Update: January 8, 2009
Gabrielle has decided to leave the LDS Church.
There has been a small stir concerning a response I made a few days ago to a blog maintained by a "Mormon Democrat" concerning health-care. This was originally posted here, in response to Gabrielle's home-blog, and then here, in response to Gabrielle's comments on Connor Boyack's blog. I usually target so-called and self-professed 'conservatives' for their own socialist hypocrisy, but this time I decided to go for the self-professed liberal socialist.
The “law of the land which is constitutional” is that law that supports the “principle of freedom in maintaining the rights and privileges” to all mankind (D&C 98:5) and “to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:4). According to the liberal/socialist argument, the ‘protection of life’ may be obtained at the expense of my ‘control of property’ through coercive taxation. Furthermore, according to this same argument, one of Christ’s commandments of providing for the poor is followed at the expense of breaking another commandment of stealing and coercion.
The only way this argument is right is if the people are wicked. Scripturally, wickedness is first identified by the refusal to help the poor, the downtrodden, the sick, the afflicted, and the widow and fatherless. Such a refusal to help the poor is repugnant to the Lord; in fact, Hugh Nibley argues that such a refusal to help the poor was the foundational sin that caused Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. How, then, has the Lord commanded us to go about fixing such a problem? When social inequality exists, how does scripture tell us to fix the problem? Alma, as the High Priest to the Church and the Chief Judge to the Nephite people (thus leading both the religious and political organizations), gives us an excellent example when he saw the great social inequality among his people.
“Yea, he saw great inequality among the people, some lifting themselves up with their pride, despising others, turning their backs upon the needy and the naked and those who were hungry, and those who were athirst, and those who were sick and afflicted. Now this was great cause for lamentations among the people, while others were abasing themselves, succoring those who stood in need of their succor, such as imparting their substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake…” (Alma 4:12-3). Does this sound familiar? Are we currently having great ‘lamantations’ in our own country and among our own people over those in need? Certainly.
Because he led both organizations, Alma was able to either politically or religiously act. I ask, what did he do? Did he pass more laws that chained the people down with heavy taxes? No, such is discussed throughout the Book of Mormon as a condition detested by the Lord. Did he pass laws that tried to create more ‘equality’ among the people? No. Did he do anything politically to extend the arm of government into the affairs of the people to force them to take care of their moral imperative and duty? No. In fact, he completely gave up the judgment seat altogether! What did he then do? He went to preach the word of God!
Before we ridicule this and laugh at such a proposition that preaching the word of God is more influential in changing society than is passing political laws that coerce the individual, first examine WHY he did this.
“And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them” (Alma 4:19). What was Alma’s point? To “stir them up in a remembrance of their duty”. How influential was preaching the word of God as opposed to inflicting artificial ‘equality’ within society through coercion?
“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” (Alma 30:5). What lead the people to do that which was just? What awakened and stirred the people’s remembrance of their individual duty? Was it positivist law? Was it forced equality? Was it forcing one man into his duty? No, the Lord’s way is established — God will force no man to perform his moral duty.
“Know this, that ev’ry soul is free, to choose his life and what he’ll be; For this eternal truth is giv’n: That God will force no man to heav’n. He’ll call, persuade, direct aright, And bless with wisdom, love, and light, in nameless ways be good and kind, but never force the human mind. Freedom and reason make us men; Take these away, what are we then? Mere animals, and just as well the beasts may think of heav’n or hell. May we no more our pow’rs abuse, But ways of truth and goodness choose; Our God is pleased when we improve His grace and seek his perfect love.” Of a truth, the Lord is pleased when we obey the commandments and take care of those in need; however, he is particular in how we obey such commandments.
Alma’s example shows us that the power of a testimony in Christ can convert the soul to do that which is just by its own inner moral duty. Socialism’s entire structure denies this real possibility of changing the course of humanity through the gospel of Christ to allow man to be morally responsible without being coerced into such duty. Was this not the fault of the very people who killed the Christ? Did not the Pharisees and Sadducees of Christ’s day believe that the ‘Messiah’ would come to rule in political matters? Yet Christ’s real message was for the individual to morally act and take personal accountability and thus throw of their own chains. While the Pharisees and Sadducees looked to man’s government as their solution, Christ changed people’s hearts who then took themselves out of their own bad situations. After all, this is a message continually taught by our own Church leaders: The world takes a man out of the slums, but the gospel of Christ takes the slums out of the man who then takes himself out of his own slums. There are several examples in the Book of Mormon alone that re-illustrate this exact principle. It is beyond contest.
