Why are we telling people not to share what they enjoy with us?

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I’ve seen an interesting trend lately. Posts bashing posts about workouts or food, or that bash quizzes and Bitstrips — “friends” who bash “friends” who post things they aren’t interested in.

I cannot comprehend this sentiment. A person’s Facebook wall and posts are about that person, not about others. A person comprises their wall with their likes and dislikes, their opinions, their self. 

And just as people are varied, so are posts. So while you may find someone’s posts about exercising, food, politics, or whatever to be annoying or boring — those are the things that person is really into. And even those (silly) quizzes and bitstrips are a way of expressing one’s self — or something someone found humor or enjoyment in and thought others might enjoy.

So the question is: What kind of person are you? Are you the kind of person who supports a “friend” and takes an interest in their life and passions — or at least lets posts you don’t enjoy slide off your back? Or are you the type of person who puts down people for sharing a part of themselves?

And if you’re the latter… You and your “friend” are both probably better off if you just press the “unfriend” button.

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Why you should never “doubt your doubts”

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First off: If you have no doubts in your life, then this is not for you.

That being said, I’ve seen the quote “doubt your doubts” floating around, and I’d like to address some conflicts I have with it.

Doubts are healthy, but if left unaddressed or added to, they can become very unhealthy.

If you truly DO doubt something in your life, I’d urge you to address it. If you let doubt linger it will fester and infect your happiness, eating away at it. And “doubting your doubts” will only compound the problem and increase the festering and doubt.

Addressing doubt will help you, not hurt you.

If you indiscriminately investigate your doubts and come to the conclusion that they are unfounded, it will set your mind at peace and you will be free of doubts dragging you down. Additionally, it will solidify what you believe and increase what you know because of that thorough and indiscriminating investigation.

If, on the off chance, you find that the doubts were warranted, you will be more enlightened about yourself and the world around you — even if it means you have to change yourself or something you believe. And even then, you will find yourself happier because doubt will no longer eat at you and drag you down.

Either way, addressing doubt will lead only to happiness and growth — whereas ignoring them can lead to worse issues and an unhealthy mental state.

“The law cannot make moral what God has declared immoral”: Mormon revelation past, present, and future

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LDS Church apostle Dallin H. Oaks recently said that human laws “cannot make moral what God has declared immoral.” It’s a sentiment that has been increasingly clashing with the heartfelt longing for marriage equality among a growing number of Mormon faithful.

But there are a number of things to think about concerning Oaks’ message and the way the LDS Church functions. The church has an interesting concept of revelation. Not only do they believe that church leaders receive continual revelation from God, but they also believe members can receive their own revelation from God.

One of the most prominent early Mormon leaders, Brigham Young, once stated “the greatest fear I have is that the people of this Church will accept what we say as the will of the Lord without first praying about it and getting the witness within their own hearts that what we say is the word of the Lord.”

So what happens when members earnestly pray about the words Oaks has said, and the current LDS teachings against gay marriage, and don’t receive such a witness?

Well, there are some things to keep in mind.

LDS apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated during the church’s October 2013 General Conference that church leaders have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. Sometimes BIG ones.

As if to hit Uchtdorf’s point home, the Church also released an essay acknowledging that past church leaders were not divinely inspired on racial issues, but were simply influenced by the cultural norms of their time — noting that the church today disavows any racist remarks they made or actions they took.

Indeed, Brigham Young said of interracial relationships that “if the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

Yet, look how far the Church has come on interracial relationships.

So, Mormon faithful, when Dallin H. Oaks says that “the law cannot make moral what God has declared immoral,” consider what church leaders have said about themselves, the Church’s past mistakes, and what church-revelation-yet-to-come may still reveal.

And if you’re feeling torn between your faith and your heart: Go with your heart — chances are it’s the still small voice telling you how to make the LDS Church more Christlike.

