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November 8th, 2011
Opposing Marijuana Criminalization
The following is an op-ed submission which was rejected for publication by The Deseret News.
Should the federal government outlaw the production and/or consumption of a naturally growing plant? The Deseret News editorial board believes so, supporting in its recent editorial the Obama administration’s “strong policy against the legalization of marijuana.” A better question is whether the government even has the authority to proclaim it illegal and criminalize its use.
Many people seem to take it for granted that an all-powerful government can shape society as it pleases, and for this the government is often praised. But the federal government is constrained by the limited, delegated powers found in the Constitution — and even then, its actions must be reconciled with the philosophy of liberty the Constitution was instituted to secure and defend.
The war on drugs — marijuana included — has no such constitutional foundation. If any government is to regulate and enforce such laws, it is those of the several states; the federal government has no authority to do so. Worse still, the government’s war against its own citizens has cost $2.5 trillion and has been anything but successful. Drug use is at record-setting levels, prisons are filled to the brim with non-violent drug “offenders,” and police forces nationwide have been rapidly and dangerously militarized.
Constitutional authority or not, can the government ever legitimately possess the authority to criminalize the growing and ingesting of a plant such as marijuana? To answer this question it is important to first affirm an obvious but oft-ignored fact: a government cannot possess authority to do anything its citizens could not morally do on their own. Or, as Ezra Taft Benson said: “The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act.”
No one of us can justifiably use coercion (or the threat thereof) against a neighbor who decides to grow a marijuana plant and smoke or ingest it. We therefore cannot delegate to our government that non-existing authority; any government that legislates and enforces such a policy does so illegitimately.
The Deseret News editorial worries that “the last thing the nation needs is an official stamp of approval” by decriminalizing marijuana. Does deciding not to use coercion against an individual who performs an action mean that one necessarily approves of that action? By not having laws criminalizing dangerous sports, video game addictions, or suicide, does that mean that we have implicitly given individuals approval to engage in such activities? Must we make illegal every action, item, or lifestyle of which we disapprove? Moral laws exist to defend life, liberty, and property; outlawing a plant hardly falls within the proper role of government.
Our society can collectively convey its disapproval of things such as marijuana, but most do so through legitimate and moral means such as persuasion and education. The Deseret News opines that Utahns “need little convincing, generally, that marijuana use should remain illegal.” Rhetoric such as this must be better translated to provide a more complete understanding. Put differently, they are saying that Utahns generally believe that it’s okay to fine, incarcerate, and otherwise use force against peaceful people who grow and consume naturally occurring plants.
If this is true, it paints a contrasting picture to what many think Utahns generally stand for. If true, we stand neither for the Constitution nor for limited government, let alone liberty. If true, we reject persuasion and advocate force to bring about desired societal goals.
Decriminalizing marijuana is not about “approving” its use, but rather defending individual life, liberty, and property by only consenting to governmental powers that are legitimately delegated from consenting individuals who themselves possess such authority. Those who claim to champion the Constitution and promote individual liberty must necessarily support repealing the “strong policy against the legalization of marijuana” which the Deseret News editorial board applauds.
61 Responses to “Opposing Marijuana Criminalization”
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Connor, great article. Shameless plug alert: I submitted a similar op-ed to Salt Lake Tribune a couple weeks ago and was also rejected. The established media seem to be giving Utahns only what they think we want to hear, but the tides are definitely turning.
Of course the Deseret News would reject this, because it dares to make note of the idea that people can take care of themselves without an intrusive government, or even church, entity having to dictate to them on what to do with every aspect of their lives.
The Trib also declined to publish this, but said it was because their readers would likely not have read the DesNews editorial, and thus would not have the context needed for my response.
Dave, there’s an important distinction between what the government does and what church’s do. Government uses force/coercion. Church’s use persuasion. I can choose not to abide by what my church (what you term) “dictates” and there is no threat of force as a consequence. Government teaches, “If you do ‘X’ then we will force ‘Y’ consequences upon you.” A church teaches, “If you do ‘X’ then the natural consequences are ‘Y’.” If I don’t want to affiliate with my church then I leave. That option with government is not as simple.
Although I agree with your argument and reject the federal government’s involvement in this issue, isn’t referring to marijuana use as “consuming a naturally occurring plant” an over-simplification of the issue? The real concern is the effects of getting high from smoking marijuana on the person and those around them. I mean, let’s give them some credit. At least their justification for ignoring the Constitution and reason isn’t completely silly.
Darrel, I want to re-word one of your comments and I’m curious to read your response to it:
People’s drunkenness causes way more issues than people getting high from marijuana. Should we outlaw alcohol too?
And to Jim’s point, Darrel, what about losing too much sleep? Or waiting too long between meals. I’m awfully irritable when I’m hungry and this definitely impacts others, as they will attest. 😉
Yeh, KSL refused to accept my comment yesterday on the Herman Cain article of sexual harassment charges. I said that if he were guilty, but got elected anyway, he’d likely have to resign; then I likened it to Kevin Garn doing his naked hot-tubbing and having to step down later. I also commented on how Garn had received a standing ovation for his sin.
I don’t know why they rejected that comment. It was either that KSL is taking the Republican view that no Republican is immoral until proven so, or if KSL is so family oriented that the words “naked hot-tubbing” is offensive to young minds.
If you are going to advocate legalizing marijuana, you should also clarify whether you also advocate privately growing and processing other natural plants, such as coca/cocaine on one hand, or tobacco/cigarettes on the other hand. Do you also support buying and selling of marijuana and cocaine, in which case it is no longer simply a private matter.
And most importantly, what principles are you using to decide whether or not legal distinctions should be made between different plants, such as tobacco, marijuana, and coca, or between private and public uses, or even between natural and processed forms.
If you read and understood the principles used in my arguments in this article, you would know where I stand on those other issues.
I’m not making any distinction between plants, their methods or process of production, or the extent of their distribution. That’s all immaterial to the underlying question of whether government has the authority to have anything to do with it.
