Life has more than one meaning. In most cases, we think of human life as breathing and a heartbeat. Christ often talked about a different kind of life--a spiritual life. Those who lack this type of life are not necessarily dead or dying physically, but they lack contentment, lack a sense of fulfillment, of purpose, of power, of destiny, of virtue. When we continually seek after and completely give ourselves over to Christ, we live in a state of continual joy, peace, love, and fulfillment. Christ came that we might have such life, and that we might have it more abundantly. I interpret this to mean, deeper joy, love, and fulfillment as we increasingly live as He did. If we prove that we are willing to do all things He asks us, we will be awarded with life that is so deep in its richness, it can be referred to as eternal life.
Faith is not something that is simply obtained one day and then all is done. Just as physical fitness requires consistent effort and discipline, building strong and refined faith requires regular and consistent effort—it requres endurance training. Life is designed to be endurance training for our faith; every day we choose whether to stick with the program and how much effort we are going to put in to exercising our faith. LDS President Thomas S. Monson, whose wife died less a few months prior, had this to say about enduring during the most difficult times of life:
“When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, there is the temptation to ask the question “Why me?” At times there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no sunrise to end the night’s darkness. We feel encompassed by the disappointment of shattered dreams and the despair of vanished hopes…. We become impatient for a solution to our problems, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required. The difficulties which come to us present us with the real test of our ability to endure. A fundamental question remains to be answered by each of us: Shall I falter, or shall I finish?”
Since God is truly an all-knowing individual and has a perfect love for all mankind, why doesn't he tell us everything? Why not tell us every last detail about how to best live and how to act in every situation?
God is the perfect teacher, and trains us in a manner that will make real, lasting changes to our character. That learning process requires that we learn much for ourselves, rather than simply reading it from a book or hearing it from a preacher. What we hear or read can inspire us, but what we learn for ourselves truly changes us.
Perhaps most critically, God holds us accountable for what we know. Those that do not understand a principle are not condemned for failing to live that principle. Such ignorance is NOT bliss, because ignorance also means a lack of joy or happiness as a result of living that principle. However, if we were given all knowledge that God has, all at once, we could not handle it. By "not handle it," I mean we could not live up to the high standard of knowledge we'd have, and we would be constantly under heavy condemnation as a result. To one group, he put it this way:
"Ye call upon my name for revelations, and I give them unto you; and inasmuch as ye keep not my sayings, which I give unto you, ye become transgressors; and justice and judgment are the penalty which is affixed unto my law."
Thus, our ignorance is a blessing of a loving God. Not that he wants to keep things from us--quite the opposite. But in his infinite wisdom and kindness he only reveals to us that which we are capable of living up to. Inasmuch as we are faithful to what we do know, he then adds to our knowledge little by little: "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little."
How much knowledge is God willing to impart? Multiple scriptures give us hints:
"But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."
Most dictionary definitions refer to free-market capitalism as an economic system based on maximizing private profit. Critics of such a system suggest the whole system is based on greed, and Christ would never have told his disciples to maximize profit.
In reality, free-market capitalism is not driven purely by profit. If so, people would never pass up a better paying job for a job they enjoy more. Individuals would always choose more work over more family time, and charities would never receive more money than what can be gained through tax credits.
Perhaps a better definition is an economic system based on maximizing individual utility. Not all individuals who choose to work in a free market system are motivated exclusively by money. In many cases, they are also motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, job satisfaction, family time, education, etc. All of these factors influence economic markets.
Whether Christ would or would not endorse maximizing profit is questionable. If money is the end goal, we read that the love of money is the root of much evil. But He certainly endorses personal progress, including such things as education, family relationships, and charity.
In my view, if everyone in a society were striving to live as Christ would have them live, a capitalistic society would be wildly successful at eliminating social classes, providing for the needy, increasing in knowledge and wisdom, and avoiding war and worldly vices. All of this would occur because of the individual choices of the people, not because of fear of government.
Freedom is what conservatives try to conserve. Absolute freedom is a logical and practical impossibility. A person is not free to be the best basketball player in the world before he has dribbled a basketball. It takes discipline--following rules--to obtain that freedom.
