cdw3423

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and Government

Recommended Posts

Let me start of by pointing out I didn't title this post "politics and religion", although this discussion will certainly have political implications.  I'm also not sure how to word my question, so please try not to get hung up on the wording I use, because I'm sure it could be asked in a better way.


What can and should government do to "promote" The Gospel of Jesus Christ?


I don't think promote is the best word to use.  Let me be a bit more specific, I'm not asking if government should advertise/publicize the gospel.  I'm also not sure the other definitions of promote quite fit either, but to "further the progress of" is the closest to what I'm trying to ask.  

By government, I don't mean any specific government, I mean to speak more generally.  But I want to stay in the context of the realities of the world today.  So obviously the governments we currently live in will affect the discussion.  I'm hoping to keep this as specific and direct as possible.  I think things that have an indirect affect are far too numerous and subjective.

I think it would be helpful to list some gospel principles.  Below are listed (alphabetically) some I think "might" apply to this discussion.

Agency
Charity (Pure Love of Christ, not giving to those in need)
Forgiveness
Fasting
Faith
Hope
Law of Chastity
Obedience
Prayer
Repentance
Sacrifice
Service (giving love, time, talent and or money to those in need)
Tithing

I specifically left off items that I feel certain government can't and or shouldn't be involved with in any way, such as baptism or The Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Of course there are probably some on that list that shouldn't be, and most likely I missed some too.

Finally I want to expose my motive for this post.  I feel I may be too confident that my political opinions are correct, and think this could be a way to challenge that and learn something.  At the very least I would like to be more able to make the case for my political opinions being consistent with the gospel in an intelligent and respectful way.

Chris W
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is only one answer.

The Government must adhere completely to the purity of the United States Constitution.  This Constitution is the ONLY political answer in organizing a diverse fallen people - in or out of the Church.  I strongly believe the US Constitution is inspired by God.

Edited by anatess2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, cdw3423 said:

What can and should government do to "promote" The Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Stop doing about 90% of the things it does and stop spending at least ⅔ of what it does. Let us do what we should do without its interference, and will all be better off, especially those whom the government is "helping".

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

There is only one answer.

The Government must adhere completely to the purity of the United States Constitution.  This Constitution is the ONLY political answer in organizing a diverse fallen people - in or out of the Church.  I strongly believe the US Constitution is inspired by God.

Somewhat US-centric, is this not? I suppose it would be up to the OP to state if this should be a US-centric discussion or not, but the generic way that the question is framed suggests to me that the question could apply to all governments and types of government, and that answers could easily go beyond how the US chooses to implement those principles.

My thoughts are similar to LeSellers's, the government should have laws to protect life, liberty, and property (of individuals, corporations, and churches), and protect the free exercise of religion and conscience, but should do so minimally. I don't know how to balance the inevitable conflicts that occur. Church and State should be separate. Government should avoid laws that legislate morality. For example, LDS teach that God wants us to abstain from alcohol, but I don't think that government should pass "prohibition" type laws to enforce LDS teaching.

I think a careful reading of D&C 134 would provide some good direction on this question: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/134?lang=eng

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

Somewhat US-centric, is this not? I suppose it would be up to the OP to state if this should be a US-centric discussion or not, but the generic way that the question is framed suggests to me that the question could apply to all governments and types of government, and that answers could easily go beyond how the US chooses to implement those principles.

My thoughts are similar to LeSellers's, the government should have laws to protect life, liberty, and property (of individuals, corporations, and churches), and protect the free exercise of religion and conscience, but should do so minimally. I don't know how to balance the inevitable conflicts that occur. Church and State should be separate. Government should avoid laws that legislate morality. For example, LDS teach that God wants us to abstain from alcohol, but I don't think that government should pass "prohibition" type laws to enforce LDS teaching.

I think a careful reading of D&C 134 would provide some good direction on this question: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/134?lang=eng

No, this is not US-centric.  The US Constitution IS the template for a government that will foster the environment where the restored gospel can be freely applied.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A quick response to a few things.