I’d have to say that we have, in may ways, implicitly given approval for dangerous sports and video game addictions – partly because we chose not to make them illegal while simultaneously reaching the hand of government into other activities that are comparable.
No – and that’s the real problem with our nanny state mentality. By attempting to make every bad thing illegal we discourage people from thinking for themselves do decide what is good and what is not thus anything we fail to make illegal (bath salts, spice, etc.) is deemed by some to be acceptable.
We have the same authority to outlaw alcohol as we do to outlaw marijuana – whichever side of the legalization argument you chose to come down on.
I happen to be on a business trip to California as I read this post. I generally don’t applaud a lot of what California does (as a state government), but I love seeing their defiance of am overarching federal government so drive past all the medical marijuana dispensaries.
Dan and Jim,
Yes, you are correct. Those activities are harmful to people. But you completely missed my point. I DO NOT argue that because something is harmful it should be outlawed. The proper authority needs to exist to do so morally. As it is, I agree with Connor’s, and your, position that the federal government has no place making Marijuana illegal.
My point was to show a stronger argument for the opposition, and that this argument is also invalid. By saying just that it’s just “consuming a naturally occurring plant” is an understatement of their view. However, even when taken at full value (the harm done to the person getting high and those around them), their argument still does not stand. All this does is strengthen Connor’s case.
I believe the fact that we feel we need to make things such as marijuana illegal is a simptom of the real problem-the welfare state that takes away the consequences from people’s decisions, thus supporting the poor decision to use marijuana or do drugs. I think that a true free market economy following the true principle of the law of the harvest would work much better to discourage such things than a Federal law. Unfortunately, in the welfare state we have incentivized evil, so we then feel we must legislate morality.
Brint, I think that sums up our situation very succinctly.
I wish the Constitution were so simple as to hone the scope and use of drugs to the person that grows it. Not going to happen. In all this talk about the constitution, one needs to understand that the constitution allows citizens to define its roles and parameters. Even the founding itself, the laws constitutionally implemented had meaning founded on principles and ideas wrought out of what a democratic ideal society is and should be. What happened to the Constitution, which was ratified not by a minority, but based upon agreements and understandings of what a democratic majority believed. The drug debate is similar. The Constitution protects individual liberties, but it also gives majorities, and I would say since the founding a large deference, to community standards. Connor, you are a great constitutional scholar; however, I cannot agree that the “life, liberty, and property” clause grants rights unknown to the founding and based upon a notion that “due process,” if believed to criminalize drugs, which it has, is an unconstitutional mandate. You are carving out a exception for a group that has traditionally been garnered no rights. This is not to say majorities are always correct, just as I think most people don’t believe minorities are always correct; however, we have to side on community standards, in some events, the same way the founders used community understanding to build a constitution passed by a democratic majority. We have got to understand that this view of an “evolving constitution,” by which the legalization of drugs would lead to the path towards an un-recognized constitutional group, is what the founders did not want. They wanted the Constitution to represent a group of standards because they believed future citizens would not be “as virtuous.” We have to get back to a Constitution, where, if you don’t like a law that you convince me and other citizens to the contrary…Don’t tell me its been forced upon me, or against my will to ban drugs, by a Constitution that never meant to protect such a class.
The Constitution is just that simple. The Constitution does NOT allow citizens to define its roles and parameters. The Constitution is written and ratified recognition of the rights that we have that are inherent. They don’t exist because of the Constitution and they certainly don’t exist based on the definition of the citizens.
I don’t have any idea what you mean when you say, “The Constitution protects individual liberties, but it also gives majorities, and I would say since the founding a large deference, to community standards.”
It sounds like you are saying that the Constitution protects individual liberties right up until the majority votes to take them away, or in other words, the Constitution doesn’t protect individual liberties at all.
The “life, liberty, and property” clause, as you reference it, does not have to grant rights “unknown to the founding.” To the contrary, the purpose of the Constitution is to severely limit what the federal government has the authority to do. It doesn’t matter what kinds of things the founders could foresee and what types of things they couldn’t foresee. That’s the beauty of a correct principle. It always applies, regardless of the situation. The simplicity of understanding true principles is that you needn’t try to predict all possible scenarios because a true principle will always hold.
You suggest that the “legalization of drugs” would somehow constitute an “evolving constitution.” You couldn’t have contradicted yourself more. If anything, the criminalization of drugs was done under the concept of some sort of “evolving constitution.”
Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with your ramblings.
I’m still trying to piece together mark’s comments…
So the Constitution established a direct democracy…From there drugs were made illegal by popular vote, via the Constitution…and Connor believes that pot-smokers have group rights…? WOW!!!
My brain hurts.
Holly Cow…I don’t even know if you have even read the Constitution! TO say that the constitution “does not allow citizens to define its parameters” defies hundreds of years of constitutional law… I cannot have a conversation with a person that says that…who defines it then? a monkey…who defines “inherent principles.” someone has too. What about due process…attached to that “clause” is a due process clause…go read the constitution and the 14th amendment…one last point, a standard that has been around for 100 years or more is evolving…yeah sure…and what does it say about an idea that is not even accepted or has no federal statue, no constitutional acceptance, and absolutley no case law, from supreme court or under, that supports this inherent idea! holy cow..you are really smart
No the principles established in the Constitution were passed by a majority…due process can be defined by the majority…the majority does not want drugs…not saying pot-smokers have group rights…when you allow a law to be passed to the support of drugs, then you define property rights as protecting a new class of citizens against government intrusion…that is those who believe drugs should be legalized…
Yea, I’ve read the Constitution many times. Maybe you should quote the part you’re referring to.
Take a deep breath. Slow down. I think you may be confusing the subject of your sentence in most of your sentences.
For instance, when you say, “the constitution allows citizens to define its roles and parameters”, the “it” you refer to would be the Constitution (at least if your sentence is to be read according to any kind of normal understanding of the English language).