Thus, authority and law are only means to build and conserve as much freedom as possible. Compulsory law and subjection to authority limit freedom; conservatives adhere to and even espouse these not because of what they limit, but because those limitations on freedom create more freedom than would otherwise be had.
Law and authority are only some of the limitations on freedom conservatives espouse--they are not necessarily always the most important or most effective methods. Thus, conservatives endorse some law and some authority, and eschew others, all with the intent of building and conserving freedom.
“We do not need to judge nearly so much as we think we do. This is the age of snap judgments. … [We need] the courage to say, ‘I don’t know. I am waiting further evidence. I must hear both sides of the question.'”
-William George Jordan, “The Supreme Charity of the World,” The Kingship of Self-Control
“[T]he nature of marriage is not a religious question. Marriage comes to us from nature,”
“Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no State of Illinois and no United States of America.”
“A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is less a threat to religion than it is an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.”
"It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love.... Civil laws that establish “same-sex marriage” create a legal fiction."
"Should... legislature... [pass] a “same-sex marriage” law, it will be acting against the common good of society. We will all have to pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race.
Those who continue to distinguish between genuine marital union and same sex arrangements will be regarded in law as discriminatory, the equivalent of bigots. This proposed legislation will have long term consequences because laws teach; they tell us what is socially acceptable and what is not, and most people conform to the dictates of their respective society, at least in the short run."
"If we ignore in law the natural complementarity of man and woman in creation, then the natural family is undermined. Our individual lives become artificial constructs protected by civil “rights” that destroy natural rights."
-Cardinal Francis George, head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, in response to local legislation seeking to redefine marriage
"Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caeser, or not?"
"Render therefore unto Caeser the things which are Caeser's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matt 22:17,21).
Paying taxes was appropriate. This scripture says nothing about what the proper tax rate should be, how progressive tax rates should be made more fair, or even whether taxes are appropriate at all. God certainly knows the answers to these questions, but to use this scripture to claim He sponsors specific positions on these issues is inappropriate. God has not revealed his will and knowledge about every topic; it is appropriate to say 'I don't know God's position on that."
“And [the angel] said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?”
“And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him. And I beheld that he went forth ministering unto the people, in power and great glory; and the multitudes were gathered together to hear him.”
“And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.”
“The angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record.”
“And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.”
“[The angel] said unto me, Nephi, what beholdest thou?”
“And I looked and beheld [Mary], bearing a child in her arms.”
“And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?”
“And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God.”
God chooses not to force moral behavior. He sometimes allows His children to ignore one another, hurt each other, hate each other, torture and kill one another. He extends punishment to those who commit atrocities, but does not prevent people from committing the atrocities in the first place.
Because individual freedom of choice is worth the cost. If God prevented evil from happening, there would be no evil. But the absence of evil would come at a price: no freedom, and therefore no real good. People would act in an acceptable manner only because they were forced to. Because evil would never happen, no one would comprehend the value of good. God has said that man's purpose of existence is "that they might have joy," and joy only comes from willfully living right. Character is built when a person can selfishly choose evil but persistently chooses good instead. Where there is no freedom, there can be no character.
Why not prevent at least the worst tragedies?
Because God has given each person the potential to become great, each person also can use that same potential to become terrible. The only way to remove the worst is to remove our potential to become greatest.
What could possibly be worth this much suffering and death?
Everlasting world peace. Indescribable, persistent, absolute love. Eternal joy. Forever faithful family and friends, whose character will never diminish. Power to improve the lives of others beyond what we can imagine. Permanent absence of fear, guilt, hate, jealousy, and corruption, and permanent presence of love, kindness, caring, and selflessness. And all of this achieved not by force, but by the willful choices of those who have built such character through persistently choosing the good while here in this training school we call earth.
Because of Christ, we will all be resurrected one day, and our physical bodies will never again be subject to death. Because of Christ, we can choose to rectify our mistakes and learn from our errors during our lifetime, refining our characters into that worthy of the ultimate utopian destination we call the kingdom of heaven.
God won't force us to become like he is so that we can live in perfect joy forever. But he has given us the freedom to choose good or evil so that we can build a God-like character if we desire it. God loves us too much to stop all tragedies from occurring.
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