Alma 38:12, Adam McBride, “bridle all your passions”
12 Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness.
In the past, I had heard this scripture used in three contexts:
1) How to talk to people as a missionary (Use boldness, but not overbearance)
2) Thou shalt not commit adultery (see that ye bridle all your passions)
3) Don’t be lazy (see that ye refrain from idleness)
By no means do I intend to discredit any of these applications, for they are all valid and valuable. Rather, let us say that the middle portion of this verse has come to mean much more to me than it did before.
What can be understood by ‘passions’ here? As I mentioned, this verse is often used as a scriptural catchphrase to remind us not to commit adultery or seek out pornography in any form. Going a little further, I think that, because of the word ‘all,’ we can also include any other passion that we might have. By passion I mean something that excites us, that drives us, that occupies our thoughts, and shapes our dreams. For example, a great enthusiasm for music, games, sports, academics, movies, etc –as wonderful as they may or may not be– if left to take root in our souls and grow as they will, can leave little room for the more important and divine things. For, if we let ourselves be given too much to any one of these things, it becomes difficult to feel the loving and guiding influence of the Spirit.
I give the example of music: I love music in various forms. I love to listen to it. I love to pretend to create and play it. I love how a song can draw you in with its rhythm and beat, then move your soul with a catchy melody and clever lyrics. Key changes, properly planned dissonance and resolution, I love it. I noticed, however, that it began to consume my thoughts to the point where I was having a hard time focusing in Sacrament meeting because I had had Queen stuck in my head since Tuesday. I thought that I ought to get rid of music entirely from my life, with the exception of the hymns. Lovely as they are, it killed me. Then I read the word ‘bridle’ and thought of the word ‘control.’ I had been able to use music for good in the past. For example, I had been able to establish relationships with some people who were in great need of a friend; this was I able to do because of a musical connection. As I have learned to control the role that music plays in my life, I feel empowered. For, as we learn to control ourselves and exercise our agency (over both thought and action) in positive ways, we render ourselves more capable to enjoy the Father’s Spirit and be filled with his Love. Pray to be filled with it (Moroni 7:48).
Bridle your passions, and make room in your heart and soul for that love that He promises.