Obedience is a word that is not used much today. As I think about it, the first thing I think of is stoplights. When I learned to drive I was taught to obey their signals. I was taught to obey all the rules of the road. They protected us. They brought order to traffic. They made it easier to get where I was going.
I suppose someone might complain about the rules and laws, explaining how they slow them down. Stop signs and traffic lights waste time. Speed limits are too confining, and a faster speed is necessary sometimes. Let each person exercise his or her best judgment about speed limit, or give speed ranges instead of one number. Turn many stop signs into yield signs, giving more freedom and flexibility to drivers. But what about protection, you might ask? The answer might be that each person is responsible for his or her own life, and if they are injured, too bad. They need better driving skills. Education , not laws, is the answer.
All of this sounds pretty ludicrous. The resulting chaos from such a system would make driving very dangerous. I think it's safe to say that education alone will not keep roads safe. Consistent rules of the road and their enforcement do protect us. Personally, I would rather endure the inconvenience of traffic signals and reasonable speed limits than be at the mercy of nutty drivers free to do whatever they want. And in this society there would be many crazy, thoughtless drivers causing needless accidents (many of them talking or texting on the phone). Very strong laws would soon be enacted, perhaps more confining than what we have now in order to bring the situation under control.
Morality is subject to rules and laws, according to God. Society has been increasingly rejecting them for many years. Without moral teachings, in home and/or churches, we are in essence left on our own to figure out what they are, if we even want to know. For example, strict teachings against being unchaste have been turned into acceptable ranges of behavior, including the prevalent belief that having sexual relationships outside of marriage is OK if you love each other (it's OK to speed if you're in a hurry....). As morality declines, people continue to broaden the range of acceptable behavior because, frankly, immorality feels good. It's easier. And why bother with those old fashioned strict rules when this is so much more enjoyable?! For that matter, why not just say they are obsolete?! After all they are God's laws, and if God is not real, then there are no laws...and if we include God's laws, doesn't that offend non-believers?! And so on and so on.
Such goofiness. Did we ever stop to think about the long range consequences of all of this? First of all, morality protects us. Immorality is self-indulgent, selfish behavior much of the time. We do injure ourselves and others when we indulge ourselves. If not checked, eventually it weakens society. And so we are where we are today. I know this is true.
Obedience takes discipline. I know something about this because I am a performing musician. If I don't discipline myself to practice on a daily basis, I lose the ability to play my viola. If I miss even a week I get out of shape and have to spend extra time regaining what I lost. I can get it back, but how much better it would have been if I had continued to play!
Even worse, when I neglect my viola I disconnect with it. Because I love what I do, I eventually miss it and return. At that point I wonder why I gave in to not practicing. So silly! It's never worth it. I need that viola.
For me this is a kind of metaphor for my relationship with God. Daily practice is daily scripture study, prayer, and doing my duties. I don't always feel like doing these things. It's not always enjoyable, and sometimes I would rather being doing something else. Some days it's like pulling teeth to make myself do what is right. It's like practicing my viola...there are days when I just go through the motions, and there are days that I enjoy the process and make great progress. But I know I need to do them every day. If I don't, I begin to disconnect with God. Then I have to work to regain what I have lost. My increased discipline draws me closer to God, and He meets me. I make the first move, and then continue. When I fail I begin again, relying on the Atonement of Christ to help me do so. I move forward.
Yes, it takes rules and old-fashioned discipline.
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