Thank you MrShorty for pointing out the more general way my question was worded.  I don't mean this to US centric.  However the government principles in the US Constitution are certainly worth using in this discussion and can apply to any country, state, or city government.  Also thanks for bringing up D&C 134.  I meant to mention that in my first post and point out that it lists several important things related to government.

" We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them. . ."

". . .  no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life."

Actually it is kind of point less to try and pull short quotes out.  Just read the whole thing it is only 12 verses.

anatess2, I agree that the US Constitution is an inspired document created by men who, though flawed like all of us, were inspired by God.  However I'm looking for more specifics on how different principles of government relate to the furthering of the gospel.

In this discussion I think it is worth while to point out things that governments do that are contrary to the gospel and they should not do.

Chris W

 

 

 

 

Edited by cdw3423

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
51 minutes ago, MrShorty said:

For example, LDS teach that God wants us to abstain from alcohol, but I don't think that government should pass "prohibition" type laws to enforce LDS teaching.

I think a careful reading of D&C 134 would provide some good direction on this question:

Joseph said, "I teach them correct principles and they government themselves."

That's the essence of libertarianism. Get the government out of the control business, and into the protection-of-individual-rights business.

Lehi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, cdw3423 said:

Finally I want to expose my motive for this post.  I feel I may be too confident that my political opinions are correct, and think this could be a way to challenge that and learn something.  At the very least I would like to be more able to make the case for my political opinions being consistent with the gospel in an intelligent and respectful way.

There has been a lot said recently by the Church about a government's role in securing and protecting religious freedom. I recall from 2 Corinthians 3:17, "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." God grants us our freedom to make decisions without external interference, control, or compulsion. Of course governments vary and exhibit degrees of perfection in honoring this liberty from God to all His children. I think the principles of the US Constitution and the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence represent standards inspired by the Light of Christ for any form of government, and make great templates for any government.

Edited by CV75

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, cdw3423 said:

Let me start of by pointing out I didn't title this post "politics and religion", although this discussion will certainly have political implications.  I'm also not sure how to word my question, so please try not to get hung up on the wording I use, because I'm sure it could be asked in a better way.


What can and should government do to "promote" The Gospel of Jesus Christ?


I don't think promote is the best word to use.  Let me be a bit more specific, I'm not asking if government should advertise/publicize the gospel.  I'm also not sure the other definitions of promote quite fit either, but to "further the progress of" is the closest to what I'm trying to ask.  

By government, I don't mean any specific government, I mean to speak more generally.  But I want to stay in the context of the realities of the world today.  So obviously the governments we currently live in will affect the discussion.  I'm hoping to keep this as specific and direct as possible.  I think things that have an indirect affect are far too numerous and subjective.

I think it would be helpful to list some gospel principles.  Below are listed (alphabetically) some I think "might" apply to this discussion.

Agency
Charity (Pure Love of Christ, not giving to those in need)
Forgiveness
Fasting
Faith
Hope
Law of Chastity
Obedience
Prayer
Repentance
Sacrifice
Service (giving love, time, talent and or money to those in need)
Tithing

I specifically left off items that I feel certain government can't and or shouldn't be involved with in any way, such as baptism or The Gift of the Holy Ghost.  Of course there are probably some on that list that shouldn't be, and most likely I missed some too.

Finally I want to expose my motive for this post.  I feel I may be too confident that my political opinions are correct, and think this could be a way to challenge that and learn something.  At the very least I would like to be more able to make the case for my political opinions being consistent with the gospel in an intelligent and respectful way.

Chris W
 

 

I think if you changed your question just a little bit you would get much different answers.  I think if you had asked what the government would look like and what laws will be enforced when Jesus comes to reign as king for a thousand years?  Is this not what governments should and ought to be fostering - even now? 

