I’m glad to have a chance to share a few thoughts on Independence Day, which has always been one of my favorite holidays; one where we celebrate political Freedom and Liberty. These are blessings that few have ever experienced in the history of the word.
This year the 4th of July marks 238 years since the birth of our country, the United States of America. It was on this day that our forefathers declared
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
As latter Day Saints, we know that the establishment of this new form of government was part of God’s plan, and preparatory to the restoration of the Gospel. We know that America is the promised land, that God has reserved this land for his own purposes. That he will have a righteous people posses it.
It is here that the New Jerusalem will be built, where the seat of Government will reside in the Millennium. As Isaiah says, “for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
In Ether 2:12 we read: Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.
In Doctrine & Covenants 101 the Lord declares his approval of the Constitution and says that it “(quote) … should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;
78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
80 And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.”
Yet, as we learned in the pre-mortal life, Freedom is not free. It has ever been a subject of contention, starting at the Council in Heaven and continuing through to the present day. Freedom inherently means there is risk, a risk of failure that comes with the opportunity for success. As Lehi said, there is “opposition in all things”.
Some of our brothers and sisters in Heaven sided with Satan, believing the risks were too great. You and I however, looked at it differently. The point was not to live a life devoid of risks and dangers, the point was to grow and become like our Father in Heaven.
Some things can only be accomplished in a certain way, and this is the case with us and our progression. In Doctrine and Covenants 105:5 The Lord has said,
5 And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom;
My family has come to summarize the idea quite simply – Free First, Good Second. The reverse is impossible.
So, as we celebrate the birth of our Country, we should resolve to be true to the faith of our Fathers. To stand strong in the defense of the liberties we enjoy. Let us teach our children the stories of our heritage, of the just an holy principles of freedom, of the courage of those who stood up for what they believed was right, not because they were compelled to do so but because they were convinced they were doing what was right before God.
As we are living in the latter days, there will be troubles around us. Even here at home. But we should not give up hope. The righteous always ultimately end up on top. The Lord will preserve the righteous. Let me close with this scripture from 2 Nephi 1:7
7 Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.