Sunday, May 7, 2017

Does Obeying the Commandments of God take away my Freedom?

Some people have had enough of the immature and prideful accusations from people who use religion as a club. Beating upon others, they declare,"You did that. You are bad!", and, "I keep every rule, so I am better than you!" I almost expect next to hear the childish taunt of, "Na, na, Na, na, na", ending with, "I'm going to tell Mommy on you!"  Fed up, some people, understandably, want nothing more to do with the commandments of God.

Being a parent and grandparent has given me an interesting perspective on rules, yes, even commandments. When a child is young you can try and reason with them and try and convince them of the wisdom of doing as you have told them, but it doesn't work.
 Once, I told a toddler to stay out of the street. She looked me in the eye and patiently explained that, "They wouldn't runned over me." She couldn't understand that though the car drivers didn't want to hurt her, the car simply couldn't stop fast enough to avoid hitting her. Young children just don't have the background understanding to comprehend what you are telling them, so you end up giving a "commandment", "If you go into the street, I will spank you." Of course the child may, and probably will, angrily declare that, "You don't love me!" and "You don't want me to have any fun!"  They see you as being "mean" and restricting their freedom.

Were the father and mother being mean to command their child not to go into the street? Where they trying to make the child unhappy? Hardly! They hoped to buy the child enough time to mature, so he could understand why they gave the rule and learn to use the principles to someday drive safely on his own. By the time they reach their teens, parents hope their children understand the consequences of their actions. You hope they won't speed, not just because the fear getting a ticket, but because the realize how dangerous speeding could be, not only to themselves, but to others. You hope that they have reached a point where they can wisely enjoy their new driving freedom; that they understand that though a rule may seem momentarily restrictive, it will give them greater future freedom.

Now, as the child grows and has the experiences that help them understand such things as hot, sharp, pain, hurt, others, sharing, and the laws of nature, you hope that they will come to understand the principles behind the rules and wisely follow those principles, so that they can be happy.   It would be silly if a sixteen year old was still on the level of mere rule following, "I can't go in the street, because my daddy said, 'No'."

I've also learned that parents give rules as safety guides to help their children grow. If some children choose to stay at the toddler level of simply blindly following rules and never making the effort to understand the principles behind the rules, it is not the fault of the parents, nor it is not the fault of the rules.

God is our Heavenly Father. He loves us more than we can comprehend. Because He loves us, He has given us commandments to help us keep our freedom until we have had enough positive experiences to choose to follow His wise counsel. Think about the freedom you would lose and the misery you would experience if you lied, stole, killed, committed adultery, or obsessed about others wealth (coveted). On the other hand, think how much joy you would have if you truly loved those around you as yourself.

Do I view keeping God's commandments as losing my freedom? No. These are natural laws of human behavior. I keep them as I do physical laws. Just as it makes sense to me to keep my hands out of the fire, if makes sense to me to follow my heart and to be kind to others.

Not only did our Heavenly Father give us commandments, or guides, but He sent our Savior to show us how to live them.  Our Savior came not to take away our freedom, but to help us keep our freedom. He wants us to have the freedom to learn and grow and to live happy lives.

Is my freedom taken from me if I keep God's commandments? No. There isn't any huge parental hand which comes down from the sky preventing me from doing something wrong. Take a look at the news and you will know that God respects our freedom to choose so much that He does not stop us from doing things which harm others.

Do I see keeping God's commandments as preventing me from enjoying the good in life, or having fulfilling relationships? No. I frankly acknowledge that I know very little about how to be happy. I know I need help, so, for me, keeping commandments is not blind obedience, but wisely choosing to follow the advice of a being who knows and understands far more than I do, my Eternal Father, my God.

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