
I want to talk about conditioned reflexes in our own personal lives. As young pilots, we sat for hundreds of hours in Link trainer airplanes. When the fire-warning light came on, we had to turn all of the switches off and save our lives within eight seconds. That developed a conditioned reflex. When the light came on, we literally went through the motions of turning off all the switches.
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For about three years I thought that was a large waste of time on my part—until the fire-warning light came on as I was on takeoff row. Now, I want to talk to you about your conditioned responses and your fire-warning light. As you leave here this evening, as the young man turns up the canyon instead of toward the dorm, does a fire-warning light come on?
What is your preconditioned response when someone hands you a cigarette or a beer? You had better be alone rather than with them. That is difficult to say because loneliness and depression are probably two of the most difficult things we have to face in life. Many of you young ladies are looking for a partner, and young men the same.
There is only one thing worse than not being married in the temple of God, not being sealed for time and all eternity; that is being married to the wrong person. If you do not believe me, talk to someone who has made that mistake. I can only repeat: There is only one thing worse than not being married, and that is being married to the wrong person.
Think carefully who you are going to give yourself to, because it should last for time and all eternity. Too often we think of free agency as something that lets us do what we want. We know that this idea is not true; we have found that out in life. I would like to give you a little story.
I am number forty-seven out of forty-nine. We must establish where we are going to look for direction and where we are going to get the direction for free agency. Are we going to get it from our peer group? Are we going to set up rationalizations to make life more comfortable?
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Oh, my brothers and sisters, the commandments of our Heavenly Father are there for one reason; they are there for one purpose—to save us from those things that will ultimately destroy us. Do you realize why we have tithing? Tithing is here so that each one of us, even as students, has as much right to go to this institution as anyone else in the Church or in the world. We can go to any temple and share just as much. I was in a chapel in the East that we bought a few years ago.
When I was there I noticed that in front of the podium was the name of the family who had given the podium. On the glass behind me in that chapel was the name of the family who had donated the beautiful stained-glass windows. Even the cedar of Lebanon walls had the names of those who had donated. Do you realize that tithing is there so that each of us owns equally in anything the Church possesses? When you go up to the twenty-sixth floor of the Church Office Building, you own as much of that building as Mr.
He is a great man, but I want you to know that he does not possess any more of any building than any of us. He is the kind of man who understands that, and that is what makes him great. Do you realize that if you pay your tithing you will never have money as your number-one-goal? Maybe you are going to have to live a few years to think about that, but let me say that to you. If you will pay your 10 percent tithing and use the rest of the 90 percent, you will never have to worry about money because you will learn how to budget and live within your means.
Money and wealth are insatiable. I have known men who, after they had the half-million-dollar home and the yacht and the airplane, would then want other possessions. They were never satisfied, and they went into debt millions of dollars satisfying that need. Because they had not learned the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration at the lowest levels. That is what tithing is. What the Lord tells us is that if we cannot live the law, we are not ready for greater laws.
Brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves about moral laws. Why are they there? They are there for one reason: to protect us. Do you realize what happens in your life when you get diverted on moral issues? You whole eternal progress changes. You have to wait until you can repent and come back, and valuable time is lost in your progression.
There is nothing as dangerous as a fallen lighthouse. When you give your life and yourself to someone, do it totally. Even if you have made a mistake at this time, the miracle of forgiveness is there and it is real. There is a beautiful story about a bird who, when a man came along selling worms, took a few inconspicuous feathers under her wing and gave them to the man because it was so easy to buy the worms.
But as time went on, she ran out of the little inconspicuous feathers. Pretty soon she had to take one of the key pinfeathers on her wings. She could no longer fly to the top of the tree and sing. Then the man who sold the worms was not to be found because she had lost her beauty. She could not sing from the high treetops and fly. Do you want to give away your morality a little feather at a time until you lose the beauty that is yours, the beauty you should keep for that one person for time and for all eternity?
It is not worth it. It will absolutely consume you if you are not willing to repent. What is it that makes us listen to the commandments of our Heavenly Father? You know, I love Alma because, although he was rebelling with the sons if Mosiah, he still repented. He was striking out against his father. His father not only prayed, but he had his congregation pray, and you know the story: An angel appeared to him.
Later that same Alma, who had worked against his father, who had repented and then gone on a mission, was talking to his sons. That is the simplest advice a father can say to his son or daughter. As we exercise our free agency, it is free agency to keep the commandments of our Heavenly Father. It is for our growth and our protection.
If we do not keep the laws, as we know, with every law there is a counterpart punishment that we suffer. He told us how to pray. That is the key. We must pray and stay close to our Heavenly Father. They have no problems as I do. May I remind you that you took the sacrament today.
What did you say then? You said, and you were promised, that if you keep the commandments you will always have the Spirit with you. That is how simple that particular obligation is. You know, I have been to four funerals since April. I have seen the wives of General Authorities go, and I have seen a great General Authority leave us and leave his wife alone. But I want to let you know that within two or three days after Elder Cullimore lost his wife, when I climbed on an airplane with Elder Ashton to go up to Ricks, there sitting in the first row, first seat, was Elder Cullimore going to his assignment.
There is a message there for a young man or a young woman. It may be ten years, it may be twenty, it may be thirty, but the time will come when that lesson must be learned either by you or by your wife. None of us wants to face it, but we have leaders who show us how. Have you had any problems recently in terms of physical disabilities? We recently set apart a mission president, and there was a sweet daughter in a wheelchair, who while on her mission had had an automobile accident.
She was paralyzed from the neck down. Mom and Dad are now being called on a mission and she is going back on a mission. President Rex Reeve and his daughter showed Elder Hunter and me a great testimony. Beautiful, happy, smiling, she could have been just lying down the rest of her life.
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How many of us would have the same attitude she did? Or do we feel sorry for ourselves and then see that as an excuse for why we do not keep commandments?
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If we do not get the young lady we want or the young man we want, do we get down on our knees and pray about it, or do we go and do something foolish? May I ask in closing that we exercise our free agency in a free land, that we know what our beliefs are, that we know God lives and Jesus is the Christ. Oh, how we know that! We have a leader as a prophet who has told us to lengthen our stride. He is a man who is a prophet, Spencer W.
How do I know that? By having been around him a very short period, but also by having observed him and heard stories about him for many years. My father was the stake president at the time. It was in the morning, and we heard hammering. Out on our little shed at the back of our house where we needed some repairs was Elder Spencer W. Kimball—hammer in hand, nails, and shingles, repairing the roof. President Kimball has been dedicated—throughout his open-heart surgery, his cancer. And all of the afflictions that he has had could have caused him to give up.
stephenhardy.me/giwy-m-manual.php But he has dedicated every hour of every day so that this Church might move forward. It is my prayer and my blessing that each one of us might get the vision of President Spencer W. Kimball, that we might know that he has dedicated every hour and every day of his life. He is impossible to slow down. For his next trip for area conferences Elder Fyans and those that are were making the schedule tried to put in two free days.
Do you know what the President did?
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