Intersections: Voting and Revelation

So I want to direct everyones attention to a new blog on which I am a collaborator entitled intersections. It should be a pretty interesting blog and I am eager to interact with the other posters.

Anyways this is my first post from that site!

 

his is an extension of a piece that I previously published on my own blog. In that post, I wrote about my process of receiving revelation on whom to vote for in the 2012 elections.

I want to delve a little deeper into why voting for a seemingly secular decision is so critical.

I just recently stumbled across an absolutely fantastic quote by President Heber J. Grant about the importance of making voting decisions prayerfully.

“The Presidency of the Church, so far as they are concerned, allow every man, woman, and child who is old enough to vote, to vote according to his or her own conviction. But we do appeal to all men and women, realizing the responsibility resting upon them, to seek God our Heavenly Father to guide them politically as well as religiously; and to stand for right.

President Grant really beautifully articulates the point that I am trying to express. It is all right to have our own personal convictions and to vote based on them. Each of us enters into the elections with certain predilections, positions and even simple habits. These viewpoints are based on years of experience and often painstaking or even agonizing deliberation. The lord wants us to reason things out in our mind and to truly do the leg work. He does not expect laziness on our part. To merely be apathetic about politics and then expect the lord to give us answers when we go to the voting booth is contrary to the basic patterns of revelation described in the gospel.

Indeed, if we do so, we are as guilty as was Oliver Cowdery in the early days of the church: (D&C 9)

7 Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

8 But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;

Therefore, in the gospel we have a strong incentive to study out the issues. Additionally, we are urged to seek knowledge with both our head and heart…That is both rationally and emotionally. If we focus purely on facts, we are going to miss the essential human element, while if we focus on emotional instinct purely, we are likely to be manipulated by forces beyond our control. Both of these elements must be in proper balance.

D&C 8:2—Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

On the other hand, we are positively commanded throughout the scriptures to seek the lord out and pray to him in all of our doings and certainly in something as significant as the exercise of our opportunity to influence the future of the country.

“Alma 37:36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”

In a talked entitled Agency or Inspiration, which was recently republished in a church magazine, Bruce R. Mckonkie lays out the tension between our personal agency and the injunction to seek revelation beautifully

“When we dwelt in the presence of God our Heavenly Father, we were endowed with agency. This gave us the opportunity, the privilege, to choose what we would do—to make a free, untrammeled choice. When father Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden he was given this same power, and we now possess it. We’re expected to use the gifts and talents and abilities, the sense and judgment and agency with which we are endowed.

But on the other hand we’re commanded to seek the Lord, to desire his Spirit, to get the spirit of revelation and inspiration in our lives. We come into the Church and a legal administrator places his hands upon our head and says, “Receive the Holy Ghost.” This gives us the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead, based on faithfulness.

And so we’re faced with two propositions. One is that we ought to be guided by the spirit of inspiration, the spirit of revelation. The other is that we’re here under a direction to use our agency, to determine what we ought to do on our own; and we need to strike a fine balance between these two, if we’re going to pursue a course that will give us joy, satisfaction, and peace in this life and lead to eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom.”

Again, another quote that I find incredibly lucid and powerful, in illustrating this principle this one from Elder M. Russell Ballard

““The civic duty of any Latter-day Saint, regardless of where they live, or including any county they may live in, is to be actively involved in the political process — meaning that they study the issues, they determine what the needs are as they see it, that they then use their freedom and their agency to vote according to their own conscience. It’s very important that good people everywhere are involved in this process.”

Indeed, it is absolutely essential that people of faith prayerfully seek to elect good leaders and defend their values.Brigham Young remarked, “No matter how good a government is, unless it is administered by righteous men, an evil government will be made of it.” (Journal of Discourses, 10:177.)

The Book of Mormon, as usual, is a very useful guidebook to help us understand how revelation and civic government should co-exist. In the Book of Mormon, seemingly secular decisions such as how to go to war or how to punish criminals are subjects of prayer and personal revelation from the lord. At one moment of particular peril described at the start of The Book of Third Nephi, the Nephites stood at the precipice of destruction by the Gadianton Robbers. In this time of peril, their leader Gidgiddoni turned to the lord and helped to save his people

“18 Now the chiefest among all the chief captains and the great commander of all the armies of the Nephites was appointed, and his name was Gidgiddoni.

19 Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge.

20 Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands.

21 But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.”

In another example, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi were stuck between a rock and hard place. Their former nation stood ready to slaughter them, but they were afraid to seek refuge among the Nephites for fear that hatred and bitterness would still fill their hearts. This nation faced an awful dilemma and sure destruction. Yet, fortunately, these people of great faith were ready to turn to the lord and to his prophet for guidance.

Alma 27: 7 And Ammon said: I will go and inquire of the Lord, and if he say unto us, go down unto our brethren, will ye go?

8 And the king said unto him: Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren…

10 But the king said unto him: Inquire of the Lord, and if he saith unto us go, we will go; otherwise we will perish in the land.

Indeed, sometimes we must feel like the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. We are jaded by both political parties and the process on the whole. We are unsure if either party can truly offer us a better life or better opportunities! Yet, their example is inspiring to me precisely because they turned to the lord and were willing to have faith. They had faith that whatever the Lord would tell them would be right.

Sometimes, we may not really understand the revelation we receive from the Lord fully. We may wonder if his priorities and direction for us really are that important. Sometimes, the revelation we receive may go against our best judgments even when we study out the issues with our heart and mind. Yet, we must always be ready to follow the lord, for he is the ultimate decision maker and the true chief executive

To summarize how I understand the process of determining who to vote for, I believe that we must first do the hard work of researching the issues and thinking, deliberating and debating. We must think about the issues with both our head and or heart even though sometimes we will be unable to reconcile them immediately. We must then be humble enough to seek the lord’s advice and be ready to follow it.

The lord really does care how we exercise our franchise.. I testify that the lord does answer prayers even in regard to whom to vote for. As a recipient of such revelation, I am thankful to the Lord and I urge each person of faith to truly turn to the lord to confirm your voting decisions for the 2012 elections and beyond!,

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