A while back I had the opportunity to meet with fellow libertarians during the Libertarian Party of Canada’s regional meeting. It was a good opportunity to make connections and learn more about why others are libertarian like I am. Shortly after that meeting I received a message on Facebook from one of the members of the Libertarian party that I had the chance to meet at this regional meeting. It turns out he was quite surprised to learn that I am libertarian despite being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I thought that I would share with you what my new friend had to say.
Allen: It was really nice to meet you in Edmonton. I’ll Admit (and please forgive my blind-spot prejudices which contributed to this) that I was a bit taken aback to meet an LDS who is also libertarian. If a man can Harmonize his spiritual life with social liberal philosophy, there’s a lot of hope for the world. Am I way out in space?
Me: Not at all. My faith is deeply rooted in the idea of free Agency. Many members simply don’t understand that God will force no man to heaven. Many members of my church fail to understand that. From the Doctrine and Covenants. “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.” (Doctrine and Covenants section 134:2). Laws that limits ones choices to one ideology or another violate this statement of principle found in my churches scriptures
Allen: Wow, there’s gold in that
Me: Here is the link to the full statement https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/134?lang=eng
Me: There is a lot in the Doctrine and Covenants, mostly having to do with organization and spiritual matters. The 134th section says to me that the church has moral authority not the state, and as such the state should not be involved in matters of morals and ethics where it does not impact others in a negative way.
Allen: I get that impression, certainly. To me, it reads as though to acknowledge (and praise) the legitimacy of the state, but with well-defined border around its authority.
Me: And thus my religion can still be followed and be libertarian at the same time, no conflict.
Allen: Clearly. It’s been a refreshing and encouraging blessing to have met you, Andrew.
Me: Thanks, I appreciate it, I also appreciate the opportunity to explain how my faith supports libertarianism. It seems that your response is the most common, it baffles a lot of people that I can be a devout Mormon and libertarian at the same time, they don’t understand, even within my church in a lot of cases. ” I am libertarian, I want to be known as libertarian” Ezra Taft Benson. Past Prophet of my church.
Allen: For me, the initial perplexity came from my observations that temperance (in relation to drugs and alcohol) is synonymous with LDS culture. I felt instant admiration when I discovered that you were/are on board with the libertarian stance on such.
Me: Thanks, I would never support the use of such drugs, however I understand that the war on drugs has caused more harm that good, from a LDS perspective, if we want to help people get off such harmful substances it will not be accomplished via prohibition but education and harm reduction strategies. Embracing them with love and understanding and helping them work through it, not putting them in jail.
Allen: That’s all one can ask of his fellow!
This was to me, a wonderful conversation about libertarianism and LDS Christianity and how it can in fact work in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I Think Richard L Evans put it best when he said
“Essentially this is what the gospel is: counsel from a loving father who says to his children, “you have limitless, everlasting possibilities. You also have your freedom. It’s up to you how you use it. This is what you can become if you take my advice – and this is what will happen if you don’t. The choice is yours”
All throughout the gospel and scriptural history we have learned in so many ways the importance of Liberty and freedom in our lives. Another example of this can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28
27 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.
28 for the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in no wise lose there reward.
Brigham young once said
“let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his god, and then instruct his wives and children in the lesson of self-government by his example as well as by his precept”
These are just a few examples of modern-day scriptures and prophets however we can see all throughout the scriptures that the principle of liberty and freedom has been taught since the dawn of time. We can read in Moses 3:17
“But of the tree of 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”
It is interesting to note that the first commandment ever recorded given to Adam and Eve was not about pro-creation, eternal life, or anything or any other aspect of God’s doctrine and faith. The first principle and doctrine taught Adam and Eve was in fact the principle of liberty and free agency. This ability given to us by God to choose for ourselves is vital to God’s plan. Without it the gospel would fall apart and then God’s plan would cease to exist. It is that vital and that important. It was the first of all the teachings of God. Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; God gave mankind our free agency to govern and make decisions for ourselves and it is the building block of mankind. How important that must be for God to not only teach that we have freedom but it being the first thing he ever taught us!
In Heleman 14:31 we read
“He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.”
There are numerous other scriptures throughout the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and covenants that support libertarianism as an essential part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would like to share some of them with you.
“And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.”
“See that ye strengthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord; tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free. And now I close mine epistle to my beloved brother, Moroni.”
“And it came to pass that they turned upon the Lamanites, and they cried with one voice unto the Lord their God, for their liberty and their freedom from bondage.”
“And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.”
“And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;”
“And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.”
“And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites.”
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”
“And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.”
“And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.”
“And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but 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.”
“Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.”
There are scriptures contained all throughout the book of mormon that support libertarianism and freedom of choice and conscious. These scriptures show a people who are highly devoted to the cause of liberty. This devotion to liberty and freedom comes from their belief and faith in God and his eternal plan for him.
One thing that many Libertarians talk about is the morality of taxes. Even this subject is talked about in the Book of Mormon. When king Benjamin was addressing his people he had this to say about it in Mosiah chapter 2
“12 I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you;
14 And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.”
There are many other references that talk about the morality of taxes and how they are burdensome to the people and often viewed as evil and wrong. King Noah in the Book of Mormon was famous for his taxes which were viewed as bondage and servitude.
If you’re reading this and are not Mormon that is OK because this is about showing why Libertarianism is in fact a large part of the gospel Of Jesus Christ as the LDS church understands it. If you are a christian and reading this you can read in the bible many scriptures that support Libertarianism as well. To quote just a few here.
2 Corinthians 3:17
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
15 And ye were now turned, and had done right in my sight, in proclaiming liberty every man to his neighbour; and ye had made a covenant before me in the house which is called by my name:
Now this one is interesting in that it not only talks about liberty but that as followers of the gospel we have made a covenant to do so.
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
There are many more that can be found in the Bible. In the interests of not making this a 5,000 word post here are some other scriptures you can look at that deal with liberty and freedom. Far from a comprehensive list but serves to highlight effectively the importance of personal choice, accountability and freedom.
1 Corinthians 10:29
D and C 88:86
d and c 138:18
d and c 138:31
d and c 138:42
3 Nephi 6:30
2nd Nephi 1:7
2 Nephi 2:27
d and c 135:7
d and c 134:2
d and c 134:4
Libertarianism is truly, clearly a pivotal and central doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. God made us free. God gave us the liberty and freedom and with that some of those in power have chosen to enact laws that take our freedom and personal choice from us. God loves us and he is our creator. God created us to be free men and woman to worship God and live in peace and harmony in the gospel and in this world that we might progress eternally. I love the gospel and I love Liberty and personal freedom.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew.