Last week, we wrapped up ideologies by talking about how the Libertarian movement is changing the Republican Party as many of the religious Republicans are following an argument that God gave man agency, so the government shouldn’t take that freedom away. This is causing a shift in the Republican Party to become more Libertarian in nature, having not only an economic freedom stance, but also a social freedom stance leaving behind the religious and social control they used to feel was necessary for society to be moral.
In some areas I completely agree, the government doesn’t need to be involved in a thing for people to be moral in that thing. But there are also some areas I would say, “no, the people cannot be trusted to be moral in this thing because they have already proven themselves to be immoral in this thing.” It is these instances where I feel that government control of socially acceptable behavior is ok. Rather than looking at specific examples (that can come later), I want to address the argument that Libertarian ideologies are pushing about agency and God.
First, God, the Christian God of the Bible, does not promote a no or even a limited government policy. Jesus said in Matthew 22:21, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Christ is responding to a trap put forth by the Pharisees hoping to catch him promoting an anti-tax policy so that the Romans would stop him from preaching. I think it is pretty clear that we are to obey the law.
Further, the Pharisees themselves are the ones that promote an anti-government agenda. They were looking forward to a savior that would overthrow the Roman government and bring back their power and authority that the Israelite nation used to have under King David or Solomon. This is one of the main reasons they reject Christ, he wasn’t the leader of a massive army that was going to destroy Rome, in fact Christ taught them to obey the law.
Second, throughout the Bible, God has promoted government, been directly involved in the government by telling the leaders what the laws should be. The 10 Commandments are a good example. From them and other laws given to Moses came most of the government structure of Israel. God is a God of order and direction, it is important that we elect good people who will follow his guidance and enact good laws. The types of laws that God promotes: social laws, behavior laws, laws that are to make the people a moral and righteous people.
Third, in Genesis 2:17 it says, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” For those members of the LDS faith in Moses 3:17 it says, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In either case, God himself offers specific commandments that he expects to be obeyed, in the LDS version, the agency is given after the commandment and the punishment is the warning of what happens if disobedience occurs.
Finally, for LDS believers, the War in Heaven. I have heard the argument used, “Remember the war in heaven. Remember agency.” This is actually a really bad argument. The war wasn’t about not having laws, it was about not being forced (literally with no choice) to do something. A law put in place by the government isn’t literally forcing you to obey it. Like God’s laws, governmental laws give you the freedom to choose to obey it or not, there just so happen to be consequences if you choose to disobey the law.
Now I am not equating governmental laws to God’s laws, they are not the same, I am however saying that governmental laws are not like Satan taking away your agency in the War in Heaven. I am saying that Christ commanded us to pay taxes, for the LDS people, D&C 58 and 134 are all about obeying the law. This is why it is extremely important to be involved in the voting process, learn who is running, ensure they are moral and will enact moral laws. If they are already elected look at what they have done. But don’t rag on government and call it evil, again it is just a tool.
Charles Horikami is a Social Studies Teacher at BLMS, and the Legislative District 32 Chair for the Idaho State Republican Party. The views expressed are not representative of the BLSD or of the Idaho State Republican Party. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcomes all comments and critiques.