Should We Get the Government Out of Marriage?

According to a recent installment at www.discussingmarriage.org, the answer is no. Doing so would not only fail to resolve the marriage debate, but it would hasten the demise of crucial family norms. Read more at The Objection from Libertarianism. Here’s the video:

The full article: http://discussingmarriage.org/objection-from-libertarianism.php
The Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/discussingmarriage

41 thoughts on “Should We Get the Government Out of Marriage?

  1. Getting the government out of marriage was the real agenda of both radical feminism and the gay rights movement all along.

  2. In my opinion the government should have no role in defining marriage. Marriage was from the beginning of time on a personal bond between a man and one or more women. There is no need for a government telling people who they can bond with and who not.

    As LDS members we will hopefully follow the guidance of the apostles and the prophet. We all know how they define marriage. But this is our personal decision. We can be good examples to the society by living a live that exemplifies the character of Christ. But neither we nor anybody else have the right to dictate other people’s decisions. And in no way is the ordinance that we have received in the temple sealing ceremony affected by what other people do or not do in their lives.

    So yes, get and keep the government out of our families.

  3. I guess incest, child marriage, polygyny and polyandry would be just fine. I assume even Bill O”Reilly’s great fear of cross species marriage might be acceptable.

  4. My “anti-government” self says get the government out of marriage. You could pass a law that simply says men and women who’ve reached the age of 18 can contract formal relationships of marriage with whomever and how many they want. That would cover MW, MM, WW, and all forms of plurality. And yes, that would also open the door to incestuous bonds. But it would prohibit underage marriages and people from marrying their dog or cat. I think it would encourage the demise of traditional families as we know and appreciate them. Which is why I support my church leaders in calling for laws that do preserve traditional family structures. It’s easy to say “we Mormons will marry in the temple and the rest of the world can do what it wants.” But what the rest of the world does impacts us, our efforts at missionary work, the whole effort of bringing souls unto Christ. I think leaders have seen the forest for the trees for a long time, and that is why they encourage us to support traditional marriage initiatives. If we get to the point where “the world” is essentially an island unto each himself or herself, we’ll have some major problems.

  5. Stam Beale, why would that conclusion follow from the arguments above?

    Harry, did you watch the video or read the article, or just come here to tell us your opinion?

  6. “As LDS members we will hopefully follow the guidance of the apostles and the prophet.”

    Also, I’m confused. Have they not invited us to support public policy that defines marriage as between a man and a woman? Are you saying we should follow that guidance, or that we shouldn’t?

  7. Should government dictate our morality? Should government require and teach sex education? Require health care? Require Common Core or No Child Left Behind? The world is as it is right now, because we’ve allowed government to teach the last few generations their version of right and wrong, left and right, up and down.

    I don’t mind state government being involved in marriage. A couple or person(s) could always move to a state more amenable to their own beliefs and practices. I have a problem with federal involvement in it. As we can see, it just takes one bad federal apple to spoil the whole barrel-full. On the same day this month, Indiana and Utah voters were told what their marriage tradition now is by federal judges.

    You can logically argue all day long about a Utopian world where the feds allow only traditional marriage, but the reality is that it ain’t gonna happen. It is better to separate church and state in this regard. In Hawaii, not only has gay marriage been approved, but the law requires any church that does marriages for any amount of money must perform them for gays. This includes the Polynesian Center. Clearly, we will no longer perform marriages or have wedding receptions there anymore. This is the reality. Government should be of the people, but right now is of the liberal bureaucrats that want to control all things and free up only licentiousness.

    I understand that government can benefit from traditional marriage, and can ensure protections for children, etc. However, a tyrannical government can impose all kinds of definitions and potentially destroy marriage. Right now, our federal government and many state governments support not only gay marriage, but promote the entire LGBT realm. That means more than just gay marriage. It means we will see bisexual relationships, requiring a person to have more than one mate. We also will see transsexual relationships occur. Of course, NAMBLA is only a generation away from getting their “rights”.