Secular arguments against gay marriage (and why they don’t hold up)

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Utah has been in the spotlight recently for its stance against gay marriage. There have been arguments back and forth about definitions of marriage, child-rearing, religious freedom, etc. One article in particular has caught my eye. It’s a secular look at why gay marriage isn’t a good idea. It lists off a bunch of pro-gay-marriage arguments and tries to refute them. Many of the arguments made are the same ones the state of Utah is attempting to make.

This is my dissection of those refutations.

ARGUMENT #1: Marriage has had “consistent elements” throughout history

“All these [historic] variations still embraced the fundamental, unchanging essence of marriage. They still saw it, in general, as a public, lifelong partnership between one man and one woman for the sake of generating and raising children… Yet, even supposing the essence of marriage could change, would that mean it should?… After all, such action may not be ethical or serve the common good.”

MY TAKE: The core ideas behind marriage have changed a LOT and vary from culture to culture.

First of all, the definition of marriage has NOT just been “one woman for one man” (click picture to see larger image):

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And it’s not always been about children. Some of the earliest marriages were all about wealth, power and politics:

“The Ancient Greeks also set the very clear pattern of marrying for position, wealth and power. The idea you married because you loved someone was irrelevant – sentimentality or feelings did not come into what was a commercial transaction between families looking to advance or protect their own positions.” (Where Did the Idea of Marriage Come From?)

As for ethics, it seems unethical to hold what seems like a basic right from people and to effectively oppress their expression of love. The Supreme Court has even ruled in 1967 that marriage is “one of the basic civil rights of man.” (Gay Marriage Pro and Con Arguments #14)

ARGUMENT #2: Marriage is about reproduction

“The largest difference is that same-sex couples cannot produce children, nor ensure a child’s basic right to be raised by his mother and father. These facts alone mean we’re talking about two very different types of relationships. It’s wrong, therefore, to assume the state should necessarily treat them as if they were the same.”

MY TAKE: Marriage is about love 

Socially, people get married as an expression of love and commitment. Though it is true that oftentimes children come later, that is not always the case and “kids” are not usually the overriding factor in getting married: it’s two people’s intimate feelings towards one another. Simply: Two people in love may have a mutual desire to start a family, but WHY do they marry who they do? They marry out of love. Therefore the defining trait in the relationship is LOVE, not kids.

Legally, no governmental benefits are conferred on married people’s kids through the act of marriage. Kids do not enhance any governmental marriage benefits. The lack thereof does not remove any. Therefore it’s pretty clear to see, in the eyes of government, that kids have nothing to do with marriage.

Either way, socially or legally, marriage has only to do with the two people, not kids or anyone else. Therefore the “differences between the two types of relationships” are non-existent. So why are kids being discussed like it’s some sort of requirement?

“Same-sex marriage advocates may argue that it’s discriminatory to favor heterosexual spouses over homosexual couples. With all of the benefits flowing from marriage, this unfairly endorses one set of relationships over another. But if the state endorsed same-sex marriage, it would then be favoring gay “spouses” over unmarried heterosexual couples. The argument runs both ways and is ultimately self-defeating.”

Of course gay marriage would “favor” gay married couples over unmarried straight couples, just as it would “favor” gay married couples over unmarried gay couples. How is that any different than now — where marriage “favors” straight married couples over straight unmarried couples?

ARGUMENT #3: Straight people are better parents

“The real question here is not whether marriage should be limited, but how. To answer that, we must determine why the government even bothers with marriage. It’s not to validate two people who love each other, nice as that is. It’s because marriage between one man and one woman is likely to result in a family with children. Since the government is deeply interested in the propagation and stabilization of society, it promotes and regulates this specific type of relationship above all others.”

MY TAKE: There’s plenty of evidence that shows gay couples are just as good at raising children

Except that doesn’t appear to be the case (see #2). But even if it were, there is plenty of evidence that shows gay couples are just as family oriented and effective at parenting as straight couples. And there are plenty of gay couples who plan to have kids, whether through adoption or other means.

