This is a guest post by Doug Daley, who describes himself as a “happily married father of three beautiful daughters. I live in scenic Vermont where I serve in local and stake callings and work as an electrical engineer.”
By Doug Daley
In a recent discussion posted by Geoff B, it was noted that many smart people have very different views of politics. My limited time here on Millennial Star has also demonstrated to me that many Mormons have vastly different views on politics.
It seems that when it comes to social issues we can all agree that helping people is a good and Christ-like thing. Unfortunately, it tends to get very contentious when methods of carrying out this goal are discussed. I have spent some time thinking about what if any impact the gospel principles should have on my political thoughts. In the course of thinking through this issue I have come up with a question that I can not reconcile but that I suspect many contributors to M* can. As such, Im turning to one and all for help, so please educate me, but be polite.
We all know that helping the poor and needy is a Christ-like attribute and we are commanded to become like Christ. Similarly we all know that the plan of salvation is based on the principle of free agency. Finally, we all know that the law of consecration is the higher law, though not instituted at this time.
So, when I first learned about the law of consecration it seemed a bit like communism to me, it is certainly communalism. As I learned more about how and when it was implemented my view of it expanded. Im certainly no expert on the subject, but I have learned that people were called to consecrate their belongings, in the same way that you are called to teach in primary. This certainly implies that a certain level of spirituality was required for people to commit to this law. This also means that the person is left with a choice to accept the calling or decline, the same as any other church calling. I found this very interesting and key to my understanding of consecration.
This provided the ideal for me. In an ideal world we would all give of our time, assets, and talents to help improve the condition of our fellow man. I then decided I should look at politics through this lens. I found myself asking if I should be more supportive of social programs to help the poor and needy which are administered by the government.In the end I came down to one irreconcilable problem for me. Government social programs are paid for by taxes. Taxes are certainly in no way voluntary, in fact the IRS takes a very hard line on that issue. There is no way on an individual level to opt out, like you could with consecration.
It’s true that I exercise my free agency through electing my local representative (House or Senate); but that does not seem to justify the results. I vote to sustain my church leaders as well, yet we are told we must seek testimony on all guidance that comes from them. Perhaps I misunderstand church doctrine on this point, but I believe we are required to do this both to ensure our obedience to correct principles and to safeguard against being lead astray by incorrect principles. In the end we are responsible for our own actions and choices, not others. When it comes to good intentions and honesty I’ll take my church leadership over political leadership any day. It is hard to feel you exercised your agency in an honest way when you look at the corruption and scandal in Washington.
So, here’s the crux of my conundrum. How do we justify removing free agency from people (tax payers) to provide social programs for other people?
This question is not meant to be rude or offensive. I am truly trying to understand other people’s perspectives. It is often difficult to step outside of our own preconceived notions and view the world through another’s eyes. So I’m asking anyone and everyone to comment. I hope I will be able to understand a different perspective as a result of this. I also hope to better understand the people hold this perspective.
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS SUBJECT HAS GENERATED A LOT OF CONTROVERSY ON M* AND ELSEWHERE IN THE PAST. IF YOUR COMMENT IS NOT RESPECTFUL OF DOUG OR OTHER COMMENTERS, IT WILL BE DELETED IMMEDIATELY. PEOPLE HAVE A WIDE DIVERGENCE OF OPINION ON THIS ISSUE, AND IT GOES TO THE HEART OF HOW MANY LATTER-DAY SAINTS APPROACH GOVERNMENT AND CURRENT POLITICS. IF YOU CANNOT ABIDE BY THESE RULES, PLEASE GO READ SOMETHING ELSE. NOBODY IS FORCING YOU TO READ THIS BLOG. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING.