Beyond the Constitution: The Next Step

I have spent the greater part of the last 20 years studying government and what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (LDS Church) leaders have said about it. From Joseph Smith to Ezra Taft Benson, from Brigham Young to David O. McKay and everyone since and in between — I believe I have read them all and currently own all the books that they have written.

My views towards the Constitution and of government have changed over the years with, what I hope is, greater knowledge pertaining to the gospel of Christ and the message of liberty. The Shiloh Logan of 10 years ago would likely disagree with this article without more careful examination, as it targets, critiques, and calls into question many of the very close, passionate, and emotional feelings that he felt towards the Constitution and its divine heritage. I largely write this for him, to show the Shiloh of 10 years ago what I hope are greater and more consistent truths.

For many members of the LDS Church, as with myself 10 years ago, there are still lingering questions as to why the Church has not, in the last 25 or more years, spoken about the Constitution, the evils of socialism, or of the “proper role of government” as it has before. There are many who have offered great insights into this question, and I will try to add yet another possible insight.

The Purpose and Reason for Government As We Know It

Not all governments are the same, and contrary to what most Western philosophy advances and what most Latter-day Saints may believe, democratic government is not the most divine or celestial form of government that exists. When King Mosiah was transferring the rule of the kingdom to the people and away from monarchy he observed that:

Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people — I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you (Mosiah 29:13).

Mosiah then continues describing the course he had taken as a king in righteousness as he also reminds us of the perils and dangers of wicked kings when he references the disastrous affairs pertaining to King Noah. (Mosiah 29:18) That said, Mosiah takes a utilitarian approach to government as he argues for a better temporal system — a republican-style constitutional system of government.

Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law — to do your business by the voice of the people.

 

And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he hath hitherto visited this land…

 

And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads (Mosiah 29:26-27,30).

The ultimate point here is that a system of democratic rule (not of Democracy, which is a specific form of government, but of the democratic method) is not the most celestial form of government but that, temporally, it may function as a better alternative than a monarchy (keeping in mind that a king is still the most preferred method, but not the safest in securing the liberty of the people).

The Huge Presumption of Earthly Government

King Mosiah’s motivation for moving from a king to a rule-of-law-based democratic system was explicitly stated:

I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land (Mosiah 29:32).

The purpose for this shift in political systems was to (1) get rid of inequality, and (2) to establish a land of liberty, so that (3) every man may enjoy his divine rights and privileges equally. The divine sanction here is not in the type of government but in the people’s finding a way to protect their rights.

The Lord, some 1,900 years later, reiterated the same point in the Doctrine and Covenants, as He gave us three basic reasons and purposes for why He instituted government as we know it and raised up “wise men” to establish the Constitution of the United States. These three reasons are most specifically found in Sections 98, 101, and 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

In the scriptures the Lord explains the reason we have government (as we know it) is so that (1) man will not be a slave to another (D&C 101:79-80), (2) that he will be protected in his inherent and inalienable rights (D&C 98:5, D&C 101:77, D&C 134:5), and (3) that those who violate the rights of their fellowmen will be dealt with justly (D&C 134:6). These are the general principles and reasons for government (constitutional government) as we know it.

What is worth discussing about these three points (and even Mosiah’s reason for switching forms of government from monarchy to a republic) is that every single one of them presupposes a society of individuals that have rejected the two greatest commandments of God.

The Two Greatest Commandments

There was once a lawyer who approached Christ seeking to tempt him saying,

Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?

 

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

 

This is the first and great commandment.

 

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

 

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt 22:36-40; emphasis added)

I have always found that last verse interesting: “On these two commandments hang all the law.” What law? All the law. Whatever law it is we are discussing — that law (whether natural, positive, or anything else) rests upon these two commandments. Whether the law be one thing or another, what the law is or is not rests upon individual’s in society adhering to or rejecting those commandments.

Government, as we know it, enforces the positive law in the vacuum of our society of individuals who, at large, either do not practice these two great commandments or reject them altogether.

In this mortal journey, we (i.e., individuals in society) all come to a fork in the road where we must decide whether we will live according to these two commandments or whether we are going to reject them. In the very moment that we reject them, that is where all political philosophy and government as we know it begins. However, in the very moment that we accept them, that is where the kingdom of God as Jesus Christ sought to establish it on earth begins.

We have very, very few examples in scripture of societies that actually adhered to these two great commandments (and no examples in Western history, to my knowledge, of societies that lived accordingly). This is to say that such a condition where people unite to live these two greatest commandments is rare — extremely rare. Of the few cases found in scripture the two best-known documented examples are of Enoch’s Zion and of the people in the Book of Mormon after the coming of Christ.

Speaking to the inefficiencies of society’s governmental systems when they reject the two great commandments compared with the efficiencies of society’s self-government when adhering to the two greatest commandments, Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed of Enoch’s Zion that,

I am astonished at the efficiencies of righteousness… The great governmental systems built up in the cities you and I have known are perpetually preoccupied with the pain of obtaining compliance from citizens toward their government and toward each other. Servants are piled upon servants, and functionaries check on other functionaries. Much wealth is spent to strive to insure that men deal justly with one another.

 

The city of the Lord is different wherein we seek not only that which is better, but that which is best. Filled as our city is with people who are increasingly of one heart and of one mind and who are moved by the same basic beliefs, there is need for less and less in the way of structure to see that people do their duty toward each other. Here we do not divert people from their own labors into wasteful secondary tasks; basic love and honesty obtain increasingly between our people.

 

When the inner man is changed, we have less and less need for outer controls. Men here do not hold back from doing their duty one toward another, from being honest one to another, because they love each other! They love each other even more deeply because they keep the first great commandment, to love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, and soul. When men do not have a mind to injure one another, there is no need for sentries over society; here men pay their debts, often paying back even more than they borrow…

 

If we do not live the simple, yet challenging, commandments of God, we should not be a happy people. There are no contentions, disputations, envyings, strifes, and tumults. Nor are there whoredomes, lyings, or lasciviousness here. There are no robbers, murderers, or factions. We are one. We are the Lord’s! (pp 39-40; emphasis added).

The people in the Book of Mormon after Christ (and we cannot call them “Nephites” or “Lamanites,” for in their righteousness they put off all forms of tribalism and nationalism and only identified as members/citizens in the kingdom of God) were no different than the people of Enoch. Indeed, the Book of Mormon people followed the same pattern to peace, prosperity, joy, and “good society” as did Enoch’s Zion.

And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.

 

And there were no envyings, nor strifes, nor tumults, nor whoredoms, no lyings, no murders, no any manner of lasciviousness; and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.

 

There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs of the kingdom of God (4th Nephi 1:15-17; emphasis added).

There is so much to pull out of these few short verses, but it is evident that adhering to the greatest commandment of loving God with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength became the motivating desire and backbone to loving each other — as there were no societal ills to address with political government as we know it today. In other words, in righteous living (i.e., loving God and neighbor as self), there was such a change in human nature that there was no longer any need for political government (even constitutional republican government) as it was established by King Mosiah.

Constitutional Government Not the Standard of our Eternity

As cited above, the Lord established the Constitution by the hands of wise men, for the purpose of (1) securing the liberty and freedom of the individual from encroachment and (2) so that no man would be a slave to another. The Constitution was inspired by the Lord for the purpose of establishing the greatest amount of liberty and freedom possible for all mankind. (D&C 98:5-6) Under that umbrella of protection, the Lord would send many to this land (2nd Nephi 2:7): a society of individuals who had rejected the two greatest commandments, all with the extended command that we should “forsake all evil and cleave unto all good.” (D&C 98:11) Under the protections of the Constitution the Lord established His Church and was able to bring about the restoration and fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

However, the Constitution is not, nor can it be, a perfect document in creating and maintaining just, consistent, and proper government. For people to dream of the perfect administration of justice, the rule of law, and of due process in a system of government, even constitutional government, that exists because the people, as a whole, have rejected the two greatest commandments, is a fantasy. The fact that we even have a mixed constitution goes to show the lengths and breadth that the Founders went in creating a system of checks and balances. These checks and balances were imagined and created to regulate the greed, passion, selfishness, and corruption of men holding offices in competitive branches of government. 

