Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Religion and Politics...

I’ve been thinking about some things, political things, lately, and I started contemplating these two (seemingly) contradictory scriptures:

“O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh.” 2 Ne. 4: 34

- And -

“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;” D&C 58: 27

On one level, these seem to say the opposite thing. The first scripture says to rely on the Lord for all guidance and success. The second scripture says to go out on your own and do stuff.

I got to thinking about this when I started thinking about the nature of politics and religion. If we are all praying to the same God for guidance in our world and our politics, why are so many of us getting so many different responses? If we’re not supposed to trust our own “arm”, then we should rely on Him, right? So, why all the differences?

It even makes me wonder if I should be praying for help as I choose my candidates. As I’ve been contemplating it, I’ve come to two parallel conclusions that seem to answer it in my mind.

Some things are directed by God.

Some things He leaves up to us.

See, God’s all about us learning things. That’s the whole purpose in the creation of the earth. I think a large part of that is letting us make choices and letting us make mistakes, as well as find successes. There are some things that He definitely takes a strong hand in. This happens on the big, historical picture, as well as on the scale of the individual person. There are some things He just doesn’t care about, like what color shirt I wear. In between all of that, there are a lot of choices that we have to make, and He often lets us make them on our own. Sometimes, He even inspires us to make certain choices that are right for us, but which might not be right for someone else. Sometimes he lets our choices be clouded by our own life’s experiences. Why? Because that’s how we learn from them.

So, I think that I shouldn’t be praying about which candidate He wants me to vote for. Instead, I should be praying for clarity and understanding so that I can make a better choice based on my own life’s learning.

Mark Hansen


  1. Very nicely said. Praying for understanding instead of just praying for an answer means you're looking to become rather than just do :)

    Justin M. Sellers

  2. Another thing to pray for is to know if the current situation is one where He wants you to follow His direction, or if this is a case where you are expected to apply your experience to make your choice. I suspect that there are - or have been - cases (not often in politics I would guess) where He does have a preference of one candidate over another.

  3. Good point, David. Ultimately, if you don't know something, ask, right? That's one of the messages of the First Vision...

  4. Happened on your Oct 2004 blog 'google'ing' 'Hope of Israel' hymn to find a 'downloadable' and others from the ancient DESERET hymnbook I grew up with in 1940s/1950s New York, and enjoyed your thought on martial/military nature of many hymns. I was thinking the same thoughts just a few days ago...(and a few months ago...and a few years ago..)I then fast-forwarded to your current and may be the 13th reader (you some where said you have maybe 12 others), and look forward to more. As a
    not-active-Mormon who resided in Utah for years, contributed three daughters to temple marriages, and two daughters to LDS missions, thought you might be interested in some of my thoughts - a 70 year-old perhaps future version of yourself.
    (P.S. Also in Orlando the other day, not at a symposium as you, but visiting DownTown Disney - a fun people-watching area) Enjoy



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