So, if we were to just stick to that one claim of yours, how would that work exactly? The Constitution states that the citizens get to vote on what role the Constitution gets to play and what its parameters are?
Where does it say that?
Suppose the people vote that the Constitution plays no role. Well, that would really complicate things because this supposed voting by the people, in which they are defining the role of the Constitution, was authorized, as per your statement, by the Constitution itself.
mark, can you define majority? We don’t live in a direct democracy. I don’t understand what you mean by saying due process can be defined by a majority. Do you mean a majority of 9 supreme court justices? It seems like your confusing our Constitutional republic for a direct democracy.
And if we truly did live in a direct democracy and this year’s Gallup poll reflected the will of the people then marijuana would be legal:
50% > 46%
Plus, I have the same question as JJL9. Cite your references to the Constitution. I’m curious to know how the Constitution can say things so plainly and yet some people can stretch it to mean that the federal government can do pretty much anything.
No you don’t. It’s called individual liberty. I have never smoked pot and I will never smoke pot but the reason I’m defending the right to do it is because individuals have the right to do what they want, as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others in the process. Property rights need not apply to the collective but to the individual.
The majority, whether by vote of the people or by national or local congress, has defined the limits of property rights on the federal and state level as being the current drug policy. When you grant a protection, meaning, a new law the grants a group of individuals, because you would have carve out new rights or what you admit to be new “liberties,” because they currently don’t exist, you open a pandoras box to a protected group that the constitution never meant to protect. I consider this new group a “group” because you would have to put parameters on the age, and possibly other factors, on who would use the drug. Therefore, you are carving out an expection for a group that the constitution NEVER imagined. Frankly, I am distrubed that the view of legalizing drgus would all of a sudden not open the constitution to meanings and legal interpretations, which would cost billions of dollars to enforce and litigate, that you could never forsee. For example, first you legalize pot, then what happens next…you have to construct facilities, enlarge the power of the FDA for regulation purposes, issue new licenses, state and federal, issue inspections by local and federal police, which would increase its size, to ensure its not being sold to underaged minors or across state lines, find doctors who will admin the drug to people in a protected enviornment, etc…not to mention the additional costs in litigation concerning other potential legal drugs, etc. In affect, you shifting the costs to other facets un-forseen by its legalization. That is why I am against expanding the meaning of the Constitution to a new class of legal understandings that the Constitution has never forsaw. Good Debate…Another good artilce Connor
The limits of property rights as being the current drug policy? Property rights? Really?
Billions of dollars to enforce and litigate the legalization of something, as opposed to what, the trillions we have spent enforcing and litigating the criminilization?
Sorry buddy, but you have lost any ounce of credibility you might have had.
If you’re interested in trying to regain any, time to pay the piper. You asked me if I have read the Constitution. I have. I carry one with me every day. Please cite from the Constitution the claims you have made about it.
Of course its property rights….that is what you are claiming it under…Holly Cow…when the government says that you cannot hold a substance within your home….its called a reduction of property rights…what constitution are you reading? You cannot assume, because its not put into practice, the use of the drug, that the cost would not come close to the current cost to drug enforce…I am merely showing a hypothetical that by legalizing drugs all you are doing is EXPANDING other government agencies…and spending more money to do so…your argument is not based on price…its based upon the limited role the constitution gives to the government. If you want smoke POT or you want to give that right, then convince you fellow man that it should do so. Like I said, don’t tell me that is being forced upon me by a constitution that NEVER meant what you are advocating…You cannot name one instance or legal interpretation from ANY COURT or ANY CONGRESS, and have yet to, where any federal or state court has found the use of pot, other than medical purposes, in some states, not on a federal level, has EVER thought the Constitution to support its legalization under the property clause…YOU CANNOT NAME ONE! I can, however, name hundreds of cases, interpretations, case law, supreme court law, congressional statue, that supports my assertion that property rights are limited in this area…If you say that its a individual right, then show me that its been this way for the last 200 years…if its an overture of the federal government, then show this has been the interpretation for the hundreds of years…If you want to limit the federal government in this arena, then convince people to do so…that is why we have a democratic republic…convince your congressman…don’ make up a right or a limitation on government that has never existed based upon what a “few” individuals believe where the constitution places limits…
Unless we’re going to convince this guy that the Constitution isn’t a list of guaranteed rights beyond that which Congress can do anything it wants, or that any time you can imagine a new class of people you must find specific Constitutional justification to “give” them rights, I’d say let’s just let this one go. “Holly cow” indeed.
Fair enough…just one more example to pick your brain…A group of people, individuals, see: http://www.publicadvocateusa.org/news/article.php?article=7030, want to lower the age of sexual consent for under aged boys (it’s a real lobbying effort) so they can do what they want in their property. Is that an example of an illegal constitutional infringement on what a person can do on his property, even though, trillions are spent worldwide, and in the United States, stopping pedophiles and under aged sex? The example brings up a point, where are the boundaries to constitutional infringement? When is it appropriate to say, even though we spend billions and trillions of dollars on activities being regulated inside the “property,” we need a law that protects certain groups. This lobbying effort, although sick, is advocating for the minority, and they feel what they do in their property is constitutional. Do we believe them? Or do we side with the majority on this one? Consent could be one subject addressed in this question, but what about the chance for legal drugs to get to minors, which is a HUGE problem today; and it’s illegal? My approach is to ask, when its appropriate and when it’s not. I respect all participants in this discussion…like any lasting constitution…one must debate the issues to find better solutons.
mark, I think it would help if you differentiated between malum prohibitum (wrong because its prohibited) and malum per se (wrong in itself). You seem to be using them interchangeably. It reminds me of my dad’s knee-jerk to response to anything he felt was unfair or wrong to be “unconstitutional”.
The Constitution, which you are claiming to cite, gave congress less than 20 enumerated powers which they had the authority to make laws concerning. The tenth amendment is proof of the founder’s intention’s and the constitutional letter of the law is that the federal government’s power is limited to a very few powers and that the Constitution allows the states and people to retain the rest. Not only is drug prohibition not one of the powers listed in article 1, section 8 (therefore leaving the issue to the states and people) but our federal form of government is not a majority-wins democracy that you keep making it out to be.