Why this balance of power? Answer: because men in government are corruptible, wicked, and immoral, as they have ever been, and will seek to destroy the liberty and freedom of men. However, this grand Constitution of competing branches that hedge men’s wickedness and vice has no place within and is not the state of affairs in God’s kingdom!

In God’s kingdom where men and women love God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor with as much passion as they love themselves, such checks and balances (as Elder Maxwell noted above) are unnecessary. The very makeup and construction of the US Constitution, the very balance of powers, is made for a society of elected representatives (reflective of the will, desires, motivations, passions, knowledge, and support of the individuals who elected them) who themselves (at large) have also rejected the two greatest commandments!

Hence the great paradox of Constitutional government! As James Madison noted in the Federalist #51,

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

James Madison peered into human nature and the natural man stared back at him. Oh, that James Madison could have seen, heard, and witnessed of the people of the Book of Mormon after Christ’s ministry to know the reality of and true potential of our divine identity! That he could have seen the message of the restored gospel and how true his words played out in Enoch’s Zion!

Yet, we must face the harsh reality that we are not angels by our own choice! We must face the sad reality that our society, with the mere needful existence of the Constitution to balance men’s and women’s wickedness to safeguard freedom, is a living proof of our rejection of two greatest commandments. 

John Adams, in juxtaposition to Madison, made an interesting observation about the Constitution in answer to the wickedness of men in office and the people who put them there:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

John Adams understood the inherent flaw in the Constitution in what Madison had quipped was the inadequate protection of a “parchment barrier. No system of government that is written, constructed, and outlined on paper can possibly overcome the vices, immoralities, and wickedness of its people and its elected representatives hell bent on violating the rules that safeguard liberty as soon as they are written down. Said James Madison in Federalist #48

What this security ought to be, is the great problem to be solved. Will it be sufficient to mark, with precision, the boundaries of these departments, in the constitution of the government, and to trust to these parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power? (emphasis added)

No system of government (however well crafted) can endure the wickedness of a people who continue to violate the two greatest commandments. Indeed, the need for government as we know it comes after our rejection of the two greatest commandments, and no such government can long endure any society that doesn’t adhere to these two greatest commandments. For social order, to be real order, must come from internal restraints on the heart, soul, passions, vices, and body of the individual. No external control, however well crafted, can long govern a society of individuals who have made choices placing themselves incapable of self government. No such government can ever adequately deal with true justice, mercy, and equity, and perpetuate itself with integrity — for its very existence is built on the rejection of loving God and neighbor.

The Constitution was but a stepping stone to our greater truths, strengths, and humanity, but it was never the destination. The Constitution, in all of its divine inspired glory, was only ever crafted, with its existence as a “mixed constitution,” its bicameral democratic legislature, its limited presidential monarchy, and its defined oligarchal judiciary, to administer as much justice, peace, and equity as the people could endure and hope to obtain while living the rejection of the two greatest commandments!

But What of the Prophets?!

Next to being one in worshiping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States (President David O. McKay, General Conference Report, October 8, 1939).

 

Unless we as citizens of this nation forsake our sins, political and otherwise, and return to the fundamental principles of Christianity and of constitutional government, we will lose our political liberties, our free institutions, and will stand in jeopardy before God of losing our exaltation! (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, General Conference Report, April, 1979)

 

I have faith that the Constitution will be saved as prophesied by Joseph Smith. But it will not be saved in Washington. It will be saved by the citizens of this nation who love and cherish freedom. it will be saved by enlightened members of this Church– men and women who will subscribe to and abide by the principles of the Constitution (President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution — a Heavenly Banner,” General Conference, September 16, 1986).