American Psychological Association on Children Raised by Gay and Lesbian Parents

Children raised by gay couples show good progress through school

Gay Parents Better Than Straight Parents? What Research Says

Study: Same-sex couples just as good, if not better, at parenting

(See #7 if you feel like there are studies that say otherwise)

ARGUMENT #4: Same sex marriage will destroy marriage and education and limit religious freedom

“[Gay marriage] would weaken marriage. After same-sex marriage was legislated in Spain in 2005, marriage rates plummeted. The same happened in the Netherlands. Redefining marriage obscures its meaning and purpose, thereby discouraging people from taking it seriously.”

MY TAKE: There are other factors for declining marriage rates. Fears about “indoctrination” of children or religious freedom being hampered are overblown or misplaced. 

A couple things:

1) Marriage rates in Europe are declining everywhere and have been for awhile.

2) Massachusetts, where gay marriage was legalized in 2004, has seen a 21% decline in divorce. Conversely, Lithuania, where gay-sex marriage is banned, has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe.

“Second, it would affect education and parenting.”

See #3 concerning the argument on parenting.

“After same-sex marriage was legalized in Canada, the Toronto School Board implemented a curriculum promoting homosexuality and denouncing ‘heterosexism.’ They also produced posters titled ‘Love Knows No Gender,’ which depicted both homosexual and polygamous relationships as equivalent to marriage. Despite parents’ objections, the board decreed that they had no right to remove their children from such instruction.”

I think parents should have the right to remove children from social instruction they don’t want taught. But that is a government failing, not a failing of gay marriage.

“Third, redefining marriage would threaten moral and religious liberty. This is already evident in our own country. In Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., for instance, Catholic Charities can no longer provide charitable adoption services based on new definitions of marriage. Elsewhere, Canadian Bishop Frederick Henry was investigated by the Alberta Human Rights Commission for simply explaining the Catholic Church’s teaching on homosexuality in a newspaper column. Examples like this show how redefining marriage threatens religious freedom.”

First of all, at least some of these stories are half-truths. And again, they are great examples for limiting government, however they are not really arguments against same-sex marriage.

ARGUMENT #5: Gay marriage is a slippery slope

“When marriage revolves around procreation, it makes sense to restrict it to one man and one woman. That’s the only relationship capable of producing children. But if we redefine marriage as simply a loving, romantic union between committed adults, what principled reason would we have for rejecting polygamist or polyamorous — that is, multiple-person — relationships as marriages?”

MY TAKE: The slippery slope argument is inconsistent and can be easily dismissed with two simple words: “consenting adults.”

First of all, polygamy is perfectly capable of producing children, and far more efficiently than just one man and one woman. So what “principled reason” is there for not having polygamy if, indeed, marriage is about producing children?

For those that worry gay marriage is a slippery slope, all you need to do is keep the graphic below in mind, along with two words: “consenting adults.”

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“This isn’t just scaremongering or a hypothetical slippery slope. These aftereffects have already been observed in countries that have legalized same-sex marriage… Procreation is the main reason civil marriage is limited to two people. When sexual love replaces children as the primary purpose of marriage, restricting it to just two people no longer makes sense.”

That makes no sense. If procreation and children are the main reasons for marriage, then polygamy should be the standard.

“Sexual love” just denotes a love for sex. You can have that with one person or 20 people, whether they be straight, gay, bi, whatever. Gay people aren’t getting married for sex. They, just like plenty of straight people, can do that without a marriage ceremony.

Gay people are getting married because they love one another and want to commit to one another (and we’ve already established that marriage is about love).

ARGUMENT #6: Infertile people and the elderly can marry because they “were designed” for children, but gay people are not

“If marriage is about children, why does the state allow the first group to marry? The reason is that while we know every same-sex couple is infertile, we don’t generally know that about opposite-sex couples…”

MY TAKE: Gay people are “designed” for children — and we’ve already established they make good parents (and marriage is about love, not children, anyway)

For the record, gay people are fertile too. And while they may not reproduce naturally (usually), many gay couples have kids either through adoption or fertilization techniques. There’s plenty of unwanted children out there, and loving gay couples could actually help solve a lot of child-neglect issues we have.

