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
"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.”
Unalienable Rights vs Vested Rights
The concept of a "right" is widely misunderstood. Humans have two kinds of rights. Unalienable rights come from God and are eternal. Vested rights are civil agreements that have no eternal significance (however, our obedience to civil laws do have eternal significance–a topic for another article). Unalienable rights establish the freedom to own weapons, such as guns, for use in defense or sustaining of life, but vested rights allow us to use the guns recreationally in designated ranges or to hunt on land we don’t own. Vested rights are applications of unalienable rights, meaning that the government and society can only claim rights we received from God and then essentially gave to the government. The government can’t exercise any power or use any rights the people don’t have individually. Let me restate that: The government cannot do anything the people cannot do individually. Something doesn’t become just simply because a group of people created a government to do it for them.
Now, when we talk about unalienable rights, we usually refer to the big three: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness". This phrasing in the Declaration of Independence came from Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson took only one day to write down the list of the 27 complaints against the King. However, he spent 16 days studying what rights mean in Deuteronomy and Exodus. He came up with a great list of unalienable rights which found fit well into the three aforementioned categories or themes of rights. Continue reading