    In many ways, we would be safer without government involvement. Right now, kids can point to the federal government and say, “See? government supports gay marriage, sex education that teaches oral and other forms of sex, and transsexualism, so it must not be that bad.”

    Whereas with no direct government mandates, it is easier for parents and bishops to say that others may support other forms of relationships, however God teaches abstinence outside of marriage and faithfulness within it, and that marriage is between man and woman.

  8. On all of these posts, Rameumptom, you talk about the dangers of federal definitions. Never have I or anyone else here suggested a federal definition. There was no mention of the federal government at all. (I’m a strong advocate of local government and states rights, and personally oppose ANY federal intervention in the issue.) Please, respond to what we actually say, and not to what you think we say.

    Also, I believe the argument above shows how we would not be safer without government involvement — marriage would simply be destroyed as a civil institution. We being backed against a cliff — the enemy ahead, and a fall behind. The safe course of action is to stand up, unite, and fight — not to jump.

    But since nothing you responded with – all of which are good thoughts in and of themselves — actually deals with anything discussed in the presentation above, did you watch it? Are you responding to it, or just using this as a platform to discuss your own views?

  9. I don’t get the sense that any responder has actually watched the video or read the article — rather, people just come to speak their own mind, rather than to directly respond to the OP. I post these things because I hope people will read/watch them. If they disagree, I hope they will directly explain what specific claim with which they disagree and specifically why. I hope to start a conversation about the content of the presentation. It’s sad when the comments show no evidence that people even watched it.

    Instead, I get the impression that people see these posts as just an opportunity to speak their own mind, without even bothering to listen to the presentation.

  10. Who provides the mechanism for enforcing contracts? Its usually the courts and government. They are the cheapest ways for ordinary people to resolve disputes because they are subsidized. Try arbitration or mediation sometime if you doubt me. Even in arbitration and mediation there needs to be some fallback mechanism that has coercive government powers. Don’t say we need to do away with coercion as long as there are people who would flaunt their disregard for their contracts and agreements.

  11. I didn’t watch it; but I did read the article. Also, I haven’t really made up my mind on this–just thinking out loud; and I’m deliberately ignoring the theological/moral implications of marriage as understood by LDS teaching.

    That said: The article seems to make much of the relationships/obligations between parents and children. Elsewhere, the site points out the inconvenience/invasiveness of limiting marriage only to those people who are medically able to procreate. But what I don’t see added to this stew, is the fact that many (most?) people who do procreate, fail to take advantage of state-offered “marital” relationships.

    If civil marriage is so essential to effective child-rearing relationships, then why are so many parents declining to take advantage of that legal opportunity?

    It strikes me that legal marriage is of particular value to a woman if she is economically vulnerable due to her absenting herself from the workforce in order to be a full-time parent; and it’s of value to a man . . . well, I suppose at common law, it bound his children to him in an age where children were one’s primary retirement plan; but at present I should think marriage is primarily of value to a man only if a critical mass of the eligible women insist on marriage as a prerequisite to sex.

    Otherwise, it would seem that maybe the hippies were right and marriage really is just a “piece of paper”–at best, a formal declaration of a “love” that the parties insist will be eternal (never mind that the odds on that are 50/50). It’s all very heart-warming, but I’m skeptical as to whether it’s generally any of the government’s business or worth spending taxpayer dollars to administer.

  12. The idea of romantic marriage (which, BTW, has been promoted heavily by the Church) provides the entire explanation for the state marriage situation we find ourselves in today. Like the video, I have long advocated the position that marriage should revolve exclusively about procreation. I would support laws that basically “married” any two adults who contributed to the creation of another human being regardless of whether or not they wanted to in fact be married as well as laws making divorce (except in cases of physical abuse) quite difficult when children have been produced. I would also support strict enforcement of anti-bigamy laws to dissuade men from impregnating multiple women simultaneously. I also support invalidating marriages after a (short) period of time that do not produce offspring except where at least one partner proves to be infertile. I think such a regime inoculates itself from (irrelevant) charges of bias and reaffirms the definition of marriage.

