Saturday, October 4, 2014

Democracy and Obedience: How gospel values should be employed in politics

1.. There is no evil in asking for something before knowing completely what it is. There are scores of examples of people who sought after the gospel, not knowing what exactly it was yet the peripheral "beginneth to be delicious to [them]". We are not morally obligated to make a decision after fully understanding the details.

2. Even though we believe that God is at helm and He is watching over us, he DID NOT take away our ability to act for ourselves nor WILL HE do so. We have been constantly reminded that as Latter-day Saints we are to act and not to be act upon, and this is an eternal truth. Understanding that "everything is going to be alright at the end" (which is absolutely true) DOES NOT mean we are not required to actively bring to pass this happy ending. 

3. In fact, the Lord has asked His servants to "counsel between themselves and me" - suggesting that while there are absolute truths within the gospel, the application of these truths can vary. Reasoning is not just a gift given to us by our loving Father, but also a duty and responsibility - and most of all a commandment - that is crucial to the growth of all Latter-day Saints. The Lord gave a strong warning concerning this - after He addressed the Saints about politics, "...Otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil."

4. After giving such commandment to his presiding servants the Lord declared, 
"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness."
Keywords - "not meet that I should command in all things", "anxiously engaged", "good cause", "own free will". We are asked to act. Sitting in my home waiting for a blessing will do no good. It was ever thus.

5. The fall of the Nephites had nothing to do with democracy. It is appalling to read such statement. The idea of a democratic government is to establish a system which the majority rules, especially “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people”. While in the church we believe in the power of God and we are his subjects, we are not under the same obligation to our government as to our theocratic church. While the idea of letting the people to choose as their will desires is dangerous and could result into bad choices (which had happened in the scriptural history, e.g., Exodus where the congregation almost unanimously agreed to elect a new leader and return to Egypt), the very principle of letting the people to choose is inseparable to the heavenly law of moral agency. Taking away the right to choose and what you have are but pawns and not humans.

6. That being said until this day God has not re-organized His political Kingdom. Before then He allows us to choose our own government systems with guidelines provided through scriptures and latter-day prophets. Arguments can be made concerning the political governments among the Saints but the ultimate decisions should be made by the people. Employing scriptures to endorse a particular government system is not only dangerous but also misguiding. Opinions can still differ even though we believe in the same gospel.

7. God has given His children laws concerning fighting back and responding to threats. Some of these laws are eternal and some are of a temporary nature. There is a danger when one employ a scriptural story to support or disapprove a current event. For example, the fact the people of Alma refused to defend for themselves when the Lamanites attacked does not condemn those who decided to fight for their right. The fact that Limhi and his people did fight for themselves does not justify the notion to answer with swords. Until a clear instruction is given unto us through the proper priesthood channel one is entitled to believe as he pleases - as long as his conscience approves.

8. "The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men." 

9. Remember, not that everything happening in this life is the will of God. In some instances He merely "suffer" them to happen. The outcome of an event does not justify the nature or clarify the will of God concerning the event. It is dangerous, even heretical to suggest that the result defines the nature. While we are told to judge the tree by its fruits, it is a false doctrine that in this life all good causes will prevail. 

10. It is dangerous to use church terms in daily life without discretion. For example, according to True To The Faith, 

"Prophets speak of having a “firm hope” (Alma 34:41) and a “lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3). The prophet Moroni taught, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

When we have hope, we trust God's promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). Mormon taught that such hope comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41)."

Such hope should not be confused with the hope that we frequently mention in daily life. The hope that we mention in daily life is centered in the daily exercise that we do and the experience that we have accumulated - not necessarily in the Lord. To suggest that because we have faith in Christ we are to hope "in all things" literally is misleading and shows a lack of understanding of the principle of hope.

What do these mean?

One is obligated to do all that he can in order to achieve the will of God. We are to exercise our own free will and bring to pass the good things we are asked to do. The Lord has given us the right to do the things that we believed to be true and it is a duty for us to act according to our conscience. We might act differently and sometimes disagree with each other, yet this does not mean that one has erred. As President Faust suggested, "We do not lose our identity in becoming members of this church".While “truth is singular [and] its ‘versions’ are mistruths”, opinions can be justified with reasons.

Ryan Ka Shu Mok

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