Some suggest forcing every engaged couple to undergo mandatory fertility testing before marriage. Besides being prohibitively expensive, it would also be an egregious invasion of privacy… Another problem is that infertility is often misdiagnosed. Fertile couples may be wrongly denied marriage under such a scenario…”

An egregious invasion of privacy? Like the invasion of privacy over who gets to share a legally-binding commitment to another person?

It’s true that most elderly couples cannot reproduce, however, these marriages are so rare that it’s simply not worth the effort to restrict them. Also, elderly marriages still feature the right combination of man and woman needed to make children. Thus they provide a healthy model for the rest of society.”

It’s simply not worth the effort to restrict them? If you’re so eager to restrict one group of people over what you believe to be the principles of marriage, I would think you would want to apply that equally to all groups. Effort should take a backseat to keeping up with the principles of marriage — shouldn’t it?

But I see that it’s really about offering a healthy model to the rest of society. Fair enough, except see #3. Also, see #2. It’s clearly not about kids.

ARGUMENT #7: Studies on gay-parent families are skewed, but there is a study that shows gay couples make poor parents

“Several recent studies have put that claim to rest. In June, LSU scholar Loren Marks published a peer-reviewed paper in Social Science Research. It examined the 59 studies that the APA relied on for its briefing. Marks discovered that not one of the studies used a large, random, representative sample of lesbian or gay parents and their children. Several used extremely small “convenience” samples, recruiting participants through advertisements or word of mouth, and many failed to even include a control group. Furthermore, the studies did not track the children over time and were largely based on interviews with parents about the upbringing of their own children — a virtual guarantee of biased results.”

MY TAKE: Both sides have skewed studies

Okay, fair enough. Bad case study. I will admit more comprehensive studies need to be done. If you want to discount everything I said in #3, fine. But before you do…

“Texas sociologist Mark Regnerus released a comprehensive study titled ‘How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?’ His research used a large, random and national sample and its scope was unprecedented among prior work in this field. Contrary to the APA, Regnerus found that for a majority of outcomes, children raised by parents with same-sex relationships drastically underperformed children raised in a household with married, biological parents.”

Wow… talk about a bad case study. There is a HUGE problem: Regnerus compared gay unmarried couples to straight married couples (though I realize that gay married couples could be hard to come by in the U.S.). You either needs to compare gay married couples to straight married couples, or gay unmarried couples to straight unmarried couples. Otherwise, of course the results are going to be skewed.

Even Loren Marks, who is mentioned above, and other social scientists who support Regenerus’ research agree: “it is possible to interpret Regnerus’s findings as evidence for the need for legalized gay marriage, in order to support the social stability of such relationships.”

Also, Regnerus himself says his ‘Family Structures’ study wasn’t about gay parenting.

So if you’re an anti-gay-marriage advocate, and you decide to discount everything I put forth in #3 that says gay parents are just as good as straight parents, make sure you realize there aren’t any studies backing up your side of the argument either. At best, things are a wash.

ARGUMENT #8: There are reasonable anti-gay-marriage people — they are not all homophobic bigots, or even religious

To sum up: There are secular-minded people out there who have reasonable reasons for being opposed to gay marriage (specifically, these ones listed here). Gay marriage advocates love to throw out personal insults and demonize the opposition to distract from the factual case for gay marriage.

MY TAKE: It’s true, not every anti-gay-marriage advocate is a zealot or bigot. And there is a fair amount of name-calling, insults, and hate on both sides. BUT…

I can concede to this point, in as far as I believe not EVERY anti-gay-marriage person is a crazy hatemonger. But I do believe there is a lot of bigotry and homophobia, religious and otherwise in the equation — far more than is not. Not to mention a lot of people who have no problem with gay people but are opposed to gay marriage on the principle that “God says so.”

On top of that, while name-calling and insults certainly can devalue a conversation or debate, it does not devalue the valid points of an argument someone makes.

