Sunday, May 29, 2016

M. Russell Ballard on our responsibility to preserve freedom through righteousness

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"Samuel Adams, who is sometimes called the father of the American Revolution, wrote: 'I thank God that I have lived to see my country independent and free. She may long enjoy her independence and freedom if she will. It depends upon her virtue.' (Wells, The Life of Samuel Adams, 3:175.)
"That means it depends on us. If we would maintain the independence and freedom the Founding Fathers intended, we must work to preserve and protect the moral foundation upon which they built the U. S. government. We must stand boldly for righteousness and truth, and must defend the cause of honor, decency, and personal freedom espoused by Washington, Madison, Adams, Lincoln, and other leaders who acknowledged and loved God. Otherwise, we will find ourselves in the same predicament President Lincoln observed in 1863.
"Said Lincoln: 'We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of their own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!' (A Proclamation 'to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation.')
"Let us resolve to make our own families truly free by teaching them that God holds us all accountable. His laws are absolutes; breaking them brings misery and unhappiness; keeping them brings joy, happiness, and the blessings of heaven. Let us teach our families and others the importance of moral responsibility based on the laws of God.
"The freedom we give thanks for is at stake—for ourselves and for our posterity. No nation or people that rejects God or His commandments can prosper or find happiness. History and the scriptures are filled with examples of nations that rejected God. Let us be wise and remember the source of our blessings and not be timid or apologetic in sharing this knowledge with others."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Religion in a Free Society," Provo Freedom Festival, July 5, 1992; see Ensign, October 1992, pp. 64-65
Click here to read the full talk

This is a wonderful thought from Elder Ballard, appropriate for the Memorial Day weekend. He reminds us that "independence and freedom" are a gift from our Founding Fathers, but are also an obligation given to us to preserve through righteousness. His premise, based on the quote from Samuel Adams, is that freedom depends on the virtue and righteousness of the citizens. We have the duty to "stand boldly for righteousness and truth" in our time. That struggle has been a difficult one for at least 150 years, as witnessed by these thought-provoking words of President Lincoln:

I thought it was significant that Elder Ballard emphasized that perhaps the most important thing we can individually do, today, is to focus on our own families; "make our own families truly free" as we teach accountability and righteousness, and "moral responsibility based on the laws of God." As we strengthen and bless individual families, we strengthen and bless the whole nation.

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