Chapter 4: Opposition and Conflict

Without conflict, choice is largely functional. Conflict makes a choice real. Choosing between an apple and an orange is not a conflict. Choosing between keeping God’s commandments or not represents pure conflict. In other words, mortality alone does not bring opposition in all things. But mortality combined with God’s plan for man sets the stage for conflict. This is opposition.

Mortality without purpose is life driven by instinct alone and our choices narrow to things that give us pleasure or pain. Driven by instinct, we are drawn to pleasure and repelled by pain. This “utilitarian” view of life is not God’s view. This utilitarian view is myopic and focuses on immediate gratification or what momentarily “is.” God’s view is eternal, focused on futurity or what “ought” to be and what we “ought” to become.

The carnal utilitarian view centers on pain avoidance. In that context, people would do almost anything to avoid pain and suffering – almost. Sometimes even the strictest utilitarian might actually choose pain or suffering to achieve a higher consideration. That single act of deference testifies of the “ought” and lifts a veil of understanding to God’s view.

God’s view is a purposeful life of becoming like Him and that process requires prioritization. We must choose one thing over another and some things not at all. As freedom is comprised of complex human thoughts, choices, behaviors and relationships, it must include opposition in all things.

In its relationship to freedom, opposition is necessary but not controlling. In God’s view, human beings use opposition to mark growth in the process of becoming like Him. Practically speaking, faithful Latter-day Saints do not choose opposition in principle. They choose to overcome it. They do not “vote” for opposition. They vote to become their better selves in spite of it.

Next: The Plan of Salvation

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