ARGUMENT #9: The Civil Rights movements and Gay Rights movement are completely different

“The suggestion here is that sex is similar to race, and therefore denying marriage for either reason is wrong. The problem, however, is that interracial marriage and same-sex marriage are significantly different.”

MY TAKE: There ARE similarities between the civil rights movement and gay-rights movement

They are the same in that both have genetic origins and can’t be changed.

“Nothing prevents interracial couples from fulfilling the basic essence of marriage — a public, lifelong relationship ordered toward procreation. Because of this, the anti-miscegenation laws of the 1960s were wrong to discriminate against interracial couples. Yet same-sex couples are not biologically ordered toward procreation and, therefore, cannot fulfill the basic requirements of marriage.”

It IS a civil right (see #1).

It’s not about children (see #2).

And even if it were, see #3.

ARGUMENT #10: Most people don’t approve of gay marriage, and even if they did, that doesn’t make it right

“If the tide is in fact turning, it’s still little more than a ripple. … Most polls show roughly two-thirds of the country wants to keep marriage as it is.”

MY TAKE: Gay marriage hasn’t been “popular” and has been a bitter battle to acceptance. Changing attitudes do not make it a fad.

Ever heard the saying about ripples becoming waves? Most polls now show the majority of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, even if by sometimes slim margins.

“Even if the tides have recently shifted, that does not make arguments in its favor any more persuasive. We don’t look to other moral issues and say, ‘Well, people are eventually going to accept it, so we might as well get in line.’ We shouldn’t do that for same-sex marriage, either.”

No, we shouldn’t. And gay-marriage supporters don’t. We support same-sex marriage because we look at the oppression and hurt being caused by an anti-gay-marriage policy and say “This is morally wrong.” We did not hop on a bandwagon because it was popular (indeed, it hasn’t been popular — and it’s been a bitter battle just to get people talking about it). We’ve dissected all the arguments anti-gay-marriage proponents have given us, from the religious to the secular, and we’ve found they do not hold water. It’s that simple.

Religious Rumble: Mormon President Thomas S. Monson vs. Tom Phillips

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I’ve seen the news breaking out everywhere: Thomas S. Monson, the head of the LDS Church, has been summoned to court in Britain over fraud allegations.

While the summons have been available for viewing here and here, there’s been little on why the judge would actually sign off on it. Legal experts have scoffed at the idea, along with plenty of Mormons and non-Mormons alike.

Now, however, Tom Phillips (the man behind the private prosecution attempt that resulted in the summons) has opened up on just what it took to bring the case to court and get the summons issued. To sum up: It’s been a long time coming.

Who is Tom Phillips?

Tom Phillips has an impressive and long history with the LDS Church spanning over 33 years. In addition to being personally acquainted with many church leaders, he has served as a bishop, stake president, and area executive secretary. On top of that, he was the area controller for the British Isles and Africa, and the financial director for the church’s UK corporate entities. That last position is especially interesting considering he is presenting a fraud case against the LDS Church, because it means he has intimate knowledge of the inner workings of church finances.

According to Phillips, he has also received the second anointing, a very rare and obscure church ordinance.

The judicial process

The judge who signed off on a summons severely scrutinized the case from all angles for four months (the process usually takes a few days) — attacking the case from every conceivable angle Monson’s legal team would be expected to attack the case on — before being convinced of the case’s merit and approving the summons. The judge did make some modifications though. Phillips originally wanted to list all UK church members and the UK Treasury as victims in the summons, which the judge refused to do — leading Phillips to name just two.

Phillips also states that he is not attacking the church’s core tenets or personally attacking Monson; but he believes the LDS Church misrepresents or glosses over certain facts about the church in order to more easily gain new members, and keep current ones, while collecting tithes from them. The representations the church makes, he claims, are demonstrably false.

If the church were upfront about these facts, he says, there would be no case. Likewise, if there were no way to demonstrably prove the validity or falsity of the teachings in question, there would also be no case.

Phillips has also convinced two leading British law firms to back him in his legal fight. Although, he says, it took several hours to convince the firms he had a strong case, in the end they agreed that “there was a strong case to be made against the Mormon Church for committing crimes of financial fraud.”

