Thursday, January 18, 2007

Living together

As a member of the Church in good standing I do not believe that unmarried couples should be doing anything that would lead them to breaking God's law of chastity. President and Sister Clark's inspiring devotional spelled it out simply. I felt the Spirit's touch as I read their talk (I'm currently in Portland and I was unable to attend).

However the following story has me conflicted. In this situation, I do not believe government should be telling folks how to live, yet, I believe EVERYBODY, Latter-day Saint or not, should be chaste.

On the other hand, I believe N. Dakota has a right to do what they want. If they don't want unmarried couples living together than they can enact a law — I would hope that it goes to a general vote however. In this case, the citizens of that state definitely need a chance to weigh in.

Any thoughts?

At heart, I feel this law infringes on a person's basic right to make decisions about their own life. Also, I believe marriage is a purely religious institution and the secularization of it takes away from its importance. People shouldn't get married just because the law tells them they should. They should get married because of their love for each other and their love for God. I don't think God cares for a couple who gets married just to legally live together and then get divorced when they're done.

Perhaps the ideal situation is to have government stay out of things, and to have individual citizens, churches and communities work with each other to create societal contracts.

6 comments:

Blake Roberts said...

I must admit that this raises a delicate issue for me, the conflict between small and big government. Normally I am in favor of government staying out of people's lives, but in this case I think the law should stand.

Government has two main purposes (as far as I'm concerned), to protect individual freedom, and to protect society as a whole. Occasionally, the two roles come in conflict, and then a fine line must be balanced, and the consequences closely examined.

I feel that cohabitation is wrong for the same reason that I feel alcohol and drugs should be outlawed, prostitution banned, and smoking shouldn't be allowed in public places. It is harmful to society to a whole, and I don't think anyone should have the right to jeopardize society for the sake of their pleasure.

Reading the article reminded me of my favorite talk by President Faust, which was given on November 15th, 1995. It is called "Trying to serve the Lord without offending the Devil." In it he said:

"So-called small sins include the challenge to the "sin laws" that seek to control forms of gambling, alcohol, and drug consumption. Some who wish to appear broad-minded say, under the guise of not imposing religious belief, "I don't drink or gamble, but I don't think we ought to have any laws to control others that wish to." This completely ignores the health and social costs to society of the vices. They foolishly argue that laws cannot control human behavior. My long legal career has led me to conclude that all criminal laws have a moral basis."

For as much as I dislike big government, I don't mind it legislating morality.

Peter Nguyen said...

Blake,

That cracks me up! Wouldn't government be the WORST at legislating morality? Who's morality? Catholics, Mormons and other orthodoxy's believe that masturbation hurts society. Many evangelicals do not. Should we outlaw masturbation?

I use a shocking point to prove a point. Government should be staying out of family affairs. If my daughter decides to move in with a guy, you darn well believe that I'm going to get involved. I don't want government getting into it.

I get your point, and I sympathize with it, but the more we legislate morality the more we start moving towards a theocratic state. I really don't want that to happen unless Christ is around to call the shots, you know what I mean?

joe strickland said...

I am personally opposed to a law like this one. I don't really see much harm being done to society by those who cohabitate, other than the moral issues that may be obvious to Mormons and other Christians and religious groups.

Peter, I assume that you are opposed to gay marriage and that you are opposed to abortion in most cases and that you would support the government limiting those two things. Am I right? If I am, my question to you is, where do we draw the line when we are attemmpting to legislate from a moral standpoint?

Blake Roberts said...

Peter,

Would government be the worst at legislating morality? Probably. Heck, prohibition is a great example of a good idea with poor application.

But, is it truly a family affair, or is it a community/society issue? Cohabitation breaks down the family structure, and gives youth the impression that that kind of behavior is acceptable. As the family breaks down, the community then suffers.

I agree with you that we don't want a theocratic state yet. But, a moralistic law system doesn't equal a theocracy. Further, a country that tries to purge the morality that religion brings (such as the Soviet Union or France during its revolution) is just as scary as a country that tries to force everyone to be good. A balance is needed, lines must be drawn somewhere.

But, we all know it was Satan's plan to try to force everyone to be good. We don't want to do that, and I am not advocating any such thing. However, when their choices infringe on the rights of others, that is when the government should get involved; and people have a right to be safe from more then just physical danger.

Let's think about some of the things that would be legal if we didn't try to legislate morality.

1) Public nudity. The reason it's outlawed is because of morality, I can think of no other legal reason to do so 9if someone else knows of one, please enlighten me).

2) Unregulated airwaves. The FCC says that certain words and images cannot be used on public airways since they are "indecent". Decency is a concept of morality.

To be honest though, I don't think the N.D. law is even enforceable at this point. If the majority of the people wanted it enforced, then it would have been. Perhaps to them it is more of a symbolic gesture.

Now, time to step to a lower soap box. Having given my reasons for why I think the law should exist, here is my opinion on how it should be enforced.

Since we don't want police peaking into windows to make sure everything is honkey dory, I would treat the situation like the speed limit is treated. If you are speeding a little, the police don't really care. It's only when you start getting out of hand that things step in (heck, even the photo radar in Mesa is set to 10 over the speed limit). So, so long as they stay out of further trouble, let them be for now.

I would say that since the problem is so wide spread, to just focus on more pressing matters (murder, abuse, drugs, drunk drivers, etc.).

When there is a flu epidemic, you don't spend your time trying to cure long term cancer. You face the larger, more immediate threat. Once it's gone, then you worry about the other stuff.

By the way, how is Portland? I’ve heard there’s been a lot of snow over there.

Peter Nguyen said...

This is a sticky issue with larger principles attached LOL!

Oh, hey, have I announced that my wife is 19 weeks pregnant? Yes, the Angry Asian is going to be a Happy Daddy!

Joe, first, let's address same-sex marriage. You are right. Generally speaking, I am not a same-sex marriage advocate. However, as I'm sure you know, I'm not even an advocate of marriage as a legal institution. I believe society would be better served if marriage were a purely religious institution. I don't think it's a far leap to say that if the Federal Government can define marriage as between a man and woman, can they not also redefine it later to something adverse to Mormons?

As for abortion, I believe abortion should be rare, I don't think the federal government should be subsidizing abortions, and I believe that Roe v. Wade left the definition of abortion way to broad! My fear however, is what happens if abortion is made to be completely illegal? To put it crudely, "Out come the coat hangers," and that's not acceptable.

I don't know where to draw the line when legislating morality. I honestly don't have an answer to that. I do have an idea though. Perhaps it's best left to a local level. That way, close-knit communities can determine what they believe is moral. That would also empower local churches who are unable to work at a national level.

Also, if something regarding morality needs to be done at the federal level, perhaps it should be postponed to an election year so that the people can weigh in by voting. I'm not sure, is that a horrible idea?

And Blake, Portland has been getting some snow, but nothing like the rest of the nation. I love it here! It's a great city! Although, and I hate to say it, the ultra liberals are eroding it away.

Blake Roberts said...

Congrats on the upcoming rugrat! That's great news!

More posting later, I'm almost late to class now.