  13. And I feel LDSP didn’t read what I said. I did say that I didn’t mind local government establishing marriage. I did discuss pros and cons, however. I also discussed the reality of where we are now. I also mentioned some dangers of local state governments, as in Hawaii. I have watched the video and it uses a Utopian concept of government. “courts minimally acknowledge, respect and on rare occasion, enforce or defend these obligations and rights…” is not a reality today. Courts have for a generation or two played all kinds of games with marriage. No fault divorce, adoption issues, custody, and a whole lot more show that the courts have not “on rare occasion” stepped in.
    Just the opposite has occurred. Government has become the Daddy, and have left the real Dads out of the home, to pay child support and nothing else.
    A Libertarian approach requires parents to be responsible to their children. However, it prevents government from inventing new ideals to push down peoples’ throats. The video gives some nice thoughts, but they are not realistic in today’s world where government is very intrusive into all things. That you don’t like that I discuss this, even after having heard the message, shows that you aren’t interested in discussion, but only to attack those that disagree with you, LDSP.
    So, don’t worry, I won’t be commenting here after this.

  14. This seems like one of those comparatively rare cases where a lot of right-wingers have to decide whether their church leaders or their politics trumps the other. I see classical liberals and their extreme cousins the libertarians as wanting to resist this argument. Burkean conservatives such as myself, on the other hand, seem to be in a pretty comfortable spot.

  15. “Government has become the Daddy, and have left the real Dads out of the home, to pay child support and nothing else.”

    That’s the point in the video above — it’s *because* the government no longer treats marriage as sacrosanct that these things are happening. And it will only get *worse* if we dismantle civil marriage as a state-recognized institution completely. The argument is that it is civil marriage that is holding off the government from interfering even more than it already does. That it gets it wrong on many points is not an argument against having civil marriage at all — it’s the existence of civil marriage that insulates the individual from the state in the first place. The *reason* state agents are so anxious (it seems) to get marriage wrong and to meddle with its natural law definitions (no-fault divorce, same-sex marriage, etc.) is because by doing so, it can weaken the institution and the protective layer it forms between the individual and the state.

    “That you don’t like that I discuss this”

    Your more recent comment is right on the mark — I might disagree with it, but it substantially addresses the points in the presentation. There’s evidence that you are talking about the content in the video. It’s just that the issue of “federal” vs. “state” intervention was tangential to the presentation and the ideas that it discusses, and came across as a criticism of something never suggested by the presentation.

    I welcome your contributions — I’m just weary of (what seemed to me) people eager to respond to the OP without even actually responding to the OP (or without evidence of having read it). It’s been my biggest frustration since starting this project — everywhere it gets linked to or posted, people seem eager to nitpick the arguments *without actually ever responding to the arguments.* You may not have actually been guilty of that, perhaps, but the other comments in the thread (it seemed) may have pushed to the point where I actually started venting my frustrations. Sorry about that.

  16. ” I have watched the video and it uses a Utopian concept of government.”

    I see it more as a Lockean vision of government. The exact same arguments can be used with regards to property — a civil institution that the state recognizes and enforces, but which precedes and transcends state authority. Governments are eager to mess with the definitions of property to our detriment (eminent domain, intellectual property, etc.), but that’s no reason to get rid of property altogether as a state-recognized entity.

  17. I have watched the video and I agree that, if we are going to presume that a government must exist in the first place, there is a legitimate place for government in marriage to uphold the natural rights and enforce the natural duties of people entering into a marital relationship. I am, however, adamantly opposed to government licensure of marriage as it gives too much control over the fruits of that marriage (the children) to the State. Common Law marriage provides all the same legal protections that a statutory marriage does, without government assuming the superior party of interest in the marriage.

    http://originalintent.org/edu/marriage.php

  18. Aaron, I think you and I are pretty much on the same page. However, would you agree that if courts are undermining common law marriage principles and dismantling the institution, we might be justified in using statutory intervention?

    A parallel example might be: Courts expanding negligence liability far beyond its proper bounds, requiring homeowners to pay the medical bills of trespassers who break into their house and injure themselves. If this became widespread, could a statutory authority, empowered by the people, enact corrections, to direct the court to return to the natural law principles at play?

  19. People need to think deeper about how marriage shapes the relationships between spouses and between the couple and the rest of their community in ways that have nothing to do with their children.

  20. I think LDSP should get kudos for trying to address the argument that “government should get out of the marriage business.” You hear this argument all the time but it is obvious to me that the people making this argument have not really thought through the consequences. If you are going to have a state at all (and there are arguments for not having a state, but unfortunately we are living in a more statist, not less statist, society so those arguments are not dealing with reality), you must decide what institutions the state should protect. Should the state prevent people from being robbed? Yes. Should the state protect from foreign invasion? Yes. Should the state protect people from making other people slaves? Yes. Should the state help people adjudicate differences? Yes. So there are certain institutions (police, a standing army, courts) that clearly should exist in a state.

    One of the institutions that clearly should exist in the state is a family, with certain protections for the parents to raise their children as they please as long as they are not abusing their children. If we do not recognize the unique role of the family in furthering the interests of society, then the ever-growing state can interfere in parenting in ways that we should find objectionable. No, you should not have busy-bodies from the government coming into your house every day to check on how you are raising your kids. No, you should not have the government telling you exactly what you can and cannot feed your kids or what religion you can teach your kids. (LDSP addresses this in another video).

    So, it turns out that it is in the interests of liberty and in the interests of society to have a family unit given certain privileges, and these privileges should be recognized as natural rights. “Getting the government out of marriage” means that all relationships are equal and there is nothing special about a traditional family, and this inevitably will lead to a decrease, not an increase, of personal liberty.

  21. Geoff B. I think you bring up a good general argument, but miss the implications of what you are saying. From a U.S. Constitution position, there is no right for the government to get involved with family affairs except as the least amount necessary such as preventing abuse. The right of association should, at least within recognized legal age requirements (arbitrary as those can be), create an expanded definition of marriage without any government involvement of the same.

    In other words, a very strict man and woman licensure must exist to encourage the best family unit for society without any punishment for other relationship arrangements, or there should be no licensure at all. For the government to legally recognize more than one arrangement as a norm (and man, women, children is the most natural place) is to put into question the need for recognizing any relationship. Expanding the definition through legal means puts to mockery the very purpose of having a recognized relationship. Although without any rigorous training, it would still be the same as licensure of highly educated doctors along side those who claim they should also be doctors because of the love for medicine. Might as well throw the licensure of medical practitioners out the window. Lacking any necessity for training begs the question why the government is involved with marriages in the first place unless they have some kind of vested interest. By that logic, the couple has all the interest and the government none or there would be requirements. Once again leading to the possible need for contract negotiations and not licensure for the relationship arrangements.

  22. @ldsphilosopher:
    Libertarianism is not the place where can only find one opinion about a subject. But the core of Libertarianism is to live your own life freely and not be interfered with by other people as well to not get into the life of your fellow men.

    When it comes to marriage I see my role not in making rules for other people and dictate them how to live or not live their own lives. I see my role to be an example. I can let my light shine so that other people might see it and might freely choose to follow my example or to not follow it.

    And that’s the reason why I want the government to get out of my life, the lives of my family and everybody else’s lives. Other libertarians might have a different opinion when it comes to marriage. I don’t share that opinion but I respect it of course.

    The First Presidency urges us to live lives that exemplify the life of Christ. That means to live the law of chastity before and in a marriage. While doing this we give an example to other people and let our lights shine.And I try to follow this invitation of the First Presidency.

    “The argument is that it is civil marriage that is holding off the government from interfering even more than it already does.”

    That means to choose the less evil to protect us against the more evil. This can be a valid argument but it would only show how evil the government is already from the beginning. The government should never interfere in our personal discussions and family life. If it does it is wrong from the beginning. So the right answer would be to fight against government interference at all.

