I had the rare opportunity to visit with a family alongside the LDS missionaries serving in our area. The family was a devout Jehovah’s Witness who had clearly found Jesus and had been blessed with peace and happiness for his faith and devotion.
The missionaries encouraged him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, to see if it was really God’s revelation through the prophet Joseph Smith or if it was not. He refused, and although he was amicable and the conversation was without any kind of contention, we could not change his mind or offer up a reason why he should change his mind. (Trust me, this has to do with politics and government. I’m getting there.)
His principle beef with the LDS church was not what typically divided the Jehovah’s Witnesses from the LDS church, but the fact that the LDS church and the members of the church were politically active. What to me was common sense, to him showed that we were firmly planted in the world and we were not building God’s kingdom here on earth.
I see this kind of sentiment among not just people of devout faith, but also among those who are very strict in their political beliefs as well. I am familiar with many people who, disagreeing with the size and scope of the federal government, believe the best course of action is to do nothing.
See, to me, if you are as extreme as an anarchist, who believes there should be no government at all, and you preferred living under no government than whatever we have now, why wouldn’t you use whatever power you had to bring us closer to your goals?
I mean, we see some violent factions of anarchism in the streets, destroying what they can to undermine the authority of the state. At the very least, they understand the simple concept: I want something, I have something, I will use what I have to get what I want, even if what we have is, in their minds, and oppressive and unjust government.
It reminds me of the sentiments of the Jewish people who long for Zion but refuse to lift a finger to see it happen. They believe that God will establish Zion with His own hands, and he doesn’t require anyone to do anything to help him. The other sect of the Jews believe that even when God sets his mind to do something, it requires the work and struggle of his people to see it happen.
In politics, everyone has an interest to participate, especially those who are dissatisfied with the way the world is. We have within ourselves, individually and collectively in whatever groups we affiliate with, some degree of political power. Having that power, is it not wise to use it to further your political goals?
For the LDS church, we have a vested interest in the family continuing as an institution with a husband and wife. To see society adopt a policy that marriage between two people of the same gender is morally equivalent and even preferable in some cases to marriage between two people of the opposite gender would, to say the least, undermine our plan for “world domination”: the linking of the entire human race into one eternal family bound to each other as spouse and children. It is also abhorrent to our belief that the genders are inherently different, and each gender must conform to basic gender roles if we intend to see any happiness on this earth.
And so the LDS church flexed its political muscles because it realized that by so doing, it would further its ends.
Should we not all do the same?
I believe a world where everyone is politically active to some degree, no matter how extreme their views, is a preferable world over one where only a few people participate. I believe that if those millions of Americans who do not exercise political power did, Washington DC, Olympia WA, and every other center of government in our nation would be dramatically different and so-called “special interests” wouldn’t dominate politics.
I also believe that, finding ourselves in this world that is hardly perfect, we do not do any good by exercising our power to see the world draw a little closer to the ideal.