So, here we are. A national dilemma where we have great social inequality. One side is admittedly prideful and doesn’t want to be bothered, the other side is admittedly open to thievery to achieve their ideological ends. Tell me, in this system, where is the spirit of God? I contend that both sides are wrong, and I side with the principle of freedom and liberty. Where in all this debacle is the spirit of God that influences by “persuasion, long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile” (D&C 121:41-2)? This is the way to provide for the poor, the sick, and the afflicted. Where are the members of the Church, on the right and left political spectrum, who are out bearing-down testimony and providing for the poor, the sick, the afflicted, and all those in need? What happened to ‘every member a missionary’? As President Benson (the most hated Apostle and Prophet among most liberal members, and even some conservative members) said,
“Now part of the reason why we do not have sufficient priesthood bearers to save the Constitution, let alone to shake the powers of hell, because, I fear, unlike Moroni, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free, and we are not firm in the faith of Christ, nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights.”
Interesting. We lack the spirit, trust, and testimony necessary to do what Alma did. We lack the ability to stand up like Moroni. All we’re left with now is the ability to stand up and use the majority to obtain our moral objective through force! When we have an inner-moral compass, we’re capable of acting individually within society to promote the best interests of those in need. Yet, when we are incapable of standing up like our exemplars in the Book of Mormon, what is left us? Elder Christofferson perhaps said it best in October General Conference this year, “We would not accept the yoke of Christ; so now we must tremble at the yoke of Caesar.” Sobering words, and certainly not words I want eternally associated to my spirit — to have been one who openly wanted the ‘yoke of Caesar’ to supposedly obtain the purposes of God. This is certainly deceit in its most subtle form — to use Lucifer’s tactics to achieve the Lord’s purpose. Ironic, isn’t it?
So, what of government? For any person who has taken the time to actually read the Constitutional Convention Notes (or even an abridgment of the notes), they would readily see the lengths the founders went to ensure the individual from ever finding a relationship with the federal government; after all, the original Constitution only allows for ‘the people’ to vote for their Congressmen — the Senate, the President, and the Supreme Court were all elected outside the direct scope of the people. The federal government was never intended to coerce and be in relationship with the individual, but to deal with the states directly — this fact is beyond contest. A Constitution, per our founder’s understanding, was not a limit upon the people, but was the people putting a limit on the government. The Constitution granted no rights whatsoever, but was a declaration of completely free and individually sovereign people telling their government exactly what it could (and implicitly could not) do. I say ‘implicitly’ because of the 9th and 10th Amendments. The government can grant absolutely NO rights whatsoever, because it is an entity and fabrication of the people — government can have absolutely no power greater than its creator, the people. Our Declaration of Independence openly states that our rights are derived from our Creator. Among all the rights granted by our Creator are the three which government action is to be limited to: life, liberty, and property.
The stated purpose of government — as per scripture, prophetic utterance, and our own American founders — is to establish the greatest amount of justice possible within society. In the course of establishing justice within society, there are some issues wherein government cannot rule without imposing inequality and social INjustice. Health-care is one of these. By securing the ‘needs’ of the few, the rights of the many are infringed — this necessarily creates injustice. Even Dr. Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln observed that you cannot destroy the freedom of one without destroying the freedom of all. Even Aristotle’s theory of social justice observes the obvious problem when the wealthy’s property is attacked by claims from the poor man’s rights, and that the poor man’s rights are attacked by the wealthy’s interest in their own property. There is a solution, but forcing ‘equality’ within society is not just.
Our government was not meant to “force” anyone. The only time ‘force’ was ever applied was when an individual actively and directly violated the life, liberty, or property of another individual. Coercion is therefore used to incarcerate the individual who actively, intentionally, and directly infringed on his neighbor’s life, liberty, and property.
I am truly sorry for one’s tragic surgery that cost $50,000 that ruined the family’s credit and made them lose their house for that one month they did not have health insurance. I too have been in that situation, when my son was born 6 weeks premature and our hospital bills amounted to over $250,000. I am still paying bills on this debt, but this debt is MINE — not yours. I have never taken a government penny for any of my three children (or anything else for that matter — and, yes, I mean ANYTHING else), and as a token to my Creator that I would never make “the people” pay for my children I named my first daughter ‘Liberty’ — I will not allow her birth or her life to financially enslave the workmanship of another man’s hands or property, regardless of what is socially accepted and regularly taken from mine.
