The issue is this. Many critics of the Latter-Day Saints or Christians in general, claim that they would be "limited" to be bound by so many rules and obligations. They feel that there is much more freedom in just living life how you want to, regardless of what God has commanded. On the other hand Brigham Young said (and I paraphrase) to really understand true freedom, one must keep the commandments of God, because as we keep the commandments our ability to exercise our agency gets enhanced and expands. (I wish I could find this quote again)
You might be able to see where the confusion lies. Both sides of are claiming greater freedom but through opposing means. As usual, reading the scriptures really helped expand my understanding. The Book of Mormon is full of great imagery that helps explain key principles. 2 Nephi 28:19-28 helped explain this principle to my mind. In these verses, there is imagery of chains as well as imagery of the rock foundation or the sandy foundation. Let me explain how this helped.
When people build their life's foundation on the sand (in the world), they may feel that they have more freedom than those who build upon the rock (in Christ). This is because those on the rock cannot move their feet from the rock while those on the sand can move around on the sand and change their foundation as the sand shifts. However, those on the rock know that there is more to freedom than where to put your feet. There is growth upward and out. Like a good tree with a strong foundation, there is no end to its height or the broadness of it's leaves. Those in the sand may feel that they have more freedom, but they are looking down at their feet. While they are paying so much attention to their feet and bragging about the freedom they have, Satan is layering chains over top of them. When at some point they look up they will realize that those chains are holding them to the sand.
We try and point out those chains to the ones in the sand. If at some point they try and balk at the lack of freedom others suggest is there, they are quickly reassured that they can still move their feet. Deeper and deeper into the sand they go as the weight of their chains hold them down. You hear advice that if you're stuck in quicksand the best thing to do is hold still. Those that balk will wiggle their feet to get reassured of their "freedom." That is when they sink down further into their sandy foundation until one day they can no longer even feel their toes. At this point they may realize that they made a mistake, they may also feel that there is no more hope. That is where those on the rock come in.
The ones on the rock slowly grow bigger and feel freer as they explore the open atmosphere of the world and "the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Even though their feet are planted firmly, they know the true freedom comes from above. Invariably, one of the truly righteous trees hang very closely over one who is trapped in the sand. If the one in the sand decides to admit that he needs help. If he quits wiggling (committing sin) to prove that he has "freedom," then he may look up and see the branch of his former friend reaching out to him. The main role of the ones on the rock is to be an example to all around.
How do we get onto the rock? Satan tells us that we must first dig ourselves out of our mess by ourselves, and then drag ourselves onto the rock of our salvation. This route seems so difficult that many will give up or quit, which is what Satan wants. What does the Savior say? "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Christ, having "descended below all things," works his miracles from below rather than above. The individual must decide to begin exercising his "freedom" to get onto a sure foundation, a "foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." Once the decision is made, he stops wiggling (which is what got him into the mess in the first place), and trusts in the Savior.
As the individual in the sand exercises his freedom to be "limited" by keeping the commandments, they see that Satan's chains begin fading and breaking. After a season of faith, repentance, etc., the individual in the sand makes a huge discovery. While they have been looking skyward and keeping their feet firmly planted in the right, Christ has turned their sandy foundation into sandstone! Without realizing it, they are free from the chains of Satan and can grow ever upward and outward with a better understanding of what true freedom means. Then they understand what the God-fearing people meant all the time by having more freedom through righteous living.
Marty, Scott, Cassie, and Austin: The branch is there. I might not be the best at reaching out to you, but I do love you. I'm ready to help when you are ready for it. Please stop wiggling, let the Savior transform your foundation, and come find the freedom in the so-called "limited" path. You will be amazed.