Just because some federal courts ruled in favor of unconstitutional measures (such as drug criminalization or Roe V Wade) it doesn’t make it truly “constitutional” or right. Also, the prohibition of drugs on the federal level is less than a century old so your claim that the founder’s didn’t envision the “legalization of drugs” is ridiculous because drugs were never intended to be legislated on the federal level in the first place.
The whole “I can do whatever I want while on my property” is not the argument here. You keep applying one aspect of case law as a blanket cover for everything else. You ignore liberty. You ignore the legitimate role of government. You ignore a lot of things.
I just spent an some time writing you a response, but I am not going to publish it…looks like we are beating a dead horse. Let’s agree on something we can all agree on… I don’t want OBAMA to get elected again…but hey great discussion.
You DA man
Well, I wish we were all saints living in Nirvana land, but the reality is I’ve got kids and I’d like drug laws to be strictly enforced. Drugs tend to be…..addictive. For kids and adults, and that’s if impurities and abuse don’t just plain kill you. I don’t believe in “one free bite” laws when it comes to drugs and related crime, much of it violent. Try a neighborhood or two with legalized drugs and prostitution and see how soon it empties out in terms of decent families, and fills up with vagrants and users. This is definitely a “not in my neighborhood” type policy.
Vice is vice for a reason. People who engage in vice often lose the ability to reason. They become unsafe. Not only that, they become unproductive and force others to bear costs on their behalf. Women and children tend to be the most common victims of vice. America believes in the rule of law and looking out for the little people. Drug laws are much appreciated by us little people. Say no to drugs. Let’s not turn America into one giant Woodstock.
Oh – I would argue that drug enforcement is a state issue. That’s fine. Then I could move out of drugville if I wanted too. The states with the strictest vice control would be the most desireable to live in for families, no doubt. I’d support that experiment. As long as there is one small patch in California that remains drug free. It would NOT be fair if the druggies got the whole of Cali.
@Liz Would you also support laws jailing alcohol drinkers, prescription pill users, and people who play illegal poker games with their friends, all “vice”? And do you really think that locking away non-violent pot offenders keeps ANY area “drug-free” or prevents violence any more than making five more substances illegal and throwing another five million in jail would?
I can understand your concerns. I agree with you that simply legalizing drugs could well create a terrible situation. I also agree that the Federal government has no constitutional basis to outlaw drugs. I believe that the logical first step is to go back to a true free market which demands responsibility of people in order to hold a job and support themselves. In my opinion, only in a society which will not sustain people in their poor choices will people be responsible enough to handle true freedom.
You also raise some interesting points. While I agree with you that the answer isn’t simply to jail everyone, I don’t think all the answers are simple. Heber J. Grant, to my understanding, asked the saints to uphold prohibition. At least prohibition was constitutional (back then they realized that the constitution didn’t grant authority to outlaw a harmful substance and required a change to the constitution to do it). This is enough for me to question my own belief. The best answer I can come to is choice and accountability. If we are to be given the choice, we must be held accountable for the consequences.
What about other, harder drugs? If you can make the argument for one, can’t you make it for all? And would this be opening the floodgates and allowing things that are highly destructive to further infiltrate schools and homes?
I think there is something wrong with the Ezra Taft Benson quote:
“The proper function of government is limited only to those spheres of activity within which the individual citizen has the right to act.”
I cannot form treaties, appoint Ambassadors or judges for that matter, or be in charge of Militia of the several States. Nor can I pardon anyone for offenses against the united states.
No, but you can make agreements with others, appoint representatives, appoint a 3rd party to judge or mediate your dispute with another, or defend yourself in Militia style. You can also pardon anyone for an offense against yourself.
Your comment took Ezra Taft Benson’s quote out of context. When a peoples individual powers are delegated to a collective authority, they inherently can then be used collectively. But powers that the individual did not have cannot be delegated to the collective authority and thus cannot be used either privately or collectively.
Hope this answers your question.
Curious, it lookes like your defining my rights by what an elected official can do. But that is your point I suppose. The problem is that I am not the government or a government official. It would be an interesting day indeed when I defend myself in a ‘militia style’. I am not sure what you mean by that exactly.
I had a personal experience of effectively pardoning someone for an offense against myself, by not persuing charges against someone. I thought that would be the end of it, but that person still had to face the government for legal matters, even after I ‘pardoned’. I can only imagine that a presidental pardon has more power legally, and on so many other levels as well.
I am not sure where taxing or spending fits into either of this, but I don’t think I have the right to do either of those with public funds. But the government does, if you expect to have a military, roads, government offices and services. It would be interesting if all of those were managed privately or corporately. I can only speculate on what that might be like.
No, I am not defining your rights based on what an elected official can do. Rather, elected officials are able to do what individuals can do with regards to other individuals, but they can do so on a collective level on behalf of the individuals that delegated such authority to them.
A militia is a locally organized civilian bodies authorized for the purpose of protecting that community of civilians. Each person has the right to organize at least themselves to defend their family and property, and this right is not government granted. It is an inherent individual right. That is what I meant by “in Militia style”.
Just because you pardoned a person for their offense against you doesn’t mean that the same offense does not also have repercussions among the citizenry generally. Have all offended parties given a pardon? Governments are granted authority to pardon on behalf of their citizenry collectively when it seems that the law, though applied according to its letter, is nonetheless unjust.
Unfortunately, current criminal law does not precisely follow this pattern of derived powers. Rather, the government now becomes a party and carries the process much further than the rights of the individuals involved would allow. … Thus the whole point of this post.
I have wondered greatly about where taxing fits into this. I do not have a complete answer to that, except that I can see legitimate reasons for such taxes as no general government could exist without them (at least as far as I can see). But, if the general government can have such powers, I suppose there must be a similar power on an individual level. This, however, was something that Ezra Taft Benson spoke strongly against. Again, I do not know that answer to that.
Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, are mentioned in the constitution to pay for defense and ‘general welfare’ expenses of the government. It would be interesting if I could do this at any time or to any degree, somehow I don’t think so.
I will have to think more about presidential pardons. I found examples of rather sweeping pardons of large numbers of people, and also very select pardons of individuals.
Government of course has a right & obligation to make laws in accordance with God’s laws. If God would be against harmful substances like drugs & alcohol, etc. then the Government should be too.
The Constitution is not a perfect document. It’s just the best the founding fathers could come up with or get passed at the time. If the people & the founding fathers had been more righteous, they could have passed a Constitution that upholds all of God’s laws & makes all serious sin illegal with firm consequences.
The reason societies fail is because leaders are not righteous & do not uphold God’s laws & apply consequences to those who break them. A lawless society or one with a passive government like ours today that doesn’t stand for right, always ends in destruction.
God expects us to elect leaders even today who are intent on making laws according to God’s laws. If we do not do this & elect truly righteous men & women we will be partly accountable for the sins of society.
God expects civil & religious leaders to ‘protect’ the people they are elected to serve, 1st & foremost, from the unrighteous acts of others. That includes making it illegal to do things that can hurt others or society, like drugs & alcohol, etc. etc., etc.
it is very interesting to read the comments made by other LDS regarding the criminalization or decriminalization of drugs–
This helps me to understand what is happening in the church and in the world.
I have learned the very hard way that enforced virtue is not virtue. Parents, church leaders, even ‘society’ can put a fence around children to protect them from all sorts of evils–
and the children will still find those evils if their hearts have not been touched with the word of God and with the light of Christ, if they don’t have a personal relationship with God–
a parent can find out that protecting children can only go so far if the child is not imbued with a desire to do what is right, no matter what sorts of temptations exist.
On the other hand, in a world where personal righteousness abounds, evil will lessen dramatically–
As long as *we* are in temporal and spiritual Babylon, no amount of laws will ‘protect’ anyone spiritually–
laws might frighten people into doing what is right, and laws might increase the prison population, but only conversion (as per King Benjamin) can protect anyone–
I am grateful that I believe in taking accountability/responsibility for my own spiritual/eternal progression and do not blame anything on my leaders, whether they be church or civic.
However hard it may be not to have anyone to blame but myself . . .–
and, yes, Babylon has created a tremendous amount of evil–
I would rather blame myself; I would rather be responsible. I am making an attempt to teach the younger members of my family these truths–
I did try to teach my older children correct principles, so that they could govern themselves, but I protected them too much by too many ‘laws’–
rather than igniting in their hearts, by example, though I WAS a good example, a desire to be born again–
I don’t understand, if the law of the land is what you believe is gods law, that is a theocrasy. For example Pakistan has Sharia law. Some other countries also have sharia law but might differ in how its applied. I don’t know if there are any christian theocrasies in the world, but it sounds like you are in favor of that. I don’t know how ‘free agency’ is supposed to exist under such a climate.
The Code of Hammurabi is the ancient Babylonian law code, and believed to be the first although ‘primative’ example of a ‘constitution’ and has some interesting values and principles that I think even LDS people would believe in. Many people believe that the law of moses was actually developed and evolved from this code. Containing punishments such as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” which also appears in the O.T.
Indeed, Jimz, the Catholic church ruled Europe for how many centuries. If anyone spoke out against the Catholic church or disobeyed the laws of the church, then . . . they could be punished, often brutally.
That wan’t a time for liberty.
So, the question becomes, which religion determines what laws are actually God’s laws?
*I*, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will certainly believe God’s laws are different from . . ., for example, a follower of Bhudda–
I am honestly more familiar with Bhuddism than with any other religion besides Christianity, and Bhuddists are generally very law-abiding people, in a secular sense–
so, if a Bhuddist doesn’t go to church on Sunday (a commandment; would some consider it a law?) would they be punished.
These are the very things that many American Christians condemn in some middle eastern countries, the melding of religious law with secular law, which is why–
the constitution was inspired and was drawn up by people who, though they believed in God and were often Christians, were not openly calling for Christian law but for human rights.
Yes, the declaration of independence has often been included in the constitution, and that is wrong, though I believe it is also inspired–
the Bill of Rights did come later.
I would find it terrifying to live under “Christian” law with punishments for breaking the laws of God, beyond those which are universally established: sanctity of life (don’t take life, period), property rights (don’t steal, period)–
beyond that . . .
If there have to be ‘police’ for such things as keeping the Word of Wisdom or . . . not using contraceptives or . . .–telling a lie–
(which is abominable, of course, but–)
false witness is also wrong; *we* all know that, and those things would have to be brought to a court–
Our present judicial system doesn’t work; *I* do know that; I have a friend languishing in prison because the present judicial system doesn’t work–
and many ‘criminals’ who look good on paper and whose heads *we* see talking on MSM are allowed to be free–
it’s a mess–
Can *you* imagine a society in which neighbors watch each other to make sure that:
nobody is drinking raw milk (presently illegal in many states)
I almost can since the Patriot Act and beyond, and it chills me to the bone.
I mean that telling lies is abominable, not . . .
breaking the Word of Wisdom or using contraceptives. I may have personal opinions on both of the latter, but I have no right to force them on others–
as for lying . . .
human beings often interpret the truth differently, so that can be prickly as well–
OTC, I should really know this, but what do the stars before and after words indicate? I am not sure that drinking raw milk is illegal anywhere. I think its illegal to sell unpasturized milk in many locations, a pretty big difference. I often wondered about why this is decided for us. Its like eggs, there are raw eggs available, but I have seen pasturized eggs sometimes available. I don’t know how they do that without totally cooking them.
I certainly appreciate your distinction between your own standards of conduct and that of someone else. You don’t personally believe in using contraceptives?