I could fill up this entire article with quotes from the prophets concerning the Constitution and its divine origin, our moral imperative to support it, and the prophecies that speak to its eventual “hanging by a thread” and its possible salvation by the Elders of Israel, but I believe these few quotes suffice — for they carry the general sentiment of all the others.

Speaking of the Constitution, the Lord, in His mercy, compassion, planning, and care, did, in very deed and wisdom, raise up the Founders in that particular place and time, and inspired the creation of the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution was based on radical individualism and personal accountability. As Latter-day Saints, this is our doctrine and our theology. This does not, however, negate the fact that such Constitution is still only necessary after rejecting the two greatest commandments, and that it is a mixed constitution because of the wickedness of men in seeking for power in office.

On the great commandments hang all the law, even Constitutional law. As we live by higher and holier principles of love that allow and grant even greater freedom, autonomy, and prosperity, we will find no need for the protections within the Constitution. That said, the Constitution is the single best earthly charter that mankind has created through divine inspiration to maximize the potential of humanity, live our God-given liberty, and to empower each individual to forge his own destiny through agency and accountability in a wicked society. It is a beautiful balance of competing powers and systems of government studied throughout history, but it is not the construct of the kingdom of God!

Said Elder Orson Hyde,

The kingdom and government of God are the only legitimate jurisdictions that ever did exist. And other kingdoms and jurisdictions stand before God in the same light that many divorces stood in the days of Moses. “For the hardness of your hearts, Moses wrote you this precept; but from the beginning it was not so.” For the hardness of men’s hearts, God has suffered them to exercise temporary jurisdiction. But does this temporary jurisdiction authorize them to oppose him when he begins to take to himself his great power and to reign? No. the little stone cut out of the mountain without hands will roll and fill the whole earth, while the great image will be broken and fall, and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God.

 

Now, therefore, O ye kingdoms of this world, resist the decree of Jehovah, if you can and if you will. Fall upon this little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and be broken, if you wish. But know ye that the way of the transgressor is hard, and his final cup is bitter. God bless the meek and the pure! Amen (Journal of Discourses 6:49 — p. 50, November 1, 1857).

All earthly kingdoms, even those inspired by the Lord because of the “hardness of men’s hearts” where “God has suffered” these earthly governments to “exercise temporary jurisdiction,” must and will break down to the kingdom of God. The governments and people who continue in transgression and iniquity will fall and be broken. These governments, even our constitutional republic, that are allowed to exist with temporary jurisdiction due to society’s hardness of heart may enact decent laws that honestly seek to protect individual rights. Yet these governments are not God’s kingdom and they will fail because they are built in times of transgression and because of society’s hardness of heart. 

The Constitution is not Zion, for Zion’s “government” is based on living the two greatest commandments. However, what the Constitution does, as alluded to above, is grant each individual the sufficient autonomy necessary to make decisions for his or her future in a sinful and iniquitous society in choosing to live a Zion-type life if he or she so desires. By upholding Constitutional principles, even the proper role of government, we allow all men the greatest freedom to act in the pursuit of happiness.

Saving the Constitution, if it is not done in Washington D.C. by elected representatives (as President Benson said), is not, therefore, a political endeavor that we will achieve through the election process. In fact, if the Constitution needs saving at all, then we must assume that conditions are so poor, that mankind and government are so wicked that the election processes itself is is also tainted and can offer no real chance at a truthful outcome.

Saving the Constitution is not so much about saving the document or charter itself, but in preserving the principles and intent of its creation: preserving freedom so that all mankind can have the greatest opportunity to repent and act in the pursuit of happiness by choosing to more easily love God and neighbor as self.

Where Does This Leave Us? Why Doesn’t the Church Talk About Government Anymore?