The next question is - why don't we strive now for such a government?  And are there lots of other things that may change - will there or should there be R rated movies?  Will it be okay to do some emergency sopping on Sunday? Will or should any stores be open for and emergency?  Will it be legal to buy and sell recreational drugs (not excluding alcohol and tobacco).  Will people be able to get a tattoo if they like?  What music will be available - will certain music be outlawed? 

The Traveler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When Christ comes, it will be a theocracy with a King.  We don't want that now, or anything like it at all, because no matter how benevolent a King will be, he is corruptible.  So, we have a Constitution established and influenced by God to give us the greatest freedoms and liberties with a corrupt people.  This includes, not only basic rights, but also the concept of Federalism, meaning the notion that laws in Utah don't have to be complied with by those in California or New York or Ohio.  This is critical because it means the Saints can gather and live according to the dictates of their own conscience without being forced to live immorally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Traveler said:

I think if you changed your question just a little bit you would get much different answers.  I think if you had asked what the government would look like and what laws will be enforced when Jesus comes to reign as king for a thousand years?

I specifically didn't ask it that way because the reality today is not, and can not be, as it will be during the Millennium.   For that reason I think the best government we could hope for today would be significantly different.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, cdw3423 said:

I specifically didn't ask it that way because the reality today is not, and can not be, as it will be during the Millennium.   For that reason I think the best government we could hope for today would be significantly different.  

 

I am well aware of reality - but is not this (righteous laws and governing) what the restoration is all about - is this not the government that we should be preparing for - both in understanding and behavior.  When we talk about the best government we could hope for - is this not the answer? Especially for the community of Saints.  I would purport that in the days of Enoch, Salem under the rule of Melchizedek and the Nephits for a couple of hundred years following the appearance of Christ was a reality with no less difficulties (targeted by Satan and his hosts) for those saints than what we experience today.  My concern is that many saints do not understand or even desire such government and rule of law.

 

The Traveler

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Traveler said:

Especially for the community of Saints.

The community I live in is less than 0.5% members of the church, less than half of them ever come to church.  The type of government you are talking out ignores that reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since it doesn't seem like anyone wants to be at all specific, here is what I think.

 

Agency is the most important, if not the only gospel principle that government can and should support.  However it is the tendency of all government to restrict agency on a regular basis.  Even in the USA, where the phrase "It's a free country" used to be very common, agency is dramatically restricted.  Laws and regulation at the federal level are so numerous and complex that the phrase "ignorance if the law is no excuse" becomes a ridiculous statement.  In the USA it is 100% impossible to be anything other than ignorant of the vast majority of the law! One of the reasons for this is people don't understand just how important the principle of agency is.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

17 minutes ago, cdw3423 said:

Since it doesn't seem like anyone wants to be at all specific, here is what I think.

 

Agency is the most important, if not the only gospel principle that government can and should support.  However it is the tendency of all government to restrict agency on a regular basis.  Even in the USA, where the phrase "It's a free country" used to be very common, agency is dramatically restricted.  Laws and regulation at the federal level are so numerous and complex that the phrase "ignorance if the law is no excuse" becomes a ridiculous statement.  In the USA it is 100% impossible to be anything other than ignorant of the vast majority of the law! One of the reasons for this is people don't understand just how important the principle of agency is.  

The US Constitution is pretty specific.  Anything beyond it is excessive regulation.  For example - Welfare System and all other types of "social charity" can and should be scrapped.  This may sound like some social justice aligned with God's charity but it is not.  Charity must reside in the hearts of men and not mandated by legislation.  Any "equality" legislation like Progressive Taxation and guarantees for equal outcomes can and should be scrapped.  Mortal equality is not equality.  Equality in the eyes of God must reside in the hearts of the people and not mandated through foolish and fake impressions of what equality means.

There is a reason that the LDS doesn't have a "law".  The Catholics have Canon Law, the Jews have the Halakha, the Muslims have Sharia, Hindu have Manu Smirti, etc. etc. Rather, Joseph Smith declared that we are to be taught principles and then we are free to govern ourselves.  Putting a government to dictate how to govern ourselves is, therefore, counter to God.  The US Constitution doesn't exist to dictate how we are to live our lives, rather, the US Constitution serves to PROTECT our agency to govern ourselves.

