Loyalty Despite Perceived Conflict: Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

Utah newspapers have been reporting that the LDS Church is subtly campaigning for a “more compassionate” stance towards illegal immigrants (for example, http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695253342,00.html).  Now, this could present a problem for me as I am strongly opposed to illegal immigration.  My understanding of the legal, social, and economic issues involved convinces me that it is a harmful trend. 

If I perceive that the Church is doing something that contradicts my own opinions, I could suffer cognitive dissonance: the mental stress caused by diametrically opposed ideas coexisting in a mind.  What should I do?  Easy.  If there’s a conflict between the Church and my political principles, the Church wins.  I’m wrong and I need to change.

Why are my researched and reasoned views of this issue automatically moot?  Go back to the basics of belief: the Church is true.  The Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith, and that means the Church is directed by living prophets today.  And if those prophets say to embrace illegals, then I’ll drive down to the border and pick up a few myself.

The word of the Church is the word of the Lord: “whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). 

Besides, I admit I’ve privately wondered how some good liberal Church members must deal with having some of their political positions refuted by doctrine.  If it’s time for this conservative to eat crow in order to keep his priorities straight, so be it.

Rejecting a Church that we know to be true, because of any personal issue: that’s the real cognitive dissonance.

6 comments on “Loyalty Despite Perceived Conflict: Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

  1. What liberal political positions are being refuted by doctrine? I’m not trying to be rude (nor do I have any specific party affiliation) I just sincerely want to hear your opinion on this.

  2. Well, for starters, gay marriage, obviously. Also, abortion.

    Also, some well meaning members seem to be making a case lately for gospel-based socialism, which is a very old and very shallow argument. The law of consecration and the United Order have only the most passing surface resemblance to socialism. See especially section L-6 of this Church manual, which says, among other things, that private property rights should always exist.

    One could well defend some liberal positions based on Church teachings and practices, but definitely not all: that’s my point. For instance, one could point out the Church’s welfare program as a precedent for defending civil welfare, but look how differently they’re designed and implemented! The Church’s welfare program is even more conservative than most conservatives think government should be!

  3. I agree with abortion for sure, my reasons for that are based off of science, and my opinion of socialism is that it can only be created through a utopia, which is impossible without Christ. But, as far as gay marriage is concerned, it is obviously wrong, and a sin, as is said many times throughout the scriptures but I don’t see how I have any right to prevent someone else from being married; I believe that it is their choice to sin, and that it won’t affect me negatively. And as for welfare, I think it is a great idea, and that we need to keep it but that it needs to be changed so that it isn’t a safety net for the drug addicted, and lazy.

  4. Yes, there are some good political arguments for gay marriage and for welfare, but my point is that as Latter-day Saints our obligation is to follow the policies of our leaders, however they may agree with or contradict our political values.

    About politics, though, let me recommend John Stuart Mill’s excellent little treatise On Liberty. Not only is it brilliant and irrefutable, but near the end, when he says that governments need to tolerate outrageously stupid things as long as they don’t actually harm anyone physically, he uses the LDS Church as an example! :)

  5. To: aformerstudent,

    Here are some thoughts re: why you shouldn’t be indiferent to the homosexual agenda. It is because it is counter to God’s plan in every way and it truly seeps into our culture and our lives WHILE we are trying to keep it from us and our children. For instance, do you think it’s ok for public schools to be required to teach that homosexuality is ok? That it’s an ok alternative life style? Do you think it’s ok for explicit sexuality to be taught to elementary school children whereas they should really not be a pawn to the deviant, but they should be playing and learning and growing in a healthy environment.

    I lived in VT when it became the first state in teh nation to allow civil unions. Liberals change educational priorities….by their cunning…(or rather, the cunning from which they’re deceived.)

    Another example of why we need to stand up for what’s right. (by the way, deviant behavior is just that, deviant and it hurts all in the community. It is not true that one or two people can truly live in exclusion and not impact the community and nation on a larger scale….) …another example is where businesses are sued for not taking pictures or renting a venue for a gay marriage, etc. This has already occured in many ways.

    Best wishes. Godspeed…

  6. I really enjoyed reading this – it’s sincere and well-expressed, and I appreciate your attention to both sides.

    Just some food for thought – I attend a very liberal university and am part of a very liberal social work degree program. I believe all of us are free to make whatever choices we like, however I don’t believe it is right to demand societal sanction for deviant choices. I have several gay friends and coworkers, and I feel able to respect them while disagreeing with their choice of lifestyle; but marriage is not about two people of the same gender loving each other. It never has been, and it never will be.

    God is the one who created the framework for a man and a woman to come together in love and create a life and a family together. I believe that’s why it is so important for as members of the Church to stand up and fight for the family. People will do as they like, will love and live with and act as they like, but we cannot change the definition of marriage and family.

    Please accept my utmost respect in volunteering my ideas; this has been on my mind a great deal lately and I have come to believe that God has very good reasons for commanding us to defend His institution of the family. Would be happy to discuss more :)

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