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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book of Mormon revisited

Last week I wrote about socialism and the Book of Mormon. I'd like to follow up on that.

As a reminder or FYI, socialism is NOT taught or practiced in the Book of Mormon or the Bible. On the contrary, the United Order taught in the scriptures depends on selfless people who consistently put their own needs behind those of others. It depends on people working just as hard for others' welfare as they naturally would for their own welfare. Socialism doesn't work because people are naturally selfish, and won't work hard to benefit others. Before it could ever work, people have to root out selfishness by uniformly following Jesus Christ. Otherwise the system breaks down, as we have record of in the scriptures and in early LDS history.

To continue. Just as I've seen confusion among Mormon liberals about the distinctions between socialism and the United Order, I see confusion about the role of government versus the role of individuals in charitable causes. King Benjamin's discourse in the Book of Mormon is quite clear, in my opinion, that people who covenant with God to comfort and bless those in need have the responsibility to do so directly. Themselves. Paying taxes that goes towards government welfare does not absolve one of this obligation or privilege, depending on how one looks at it. Sure, it's easier to just pay taxes. But discipleship of Jesus Christ is not meant to be easy. It is supposed to be personal, as Christ's own ministry was, as well as that of many prophets. Besides, government has way too much overhead compared with nonprofit charitable organizations, and provide relatively few volunteer opportunities.

No, taxes don't cut it. On the contrary, over and over in the Book of Mormon the prophets wrote about the great burden that taxes were to the people (at less rates on average than Americans are taxed today, in fact). Taxes limited their prosperity and their freedom both as individuals and as a society. King Benjamin (among others such as Nephi) "labored with his own hands" that his people need not work for his support. It sure would be nice to see more of that attitude in our politicians today!

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