There are so many parts of the Mormon religion that seem so contradictory, that sometimes it is difficult to remember which part is the one that you are supposed to follow or believe more than the other; even though both, or more than two, choices can both be the right choice and yet the one that is more important to the....never mind. I think you understand that understanding can be something that is difficult to know because the knowledge is searching out the....crap. There I go again. That is how I would feel sometimes in church when listening to someone tell me what the more moral way to be was. So what is it that I am trying to get at here?
I did not grow up in Utah, but I live here now. Made the trek with the fam right after high school. Had a tough time adjusting over the first few years, so I would move back and forth from my home town to Utah. One of the things I had a difficult time with was trying to understand the political affiliations that the church held on to. For some reason, the church has had a strong tie with the Republican party. When I say “tie”, what I mean is they are in bed together. This has never been more apparent than the recent war on gay marriage in California. Not only was this a war on homosexuals, it was a strengthening exercise and way to flex money at the republican base. A loss, I believe, would have many future implications that the church was secretly trying to avoid. For example, if the vote would have been won by the gay agenda, the door would have been open for future federal rule changes. Tax breaks could change for non-profit or religious groups. If those groups would then exclude certain individuals based on something that was deemed legal, they would no longer receive the tax assistance that the government was giving. This would cost the Mormon church millions, if not more, of dollars they could be using to invest in properties and other entities…I mean help them to spread the true word of God.
So I guess that is one reason to look at why the church leans republican. But what if you thought the reasons were more based on Christ’s teachings, rather than purely for political and financial gain? Sure, there are one or two simple ones that seem obvious. Republicans are a pro-life organization. The modern revelation part of the church is pro-life. This has become even more apparent with the talks in conference recently about avoiding birth control to allow God’s plan to take effect. Most of the time, when one hears the term ‘pro-life’, one assumes we are talking about abortions and the lives of unborn children. But what about other life ending, or life saving, situations that are out there? What about the death penalty? The Republican party, as is obvious by the talking points during the recent republican debates, is supportive of the death penalty. Utah also has the death penalty in force. So what is the difference? Is the fact that the person they put to death, who is guilty of killing others, justification for ending their life? Or, is the bottom line that they get to decide which life is okay to be ‘pro’ for. I am not a huge fan of people murdering other people. At all. For any reason. So, when a person, or community, or entity, decides to end one life and fight to save another, how do we say they are any better than the original crime? Can it really be justified? Does it take away from all the time and energy we put in to finding ways to improve and extend the lives of our people? What about the killing in war? The republicans seem to favor that as well. Did Jesus teach to kill those that society deems unfit? Does the fact that someone may be an innocent, unborn child that may be alive, or a murderous adult that clearly and consciously ended the lives of others, change the simple truth that they are both ‘children of God’.
The Republican party is big on small government. Big on keeping the government out of the lives of the people. The Mormon church supports this. However, the Mormon church does not operate this way. They are heavily in the lives of their followers. They are the opposite of small government. They involve themselves in every aspect of life. They tell you the proper way to raise your family, when to raise your family, why to raise your family. They tell you how much taxes (tithing) to give to the organization. By the way, if you do not pay the proper amount of taxes, you cannot achieve the highest degree of living and dying. Curious, don’t you think? They tell you what groups to be in, where to be and what to do on certain days of the week. They tell you what to believe, and if you forget, they have people to come to your house to remind you. The church is designed around the concept of big government. They have several different programs that come down from the church leaders. Priesthood, Relief Society, Primary, Young Adults, Single Adults, Home Teaching, Choir, Scouts and Sunday school. Each one regulated with leadership hierarchies that report to the next highest entity.
It would appear, to the outsider, that if one were to compare the ideals of both the Democrats and Mormons, one would have difficulty differentiating between the two. They both want programs designed to assist those in need. They both believe in the right of its members to be heard and represented, and to be able to express their beliefs to others freely. They both are based on the need of the community and the social responsibilities that go along with it.
What about the law of consecration? Isn’t that the end goal plan of the LDS church? To give all of your time, talents, energy and all things that aren’t needed to supply the basic needs of your family, to the church. This plan, if it were to commence, would be the envy of the democratic party; and the disdain of the republicans. However, if you were to ask anyone in the church if they would be willing to take part in this activity, I can guarantee you there won’t be an approval from a single soul. The church, of course, would never implement such a plan, because they know it would never work. It looks great and idealistic on paper, but socially it would never stick.
It is perplexing to me why some of my closest friends that are very strong believers in the LDS church teachings, are also staunch republicans. Those two ideals just don’t, in my mind, seem to appreciate each other. I have often found myself sitting in church, listening to the talks given by other men that are preaching the works of Christ. Yet, when not in church, the actions of their lives are often contradictory to said teachings. I don’t think they consciously do it, to be completely honest with you. I think there is some sort of strange dichotomy that exists, at least with most Mormons in Utah, that allows one belief to coincide with one of almost opposing ideals. The reason I say this is because when questioned about the literal meaning of their beliefs and if they would actually follow them, the answer is no. The answer is usually in the realm of the idea that they believe in the church, but that does not mean that they believe ALL of the religion; notably that the literal sense can be interpreted to mean different things for each individual. I know I am rambling here, and probably not even making sense. For that I am sorry. That is how my wife lives every day, so feel sorry for her; she has earned it. Back to my point…Take the new ‘message’ that has come out of the LDS conference this last week, that I briefly touched on earlier. It was mentioned, more or less, that birth control should be taken very seriously before being used. It is something that the church is encouraging the members not to use; especially permanent means of birth control. It was even brought up in our local church meeting a few weeks prior by our bishop (no doubt passed down from above to prep for the big meeting). The message by the bishop was the same, but added that before making a decision to ‘get fixed’, he would encourage couples to come in and have a meeting with him to discuss the importance of not doing it. In discussing this with members, I have been given several different interpretations. Now remember, this is a message that has been given by the leaders of the church. This basically means that it is the message that is approved by the prophet, which in turn means that it is a modern revelation from God himself. So, knowing this, one would assume that there is not much room for interpretation. On the other hand, do you really think that people that are old enough to be making decisions on permanent b.c. will actually change their entire lifestyle on a message that they deem to be private? I don’t think so. If they have already planned this out, they are going to do it. They will find a way to religiously and personally justify going against the teachings of the church. And how dangerous is it to tell people to not use birth control? I can think of several people that should have used something to prevent them from having any offspring whatsoever. I’m talking to you, couple at Costco with the five kids that are wilder than hyenas on the safari.
The point is; where will the line be drawn in the sand? At what point is it either necessary to follow the leaders and teachings of your church, or make a personal decision that goes against their commands. Can the personal choices and changes be justified in the eyes of your God?