    People should be free to choose whatever alliance they want. We don’t need a government licensed marriage law to this. LDS members would go to the temple and have themselves sealed to their spouses. That’s their personal decision. Members of other religions would go to their houses of worship to have a ceremony to bond two individuals together. And if a gay or lesbian couple make a contract with each other where their write down certain things about their relationship, than who am I to tell them they can’t do this.

    The right to associate is not to be interfered with by the government or anybody else.

  23. The video explains a useful paradigm for viewing marriage with respect to both procreative responsibility and (implicitly) from the standpoint of handling of property assets for contractually-linked individuals.

    The idea of marriage existing between any persons who create a child is the Scottish status circa 1000 that I’ve mentioned before. This leads to the possibility of an individual man engendering children with a large number of women without society determining that the man could possibly responsibly provide for the children and the associated needs of the women involved.

    The state has an interest in standardizing what is “acceptable.” For example, a couple of decades ago, a foreigner from a country with different standards was unhappy with his wife. So he behaved as would have been “acceptable” in his country of origin, pulled out a gun, and shot his wife dead in front of his children. It is appropriate for the state to clarify the respective hierarchy of heed we give to religion, property, marriage, and right-to-life interests.

    A final historical perspective regards the Church of England and the Pilgrims. The fact that England had a state church meant that individuals who objected to the Church of England as a religion would refuse to be married in that church, meaning there was no civil record of their marriages or the birth of their children. Very inconvenient for those of us descended from the Pilgrims, when it comes to tracing ancestry past Plymouth 1620.

    Now a final current perspective is that the advent of DNA testing makes it possible for the state to determine the two biological parents of a child. Since the state has no desire to pay for a child if an absent parent could pay, I believe the state seeks to determine the identity of an absent parent and attach their wages for the amount of support. Thus the state is acting to enforce the appropriate responsibility procreative partners should have for the children produced.

  24. Harry,

    “And if a gay or lesbian couple make a contract with each other where their write down certain things about their relationship, than who am I to tell them they can’t do this. The right to associate is not to be interfered with by the government or anybody else.”

    I am completely on board with this, and nothing about this contradicts the argument made above. People can, and should be, free to make contracts with each other. The argument is that marriage, properly understood, isn’t just a contract. The obligations that spouses have towards each other are not based on contract, but arise as a consequence of procreation.

    Anybody — same-sex couples, roommates, siblings, etc. — should be free to associate as they please and make contracts with each other. But that is not marriage. Put simply, two men who sexually stimulate each other don’t obligate themselves to lifelong fidelity by the mere sexual act. But a man and a woman who create a children together very well might so obligate themselves, contract or not.

    Also, I’m always amused when people talk about following the First Presidency, while espousing a position that the First Presidency has rejected. They have asked us to support measures that define marriage as being between a man and a woman, so it doesn’t make sense to appeal to their authority to invite others to do the opposite.

  25. “They have asked us to support measures that define marriage as being between a man and a woman.”

    But the First Presidency has always pronounced not to get involved in the individual political decisions of church members. So they can raise an opinion but will for certain not decree something that will force church members to vote in a certain way.

    We all know there is a difference between an opinion of an apostle or a prophet that is not binding and expresses only his human thoughts about a topic and official statements (a revelation, doctrine and so on) which are indeed binding for church members and should be regarded as God’s word.

    “The obligations that spouses have towards each other are not based on contract, but arise as a consequence of procreation.”

    Civil marriage is a contract, because two individuals freely agree to get married. They can also decide to void the contract – called a divorce. However their contract is regulated by the government in some way. Nevertheless it is a contract. A temple sealing is not called a contract because it is a religious ceremony.

    With a child parents get certain obligations toward their child. That is not a contract, right. But procreation is not limited to a married couple as we are all painfully aware of. Marriage and procreation are two completely different things. There are also many couples who cannot or don’t want to have a child. However their marriage contract is the same of course whether they will have a child or not.

