The Spirit Of God Is The Spirit Of Liberty
Most ideas and values were downloaded into our genetic blueprint from societal circles. Many of the first generation of slaves in America had a totally different view of slavery than those who were born into it in later generations. Freedom meant something entirely different to those first generations of African slaves.
In the movie “Roots” by Alex Haley, Kunta Kinte and his friends were astounded when they saw slaves living like the colonialists. They saw fellow slaves that had been domesticated and were walking around like free men, only they weren’t free. Kunta Kinte mentioned that they had forgotten who they were, and where they came from and what it was like to be free.
There were free men that were born into slavery by being raised in Colonial America, where slavery was a common practice. Even though only 5% of European Americans owned slaves, the rewriters of history would have us believe that all early Americans were slave owners. Now imagine how natural it was when it was so common a thing. If you were born to a father that had 3 wives and your neighbors had 3 wives, what would you think of the practice of polygamy? It would be a very natural lifestyle. It is difficult to judge history by only today’s perspective.
My fourth great grandfather Abraham Clark’s name appears number 23 on the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Clark owned slaves. At the first glance of this snapshot in history, ones own prejudice would incriminate Abraham Clark for daring to put his name on a freedom document while being a slave holder. How could one be so hypocritical as to demand his own freedom while selfishly denying it for others?
There is a famous biblical story that illustrates this better than I can. You’ve heard this story before so I will shorten it. Why did the Good Samaritan stop, look down with compassion, pour in oil, bind up wounds, carry the wounded man on his own donkey, take him to an Inn, pay for his care, and also returned to settle the bill with the Inn keeper? If you can understand this parable, you will better understand our Founding Fathers and the dilemma they were in.
There were other men on that Jericho road, two men of the covenant, a Priest and a Levite. Oh, they were holy weren’t they! So holy, that they couldn’t even stop to render any assistance. They wore all the habiliments of the priesthood, didn’t they? So put together on the outside, they just couldn’t risk getting their holy robes wrinkled, could they? These two had status in the community of the religious, didn’t they? Too holy to render even a widow’s mite to the helpless. Had their compassion been tingled even a little bit, maybe a penny in the direction of the victim would have been sufficient. Throwing money at a problem never really fixes it, does it? Maybe it just eases the conscience a little.
On the other hand, the Good Samaritan was moved with compassion. Not only was the Good Samaritan moved with compassion, he also had means to assist the one in need. How many times have we wanted to help someone in need, but found our own need too great? We wished that we could do more.
One day a teenage girl approached a friend and me while in a parking lot of a large hotel in Reno. I told her that I was afraid for her being so bold, as to be willing to take such a risk. She told me that she only approaches people who look trustworthy. She was homeless after losing her job. She was enrolled as a freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. She had to leave school and had no one to turn to. She was living in a hotel day by day.
I started asking her questions and wondered how I could help her, more than just a hand out. She needed $45.00 to pay for one more night in the hotel where she was staying. My friend and I gave her a ride to the hotel and I paid for another day. I found that she was from Texas and her parents didn’t know of her predicament. I told her that I would buy her a ticket so she could go home, but I needed to talk to her parents first. Well, to make a short story shorter, she ended up flying home the next day.
The point to this story was this: My friend had as much compassion for this young girl’s situation as I did. Compassion was not in short supply in this event. My friend commented on the way home, that because of his limited funds, he wasn’t sure he could have helped her at all.
The Founding Fathers had a vision that America would one day become the Land Of The Free. Not just freedom for themselves, but for all men. They knew their dilemma. They were weak and in bondage to the Crown. It would have been an impossible task to fight the greatest military force in the known world, and at the same time fight a civil war in their own country. They knew that they must have freedom for themselves first, before they could extend it to others. Isn’t this at least one of the lessons of the Good Samaritan? When our needs are met, we can then meet the needs of others. If not, it’s like one slave offering freedom to another slave. Someone must be standing on higher ground. The Founding Fathers knew that freedom for all would come from the next generation. It took decades to establish this free government. If George Washington wanted to be King of America, the people would, with one voice proclaimed it so. The Monarchs of Europe stood with their mouths gaping wide open that George Washington did not usurp all power. Why didn't he? Because God was in it.
It was a miracle that that generation of men who were also born into slavery, could see the injustice, and know that one day it would come to an end. The scriptures proclaim, “Where the spirit of God is, there is liberty.” It is the spirit of God that gives men the desire to proclaim freedom for all men. These were ordinary men. What made what they did extraordinary? It was the spirit of God! Why are we losing our freedom world wide? Maybe it is that the spirit of God is withdrawing from us. What causes men to rise up and put off the bondage of addiction? Nothing more or less than the spirit of God?
When I was young, society didn't use the expression homosexuality. The common words were fag, queer, punk and homo. I can’t remember them all. The word gay came later and we thought it was a weird word when used to describe this activity. I was raised a homophobe. Later, when I was abused by a sick man, my bias was sealed upon my hard drive. I had a lasting disdain for the homosexual community.
