Free Agency vs. Moral Agency

I often find myself in conversations with people who advocate against legislating morality in an attempt to "preserve the agency" of others. They say, "I would never ________, but it’s not my place to make it illegal for others to do it. We should preserve their agency and let them choose on their own whether to indulge in those acts." I understand the logic of the argument, but through my studies I have come to strongly favor legislating morality. Here are some great quotes that have helped me to come to this position:

LDS General Authorities

President Boyd K. Packer

"Covenants"

"Life is meant to be a test to see if we will keep the commandments of God. (See 2 Ne. 2:5.) We are free to obey or to ignore the spirit and the letter of the law. But the agency granted to man is a moral agency. (See D&C 101:78.) We are not free to break our covenants and escape the consequences.”

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"Joseph Smith: Campaign for President of the United States" by Arnold K. Garr

From https://www.lds.org/ensign/2009/02/joseph-smith-campaign-for-president-of-the-united-states?lang=eng

Joseph Smith: Campaign for President of the United States

By Arnold K. Garr
Department Chair, Church History and Doctrine
Brigham Young University

On January 29, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith formally decided to run for the office of president of the United States. What did he hope to accomplish? (more…)

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Thomas Jefferson and the Danbury Baptists

Letter of the Danbury Baptists to Pres. Thomas Jefferson

The address of the Danbury Baptist Association in the State of Connecticut,
assembled October 7, 1801.

To Thomas Jefferson, Esq., President of the United States of America

Sir,
Among the many millions in America and Europe who rejoice in your election to office, we embrace the first opportunity which we have enjoyed in our collective capacity, since your inauguration, to express our great satisfaction in your appointment to the Chief Magistracy in the Unite States. And though the mode of expression may be less courtly and pompous than what many others clothe their addresses with, we beg you, sir, to believe, that none is more sincere.

Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor. But sir, our constitution of government is not specific. Our ancient charter, together with the laws made coincident therewith, were adapted as the basis of our government at the time of our revolution. And such has been our laws and usages, and such still are, [so] that Religion is considered as the first object of Legislation, and therefore what religious privileges we enjoy (as a minor part of the State) we enjoy as favors granted, and not as inalienable rights. And these favors we receive at the expense of such degrading acknowledgments, as are inconsistent with the rights of freemen. It is not to be wondered at therefore, if those who seek after power and gain, under the pretense of government and Religion, should reproach their fellow men, [or] should reproach their Chief Magistrate, as an enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dares not, assume the prerogative of Jehovah and make laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.

Sir, we are sensible that the President of the United States is not the National Legislator and also sensible that the national government cannot destroy the laws of each State, but our hopes are strong that the sentiment of our beloved President, which have had such genial effect already, like the radiant beams of the sun, will shine and prevail through all these States–and all the world–until hierarchy and tyranny be destroyed from the earth. Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and goodwill shining forth in a course of more than thirty years, we have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the Chair of State out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for the arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you–to sustain and support you and your Administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to rise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people.

And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his Heavenly Kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator.

Signed in behalf of the Association,

Neh,h Dodge }
Eph’m Robbins } The Committee
Stephen S. Nelson }

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Lance Richardson’s NDE and the Founding Fathers

"The Message by Lance Richardson" by Oak Norton

From http://www.oaknorton.com/themessage.cfm – personal emphasis added.

A couple years ago (2003’ish) I had the opportunity to meet Cleon Skousen, quite a well known individual in church and government circles. I spent a wonderful afternoon talking with him about a variety of subjects and over the course of that conversation he made a fascinating statement to me about a man named Lance Richardson. He told me that Lance had had an NDE (Near Death Experience) where he died, went to the spirit world, and came back. When Lance returned he said that he was told by some of the men who lived with the founding fathers of our country to read several books when he returned to help him better understand why our founding fathers were inspired to organize this country the way they did, and several of those books were written by Cleon. (more…)

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Thomas Jefferson on the Restoration of Christ’s True Church

On November 4, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Reverend Jared Sparks. He stated:

"I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by Himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man.  I adhere to the principles of the first age; and consider all subsequent innovations as corruptions of His religion, having no foundation in what came from Him. The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible.  The religion of Jesus is founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged.  Thinking men of all nations rallied readily to the doctrine of one only God, and embraced it with the pure morals which Jesus inculcated.  If the freedom of religion, guaranteed to us by law in theory, can ever rise in practice under the overbearing inquisition of public opinion, truth will prevail over fanaticism, and the genuine doctrines of Jesus, so long perverted by His pseudo-priests, will again be restored to their original purity.  This reformation will advance with the other improvements of the human mind, but too late for me to witness it.”

(The Writings of Thomas Jefferson V15: Containing His Autobiography, Notes on Virginia, Parliamentary Manual, Official Papers, Messages and Addresses, And Other Writings And Private (Lipscomb and Bergh, Eds.; Kessinger Publishing, 2006), 15:288 (emphasis in original))

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About Jacob Householder

Jacob is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints. He is the senior intern over Development and External Relations at the Madison Liberty Institute, the Director of Outreach for the Columbus Center for Constitutional Studies, and a senior at BYU-Idaho studying Financial Economics.

Copyright © 2019 | Jacob Householder — All Rights Reserved.

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