    We certainly disagree about the role of the government in people’s lives. And that’s OK of course. I know that the family is important in the Father’s plan of happiness. I know families can be forever if properly sealed in the House of the Lord. I know that marriage consists of one man and one woman bound together and hopefully sealed in the House of the Lord. That is what I know and what I hold sacred. But I don’t want to force my opinion and what I know to be the truth upon others. They have the right to choose for their own lives. I only want to give them as good an example as I can and hope they will make the right choice.

  26. I’ve always scratched my head at the notion that we can take something — marriage, which has always meant the union of two opposites — and willy-nilly change its definition. Marriage has, until literally the last few seconds of human history, meant the ordered union of sexual opposites. It’s like deciding to call a circle a square. We can play word games all we want, but the fundamental nature of the thing hasn’t changed an iota.

    Now the definition has been reduced to: marriage is a thingy between two objects who have feelings. What a flimsy beast that is. And, despite the earnest protestations of folks, it will lead to acceptance of unions that are currently illegal and abominable, like legalized incest and bestiality. Don’t believe me? Fine. That’s ok. Just you wait, folks. Just you wait.

  27. “I know that marriage consists of one man and one woman bound together and hopefully sealed in the House of the Lord. That is what I know and what I hold sacred. But I don’t want to force my opinion and what I know to be the truth upon others. They have the right to choose for their own lives. I only want to give them as good an example as I can and hope they will make the right choice.”

    Harry, you have some good sentiments here but ultimately life is about choices. If marriage is just a contract that anybody can enter into for any reason with anybody else or anything else, then this has consequences on society regardless of whether you don’t want to force your opinions on others. So, as LDSP says, there is a difference between people entering into private contracts with each other voluntarily (this should be encouraged, and people should be able to do what they want as long as they don’t harm others) and people entering into *public* contracts, which is what marriage is and has always been.

  28. Going to my Latin, marriage comes from the latin word maritus, which means husband, as in the individual who husbands a woman (presumably one he plans to impregnate) and her (future and current) children:

    “to carefully use or manage (something, such as a resource)”

    While I don’t agree that women are mere things (res, like a field, to be planted and harvested, it is useful to remember that marriage had to do with stewardship more than it had to do with permission to have fleshy stimulation and a party.

  29. This discussion misses an important distinction — especially for those who want government out of performing religious ceremonies. Civil governments have only civil authority – period. Marriage is a sacrament for Catholics and a vital ceremony to avoid fornication for Protestants. It brings God into the relationship as a partner. What Government does is not a marriage, it is merely a contractual or civil union. The First Amendment protects us against incursions of government into religion. The equivocation between civil authority and marriage as a religious approval or sealing by heaving is a different concept. I could care less if the government approved my relationship with my. Civil ceremonies have no more authority to tell me whether I can have intimate relations with my wife than a bump on a log. However, marriage approved by God is vital to my relationship.

    This, get government out of marriage because of the cultural baggage and equivocation between two very different concepts. Let governments sanction civil unions through civil ceremonies and let’s not let them pretend that what they do is on par with what is done in temples. Let all who want to enter into a civil contract to be in a union have a civil ceremony for a civil union. But keep government out of my very different kind of marriage that necessarily includes God.

  30. “But procreation is not limited to a married couple as we are all painfully aware of. Marriage and procreation are two completely different things. There are also many couples who cannot or don’t want to have a child. However their marriage contract is the same of course whether they will have a child or not. ”

    I really don’t think the people who bring up this concept as some kind of killer argument (either *for* the libertarian view specifically or *against* the ‘conjugal marriage’ view) really understand it. It’s not clear to me exactly what sort of causality they think the ‘conjugal view’ is espousing.

    The idea is not “Society wants kids, ergo we need marriage”, the idea is “Society is gonna get kids one way or the other and those kids deserve to be raised by their parents”. Sex is gonna happen. Kids are gonna happen. And as our recent history shows, if wider society has no interest in regulating sex (or rather the relationships that form around it), then we are left with children who do not know their parents and are hindered thereby, which has consequences for that society.

