The solution is charity, a change of nature whereby we feel no fear nor shame and seek to harm none nor build ourselves up, but take pleasure in doing good to all.
Moroni 7:45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
The behavior of charity is described succinctly: “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Thus all conflicts have been resolved before they even arise.
As an aside, “is kind” means “treats you like family.” So if y’all think I deploy rough language out here, you might guess it’s even more interesting in person. And you’d be right. We reward witticisms in my house, including clever put-downs, and don’t scruple to use four-letter words. After all, do you want someone dictating to you what speech you shall and shall not be allowed to use, particularly in your own home? Me neither. And we like to laugh.
My writings on the golden rule have been, strictly speaking, having a spot of fun. Most of the interesting implications of the rule were already made explicit in the Sermon on the Mount, which, if you will notice, is chiefly about conflict resolution – always in favor of our enemies! And it is in obeying these teachings that we come to know the principle that underlies them all, which is the golden rule, or charity.
The golden rule is the ideology of God. God is charity, after all (1 John 4:8, 16).
3 Nephi 15:9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.
He’s asking us to be principled – to obey the law, the golden rule, without judging (i.e., without respect to outcomes – without appealing to “workability” or consequences or worthiness). To take his covenant and instructions as a “suicide pact,” for it is.
Doctrine and Covenants 98:14
14 Therefore, be not afraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.
This is in opposition to a philosophy we have been spoon-fed since our infancy: paternalism.
Paternalism is the interference of a state or an individual with another person, against their will, and defended or motivated by a claim that the person interfered with will be better off or protected from harm. – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Paternalism is, at its most basic essence, meddling with others out of fear of pain / discomfort / negative results. It is justified by a claim to be seeking after the welfare of the person whose choices or results are being meddled with. Paternalism is outcome-driven, or, in other words, goal-oriented.
Paternalism, being rooted in fear, is therefore an enemy to charity, and has natural allies in judgementalism, laziness, and cowardice.
So what pains are we avoiding by preventing others from experiencing the consequence of, or by compelling or coercing, their choices, while claiming we are acting in their best interests? It ranges from as light as not wanting to be alone in one’s beliefs, to not wanting to endure the sympathetic emotional pain we might feel in seeing another suffer, or perhaps hoping to avoid that grief which comes from separation, or perhaps the pain of having our expectations or wills thwarted, and anything else in between.
Paternalism, as I use the word, also covers our failure to execute our word by appealing to benevolent intent. For example, maybe we withhold our substance from another, justifying ourselves by thinking they need to hit rock bottom so they’ll get help and no longer be where they are, when our real fear is that the core doctrine of Babylon, “limited resources,” or “economic scarcity,” sometimes rendered TANSTAAFL, is true, and if we give to them then we would have to give to others and then we wouldn’t have enough for ourselves. So long, Zion.
The point is that it is ourselves that we are protecting by acting paternalistically. That is why by making the proposal to save even those who sinned against the Holy Ghost, Lucifer marked himself as an unsuitable candidate to be the Messiah. Lucifer proposed to save those who had knowingly, with eyes open, cast the Holy Spirit out of their hearts, betrayed both God and their fellow man, covered their betrayal by turning accusers of God – traitors always justify themselves by blaming the betrayed – and sought for death as diligently as they once sought for life. Salvation is, of course, to possess charity – he would have compelled that change of nature upon those who had knowingly and competently rejected it, and thus they would be saved.
You can see this is paternalistic, and apparently benign. What’s in it for him? What’s he protecting himself from? At a minimum, the pains of separation from those who willingly choose death.
Paternalism was the original error.
And if you have eyes to see it, paternalism may be found in surprising places. Like this, which I just read recently.
Learn to Be More Wise than We Have Been
Mosiah 4:14 And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness.
“Neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God.” In modern English, “You won’t allow your children to transgress the laws of God.”
That completely contradicts the point of my recent essay on Hedging the Law, and I was rather startled until it occurred to me: “what was the result?” After all, paternalism predictably generates rebellion and disunity.
That’s there, too.
1 Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.
2 They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.
3 And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.
4 And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.
Because their parents followed the instructions of King Benjamin, and sought to circumscribe their choices or even compel or coerce obedience to God’s commandments, many of the children rebelled and would not believe. I’ve been there, myself, for that very reason.
King Benjamin meant well, and it speaks volumes for his integrity and righteousness that he not only tolerated, but cooperated with the prophets in establishing peace in the land (Words of Mormon 1:16-18); indeed, his integrity and righteousness were why he was sent an angel, which marks the priesthood he was a member of (D&C 107:20). So often the prophets have been persecuted and rejected by those in authority as challenging said authority.
But from the vantage of the golden rule – for “this is the law and the prophets” – we see the hidden lesson: paternalism doesn’t work, even while it drives for results.
31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.
If you love someone, set them free. Accept them for who and what they are. Don’t meddle with them; don’t impose upon them; if you wish to bless them, offer the blessing to them, which allows them to reject it if they wish; if they refuse the blessing, go your way. Grant their requests without judgement, and give only what they ask for, agree to, or demand (JST Matthew 5:41-43).
Thus we follow the ideology of God, becoming truly principled, acting according to the rule, regardless of the consequences to ourselves; thus we show ourselves worthy to be Gods.
(Why only what they ask for, agree to, or demand? Because if you give an enemy more unbidden, they will despise you, seeing it as you trying to curry their favor; to them you will seem to be a bootlicking, ass-kissing weakling unworthy of respect. From that vantage point, you cannot reach them to persuade them unto repentance, for everything will be perceived as an attempt at manipulation, as it would be from them if they were to do what you do.)
(To answer an objection: Those who enter into the covenant with God effectively agree to do his will in all things, after which if we are obedient he brings about circumstances essential to our becoming what he is. The covenant permits him to do things to us which would otherwise fall afoul the rule, and this is fair because we agreed to it – we asked for it. This is why God is not paternalistic – he doesn’t act against our will.)