One may use his or her agency to financially enslave the populace to be compelled to pay for their point of view, but that particular view is spoken of in scripture. Remember that in a representative government, the principle of government may be broken down into the relationship of a man/woman and their neighbor. Do I individually have the power to make my neighbor pay for my health care, even when I am sick and afflicted? If I were to come to their home at gun-point and extort money from them under threat of incarceration if they did not pay, I would be instantly thrown in jail — regardless of my condition. However, somehow, magically, when I send my representative (government) to do this job for me, it is suddenly okay? Remember the words of our founders, our prophets, and our Constitution, that the government can only act specifically in the powers the people delegate to it — and the people, being given all their rights from their Creator, cannot fabricate rights ex nihilo to delegate to government something that they do not have. Before we believe we can delegate all aspects of our life to government to legislate in our behalf, we must remember that government can only justly rule in matters of life, liberty, and property when we are directly and intentionally targeted and infringed upon. The founders called government action outside these bounds “tyranny” and “usurpation” — yet, today, we call this “the living document” theory.
Sure, the Constitution is a ‘living document’. It was designed this way to constantly move and counteract dangerous trends in society that sought to destroy freedom and liberty. As society grew, and the following generations lost sight of their forefather’s sacrifice for the principle of liberty and freedom, we are given the ability of securing our freedom and liberty against encroachments by unprincipled, dishonest, or merely misguided individuals. In fact, as I addressed at the beginning of this post, our own scripture states that a ‘law’ is only a ‘constitutional law of the land’ when it supports ‘that principle of freedom’ (D&C 98:5). The principle of freedom cannot be justly or legitimately legislated away — it being a gift of the Creator. There are those who state that the health-care bill will necessarily violate freedom, but that this is necessary to take care of those in need. Certainly, government will pass positive (human) law that will violate the ‘principle of freedom’ — we have seen this in our own Church history. Of these laws that violate the principle of freedom we are told that “as pertaining to the law of man, whatsoever is more or less than [the constitutional law of the land that supports the principle of freedom] is evil… And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good” (D&C 98:5,11). Does this mean anarchy? No. This means that we are only to support those measures that — in relationship to government — first maintain the principle of freedom before any other principle; otherwise, whatsoever is more or less than this is evil.
People have the ability of using their free-agency to murder, rape, plunder, steal, and do horrible things, but Democrats and Republicans alike should take note that a majority’s acceptance of these atrocities does not make it right. It simply means that the punishment for these crimes will be saved for a heavenly court, not a corrupt earthly one. When my very life is made illegal unless I come into compliance with a ‘law of man’ like it will if the ‘mandatory health-insurance’ measure is passed (and it IS a ‘law of man’ because the ‘principle of freedom’ is violated), then I openly argue that this bill murders freedom, rapes the soul, plunders the property of the individual, and steals the livelihood of hard-working Americans.
In the meantime, however, I will continue to support and donate to the many private organizations that provide free medical care to as many as cannot pay or do not have insurance, such as the LDS Primary Children’s Hospital, the Shriner’s Hospitals, and to the St. Jude Hospital and Cancer Research Center (located in my hometown of Memphis, TN). I believe in the goodness of people — I have seen it consistently in my lifetime. I know the hardships of watching a personal family member who suffers from mental disorders become homeless and a transient. Yet I see the blessings of private organizations — especially those of the Church — who have taken over in areas where government constantly and completely fails (and will inherently continue to fail, because it is inherently incapable for government to act in certain matters). I have seen the active hands of those members of the Church who drove hundreds of miles and dedicated thousands of hours to rebuild the homes after Katrina. We yell about the delayed help given to Katrina victims, but we fail to see that this is an inherent problem within government bureaucracy — problems that do not exist in private help. The Church was on the ground providing water days before FEMA organized — furthermore, private corporations like Wal-Mart and Home Depot had trucks and supplies loaded up and headed into the area long before the government got its act together. This is not an isolated incident. this is the rule. Government is best when it is restricted to the limited duty of ruling in matters of the direct violation of life, liberty, and property — it is wholly inadequate for any other and necessarily creates social injustice.
Hopefully, before we use the fallacy of emotion to promote the unjust and coercive hand of government in matters it was never intended to, we will evaluate and practice our own theocratic teachings that show us how to deal with social inequality and social injustice: preaching the gospel of Christ has more of an effect on the hearts and actions of man to do good than any other means — even the sword of coercion. Man is good and will provide for his neighbor; only the adversary’s plan argued otherwise in justifying coercion to provide for moral action. Government ultimately digresses into tyranny and coercion to obtain its objectives, but this was not how our Constitution was intended. Indeed, John Adams was right, our Constitution was made for a religious and a moral people, and it is unsuitable for any other. Why? Because it takes a religious and a moral people to act individually for the betterment of society, and once government is used to obtain, coerce, and force the moral duty of the individual — social injustice reigns supreme.