One of these firms has also indicated that they can keep the case from being dropped by the court — which, in itself, is actually pretty difficult for a UK court to do.

You can read the full document here.

Extra thoughts

It sounds like this might be a stronger case than previously thought — with a smaller chance of it being thrown out in court. It appears we haven’t heard the last of this.

However, regardless of how the case ends up, I think it will be bad not only for the church, but for ex-Mormons and non-Mormons.

If the case is dropped: Church history has already been put in the spotlight, and could lead less people to convert — and perhaps even cause some to fall away.

If President Monson ignores the court’s calls to appear: it will look very bad to potential converts and non-Mormons — and even to some current members.

If President Monson goes and loses: It’ll be as bad, if not a lot worse, than if he had ignored the court’s summons.

If President Monson goes and wins: It’ll be vindication for Mormons and may alleviate some of the concern potential converts could have — but many will still probably be wary and dig deeper into church history before thinking about baptism.

But regardless of whether the case is dropped or President Monson goes, wins, or loses, Mormons have already felt the sting of new persecution, fears of religious restriction have been stoked, and ex/non-Mormons — whether they agree with the case or not — will be grouped together and looked at with scorn, leading them to react in kind.

I’ve already seen the rumblings of this happening online, and I imagine it will only intensify if this picks up or drags on.

Another, larger, wedge between people is, to me, the last thing this world needs. So that’s a shame.

What the Doctrine and Covenants says about gay marriage, the judicial system, and the role of religion in government

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There has been a lot of discussion online and offline about gay marriage. People on both sides of the divide have been hurling scripture and quotes from prophets back and forth. One of the most intriguing to me was the mention of Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 134: 9. The verse seems to state religion and government shouldn’t be mixed. I decided to read through the section to make sure it hadn’t been taken out of context, and what I found was even more interesting to me than just that one verse.

Of great importance is the use of “conscience” as opposed to “religion” throughout the section.

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On the role of government (it’s important to note that numerous states and countries have already legalized gay marriage and their societies are still “good and safe”)

1 We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.

On how peace can be maintained in America

2 We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of CONSCIENCE, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.

On the importance of judges (before you jump on “voice of the people”, see verse 11)

We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

On religious followers being allowed the free exercise of religion “unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe on the rights and liberties of others”

4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the CONSCIENCES of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control CONSCIENCE; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

On laws and the executive branch of government

We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of CONSCIENCE.

On honoring judges, and keeping religion and government separate

We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

On governments being “bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief”

7 We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.

(8 is on punishment of typical crimes — not relevant here)

On keeping religion and government separate

We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.

On the limited power religious authorities should have

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

On the importance of the judicial system (note the use of “character infringed”)

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.

(12 is on preaching to and baptizing servants — not relevant here)

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It appears, to me, that this bit of Mormon doctrine is a great guideline for a secular government — and I greatly admire the tenets espoused throughout the section — the need for a judicial system to redress grievances, the need to keep religion and government separate, but most importantly: The need to let everyone live according to the dictates of their conscience, so that you can be free to do the same.

Drug Abuse and Getting Clean: Common Misconceptions

DCF 1.0

Nancy Reagan taught us all that drugs are bad. D.A.R.E. programs taught us that users are criminals, they are bad people. No one ever bothered to tell us that the vast majority of them were in need of help from a mental health system that largely doesn’t exist.

DeBie Hive

I’ve seen a lot online lately about drugs. From welfare drug testing to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death to the fact that heroin use is up. I’ve also seen a lot of misconceptions about drug users and addiction. I’d like to clear some of that up.

Drug use = addiction

While it’s true that most drugs have the potential for addiction, from cigarettes to heroin, not everyone who uses drugs is an addict or has a problem. Plenty of people imbibe beer or smoke marijuana without it ever becoming a physical or psychological issue.