Edited by anatess2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, anatess2 said:

The US Constitution is pretty specific

In the context I am trying to get to, the US constitution is both too specific and not specific enough.  The constitution lists details (too specific) about how many congressmen and senators there should be, the frequency of elections for each, and many more details that are irrelevant to a discussion of how can and should government promote the gospel.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't specify (not specific enough) what gospel principles the government can and should support.

However I do agree that charity "mandated by legislation" is contrary to the principle of agency. As such it is closer to Satan's plan than God's.

In the most recent conference Elder Dale G. Renlund quotes Elder Wilford W. Andersen of the Seventy

“The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.”

That does a good job of pointing out just some of the failing of charity as implemented by governments.

Edited by cdw3423

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, anatess2 said:

The US Constitution doesn't exist to dictate how we are to live our lives, rather, the US Constitution serves to PROTECT our agency to govern ourselves.

All too few accept this truth. The Constitution was written to give a few, a very few, powers to the government. All other powers and all the rights remain with the people, or, under the constitutions thereof, with the "free and independent states".

Most people in  USA today do not know what a federation is, unless one is talking about the  United Federation of Planets — and even then, they're wrong.

Lehi

Edited by LeSellers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Traveler said:

My concern is that many saints do not understand or even desire such government and rule of law.

I'm not sure how someone could desire something they don't understand.  Gaining understanding of what government can and should do is the point of this post.  So how about something specific that you think government can and should do?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

unless one is talking about the  United Federation of Planets

I'm pretty sure I'm reluctant in my support of that federation, but I'm still going to try to get the Romulans to join :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, MrShorty said:

Government should avoid laws that legislate morality. For example, LDS teach that God wants us to abstain from alcohol, but I don't think that government should pass "prohibition" type laws to enforce LDS teaching.

Government can not avoid legislating morality.  Society deems some things as wrong or hurtful to others and has laws accordingly.  Not everyone in society will always agree on whether a particular action is hurtful, or helpful, or indifferent to others.  Society must decide based on its collective morality what is or isn't harmful and then what it wants to legislate or ignore.

The obvious example is that our society outlaws viewing a naked 17 year old.  The laws around this are obviously based on morality.  We could end up deciding viewing naked 19 year olds is also harmful enough that it should be prohibited.   However, it's not just drug and sex laws.  Even laws about whether or not I have a right to cut down and burn a tree are based on morality.  Lots and lots of laws are based on morality.  I don't think it's possible for a society to be without laws based on morality.  If it tried, it wouldn't survive.

In an address in 1992 Elder Oaks said:

Quote

Some moral absolutes or convictions must be at the foundation of any system of law. This does not mean that all laws are so based. Many laws and administrative actions are simply a matter of wisdom or expediency. But many laws and administrative actions are based upon the moral standards of our society. If most of us believe that it is wrong to kill or steal or lie, our laws will include punishment for those acts. If most of us believe that it is right to care for the poor and needy, our laws will accomplish or facilitate those activities. Society continually legislates morality. The only question is whose morality and what legislation.

 

I don't think the community I live in now at this time should prohibit alcohol consumption by people 21 and over.  The alternatives would be worse due to its existing entrenchment in society.  However, it's not necessarily wrong for a government to prohibit alcohol consumption.  It depends on the people in the community, their current use and acceptance levels, etc.  There could be a time and place where alcohol consumption being outlawed by a government would be OK.

One thing the Old Testament teaches with the Jew's rejection of a higher law and the introduction of the law of Moses is that God realizes that different sets of laws are more appropriate for different groups of people.  It depends on their preparation and their righteousness / morality.  (I would also contend that the appropriate optimum size of government also varies depending on the people.)

