Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My conversion to Libertarianism, part II.

Read Part I here.

So there I was, a new believer in the principle of economic freedom, yet I was conflicted over social issues. It seemed logical to me that if you want to discourage bad behavior, you make it illegal; however, history has shown that people intent on behaving immorally don't really care about breaking laws, anyway.

I had also been taught at church and at home that it was God's will for his people to have the agency, or liberty, to choose good from evil. God made his plan known in the pre-mortal life, before Earth even existed. He stated it again in the Garden of Eden, telling Adam and Eve they could freely choose whether or not they partook of the forbidden fruit. Agency is a prominent theme throughout the scriptures and especially in the Book of Mormon. In modern times, LDS prophets and apostles have addressed the imperative need for personal liberty in both civic and religious aspects.

To say personal liberty is valued in Mormon culture is an understatement -- it's at the very heart of our doctrine.

As I continued to wrestle with myself over my conflicting interests, the libertarian voices in my life became louder. I found myself both annoyed and intrigued by their messages. One libertarian friend in particular was rather vociferous about his political opinions -- especially his distaste for "my guy," Mitt Romney. He often would say Mitt wasn't a "good" Mormon because of his political ideals. We got into a few Internet scuffles over it. It seemed to me that Mitt Romney was a man of moral character running on a conservative political platform, but my friend thought Mitt's political compromises showed he lacked integrity.

I admit, that approach didn't help my friend's cause to convert me to libertarianism. But what did help was when he offered to send any of his interested friends the book Latter-day Liberty by Connor Boyack. ANY of them, free of charge.

I was initially more drawn to the "freebie" than anything else, but I also saw a convenient opportunity to read why libertarianism was the political affiliation that most aligned with my Mormon faith. So, I told my friend I was interested, and he promptly responded he would mail me a copy. When it arrived, I was prepared for a convoluted argument backed by a few prophetic quotes and scriptures, and I prejudged the book as such. But, I was still willing to give it a chance.

I should have known if my friend was willing to give this book out for free, it must be very persuasive. And indeed, it is. From the start, Boyack presents a water-tight-logical, fact-based argument connecting Mormon doctrine with libertarianism. He references scriptures, draws on the experiences of Joseph Smith and the early Saints's search for religious freedom, and explains the historical context of the nation's founding with such expertise, citing source after source for his evidence. Boyack is eloquent but easy to understand and clearly knows his stuff -- he left no stone unturned.

Boyack doesn't advocate we should lie down and accept the unsavory choices of others, but we should first and foremost uphold the eternal principle of free will -- a God-given right we all possess through our divine inheritance. He argues the only righteous and frankly, legitimate laws in America are those which uphold this higher law of protecting liberty. It is why the Founders drafted the Declaration of Independence and created the law of the land, the Constitution. Not so an overbearing government could boss its people around, but so the people could be free as individuals.

It was the end of 2011 when I read Latter-day Liberty, at the height of the presidential election between Romney and Obama. Obama won a second term. I was pretty devastated. But, I also knew that America really needed something neither Obama nor Romney was offering. We needed less intervention, and both of those men -- whether liberal or conservative in their approach -- were prepared to offer all the interventions they could muster and then some to save us.

After reading Latter-day Liberty and studying libertarianism more fully, I could no longer support government mandates, more military spending, social welfare, foreign aid, higher taxes or even laws intended to prevent immorality. For me, it all became so contrary to God's purpose for us, which is "to prove [us] herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]." (Abraham 3:25) As Boyack says, "This basic responsibility is crucial to our eternal development; if we can't demonstrate to God that we can govern ourselves, would he entrust us with 'thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers' (D&C 132:19) to govern others throughout the eternities?"

And that's what it boils down to for me. We're here to learn, right? To learn to become like God? How can we adequately prepare for our eternal role if the journey is facilitated through a limitation of choices? The choice between good and evil is supposed to be hard. If it weren't, God wouldn't have permitted Satan to tempt us. Furthermore, God is all-powerful, yet he chooses to stay His hand and allows us full autonomy. Why would we not refer to His exemplary way in our own lives?