About lying, sometimes that is a difficult matter to judge. Because some people can ‘lie’ and pass a lie dectector test. That is because they really are telling the truth, but that might not be apparent immediately to someone else. The lie part comes in because its intended to manipulate, or not be so forthcoming about something. But still ‘truth’ in their mind is in the open. The person might justify this, thinking if the other person can’t see the truth its their own fault. I once had to deal with a compulsive liar, who did this frequently. That was his reasoning. Very annoying. Of course when I got him to confess to what he was doing, he would not answer me as to why he was doing it.
Sometimes it might also be a matter of communication problem, someone might not be purposely intending to manipulate, but doesn’t use the language to deliver the intended message to the audience.
asterisks . . .–
it’s just my *own* writing style–
sorry if it’s distracting–:)
when I write out words like “own” or “I” (not using asterisks, only quotes this time) I am making a point that I have become obsessive about–
I don’t want to assume that anyone else believes as *I* do–
using words “we”, “our”, etc.–
are standard for most people with regards to grouping according to beliefs, etc.–
I try not to do that–
I use quotes entirely too much, as well–
to make the point that my usage of the word may not be the same as how someone else might use it–
No, it is not illegal to drink raw milk, but as it is illegal to sell it (raw equals unpasteurized here) it amounts to the same thing, unless the person who wants to drink raw milk knows someone who has it to ‘give’ away–
Raw eggs are also not as easy to obtain, though they are easier to obtain than raw milk.
As for ‘drugs’–
my concern with criminalization of drugs is that I have known of too many people who committed crimes or indecencies while under the influence of prescribed ‘medications’–not illegally–
I have also known people whose lives have been terribly damaged by ingesting prescribed drugs–
and I have ‘read’ that the use of marijuana ‘oil’ can treat cancer–
and that the use of marijuana is one of the few ways with which some people can endure great pain–
yes, it is legal/controlled in some states, but all of the people in pain are not always in those states–
it is what Connor might call a ‘conundrum’–
I don’t agree with the use of contraceptives; I am very hesitant about the use of any kind of drug (legal much of the time and illegal most of the time); I have read that the ethical use of marijuana has been oppressed, which makes me highly suspicious, because I do know too many people who have been damaged by legal drugs–
and I have a real ‘fear’ of the FDA ‘criminalizing’ or restricting the use of many ‘herbs’ (not including derivatives from poppy or marijuana)–
I don’t like to be ‘controlled’ as to how I treat *my* illness–
Several people in my family have been severely damaged by prescription drugs and routine medical practices, and I prefer alternatives–
if someone else chooses to use contraceptives OR drugs of any kind . . . I assume it is their choice/decision and not my business–
If a person were to ask my advice, OTOH, I would tell them what *my* belief is.
OTC, I actually used to buy unpasturized dairy in locations where is supposed to be illegal. It worked fine for awhile, but then the local regulators stopped that. I never got sick, and there is that fear of spreading disease, but its just such a slim chance. It makes me wonder why, things that are far more dangerous are perfectly legal. Like driving a car!
I found a few figures, and one source said that 200 people in the US got ill to varying degrees from unpasturized dairy in a particular year. For auto deaths its between 30,000 to 50,000 per year! But that might not be a fair comparison, because driving and eating are different activities. But another article said raw milk is around 150 times more likely to cause illness than pasturized. So that is probably a better comparison. I only use half and half for beverages these days because raw milk isn’t available in my area.
“marijuana ‘oil’”? is that the same as hempseed oil? thats available in some healthfood stores and supermarkets now. I have tasted the oil and it tastes good. Some places also have shelled, ground or roasted hempseed. Thats the only way that it can be sold, so that it doesn’t sprout.
There are some chinese herbs that are not legal to be sold or distributed in the U.S. One is for cancer, another for HIV. TCM practitioners I believe cannot treat cancer or HIV directly, but only secondary symptoms. I am not sure why the government has outlawed these particular herbs. Some are outlawed because the materials are coming from species of plant or animal which are endagered, that I support, especially if a suitable material is available which gives similiar results.
In china town I used to buy bund-a-gee. Its silkworm pupae left over from silk production. I remember that it wasn’t on the shelf for awhile and I asked the shop clerk about that. He said the FDA told him he couldn’t sell it like that, because insects weren’t allowed to be sold for human consumption. Sometime later I saw it again in the store with a lable which said ‘pet food, not for human consumption’ or something like that.
I realize how controversial milk is–
No, this is a person I know personally who is an N.D. who has used marijuana in an oil form–for relief of pain and for cancer therapy–
And it is m.j.–I know a person who had cancer and was dying and gave up on allopathy and got treatment from an “Asian” doctor (this happened to be in California, and not only was the doctor trained in TCM, but he was Asian)–
and is now functioning and has his life back–
I don’t like all the interference; I really am a libertarian.
Maybe the only theocracies in the world have been societies like the Nephites after Christ appeared to them or the City of Enoch, for there have been very few if any. But we know that soon Christ will return & institute a theocracy where he will rule according to the laws of God, along with serious consequences for serious sin.
Of course living by God’s laws will only work when the laws & standards are those of the ‘true’ God. False Gods or false doctrines of false religions will never lead to a righteous society.
Moroni had a perfect understanding of these things & we know how forcefully he applied consequences for those who refused to do what’s right. He is a foretaste to how Christ will be. And how civil & religious leaders today should & would be if they were righteous.
It is true that very few people would desire to live in such a righteous society where there are actually consequences for evil, but that is the only way to secure liberty & protect a people & maintain general righteousness among the people. All other kinds of governments soon destroy themselves.
Consequences for sin is vital for liberty, peace, safety & love & personal progression in any society, Church or family. Liberty can only be maintained when leaders are willing to protect the people they serve by applying consequences for serious sin.
But it is very rare, & always has been very rare, for leaders, civil or religious, even in our Church, to be righteous & do their duty to apply needed consequences for serious sin. Most all leaders, even in the Church, usually do little about the evil that goes on around them.
There is no such thing to expect free agency to sin without consequences, which God intended to be applied by civil & religious leaders in this life & the next.
