In the LDS church selflessness and generosity are advocated over the pulpit and throughout the scriptures. We learn what the ideal society looks like -- no poverty, no classes, just people living in harmony with each other and God. It sounds beautiful and the spirit inspires us to emulate it. Furthermore we learn that certain things are wrong in the sight of the Lord – homosexual acts, addiction, gambling, etcetera, and that such things are to be avoided. Conversely, libertarianism promotes a government that does not require its constituents to provide aide to the destitute. Furthermore, the ideal libertarian government does not enforce morality. The only ethical enforcement provided within its framework is the protection of individual liberty and all that that entails. On the surface, these two ideologies, one religious and one political, may seem like polar opposites. In my mind, however, they walk hand-in-hand.
To clarify, I am not purporting that libertarianism is the only political theory justifiable through the teachings of the church. I am sure that LDS intellectuals in various parties could argue that the gospel best supports their political perspectives, and that they could do so convincingly. I mean to only propose reasons why libertarianism is compatible with the gospel. I do so to foster open-mindedness towards libertarianism among church members; and at the very least, to promote a more accepting attitude towards libertarian members. If I help a few members realize their own libertarianism in the process, I will be thrilled. Converting everyone to libertarianism, however, is not my goal.
If we are to discuss libertarianism, first we must establish what it is. It is complex and encompasses opposing factions, so it is very difficult to encapsulate, but I will try to do so as simply as I can. Libertarians believe that the singular role of government is to protect its constituent’s right to individual liberty. On the one hand, they are what one might call fiscally conservative (they generally support free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes and avoidance of deficit spending); and on the other hand they are what may be referred to as culturally liberal (they generally support the autonomy of individuals to do as they wish as long as they are not infringing on the rights of others). Generally they support non-interventionist military policies and often oppose preventive military engagement. So how are libertarianism and the gospel harmonious?
First, the gospel and libertarianism share a common commitment to individual freedom. One of the earliest examples of God supporting individual liberty is the War in Heaven. On the one side Lucifer offered a plan that would result in the salvation of all of God’s children. It sounds great, doesn’t it? However, it was through this plan that Satan “sought to destroy the agency of man” (Moses 4:3) and glorify himself above the Father. The rest is history. He,...