Recently I was talking with a friend who is a faithful saint. He expressed his frustration that we sometimes conflate our religion and our politics. We sometimes act as if a faithful member of the Church could have only one political stance: “Freedom comes first.” The people who start their history with the war in heaven sometimes talk as if the only principle worth fighting for is agency.
I agree with that friend. I suppose that agency got us here. But using that agency to show love and compassion is what will get us back with Father. While we start our story with agency, we conclude it with the United Order. Should we imagine that every cousin of socialism is evil? Should we talk as if government must always be minimized? Must the great principles of freedom and compassion be at war with each other?
I grew up in a home that was very conservative politically. I have been very conservative most of my life. But the repeated demand of scripture to care for God’s underprivileged children makes me more open to many ways of helping—including some governmental interventions.
I am not defending big government. I am not suggesting it is the immediate solution to our woes. Each of us must find ways to care for the poor. But I invite humility and patience as each of us tries to find a way.
Maybe we could all try to welcome any efforts to care for God’s underprivileged children. Maybe it is not Uncle Sam who is the enemy but rather Satan. He would have us harden our hearts against the poor. “They brought it on themselves.”
Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:17-19)
I don’t think God wants us to choose between freedom and compassion. I think He wants us to use our best inspiration to choose both.
How can we do that? I welcome your ideas.