The LDS Church’s First Presidency is asking the faith’s members in four western states to oppose bills that would legalize doctor-assisted suicide and recreational marijuana use.
Church President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors sent a letter Wednesday to Mormons in Colorado, where Proposition 106 would legalize physician-assisted suicide.
“We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to measures that would legalize physician-assisted suicide,” said the letter signed by President Monson, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who make up the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They sent a similar letter Wednesday to Mormons in Arizona, California and Nevada about marijuana legislation.
“We urge church members to let their voices be heard in opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana use,” the letter said.
I don’t think the Church could have been more clear: the Brethren oppose the legalization of marijuana, and they want members to make it clear that they oppose the legalization of marijuana. Taken in conjunction with the Church’s opposition to medical marijuana in Utah, it seems clear to me at least that our leaders do not want latter-day Saints to support marijuana legalization in any form. (Note to readers: there may be some nuances that I am not aware of: if you disagree with my description of the Church’s position, please let me know in the comments).
I am a libertarian-leaning person, and I voted for marijuana legalization in Colorado. To be clear on my position: I don’t think anybody should use any drug, including cannabis, recreationally. I think recreational marijuana is bad for you. My support of legalization in Colorado is primarily on practical grounds: many juries will not convict people for MJ possession or for growing MJ because of overwhelming support for marijuana legalization in Colorado. So, cops used to spend months tracking down violators, and prosecutors used to spend months putting together a case, but then juries would let people go because they thought marijuana should be legal. It was getting to the point where prosecutors could not even empanel a jury. So, from a purely practical standpoint, it didn’t make sense (in my mind) for police and prosecutors to spend time on such a losing cause.
So, how should I respond to the Church’s growing opposition to MJ legalization?
I should support the Brethren.
What this means is that to me at least is 1)they reflect God’s will 2)as prophets, seers and revelators, they have information and knowledge of the big picture that I do not 3)they are “watchmen on the tower” and can warn members of threats that I may not be able to see 4)I should follow their advice.
To paraphrase a statement in social media from my friend Jeff Thayne, what good is having a prophet if you are just going to follow your own worldly reason and ideology anyway? Over time, many members have made the (incorrect in my opinion) choice to ignore prophetic advice because it clashed with their personal views.
Said President Harold B. Lee:
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. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]
So, the Church’s opposition to marijuana legalization clashes with my personal views. I have only one choice: I must bend my will to the Church’s position, rather than express opposition and try to bend the Church to my position. If I cannot do this, I should remain quiet, pray and wait and ask for personal revelation on the issue. That revelation may take some time.
I have many friends who have big problems with the Church’s history on polygamy, and I have encouraged them, if they cannot reconcile these problems, to put the issues on a “shelf” while they go about doing their Church callings and taking care of their family and helping their community. I have faith that at some point believing members of the Church will find a way be at peace. This same advice applies on the issues of MJ and assisted suicide.
When you look at the big picture, the Brethren are challenging people of just about every political ideology to follow them. Liberals/progressives have problems with the Church’s positions on same-sex marriage, gender and “equality.” Some conservatives have problems with the Church’s positions on immigration and refugees. And some liberals/progressives and libertarians are going to disagree with the Church’s positions on marijuana legalization.
Several of my libertarian friends have already argued in social media against the Church’s position on MJ legalization, and this is, in my opinion, a huge mistake. I can see no difference between libertarians opposing the Church on MJ and Mormons in Name Only complaining about the Church’s position on same-sex attraction and gender issues. I repeat: what good is it to have a modern prophet if you are just going to ignore his advice?
When it comes to assisted suicide, which is on the ballot in Colorado in November, I was already going to vote against that. If you want to know the reasons why, please re-read the Des News article at the beginning of this post.