God knows & explained in the scriptures, that if there are no consequences applied for serious sin, then most everyone will just live as if there are no laws or morals or standards & eventually anything goes, as we see happening now in & out of the Church with almost everyone.
Only truly righteous parents & leaders are loving & strong enough to be willing to apply the needed consequences for serious sin, to hopefully help children & people repent while they still have a chance, before they become past feeling (which can happen quite fast) or they die & thus lose forever their chance to gain Exaltation.
Thus It’s not loving to watch our children or others commit serious sin & not apply consequences to help wake them up. Sure they may not like us or the consequences at 1st, but later they will thank us for helping to wake them up & save them, if only from committing even worse sins.
Most people will eventually learn & repent when consequences are applied. Better to learn in this life with lesser consequences then in the next life in Spirit Prison, where the penalties are far more severe & eternal & there is no possibility of progression, but only regret that their repentance came too late.
From what I know about the bible if one stumbles on one point, one is guilty of all points of the law. (james 2:10) Its part of the human condition to rate sins according to their severity. According to this passage that is not how the god of the bible sees things, or perhaps thats how james sees things.
From what I understand Jesus is said to have kept the entire law perfectly. Thats 613 laws of the torah. How many people even know all of them? I suppose it will be a long time before all of these become the general law for the entire earth.
AV, what do *you* consider ‘serious’ sin?
Is it serious sin, for example, to exploit people through unfair trade? Or is it only serious sin to commit a s#xual act outside of marriage? Not saying that s#xual acts outside marriage aren’t sinful–just . . .–
most of the time when we LDS are talking, THAT is what *we* consider to be ‘serious’ sin–
Is it is a serious sin to support unrighteous war? Is it a serious sin to mock people who are different from *you*?
Is it a ‘serious’ sin to lie?
The most serious sin of all is that of taking life.
Jesus Christ made it clear when the Pharisees brought the woman taken in “sin” that those who oppressed such women economically were most of the problem. How many people turn to immoral s#xual acts if they aren’t hungry? Or to selling drugs if they aren’t ‘locked out’ of the standard Babylonian methods for becoming wealthy enough to eat well?
Many people in our culture/society, within the church, even, believe that ‘serious’ sin means drugs and sex out of wedlock–possibly abortion is a ‘serious’ sin (in my mind it is very serious, but the sin is more upon the heads of those who have schemed and conspired to make abortion ‘necessary’, and those may or may not be ‘leaders’; there has, for example, for decades, been a well-planned out agenda for destroying African-American unborn babies–and these people have been VERY good at accomplishing what they want, so who is the worse ‘sinner’, the evil people *we* can’t even see, or the unmarried welfare mother living in the ghetto who simply can’t see how to raise another baby?)
but ‘serious’ sin can also be psychological abuse, forcing people to do things against their will . . . and aggression–since it was ‘serious’ enough for Satan to be cast out of heaven that he wanted to take agency away–
I guess we are probably having a discussion mostly about definitions–
I have to say that if I believed what you are saying I would feel quite hopeless, because it would almost nullify the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Yes, leaders (ancient Israelite leaders were often specified in the Old Testament or Torah) have often led people astray–
‘serious’ sin can be taking advantage of one’s neighbor (whatever neighbor means; Jesus seemed to think it meant anyone) to get gain.
*I* believe in God, and *I* am seriously troubled by the idea, which is what it sounds to *me* as though you are saying . . . that ‘leaders’ of any kind come between any human being and his/her God.
God is the only and final judge–
I guess I just don’t understand where in the scriptures is the idea that leaders are responsible–
beyond that there is a serious consequence to leaders who deliberately lead people astray–that is quite clear–
leaders OFTEN lead people astray–
but the problem is that *you* (or *I*) either believe in shadow leaders (evil and conspiring men and women who are leading astray) or we believe in “puppet” leaders who appear to be leading astray but are really just keeping things the way that shadow leaders want them to be.
Ether (the book of) talks about leaders in captivity–
the idea is fascinating to me, because I believe that all truly righteous ‘leaders’ are in captivity to overwhelming powers of evil in the world today (President Benson warned *us* about this decades ago)–
and Father in Heaven will not hold this against “anyone”–
The Book of Mormon is there for *us* to read and gain strength and knowledge from–
and there are things within that book that many of *us* (I don’t exclude myself) don’t understand, yet.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is so powerful that it can overcome even the consequences of evil societies and evil leaders–
the idea that any Child of God is responsible to civil or religious leaders for salvation is truly frightening to me.
Truth is taught in many societies, in one way or another, though often it is muddied, especially if *we* are not VERY careful to keep the Book of Mormon as *our* standard–
many people don’t have the Book of Mormon; will that be held against them? Many LDS honestly don’t READ the Book of Mormon–
yes, beyond feeling is a big problem, but which sins are most beyond feeling?
How easy will it be for someone when he/she finds out that his/her wealth has been gained at the cost of child labor in another country to repent?
How many LDS would give up wealth (that nice home in the country and the well-oiled, late model cars, vacations, etc.)–if they found out that their wealth caused others to suffer?
If *you* believe that that is a ‘sin’, then I can agree with you. If not, then I don’t know how *we* can have an honest conversation.
As long as Babylon reigns, it will be impossible for there to be such a thing as righteous leaders–
I believe that the apostles who hold the keys come the closest, but I don’t think that most of *us* know how truly corrupt is our present situation–
It’s not the time to begin a reaction against ‘evil’ by making an attempt to be more controlling of other human beings–
It is time to tell people about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon and HOPE that the light of Christ within them . . . will serve to help them out of the darkness.
And it is a time for liberty–
true liberty . . .
even if people make wrong choices–
It’s not the time for another ‘middle ages’ where religious domination caused so much suffering–
there will be misery and unhappiness, indeed, except in the atonement of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone, there is hope.
Moroni punished those who conspired against the government of liberty in his time–
IF they chose to repent of their conspiring, their lives were spared–
many chose to repent; some did not.
