As faith precedes the miracle, order precedes freedom. There is no freedom without first establishing a transcendent moral order. Freedom requires virtue, personal and public – it requires us to be our better selves in our private lives and in the public square. Bad behavior diminishes both personal and societal freedom. Order is thus the framework of freedom. Comprised of numerous influences – more often freely expressed, typically encouraged privately but sometimes necessarily imposed publicly – order is both prescriptive and proscriptive in the human experience.
“Ordered liberty” seems contradictory, but not for faithful Latter-day Saints. As with life itself, we understand that all human action has context. Liberty without order is chaos. Order without liberty is slavery. True freedom requires a delicate balance between order and liberty.
Traffic laws provide a wonderful example of this delicate balance applied. Driving is an exercise in true freedom. The mobility provided by driving makes it inherently so. But there is little freedom if we do not make it safely to our destinations. Traffic laws, serving as limitations and boundaries on our driving, serve to get us safely to our destinations. Imagine your driving experience if every driver were at liberty to do what she wanted whenever she wanted.
Order is not security, as if establishing order requires us to trade our personal liberty for safety. Though, as with traffic laws, some sense of security can be a factor in the application of order. Order exists because human purpose exists. We seek to arrive at our destination. There is an order to peace. There is an order to prosperity. There is an order inherent to the pursuit of happiness. And, for faithful Latter-day Saints, the order of Heavenly Father is His great Plan of Salvation.
Next: Moral Agency