There are 4 thoughts on “Toward a Mormon Jurisprudence”.

  1. Thank you for publishing. There seems to be somewhat of a tension between saying man has a divine spark within, which he most assuredly does, and Section 121, which states it is the nature of almost all men, when they get a little authority, they abuse it (paraphrasing). Divine spark notwithstanding, man is often an unpleasant creature. A Mormon Jurisprudence would have to wrestle with that would it not? Jurisprudentialy, we’d hope for the best in the defendant, for example, but plan for the worst? I appreciate this thoughtful article. I had not seen it previously.

  2. You said: “While I am a strong supporter of the Bill of (individual) Rights, I wonder if one should not begin to promote the idea of a “Bill of Communitarian Duties.”… I hope that the twenty-first century will become a century of legally recognizing and strengthening civic duties.”

    If that hope was realized today, our communitarian duties would be defined and enforced by people with values very different from ours. We would have imposed on us the community duty to have no more than one or two children per family, lest we do damage to the environment. We would have the community duty imposed on us to never teach in public the law of chastitity, lest we offend those who break it. By living our religion we violate the political correctness of our day, and it makes people grit their teeth in rage against us. But they can do little against us as long as our society retains a permissive, individualistic nature. To a great extent we can follow the dictates of our own conscience… for now. But, give “communitarian duties” the full force of law in our society, and our religious liberty would be blown away like dandelion seeds in a hurricane. This is amply clear given the actions of Civil Rights tribunals in punishing people who refuse to provide wedding cakes or photography services for “gay marriages”. Our society is already headed towards enforced civic duties, and it doesn’t look good for religious freedom.

  3. Thank you for publishing Jack’s very deep and thought-provoking article. It has provoked the following thoughts or quibbles in me:

    Re p. 62, on the D&C 42:87 requirement that Mormon leaders aware of a crime committed by a member must deliver him “up unto the law of the land.” Does this include the bishop of 16-year-old Helmuth Hübener turning him over to the Gestapo? Did Hübener violate Article of Faith #12? Was Hübener, therefore, rightly excommunicated for actively though peacefully opposing the Nazis? When any Mormon finds himself governed by a totalitarian dictatorship which is engaged in mass murder on an industrial scale, is he duty-bound to be loyal to and cooperative with that government? Does this extend to soldiers serving a regime under oath, if that regime is engaged in human rights violations on any scale? What part does individual conscience play in such cases? What is one’s duty to God, and does it take precedence over earthly loyalties?

    Re p. 73, “Evangelicals, are monists, where Mormons are pluralists. Over and over again, Mormon doctrine relishes multiplicity.”
    The opposite is true: Evangelical theology (and Judeo-Christian theology generally) is strongly dualistic, maintaining as it does a distinction between God and creation, between necessary being and contingent being.
    However, Mormonism has a highly monistic theology, since it defines both God and man as having necessary being (the same genus and species) in an eternal continuum – in which individual identity is eternal (as in monistic Pali Sassatavada “eternalism”) – and in which both spirit and matter are materialistic, and in which God himself is subject to law. Mormonism is only dualistic in the sense that it affirms the necessary existence of complementary polarities (law of opposites). Mormonism may be pluralistic in the sense that it is tolerant of other social constructions and of free agency everywhere, except in internal LDS boundary maintenance and discipline.

    • “When any Mormon finds himself governed by a totalitarian dictatorship which is engaged in mass murder on an industrial scale, is he duty-bound to be loyal to and cooperative with that government?”

      Yes, we believe so. (D&C 134) It is obvious why that should be the case, as well. If Mormons were rabble rousers and magnifiers of discontent, as the Jehova’s Witnesses are, they would face problems spreading the gospel to other totalitarian nations.

      “Does this extend to soldiers serving a regime under oath, if that regime is engaged in human rights violations on any scale? What part does individual conscience play in such cases? What is one’s duty to God, and does it take precedence over earthly loyalties?”

      One’s duty to God is to obey every word of command from His mouth. Mormon took up command of the genocidal Nephites at God’s command, and at God’s command resigned his commission.

      I suspect you are seeking a non-revelatory standard to appeal to in these circumstances, when, in our religion, there is no such standard.

      “That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. God said, ‘Thou shalt not kill’; at another time He said, ‘Thou shalt utterly destroy.’ This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.'”
      Dean C. Jessee (editor), The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, p. 507-509

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