principle for this Freedom Friday is the simple fact that bondage comes in many
different packages. When most people
consider bondage, the first thing they usually think about is slavery or human
trafficking; there are, however, other types of bondage such as forced labor,
forced marriage, debt bondage, and many other ways to restrict freedom.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles warned in a recent General Conference to beware
of bondage. He echoed the
advice of a prophet known as Jeremiah.
“My purpose is to review many forms of bondage and subjugation. I will compare some circumstances of our day
with those in the days of Jeremiah before the downfall of Jerusalem. In presenting this voice of warning, I am
grateful that most Church members are righteously avoiding the conduct that was
so offensive to the Lord in Jeremiah’s time.
“The prophecies and lamentations
of Jeremiah are important to Latter-day Saints.
Jeremiah and the Jerusalem of his day are the backdrop to the beginning
chapters in the Book of Mormon. [See 1 Nephi 5:13; 7:14.] Jeremiah was a contemporary of the
prophet Lehi. The Lord dramatically
informed Jeremiah of his foreordination:
`Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest
forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the
nations’ (Jeremiah 1:5).
“Lehi had a different calling,
mission, and assignment from the Lord.
He was not called in his youth but in his maturity. Initially his was a voice of warning, but
after faithfully declaring the same message as Jeremiah, Lehi was commanded by
the Lord to take his family and depart into the wilderness. In doing so, Lehi blessed not only his family
but also all people….
“Turning from the worship of the
true and living God and worshipping false gods like wealth and fame and
engaging in immoral and unrighteous conduct result in bondage in all its
insidious manifestations. These include
spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage and sometimes bring destruction….
“These messages have echoed and
been reinforced across the centuries in all dispensations. They are at the heart of the Restoration of
the gospel of Jesus Christ in this, the final dispensation.
“The captivity of the Jews and
the scattering of the tribes of Israel, including the ten tribes, are prominent
doctrinal factors in the Restoration of the gospel. The ten lost tribes made up the Northern
Kingdom of Israel and were carried away captive into Assyria in 721 B.C. They went to the north countries. Our tenth article of faith states, `We
believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten
Tribes.’ We also believe that as part of
the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, not only the lineage of Abraham would
be blessed but also all the people of the earth would be blessed. As Elder Russell M. Nelson has stated, the
gathering `is not a matter of physical location; it is a matter of individual
commitment. People can be “brought to
the knowledge of the Lord” [3 Nephi 20:13] without leaving their
“Our doctrine is clear: `The Lord scattered and afflicted the twelve
tribes of Israel because of their unrighteousness and rebellion. However, the Lord also [utilized] this scattering
of his chosen people among the nations of the world to bless those nations.’
“We learn valuable lessons from
this tragic period. We should do
everything within our power to avoid the sin and rebellion that lead to
bondage. We also recognize that righteous
living is a prerequisite for assisting the Lord in gathering His elect and in
the literal gathering of Israel.
addictions, and servitude come in many forms.
They can be literal physical enslavement but can also be loss or
impairment of moral agency that can impede our progress. Jeremiah is clear that unrighteousness and
rebellion were the main reasons for the destruction of Jerusalem and captivity
“Other kinds of bondage are
equally destructive of the human spirit.
Moral agency can be abused in many ways.
I will mention four that are particularly pernicious in today’s culture.
“First, addictions that impair
agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good health cause bondage. The impact of drugs and alcohol, immorality,
pornography, gambling, financial subjugation, and other afflictions imposes on
those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost
impossible to quantify.
“Second, some addictions or
predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of
time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social
media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others. How we preserve time for family is one of the
most significant issues we face in most cultures…. Let us be at the forefront in protecting time
“Third, the most universal
subjugation in our day, as it has been throughout history, is ideology or
political beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Substituting the philosophies of men for
gospel truth can lead us away from the simplicity of the Savior’s
message…. This is emblematic of our own
day, where gospel truths are often rejected or distorted to make them
intellectually more appealing or compatible with current cultural trends and
intellectual philosophies. If we are not
careful, we can be captured by these trends and place ourselves in intellectual
bondage. There are many voices now
telling women how to live. They often
contradict each other. Of particular
concern are philosophies that criticize or diminish respect for women who
choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be mothers, teachers, nurturers, or
friends to children….
“Fourth, forces that violate
sincerely held religious principles can result in bondage. One of the most invidious forms is when
righteous people who feel accountable to God for their conduct are forced into
activities that violate their conscience – for example, health providers forced
to choose between assisting with abortions against their consciences or losing
After discussing the various
types of bondage, Elder Cook counseled us to “work to improve the moral culture
that surrounds us. Latter-day Saints in
every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate
themselves on the issues, and vote.
“Our primary emphasis, however,
should always be to make any necessary sacrifices to protect our own family and
the rising generation. The vast majority
of them are not yet in bondage to serious addictions or false ideologies. We must help inoculate them from a world that
sounds a lot like the Jerusalem that Lehi and Jeremiah experienced….
“Our challenge is to avoid
bondage of any kind, help the Lord gather His elect, and sacrifice for the
rising generation. We must always
remember that we do not save ourselves.
We are liberated by the love, grace, and atoning sacrifice of the Savior. When Lehi’s family fled, they were led by the
Lord’s light. If we are true to His
light, follow His commandments, and rely on His merits, we will avoid
spiritual, physical, and intellectual bondage as well as the lamentation of
wandering in our own wilderness, for He is mighty to save.”