    Marriage (in the civil sense) is primarily a regulation of sexual conduct because of the *consequences* of sexual conduct. The call of the prophets to re-establish the privileged position of marriage in society is the Lord trying to bless entire nations, if they will but heed their counsel.

  31. I’d second what Blake says. Even if you think there are social advantages to the state pushing marriage there are huge problems once the state starts expanding things. Marriage is for most of us fundamentally a religious act and we don’t want the state involved. Once you have the state involved then logically they get to dictate what happens with marriage.

  32. @Geoff B.:
    “…and people entering into *public* contracts, which is what marriage is and has always been.”

    I see marriage as a contract *made* public as opposed to a public contract. It’s something two people mutually agree to enter into. The public has nothing to do with it. You announce your marriage after the ceremony is over. You let society know you are married. And other people (society) are by law bond to respect your personal choice.

    Most governments have made marriage a public contract. So in a way you are right. You’re are taxed differently if you are married. You get more government entitlements. If you’re a public servant you might even get a higher wage or other benefits. But that is what governments have made out of marriage. Originally it was a very private contract between individuals.

    @Clark:
    “Marriage is for most of us fundamentally a religious act and we don’t want the state involved. Once you have the state involved then logically they get to dictate what happens with marriage.”

    That is exactly what I’m trying to say. If you let the government put its little toe into the door frame the next moment it will move in with you and rob your house. So don’t open the door if the government stands behind it. We don’t need the government to know how important marriage is and to follow our own religious beliefs about marriage.

    @Fraggle:
    “… then we are left with children who do not know their parents and are hindered thereby, which has consequences for that society.”

    Yes, of course this has consequences for the society. But many other things have consequences as well. If you’re overweight it will in some way affect other people and not only yourself. If you smoke or drink other people will be affected. If you you choose to don’t get the most out of your life society will feel the consequences. The list goes on and on. Everything we do or don’t do will in some way affect other people and the society.

    But the solution cannot be to let the government regulate our lives. This at least is my opinion. We are responsible for our own lives. If we make bad choices we should feel the consequences. Only then can we learn from our mistakes. And that’s why we are on this planet.

    Will kids who grew up in a less than ideal family will have obstacles to overcome later in life? Of course they do! And I know what I’m talking about. My own dad was emotionally absent through all my childhood life. My mom on the other hand was way too caring. Today I have to fight the ugly consequences of their behavior every single day of my life. And believe me, I would rather choose to have no arms or legs or whatever other kind of physical disability you can think of over the consequences of my parents shortcomings. So life is not fair (at least from our human standpoint) and we do have to live with the results of the choices others have made without our consent. That’s life! And that’s a major part of why we are here on earth. Could government smooth out many of those ugly bumps in our lives? Sure it can. But that wouldn’t be the life anymore that God has intended for us.

  33. I think I’m gonna have to object to Blake and Clark’s position.

    Marriage is more than just a contract between two people plus a religious sacrament. It is an obligation which extends in this world to more than just the two people entering into it. it is, I submit, an obligation between two people within one generation and their progeny in the next, progeny who are not able to enter into any kind of contract.

    Thus, when government endorses marriage as an obligation which holds across generations, it does get involved with marriage relationships … as well it should since there is no reason why the government shouldn’t take some interest in the future. If, however, we dilute marriage to contractual relationship between people in the here and now, then those same obligations to the future will still need to be met. And the government will be all too happy to step in and fulfill those obligations – obligations once assigned to the married family – as it sees fit.

    Thus, we can and should never kick government out of those obligations which marriage was designed to fulfill. The question is whether we will allow government to fulfill those obligations themselves, or respect a proper sphere in which the traditional structure of the family can exercise some influence?

  34. Harry: “But the First Presidency has always pronounced not to get involved in the individual political decisions of church members. So they can raise an opinion but will for certain not decree something that will force church members to vote in a certain way.”

    The First Presidency has never, ever, forced church members to do a thing. When the prophet says, “Every young man should serve a mission,” he’s not forcing anybody to serve a mission. He’s *inviting.* That’s all they ever do.