The Constitution is a divinely offered standard for an earthly people who do not live the two greatest commandments, and, as such, it should not be the absolute focus, goal, aim, and end of our people. The Constitution, as a document, is incredibly creative, but nothing incredibly special in and of itself; however, what the Founders fought to protect and preserve under the principles of the “proper role of government” and the Constitution are priceless. That said, the Constitution is powerless to fulfill the true measure of its creation and reason for existence (creating and limiting government to preserve individual freedom) in a society that does not love God and neighbor as self. The government the Constitution created is obsolete when the two greatest commandments are observed.

People often question why LDS Church leaders no longer speak about the Constitution, the proper role of government, or of the evils or threats of socialism. As I said at the beginning, there are many wonderful and edifying reasons that many have offered throughout the years, but my own belief is that the time of using the Constitution as a primary and major stepping stone towards giving people more freedom and opportunity to repent and love God and neighbor as self has passed.

The Constitution was meant as a stepping stone to something greater; not an end in itself. Our true end and purpose is building and establishing the kingdom of God, yet many, myself included, have made an idol out of the Constitution beyond what its intended purpose is and was. I have in my past, like many, many others, placed so much focus on the end of returning to true constitutional government that, for a very long time, I missed the bigger picture and more grand design of establishing the kingdom of God and Zion, the pure in heart, where all love God and neighbor as self.

As I have poured over Conference reports over the last 10-15 years, I see the constant call of the Lord’s prophets, seers, and revelators, leading the His people to a more perfect way and life. Whether explicitly or implicitly, I see the message of Christ and the love of Christ and neighbor throughout each Conference session. I see a plea in every message to keep the commandments. Building the kingdom of God is our true end, and we begin building that kingdom through loving God passionately and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Whereas I once stood concerned that the Church spoke so little about the evils of socialism/communism/fascism, the Constitution, and the proper role of government, today I would stand more concerned for our people if the Church were to return to talking about these things — for that would certainly lower the standard from where we are currently directed and instructed! In truth, the Church is leading us to build the kingdom of God! When and where it is appropriate, we receive guidance as a Church for a social issue, but where the weightier matters are concerned — we receive continued revelation and guidance to build the kingdom of God through keeping the two greatest commandments. 

I have seen on many occasions that when we truly, honestly, and patiently pray for and seek the love of God and of our neighbor, the mind and heart expand and increase in desire to build Zion beyond what any earthly government has yet imagined or created– even glories, possibilities, realities, and blessings beyond what the Constitution of the United States could have every offered.

As mentioned above, every individual and society will stand at the crossroads of the two greatest commandments. In the violation or rejection of these precious commandments begin all political philosophy, philosophy of law, and government as we know it. Living, accepting, and building society on the two greatest commandments is building the kingdom of God and  Zion — even the pure in heart.

What should we choose? Where should we wear out our lives? Each one of us has a role to play in various part of the Lord’s vineyard, and it is not for me to know or tell anyone where they should labor. That said, whereas when things were socially and politically bad the Church instructed us heavily to support the Constitution, today as things are very bad we no longer focus on the Constitution but are instructed to love God and our neighbors. Should we spend our lives building Constitutional government, or should we save the Constitution by living true to our liberty and freedom in adhering to the two greatest commandments and in building Zion?

The choice is ours. No doubt there is good and noble and God-led work performed by many in pushing back against encroaching government so that we can enjoy greater freedom until we enjoy a society of individuals loving God and neighbor. However, as for me and my primary focus, I choose the kingdom of God. I choose Zion. For then, and only then, will we truly preserve those most precious things that the Constitution was created to impossibly maintain: the liberty and freedom of all mankind. 

 

Image: Chris McCorkle – CC BY 2.0

15 comments

  1. Your comments are well thought out and well put. Thank you for this perspective. However, I do believe that the whole purpose for establishing the Constitution and republic form of government in the first place was to secure the very freedoms that would enable us to build the kingdom of God. Without being secure in our rights, we cannot move forward in building the kingdom. The scriptures and teachings have been clear that we are to hold up the Constitution and live by its principles. If we no longer talk about the things in society which breach those principles, how will people know what to hold up? We must not only live by the two greatest commandments as you so eloquently point out, but become familiar with our system of government so that we can boldly support it, lest we lose the very freedom to build the Kingdom of God in this land.

