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Question

 

Dear Gramps,

The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us not to criticize or find fault with others. Does that same standard apply during a political campaign? If a candidate has done something that would make them unfit or unworthy of office, do we not have an obligation to alert others? Should we not speak up, and let our voices be heard? Or should we remain silent? How would Christ have us proceed during such a tumultuous time?

Robert

 

Answer

 

Robert,

After such a tense political season, you are likely not alone with your question.  Fortunately, Elder Dallin H. Oaks has given us some counsel that applies perfectly to your question.  In his talk, “Judge Not” and Judging, he explains that there are really two kinds of judgment.  The first is Final Judgment which we are commanded not to make. That would be in the category of saying, that this candidate or that one is “surely going to hell” or the Telestial Kingdom, or some such pronouncement.

Of this kind of judgement Elder Oaks says,

“The effect of one mortal’s attempting to pass final judgment on another mortal is analogous to the effect on an athlete and observers if we could proclaim the outcome of an athletic contest with certainty while it was still under way. A similar reason forbids our presuming to make final judgments on the outcome of any person’s lifelong mortal contest.

 

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; … He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, … ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 218).”  Italics added

We cannot know what brought our candidates to the place they are now, or where they will be several years from now.  That is for God to supervise and judge, not us.  However, Elder Oaks reminds us that there are also judgments that we must make.

“On one occasion the Savior chided the people, “Why even of yourselves judge ye not what is right?” (Luke 12:57). On another occasion he said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

We must, of course, make judgments every day in the exercise of our moral agency, but we must be careful that our judgments of people are intermediate and not final.”

Then he goes on to give counsel about how we are to make “righteous intermediate judgments”.  This counsel could apply to elections as well as other situations where we need to judge.  I’ll summarize this counsel here, but I encourage you to read the whole article.

1. It must be intermediate

2. It must be “guided by the Spirit of the Lord, not by anger, revenge, jealousy, or self-interest.”

3. It must be within our stewardship.

4. Refrain from judging until we have the facts.

5. When possible don’t judge people, just situations

6. Forgiveness is a companion principle

7. Apply righteous standards

The Church does encourage us to be involved in politics in an “informed and civil manner”.  That will include making judgments as to which candidate is most worthy of our vote.  In making that judgment (and in talking to others about politics) we should keep in mind the wise counsel we have been given by Elder Oaks.

 

Gramps

 

 

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