    But it is simply false that Church leaders will never invite members to support political measures, or that if they do, it is always and only their personal opinion. Prophets of the Lord have every prerogative to invoke their prophetic authority to invite members to support a political cause. They have in the past, and they will probably do so again in the future. While the Church does not endorse political parties or

    They have said that members’ full standing in the Church is not jeopardized by doing otherwise. But neither is a member’s full standing in the Church when a priesthood holder doesn’t go on a mission, or doesn’t attend the temple faithfully, or a host of other things that the First Presidency has pleaded with us to do. Our agency is always intact.

  35. Harry, a further thought: It sounds to me as though you believe that the moment the First Presidency’s invitations have political ramifications, they are speaking as men, not as prophets. Can you point to me where any prophet has taught that God’s servants never represent Him when they are talking about things related to politics?

    In fact, we are taught just the opposite. President Hinckley, for example, taught:

    We see much indifference. There are those who say, “The Church won’t dictate to me how to think about this, that, or the other, or how to live my life.” No, I reply, the Church will not dictate to any man how he should think or what he should do. The Church will point out the way and invite every member to live the gospel and enjoy the blessings that come of such living. The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein.

    When I was a university student, I said to my father on one occasion that I felt the General Authorities had overstepped their prerogatives when they advocated a certain thing. He was a very wise and good man. He said, “The President of the Church has instructed us, and I sustain him as prophet, seer, and revelator and intend to follow his counsel.”

    Harold B. Lee taught:

    You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory” (D&C 21:6).

    Neal A. Maxwell taught:

    Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. (See 1 Kgs. 18:21.) President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had “never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or political life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ!

  36. @:
    “But it is simply false that Church leaders will never invite members to support political measures, or that if they do, it is always and only their personal opinion.”

    If they do not simply state their personal opinion than it should be considered a revelation by God and consequently the to be the word and will of God. Do you then agree that it would be possible that the Church officially asks its members to – let’s say – vote for a particular presidential candidate? Would you consider such a statement more than only the personal opinion by one of the GAs? Do you think Heavenly Father would command us (the word and will of God is always a commandment though we still decide whether or not we want to obey and follow it or not) to vote for a particular political candidate? And would you call not voting for such a candidate to be a sin?

    I’m sorry for asking so straightforward. But if I understand you correctly and would follow your line of thinking it would mean that people who think marriage is the personal decision made by two individuals based on their personal and/or religious believes and not to be interfered with by the state are trespassing and living in sin.

    “Can you point to me where any prophet has taught that God’s servants never represent Him when they are talking about things related to politics?”

    I’m not speaking about things related to politics. If for example GAs sustain the holiness of life and therefor call abortion what it is: Except for very rare cases an abomination in the eyes of God – then they are speaking politics of course, because abortion is legal in the U.S. and many other countries of the world. The same could be true when speaking against slavery and similar crimes against other people.

    But slavery is already tricky. We know that the apostles i the New Testament said things like:

    “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” 1 Peter 2:18 or
    “Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.” Titus 2:9-10

    This is hardly a political message upholding the freedom of man. The apostles don’t praise slavery or speak in favor of it as well of course. They simply say (paraphrasing): Live with what you’ve got.

    Abortion is killing another human being, slavery is taking the freedom of another human being, murder is killing another human being, robbery or burglary is taking the possessions of another human being. The list goes on and on. It is always a crime committed AGAINST somebody else. I take his or her agency away when I commit such a crime. But if a government tells people to associate (“marry) with whoever they want, nobody’s agency is being taken away. I can still uphold God’s law and live the law of chastity in my own life. I can still be an example. And other people are still free to choose how they want to live.

    Of course they can make bad decisions.That’s the possible consequence of free agency: making bad or wrong decisions.

    But taking away the free agency of other people by force to make them behave in a certain manner …. …. …. ….. Do you really think that could possibly be the way of God? If you say yes, well, then yes, then it is indeed possible that GAs are not only share their personal opinions when say ask us to vote for a certain candidate.

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