    1. Lori,

      Thank you for your comment. I, too, believe that the purpose for establishing the Constitution and the republic was, in large part, to usher in and give place for the restoration of the gospel. There is no doubt the Constitution is inspired, as it delicately pits various forms of government against themselves to create the greatest safeguard of liberty and freedom that, I believe, has ever existed under political government. The grand and great experiment of such radical individualism, self-determination, and self-rule under a political system was unique to Western Civilization in its breadth and depth — although it was not unique as the first system of republican and constitutional government known to the children of God as we see in Mosiah 29.

      To address your comment — “The scriptures and teachings have been clear that we are to hold up the Constitution and live by its principles. If we no longer talk about the things in society which breach those principles, how will people know what to hold up?” — I believe this can happen in many ways.

      As per the article, the Constitution was created in the vacuum of rejecting the two greatest commandments. The wisdom, value, and, I dare say, fingerprint of the divine within the Constitution built on the expression of existential individualism. This sets up the possible argument against my article that so long as we actually follow the “proper role of government” in connection to our identity and individuality as human beings and children of God, that our positive laws will necessary agreement with the natural laws (think Thomas Aquinas, William Blackstone, and John Locke here) and it doesn’t matter whether or not society adheres to the two greatest commandments.

      My contention with this belief — and it is a belief that I have personally held for a very long time — is that there will never be a time when society will accept such radical individualism and the proper role of government. If the statement is true that if we live by the proper role of government that it is unnecessary for society to live by the two greatest commandments to safeguard our liberty, then it is an unproven statement — for such a time has never existed. Because men do not love God and neighbor, there must needs be checks and balances; however, the checks and balances cannot (as per the parchment barrier) alone protect us.

      My contention is that the only *real* solution is to turn the hearts of the people to loving God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves. In that moment, then, as John Adams states, the Constitution is sufficient as it is supported by a religious and moral people. However, in that very moment, a strange thing happens. When people love God and love their neighbor (conditions to making the Constitution work according to the proper role of government), the people no longer need such structured institutions.

      What if concepts like “liberty” and “freedom” were not political words as we have been trained? What if these words meant something deeper to our humanity beyond the discussion of politics? What if these words and their meanings were, instead, tied more closely to the Atonement of Christ and Gethsemane than to the legislation passed by our Congressperson? What if the Constitution cannot be saved in Washington D.C. or by the electorate? What if saving the Constitution had nothing whatsoever to do with the Constitution, as a document or a system of government, at all? What if the only way of saving the Constitution is by performing missionary work? (think Alma 4:15–19, 31:5) What if bearing down pure testimony is the only way that we can soften the hearts of the people to a more excellent way? What if testimony, not legislation, is the way to protect our liberty and freedom?

      Well… Now I’m venturing beyond the article… However, my point is that we can only save the Constitution by adhering to the two greatest commandments, and the Constitution cannot endure — nor will ever endure — a society of individuals who do not adhere to these two commandments. Yet, as we live these commandments, we will find that the Constitution is more and more unnecessary as the righteousness of the people increases towards self-govern.

      1. “My contention is that the only *real* solution is to turn the hearts of the people to loving God with all their heart, might, mind, and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves. In that moment, then, as John Adams states, the Constitution is sufficient as it is supported by a religious and moral people. However, in that very moment, a strange thing happens. When people love God and love their neighbor (conditions to making the Constitution work according to the proper role of government), the people no longer need such structured institutions.”

        This is at odds with what ETB taught. As inspired as John Adams may have been, his conclusion is wrong.ETB taught that Satan claimed man would have need of government because he would sin otherwise.The idea that because persons are wicked they have more need of Masters is Satanic. It is evident from a study of the scriptures that a wicked people have a want, not need, of Masters.

