Monday, September 17, 2012

On Freedom and Indebtedness

The more I serve, the more I am indebted to God and Man. Any attempt to pay the balance increases my indebtedness, as my every attempt is generously rewarded. It seems there is no way to reduce the debt, though I suppose I could stop the growth by throwing myself into the nearest river. And yet, even then, when I see that my life is not ended, and when I receive my body again, my debt will increase immeasurably still.

I suppose that one who avoided much indebtedness was Lucifer, but even he - a son of the morning - probably did not leave God's presence without considerable debt.

This talk of permanent and ever-increasing debt suggests to me that in social/spiritual matters (excluding matters of financial indebtedness), a reevaluation of freedom is due. I believe that in cases social and spiritual (which perhaps are not so different), freedom is not thwarted by, but rather results from being faithfully bound to another. In some cases the other is God and in some cases it is Man, but in every case it is God, and in every case there is freedom.

2 comments:

jason said...

Expound on the 2nd to last sentence. That's a strange concept for most probably.

Michael Wood said...

Yes! Thank you for pointing that out. I expect it is strange, because our common conception of freedom is the ability to do whatever we want without obstacles. The kind of freedom I referred to, however, is something altogether different.

Articulating this different kind of freedom will probably take another entry or so, but I'll try to give a brief introduction.

First, it helps to understand bondage as counter to freedom. The kind of bondage I am speaking of is the self-inflicted bondage that comes when I accuse others of my unhappiness. I find everything wrong in the actions of others, and in the meantime, justify my innocence. My heart is hardened to the possibility of my changing. This is the anguish of cynicism, anxiety, selfishness, etc.

Freedom as I am suggesting is freedom from this kind of emotional/spiritual bondage. This freedom comes with a change of heart, wherein I recognize and accept my responsibility (ability to respond) in a way that affirms, forgives, and is loving toward the other person. If I insist that I cannot love all those I encounter, I experience some sort of bondage, whether it be in the form of false justifications or a guilty conscience.

I am not necessarily free from physical hardship or mortal strife, but I am free from lasting grief that comes from bitterness and self-betrayal (denial of the possibility of a change of heart)

We are, in a sense, all bound to each other, in that who we are (bond or free) is determined by our relation to the other in the moment. We are not atomistic individuals with independent identities, but relational beings whose identities are defined by our way of being toward one another. In any moment I can be living true and free by accepting my responsibility toward another person, or I can be self-deceived, living in bondage.

In my view, a key purpose for the restored gospel is to organize the human family through authorized priesthood administration by providing covenants wherein we accept this responsibility toward God, our families, and all of God's children. I think that only such an organization, wherein all accept responsibility for all, is worthy of celestial glory. I think that is the linkage that needs to happen, lest the world be wasted at Jesus's coming.