In my community (in Eastern U.S.) marijuana is not legal.  This is a generally accepted law based on morality.  It's prohibition causes some problems, but most here agree that the benefits to society of outlawing the drug outweigh these problems.  However, as morals degrade and its prohibition problems become worse if the voice of the people ever chose a "lesser law" that would be very unfortunate but not too shocking.  Although not every individual will agree with each law, to work they should be generally accepted.

There's a balance between preserving agency and outlawing actions in order to protect society.  And you can go overboard outlawing too many actions.  I'm not sure what the exact balance is.  Again, I do believe it varies based on the people.  We learn from Alma 1:17-18 that the Nephites didn't have laws restricting what people believed but they had no problem with laws regulating sinful behavior such as lying.  Alma 42:19-20 teaches that laws can be used against sinful actions in order to discourage people from sinning.

Another thing to remember is that no form of government can govern a sufficiently wicked people.  We learn that in the Book of Mormon.  Wickedness will lead to their destruction.  Helaman 5:2-3 says:

Quote

For as their laws and their governments were established by the voice of the people, and they who chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good, therefore they were ripening for destruction, for the laws had become corrupted.

Yea, and this was not all; they were a stiffnecked people, insomuch that they could not be governed by the law nor justice, save it were to their destruction.

 

The next verse is insightful.  Instead of focusing on his political position to restore order, it says this about Nephi:

Quote

And it came to pass that Nephi had become weary because of their iniquity; and he yielded up the judgment-seat, and took it upon him to preach the word of God all the remainder of his days, and his brother Lehi also, all the remainder of his days;

 

And that kind of reminds me of Alma.  Alma 31:5 says

Quote

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

 

I think with the Constitution, the U.S. has exactly what it needs for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Although we should vote and be active in improving our government through traditional ways including at the local level, we can't forget the importance of improving our government by helping people become more righteous and moral.  If we're generally moral things will be fine, and if not ... well ... we'll ignore and twist the constitution and we won't be able to be governed and there's nothing else that would work either.

So, if we want a better government look at ways to influence society for good.  How can we let our light shine and be a positive influence on others?  Even if they don't fully embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, there are things we can do to help foster morals and values in other people.  Our examples and friendships can help others steer clear of some of the things that pollute and cloud the light of Christ within them.  Our actions and words can help them receive additional light, even if it's only a little.

Even if the collapse of a once great people seems inevitable (especially after reading 3 Nephi 20-21 and Mormon 5), we still labor like Jacob (Jacob 1:19).  And we take courage and find hope in knowing that if we are on the Lord's side all will be OK.  We rejoice that we are in the time where "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing ..., but the truth of God will go forth ... till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done." (Joseph Smith).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, LeSellers said:

Most people in  USA today do not know what a federation is

I suspect the understanding of various types of government by the average US citizen in the 1780's was greater than the collective understanding of 95% of all elected officials today. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, cdw3423 said:

I'm not sure how someone could desire something they don't understand.  Gaining understanding of what government can and should do is the point of this post.  So how about something specific that you think government can and should do?

 

The purpose of law is for one segment of a society to impose their will on another segment.  No one seeks to establish laws to change their own behavior.  It seems that the main effort is for those that do not have the power to enact laws - to somehow - perhaps by convincing others to join them - or by some other means - seek the power and ability to in force their will on everyone else.

This is not to say that all efforts to in force laws is entirely narcissistic - just that such is the natural result of having power to create laws.  It is this view that causes me to like the approach of anatess2 - the first and most important purpose of laws should be to limit the power of those capture the power to create laws and the laws they create.  Stupid laws seem to spring up like weeds in governments - thus the main focus is not what laws should be in effect and and not be in effect concerning the general populace.  The greater concern is the power those in power grant unto themselves.  It is this power that creates tyranny, oppression, revolution, war and man made government sponsored disasters.

But governments are not the initial source of human problems - it is the economy from individuals that value "things' greater or more than humans and the preservation of the human race.

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now