Friday, June 12, 2009

BYU Freedom Society Correspondence pt3


... I believe that your paradigm is sound. Thank you for your insights. I hope you know that I am a sincere seeker of the truth. I almost hesitate to ask another question... though I appreciate every word, and every word is valuable in answering my question.

Another question(s) then?

What in natural law reveals to us that we are justified in removing from liberty him who does not respect the supposed natural law rights of another (while remembering that those natural law rights are determined by a constitutional republic interpreting the natural law as imperfectly as an individual might)? Does this involve the social contract idea, which you mentioned in the first letter, that it might be consistent with natural law that 'the people' can contract out some responsibilities to a government? If so, where do we find that the natural law condones such contracts?

Can it not be argued that the 'natural law' demands that we coerce nobody, bad or good, for it appears to us that God himself does not do such?

Further, if Christ says to judge not, to resist not evil, to turn the other cheek, and reminds us that God causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the just and unjust, and commands us to be perfect as He is perfect, and if the Book of Mormon shows that defense and force are necessary at times, perhaps especially against a secret combination (which could be interpreted to be socialistic anything), how have you found to draw the line between when to allow our enemies their liberty and when not to (all the time remembering that we are not perfect judges of right or wrong or the heats of men)? I ask this with many theories floating around in my head, and with the sincere desire to simply know what is right so that I may not offend God in my attempts at valiance, and without great expectations, however, as I have said, I see that you have thought these things out very well, and I thought I might try my luck.

Thanks again,


P.S. You have my permission to keep and use our correspondence and use it for any purpose you might deem proper (then your writing perhaps can benefit more people than myself).


Please don't hesitate to ask as many questions as you like. With your permission, I have sent this email to a few people who I think would be edified by our conversation (for those others reading, you may want to start at the bottom of this email and work your way up). I understand those times when ideas are racing around and it's hard to connect the dots. I believe that those who really seek the truth as a life endeavor will eventually experience what Joseph Smith said was a "war of words and tumult of opinions". Indeed, this is the very thing we've been talking about: what do words mean, and what is the correct idea to those words?

Words and Their Power

It has been said that words offer the means to meaning. Sadly, today, even the reading of the Founder's words leave people more confused than before, or -- even worse -- the new convoluted terms/words send them down the path of supporting ideas that will enslave them. As Goethe said: "None are more helplessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free".

There has been a revision to the meaning of words today. The problem is that when the meaning behind a word has changed to include more than its original intent (or something completely and altogether different), what word takes the place of the old idea? The restoration of the correct ideas behind the words given through historical text and ancient scripture is a blessing that we are heir to through the restored gospel.

The Foundation of Natural Law

The application of natural law appears to have many limits, and many people get hung up on certain details when studying natural law wherein they dismiss the entire principle. They do this, not because of a flaw in natural law or its natural force/power upon man, but because the definitions that they use conflict with natural law. We must not confuse the application of natural law for its foundation.

Outside the scope of a Creator, natural law is nearly as arbitrary as Socialist-Democratic law that only follows the whims of the people's customs, norms, beliefs, and traditions. In defining the foundation of natural law, allow me the use of an example from the Book of Mormon.

Social Contract Theory

Before I talk about the Book of Mormon, allow me to address a quick detail in your last email. The social contract theory is anything but absolutely understood. Which social contract theory do we adhere to? Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau? I personally accept Proudhon’s version before Rousseau. No one really cares to qualify their absolute foundation of the Social Contract, and I have yet to hear anyone (including myself) that doesn't cross at least three or four contradicting philosophies and ideas when speaking of such things. Lysander Spooner gives excellent arguments against the Social Contract that I actually find very interesting.

Constitutional Republic Built on Natural Law Within the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is a masterpiece of political theory and government. Within the Book of Mormon, we see the proper role of government and the deterioration of government through the inability of the people to govern themselves. While I believe the idea true, it has been falsely attributed to James Madison to have said:

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments."

This is what the Book of Mormon teaches. King Mosiah turned over to the people the accountability of self-government. There is a discourse that can be written concerning the paradigm of self-government under a monarchy, but suffice it to say that the people were accountable that if they were to "commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads" (Mosiah 29:30), "that the burden should come upon all people, that every man might bear his part" (Mosiah 29:34).

As we stated before, a Constitutional Republic is based on law first wherein the majority must check and admonish itself before giving any type of ruling over the minority. This is what is type of government the Nephites were given. As King Mosiah told the people:

"Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord" (Mosiah 29:25). (emphasis added)

The voice of the people just check themselves against he laws given them by their fathers. What law had been given by the fathers as given by the hand of the Lord? We now see that the voice of the people must admonish themselves according to correct laws that had been given by the Lord, and that judgment within certain parameters is ordained of God while upon the earth (I also refer you to Doctrine and Covenants Section 134). Mosiah further elaborated:

"And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given..." (Mosiah 29:28)

What is this law that the judges must judge by? It is the "Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". The people, however, in wickedness and ignorance will redefine the proper role of government as given by the Lord: "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). In warning the Nephite people against this ignorance and temptation for the majority to ignore the natural and correct laws that God had given the people through "their fathers" (prophets), King Mosiah stated:

"Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law - to do your business by the voice of the people.
"And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.
"...I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land." (Mosiah 29:26-27, 32)

Who Decides the Application of Natural Law, and what are Statutes?