Moroni did not kill those who were . . . flawed or had unrepentant personal sin.
So, which ‘serious’ sins are really serious?
There is a massive conspiracy in the world today that has wrapped itself around the hearts and minds of the children of men.
The Book of Mormon makes it clear that evil and conspiring men are evil. THAT is ‘serious’ sin–
but who brings these people, these wealthy warmongers . . . who profit from the sins of deceived men and women and children–
who brings them to justice?
only Jesus Christ.
Again, *I* will not blame my leaders. I only pray that after I have taught my children ‘correct principles’ they will govern themselves–
That . . . and I pray that they will see the need in their lives for a Savior–
I guess . . . perhaps, AV, your wording seems vague to me.
And perhaps mine will seem vague or overly general to you–
I do know that my perspective has changed as I have aged–
And, you are correct, righteous government has simply not existed except in only a few instances–
as you noted.
I have a real fear, as I see many of my LDS friends following a candidate who believes that . . . religious law (his interpretation of what religious law is) needs to be made into civic law–
I just saw this:
I know this appeals to many truly earnest and sincere LDS–
but it is terrifying–
the idea of hunting people down to make certain they are not doing things wrong–
it’s going back to the middle ages, back to the time when probably mostly innocent women were burned at stakes . . . in New England, because of the accusations of others–
IF this is the sort of thing *you* are talking about, then it frightens me. If you are talking about general evil–
then, truly, you will be with me in praying that Jesus comes and deal with those who have made the ‘last days’ so truly perilous for so many–
Jimz, I believe you are correct. In the eyes of God all have fallen short–
where IS that verse in Romans when *I* need it–
about how *we* are all sinners–
I guess I am getting old–
can’t remember anything–
apologizing in advance if my writing ‘style’ or anything I say is offensive–
I have come to realize that having a different perspective from the ‘majority’ is not always easy–
I am not claiming that my perspective is ‘better’, somehow–
only that I used to believe pretty much the way my LDS friends who are supporting Gingrich/Romney/Santorum believe–
it has been rather frightening to see the ‘shift’ in myself, and it has come at a huge price–
I lost my health and almost my life–
and when I ‘woke up’ I was a different person.
If I am ‘passionate’ and my passion is offensive, please forgive me; I do not want to offend–
I look back over my writings, and I try to see what I could say that would be offensive–
I’m not talking about my testimony of Jesus Christ. If that offends anyone, well, there is nothing I can do about it.
I’m talking about whether I have made any personal attacks–
or said something in a way that is not kind–
if I did, and I didn’t catch it, please forgive me.
I tried to edit something I wrote out on another of Connor’s posts, and it is in interminable ‘moderation’–
As an older person, I am not always familiar with computer conventions–
Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” The last posted message was kind of ‘weird’ for me. I don’t really consider myself christian. But that almost felt like a revelation. Something difficult to describe. I never understood how the judao-christian outlook worked, but I think I am getting an idea. Its very strange and foreign to me.
I don’t know if its correct, so please correct me. I had a strange idea that deals with the concept of grace. There is basically no way that the average person is going to keep all the law all the time through out a lifetime. I think one would be potentially neurotic to try and live all 613 laws all the time. But thats covered by the grace of jesus christ for those that believe.
Thats some justification that I think many christians have in not really trying, but I believe that the bible supports the idea of trying as much as humanly possible. It never occured to me until last night that for christians, potentially any of the old law might still be considered an offense if on breaks any point. But most christians feel exempt from most of it. I sometimes wonder however how far a christian might take the concept of grace. I sometimes feel kind of scared of that, as it at times seems ethically challenged. Maybe, maybe not….
THAT is the one–:)
I sometimes wonder if any of *us* who WANT to be Christians can call *ourselves* Christians! LOL!
There is a critical lack of humility among Christians, and I don’t exclude myself.
Your last lines bear some thought–
the idea that ‘anything can be excused’ could be very unethical–
I tend to believe along the lines of what you say in the second line of your last paragraph–
I have been LDS all my life, but I have only been what I hope is a Christian for about 15 years–
it has been a tremendous change for me; it has changed my perspective on everything–
By the way, I never told you how impressed I was with the experience you had with giving all your money to some homeless people and then finding that money in your pocket later–
I believe those things happen all the time. God loves those who take care of the poorest among *us*–
I recently made the acquaintance of someone who called *his* religion . . . “an attempt at pure religion as per James–‘visiting the widow and fatherless'”–
I found that inspiring.
It was kind of you to find that scripture for me.
OTC, I am glad you felt touched that I looked it up. I remember that event, it often uplifts me when I remember it. I felt a sort of ‘breeze’ immediately before, during and slightly after. It wasn’t a physical breeze. But it felt wonderful, I could really use something like that again and soon. I am often dissappointed that the media and entertainment seems to place heavy weight on negative paranormal experience. I don’t know why that is.
I feel much more in tune when I consistently do meditation. I have heard the incredibly beautiful singing of spirits when I first awake, that only after regular meditation. I haven’t heard that in awhile. It never occured to me until now, that those sounds are probably continually available for anyone to hear, but its shut out by most of us most of the time. Some combination of living habits and perspective probably makes it difficult to hear.
I have been making attempts at doing Yoga* Nidra:
Yogic Conscious Deep Sleep lately. I think I experienced it once since trying it. Its a method of examining your deep seated patterns, and view them objectively, to help one overcome certain fears and bad habits. Its difficult to describe, but its interesting to see ones emotional stuff in 2D at least thats how I experienced it. Like watching a movie without sound, as most feels are too dependend on music to help the viewer ‘feel’. So the drama level is greatly reduced. I am not sure it makes much sense. But that is my major interest at the moment.
I placed a watch at the base of an image of karrupaswammy to help me manage time. I don’t know yet if its working, its really only been the first full day of trying it out. And You will like this, the quickest way to gain favor with karrupaswammy is to help feed and clothe the poor.