When we choose righteousness even when evil is not only available but widely accepted by society, we are truly proving our obedience to God.

Since the time of reading Latter-day Liberty, I had remained a registered Republican with the intent of changing my party from within, voting for candidates in support of small government and less spending. But with the Republican nomination of Donald Trump last week, I could no longer stand by the Republican Party as it no longer represented my ideals. I was finished. The second I learned of his nomination, I logged onto the DMV web site and changed my party affiliation to Libertarian.

"But Jenna!" You say. "How can you stand by as members of your new party support the legalization of marijuana, gay marriage and sometimes even abortion*?"

Here's how: Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is morally right, and it doesn't mean I will now take part in these things. As a libertarian, I am still free to choose good over evil. The difference is, I don't think I or anyone else should be allowed to take this choice away from others, so long as their actions don't harm others or jeopardize others' freedom.

Think of the Word of Wisdom, the Mormon doctrine which forbids the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea. In the US, each of these items is considered perfectly legal for adults to use. Does that mean we have to partake just because the law allows it? Of course not. The same goes for any other immoral practice. Just because [insert inappropriate and sinful behavior here] is legal doesn't mean you must do it or support it.

But, we can stand up for what we believe is right! The First Amendment permits it and encourages it. This may be as simple as telling a friend you think pornography is harmful or as complicated as an organized protest against abortion. In a free society, our covenant responsibility to "stand as a witness of Christ" is more meaningful and valuable than it is in a place where everyone is forced to be charitable and abstain from immorality.

I believe in non-agression. I believe everyone has a right to life, property and freedom of choice, so long as their choice doesn't result in a loss of freedom for others. I believe people are capable of making good choices without the coercion of their government. I understand the world is growing more selfish, corrupt and hard-hearted every day. But, I don't think any political leader, no matter how powerful, can eliminate all the evil and temptations we face. If anything, their own thirst for power and control will lead to further corruption, not less. We can only be responsible for our own choices and for the education of our stewardship.

America's birth made her different from other nations because the Founders espoused a rule of law, not a rule of men. We are ready to get back to our roots, to stop legislating every.single.thing, to stop fighting wars for other countries, to stop spending, to stop providing for people what they are every bit as capable of providing for themselves, to live and let live and truly be FREE.

Are you on board? Need more convincing? Get Connor Boyack's book here.

*Regarding abortion, libertarians are divided depending on when they believe life begins (at conception versus at birth). Those (like myself) who believe an unborn baby is a person feel that abortion infringes on their right to life, so it should be illegal. Others who believe a fetus is not a person with inherent rights would obviously feel differently.


  1. Whoa, I've learned so much! Thanks for writing this. I have a lot to think about and study. I've never considered myself a democrat or a republican.

    1. I also never really identified with either party. Good luck in your quest for more knowledge! The more I learn about libertarianism, the more I like it.

  2. Re: abortion- definitely an issue without a clear line. To make it illegal outright creates a dangerous black market for the service. I think abortion is a bad thing, but making laws completely against it is even worse. It's an issue pregnant women and health care professionals should discuss with each other. Not something politicians should be forcing on everyone.

  3. Re: abortion- definitely an issue without a clear line. To make it illegal outright creates a dangerous black market for the service. I think abortion is a bad thing, but making laws completely against it is even worse. It's an issue pregnant women and health care professionals should discuss with each other. Not something politicians should be forcing on everyone.

    1. I see your point, but I know there are libertarians on both sides of this issue. It all depends on when you believe life begins. If you believe it begins at conception, then you believe that unborn child has rights that should not be violated. If you believe it doesn't begin until birth, then you would put precedence on the mother's wishes. I do worry about the black market implications as we all know that people will do what they want regardless of laws. Thanks for your comment, Dustin!


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