        1. I don’t think Adams’ and Benson’s statements are mutually exclusive. Adams’ words are universal to any form of political government, for no government can endure or rule in justice and equity that are neither religious (true “religious,” not temporary impostor manipulative institutions) or moral.

          Therein, however, is the paradox. The more wicked mankind becomes (read: the more they reject the two greatest commandments), the more they lose internal controls and require greater external regulations; however, the more righteous a society becomes (read: the more they accept the two greatest commandments), the more they gain internal control and require fewer external regulations until the need for external regulations is obsolete.

          I believe Benson and Adams were both right but that they were talking about different things.

          1. I disagree of course.

            “Satan argued that men given their freedom would not choose correctly, therefore he would compel them to do right and save us all. Today Satan argues that men given their freedom do not choose wisely; therefore a so-called brilliant, benevolent few must establish the government and force us into a greater society. We are assured of being led into the promised land as long as we let them put a golden ring in our nose. In the end we lose our freedom and the promised land also. No matter what you call it our freedom is sacrificed. We believe the gospel is the greatest thing in the world; why then do we not force people to join the Church if they are not smart enough to see it on their own? Because this is Satan’s way, not the Lord’s plan. The Lord uses persuasion and love.” – Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1965, pp. 121-125

            Whatever external regulation the wicked might require cannot exceed the use of persuasion and love before entering into Satan’s domain.

  2. Excellent article and comments ! ! ! So very, very accurate. I might add one small caveat in support. King Mosiah’s reference was from a perspective of a king to a republic with a democratic operation at law, addressing the situation at hand. Prior to Mosiah, our Father had established a body politic of Judges (by way of translation = an Elohim, after the order of heaven, a theocratic body of executive, legislative and judicial judges – an intermediary between (1) Head of the Great Family Counsel of Judges and (2) a covenant people given to live the 2 great commandments). When the Elders rejected the ‘Elohim’ (along with the 2 great commandments) in favor of a king (like all other nations) Mosiah’s explanation of a righteous king once again comes into play.

  3. http://ldsliberty.org/beyond-the-constitution-the-next-step/

    Great article, Shiloh! Spot on!

    I too believe that it’s not the actual Constitution itself that will be saved or upheld by the Elders of Israel; rather, it’s the principles of Christ’s Gospel and Government enshrined within it that will be saved, which are highlighted in the scriptures. In other words, the principles of the Gospel of Christ, Christ’s teachings as found in scriptures and in modern day revelation, are the same principles enshrined within the US Constitution. This is not to say that everything in the Constitution, every word, every idea, every principle is a principle of the Gospel/Government of Christ. Rather, it means that the principles of Christ’s Gospel/Government are to be found enshrined in the Constitution, but not all the principles in the Constitution are Christ’s principles. For example, the idea that the people give their consent to the government and laws they will have over them, in as much unanimity as possible, is a principle of Christ’s Gospel, that principle being the principle of “Common Consent.” That the freedom to believe in whatever religion one wants and practice that religion however one wants, inasmuch as one doesn’t hurt another in his/her equal rights is another principle of Christ’s Gospel enshrined in the Constitution and it’s Bill of Rights. Other such principles of Christ’s Gospel are highlighted in D&C 98, 101, and 134, as you noted. But, the principle that the president can only be someone over a certain age and a natural born citizen of the US is not a principle of Christ’s Gospel, as we are all Christ’s and we are all God’s children, and thus are all able to serve and lead in Christ’s government and gospel, if we are righteous. The principle of mixed government is not a principle of Christ’s Gospel, either, since Christ is both our lawgiver, our executive, and our judge, and will ever be, in conjunction with God the Father. But the principles that we know the law and the consequences of not following it so we can truly choose to follow it, that we have had the ability to personally consent to that law, and that we have a fair and just trial if we are found to have broken a law are indeed principles of Christ’s Gospel.

    So, in sum, it’s the not the actual Constitution and all it’s systems of government it prescribes that needs saving or will be saved in the end. Rather, it’s the principles of Christ’s Gospel and Christ’s Government that are enshrined in it that will need and indeed will be saved by the Elder’s of Israel.

