Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism
Lesson No. Six
Freedom and the Doctrine of Equality
Freedom and equality go hand in hand – King Mosiah taught an eternal truth that when a parent, political leader, or anyone else usurps the privilege and responsibility of others to be accountable for their own lives this restricts the just and holy principles of agency and accountability and results in inequality: "And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land" (Mosiah 29:32).
In our day to preserve our agency and accountability and to keep us from bondage and inequality the Lord “established the Constitution by the hands of wise men he raised up unto this very purpose.” (See D&C 101:77-80)
Pride is the opposite of equality – Among the Nephites "there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men; That they should let no pride nor haughtiness disturb their peace; that every man should esteem his neighbor as himself, laboring with their own hands for their support" (Mosiah 27:3-4). Equality is that we esteem our neighbor as ourselves.
To understand the doctrine of equality it is helpful to realize that the Book of Mormon often uses the word "persecution" in the same sense that we use the word "discrimination." Persecution or discrimination does not usually involve physical force but rather "they did persecute them and afflict them with all manner of words" (Alma 1:20). How we feel about equality and discrimination is revealed by how we think, how we feel, and what we say.
Immediately after the Nephite church and government separated those who didn't belong to the church began to persecute/discriminate against those who did. However, members of the church did not discriminate against anyone in our out of the church, "and the priest, not esteeming above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength" (Alma 1:26). All people were to contribute according to their interests and abilities. Roles and responsibilities may be different but their contributions are recognized to be equal.
Testimony - Equality is more than sameness. It requires every man to esteem his neighbor as himself. This approach produces an abundance of all good things because we take responsibility for ourselves yet we are willing to help others. (See Alma 1:27-31) Equality results righteousness, freedom, and eternal life.
Equality is an attribute of God and an eternal principle. "Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God" (1 Nephi 17:35).