My views about the individual involved in this lifestyle have softened over the years and I am now able to show compassion to individuals who are attracted to a gay lifestyle. I'm sure that in part some of this awareness has come because of the many friends and that struggle with same gender attraction. I still have deeply traditional views about marriage. Over the years as I have healed and put away addiction of many sorts, I have come to know that I will never understand all the reasons people choose one path or another.
Our world is so starved of love and affection, it is no wonder that multitudes look for love in all the wrong places. I know a young man who fell deeply in love and was rejected by his intended soul mate. This young man had a very tender heart and this rebuff was more painful than anything he ever experienced before. He knew he never wanted to experience it again. He was not willing to ever take another chance on love. Love was too painful. This young man instead chose a path that would guarantee a pain-free life. He became a monk. He now spends his time studying, working in a community of other monks, and living a natural, close to the earth daily life.
Why did it seem a natural life for him to choose? Could it have been from the example he saw in others? What kind of happiness and unity did he see in his own family? Did he see a happy marriage in his parents? Did he witness on a regular daily basis a loving concerned father? Or, did he see an unstable environment? Did the stresses that came upon his parents create fear and stress in his own life? Was his father steady and responsible and sure about his future? Did his parent’s marriage survive?
I could ask dozens of other questions that may have been pertinent in this young man’s life. Maybe marriage may have been a very painful memory in his childhood. When this young man experienced the bitter pain of rejection, it may have created a flash back to the bitter pain in his own family. Could his choice to become a monk have been a subconscious decision to escape from the potential pain of love and family? Did he think subconsciously or even overtly, “Marriage didn't work for my parents, so it won’t work for me?”
I am not being critical of those whose choose a different lifestyle than the one I choose. I’m only writing about it as an example of the many influences that sometimes impose their will upon us.
As I have seen many choose a different lifestyle, I often wonder "will their path give them the lasting joy and happiness they seek"? I feel the pain that some of them must have experienced due to a subpar relationship with their own fathers. Several of the young men that I know who chose a different lifestyle had a father who was distant, and/or even dominant. Their father was not a hero or an example in their own life. I feel compassion for those who choose a path that leads to more pain and loneliness because of relationships of suffering in their youth.
Author’s note: One thing is for sure, God is the only judge. We do not see clearly in this dimly lit room. God is the judge, and how grateful we are for that. Not only will He judge us for what we did, but also for what we wanted to do and could not do. We can be sure that he is a perfect and unbiased judge. This is the miracle of his greatness. When He suffered for me, He was there when my father beat my mother. Not only did He feel in his tender body the pain of my dad’s fist against my mother’s face, He also felt the anger and hostility that caused my dad to punish one so helpless. Because Jesus is Omnipotent, He also felt my fear and horror when dad became violent and destroyed everything in his sight.
My Judge was also there when I beat a poor little puppy to satisfy a sadistic craving. He felt what I felt. When my heart was crushed just before the eighth grade graduation dance, I know He cried for me. When I failed all those grades and lived in constant fear of being called flunky, I know He knew my pain. When I was beaten for the four red F`s on a report card, I know He was beaten too. He was beaten for me; not just for me, in place of me. His infinite atonement even suffered for the man who caused me so much suffering.
Jesus suffered an agonizing death in a garden of all places, where living things grow. During the time warp that we call the Atonement Jesus, our Judge, did not suffer for us as a group, He left the ninety and nine and went in search of the one. Just as people who have had near death experiences, often have a life review where they relive their whole life from birth to near death, Jesus experienced this for us.His love and his suffering for each one of us as an individual was compounded by his purity and innocence. Many times, we deserved the pain; Jesus didn't deserve it; neither was He guilty of it but He took it upon himself that we might live again.
In his own words, “For behold I God have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent, but if they will not repent they must suffer even as I, which suffering caused myself even God the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and would not that I might drink the bitter cup and shrink. Never the less glory be to the father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.” Doctrine and Covenants, Section 19.
When we see those who have chosen differently, Jesus is their judge as well as ours. May we leave judgment to the one and only true Judge? Jesus sees all that we cannot see. The Apostle Paul told us to put on Christ. Our goal in life is to think like Christ, to serve like Christ, to love like Christ, to forgive like Christ, and to the best of our talent and skill level, to be like Christ. This is how we put Christ on daily. Many years ago, Jesus felt and knew what it was like to be each one of us while he took upon himself our life and our sins and our suffering. He suffered so that we don’t have to. All his forgiveness is available under the terms and condition of just one word, REPENTANCE!
When that day comes for each of us when we stand before Him, I know that He will punish us as little as possible, just enough so that the divine law of justice can be satisfied. He will also reward us to the maximum degree possible so that the abundant law of mercy can be fulfilled.
Whatever our addiction or mental prison, it truly is the spirit of God that will free us. Each of us was born with a special light within. This light will lead us into the path of happiness. It is His gift to each and every child born. Follow it and remember, brightly beams our Fathers Mercy.