One of the most confusing differentiations when speaking of natural law is to understand statutes. Natural law exists outside the will of the majority. For example, the entire population of the United States could unanimously vote to reject the natural law of gravity, but gravity -- in spite of man's law (definition) -- will still exist. Man cannot make law; if man could make law, then the majority's rejection of gravity would send us all spinning into space! What man may do, however, is define gravity (defining natural law), and then admonish each other in specific application to that new understand of law. God told Moses that he is a respecter of life (the natural law), and Moses admonished the people with a specific application to God's law: Thou Shall Not Kill. When man admonishes each other according to natural law, he must find application to that law; this particular application to God's law is called a statute.

This confusion between laws and statutes is often what leads people into convoluted theories pertaining to coercion, force, and obedience to the laws of the land. Natural law exists regardless of man's acknowledgment of its existence or consequence, but how man admonishes each other according to that which is eternal is called statute.

By what power do we know of a surety that we have defined natural law for what it is (not what we want it to be), and to establish admonish each other with statutes that are justified before the Lord? The answer is, the people have to be righteous and know their God, and only then will they know natural law. What is the blessing of the people in doing this? What is the consequence of the people in forgetting this?

Consequence of Remembering

In the Book of Mormon it states:

"Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge." (3 Ne 3:19).

In this particular story in 3rd Nephi, the terrorist organization known as the Gadianton Robbers had established themselves in the desert and mountains. They had, for some time, come down from out of the mountains and caused great conflict, murder, and robberies amongst the Nephite people, and had become a severe affliction to them. In their desire for wanting to rid themselves from these Gandianton Robbers, the people came together under their Chief Captain, Gidgiddoni, to preemptively go up to the robbers and kill them in their own lands. Yet Gidgiddoni responds:

"The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands." (3rd Nephi 3:21)

It took the spirit of prophecy and of revelation to adhere to natural law and obedience to the knowledge of things as they existed. Gidgiddoni knew the workings of nature, because he knew the workings of God. He knew what the consequences would be should his people break this natural law. Furthermore, in this same example of preemption, the Lord has further revealed to us in these Latter-days the same principle that Gidgiddoni guided the Nephite people upon in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 98. If you so desire, I will let you read that on your own and will not include that whole Section here. But suffice it to say that in Section 98 the Lord's ordained order has never advocated preemption, but the natural law -- as established by Nature's God -- has been revealed to us in plainness today.

Consequences of Forgetting

The Book of Mormon also gives us the example of the people in forgetting that natural law can only be understood by the humble and penitent.

"And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left to their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.
"Yeah, they began to remember the prophecies of Alma, and the words of Mosiah; and they saw that they had been a stiffnecked people, and that they had set at naught the commandments of God;
"And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people; and they saw that their laws had become corrupted, and that they had become a wicked people, insomuch that they were wicked even like unto the Lamanites." (Heleman 4:13, 21-22)

What is the Mental Transition from Remembrance to Forgetting the Source and Implication of Natural Law?

How does a people who once adhered to and perceived natural law (through revelation and prophecy) reject it? Here again, the Book of Mormon provides a perfect illustration.

"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." (Heleman 5:2-3)

Herein is the transition: While the people are righteous, they will know and adhere to natural law; however, when the people are wicked, they cannot perceive natural law and they are influenced by the adversary who seeks to use coercion unjustly upon man to fulfill his original pre-earthly plan of utopia.


I hope this helped make more sense and connected a few dots. Liberty cannot be taken away except by God himself (and he gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our liberty and agency); any perception of lost liberty can be more accurately explained in a paradigm where liberty is inalienable.

Please feel free to answer back with any further questions, or to ask me again a question I may have been ambiguous in answering. Thank you for the correspondence.

For further study, may I suggest some books/articles you probably have already heard about and read that I find are excellent primers for this topic of study:

(1) The Law, by Fredric Bastiat (there are a few ideas that I argue against, however, this is an excellent primer).

(2) Many are Called, But Few Are Chosen, by H. Verlan Anderson (out of date book, often found on Amazon or Ebay; also found in the BYU Library. Excellent book written by a later member of the Quorum of the Seventy that establishes the legitimacy of government coercion in limited areas.)

(3) The Ancient Law of Liberty, by Hugh Nibley (available through google search)

(4) Prophets, Principles, and National Survival, by Gerald Newquist (endorsed by President McKay in General Conference)

(5) The Proper Role of Government, by Ezra Taft Benson (available through google search)


Shiloh Logan

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