Drug users are stupid

There’s no two ways about it, people with higher IQs are more likely to use drugs, undoing the notion that drugs are a fool’s vice. The correlation isn’t completely clear, but experts note that smarter people are often under more pressure to perform and some may also become easily bored and seek the extra stimulation drugs offer.

I’ve also observed that, the smarter you are, the easier it is to become disillusioned or depressed about the world around you. Drugs can be an alluring coping mechanism.

Drug users just want to get high

While it’s true that the high is the reason people begin taking drugs, it’s really not as simple as that. For many drug users, getting high is a means to an end. Drugs seem like a good way (at least in the beginning) to deal with life’s rigors or one’s own inner demons. It’s a fact that drug use is higher in the mentally ill and those who go through traumatic experiences.

There’s also been a rise in prescription painkiller addiction, which may stem from doctors prescribing them more to help patients with pain. Some people have a higher risk of addiction due to genetics, so even something that might seem harmless at first can turn into a serious problem.

Drug users can stop anytime they want

Drug addiction can, sometimes literally, be crippling. And addicts know this. An addict may very well want to clean up and get help, but continues using because it’s the only way to remain functional at work or get through job interviews.

Withdrawal (essentially what “rehab” does) is a MONTHS-long process, and when you have to support yourself or your family, cleaning up just isn’t an option. And even if you manage to get help, rehab (if you can afford it) mostly treats the symptom. Until the root cause is dissected and patched with therapy, there’s a higher chance of relapse. And quality therapy is not something addicts often have access to.

If they do manage to get cleaned up though, the battle still isn’t over. The battle is NEVER over. An addict will be an addict their entire life, even if it’s been 5, 10, or 50 years since they last used.

There can also be social consequences to cleaning up. In order to decrease the chance of a relapse, a person may need to cut ties with close friends and family. If they don’t have a strong social network of sober people to rely on when they take such a step, this can also leave them emotionally vulnerable — which can lead to a relapse.

Drug addicts on welfare are moochers

There is a misconception that there are a lot of drug users who use welfare — and that they use welfare money to buy more drugs.

First of all, the number of drug users on welfare is extremely low and screening costs taxpayers far more than the amount saved in denying benefits to the few who do use.

Secondly, welfare is, in a way, the closest thing the government currently has to “drug rehabilitation.”

As I said above, addicts need drugs to function properly. Without their daily fix, survival is practically impossible. For the insanely low amount of drug users who actually use welfare, it could be helping them survive (whether they use welfare for food, shelter, drugs, etc.) as they attempt to rehabilitate or try to hold down a job.

Remember, for an addict, drugs are as physically necessary as food.

Panhandling homeless people will just spend their money on alcohol and booze

This one isn’t necessarily a misconception as much as a misunderstanding. Drugs — especially alcohol and cigarettes — can be a survival tactic for homeless people. I once heard someone mention that they couldn’t understand why a homeless person would buy cigarettes or booze before buying food.

Here’s the reason: Food doesn’t last long when you have no way to store or cook it. People with homes take refrigerators, stoves and microwaves for granted. Cigarettes last longer than food and can suppress appetite, which makes the little food one is able to scrounge go a lot farther on a lot less cash.

As for alcohol: Everyone knows that it makes you feel warmer (even though it really does the opposite). That can make sleeping and surviving on the cold streets seem a little less harsh. And, for some, alcohol can also help suppress appetite.

The other thing to keep in mind is that those who are mentally ill (and therefore at a higher propensity for addiction) are also more likely to become homeless. It is hard to survive on the streets when you can’t function properly — making it an awful place to get sober.

Drug users are lowlifes and I certainly don’t know any

You might be surprised just how many addicts you know. Most of them hide their addiction — due to shame and social stigma — while they work to support themselves and/or their family.

Right now, in America, there is no easy way for addicts to get cleaned up — especially if they’re on their own or a family breadwinner. Employers will not allow employees to take months off to get cleaned up and there is no real government program (that i know of) that will help support an addict (and their family) while they get sober.

But these people are everywhere. They’re your friends, family, and coworkers. And they’re not bad people.