    Thanks for taking the time to write your thoughts on the subject! Loved it!

    BTW, Shiloh, you ever read “The Government of God” by the Prophet John Taylor? If not, https://archive.org/details/governmentofgodb03tayl

  4. …and what of the very good people, many members of the church who are yet blinded by Socialism???

    It seems they are becoming two steps behind..

    1. I have met many, many Socialists in the Church (whether self-proclaimed or unknowingly ideologically sympathetic) who had a greater testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ than most of the Capitalists that I have known who vocally support and champion liberty and freedom.

      It has taken me many years to accept that my “liberty filter” of determining “righteousness” of another person’s relationship to the divine (read: how many steps they are close to or away from anything) is incredibly subjective and almost universally wrong. I still catch myself getting frustrated with the socialist rhetoric that I hear coming from both the political left and right in church, but those are the times I have to evaluate the beams in my own eyes.

      The greatest success that I have had in convincing others of liberty and freedom has come when I have taken the discussion out of politics and have turned it instead to Christ and His Atonement. By so doing, liberty and freedom are seen as gospel principles inherently connected to our identity as children of God, and the Spirit testifies of the truth of Christ and the message of true liberty and freedom.

      In so doing, the Lord touches on the person in a completely different part of their life and understanding than what I could have ever known (and I spoken directly against Socialism (or any other -ism)) to get them to come around to the principles of liberty and freedom. In *most* of these cases the Lord touched the person I was speaking to in a different part of their life and they came around to understanding the principle in a greater or more universal way than even I had considered and my own knowledge grew and was amended. Hence, we were both edified!

  5. I don’t believe the constitution will be replaced until Christ reigns personally on the earth. At that time, and not until that time, will we have a perfect government.

    1. Christ will not return when things become so bad that He must (although things will be bad), but He will return when He has a Zion-type people to return to. The reality of the situation is that Christ is waiting on us to keep His commandments — even the two greatest commandments — and establish the kingdom of God. Said Brigham Young,

      “The length of time required ‘to accomplish all things pertaining to Zion’ is strictly up to us and how we live, for creating Zion commences in the heart of each person.” (JD, 9:283)

      As Latter-day Saints we often justify our complacency, apathy, and choice (and I am the worst offender) of putting off the kingdom of God and Zion today in our lives, our families’ lives, and our communities for some future day when Christ will come to set things straight and overpower the world. As if we must wait for His divine override to live the principles He has given us to follow to maximize our true identities as children of God.

      We have never been given a commandment or law that is impossible for us to follow or become in this life, but with every command and law we are given the ability and power of accomplishing that thing (1 Ne 3:7). We know of a fact that two Zion-type societies have *already* existed prior to Christ’s coming. It *IS* possible to build those societies. What is lacking is not Christ’s delay, but it is our faith, determination, and resolve to work on the weightier matters of our sanctification through absolute discipleship.

      If we are going to wait until Christ to come to build the kingdom of God and abide by His laws, we will wait for eternity — for Heaven is waiting upon us.

  6. Ron Paul said that ignoring the Constitution we got into this mess and only by following it will we get out of the mess.

  7. Interesting article, and I agree with a lot of it. A righteous king (emphasis on righteous) can preserve liberty better than a democratic process. We have great examples of this in history: Moses, Nephi, Benjamin, and Mosiah. Ultimately the Kingdom of God will be ruled by the King Christ, who will protect our liberty.

    I have also noticed our current Church leaders don’t call on us to defend the Constitution as frequently as a couple decades ago. However, I believe we still have a responsibility to defend it, as charged by previous leaders. I think there are other reasons for the recent de-emphasis of it:

    1. The Church now has more members outside of the US than within it. Since the majority of members aren’t directly under the US Constitution law, it makes more sense for the prophets to focus on the broader principles of liberty and freedom, and then let the members decide the best course of action to implement these under their current law. Every General Conference we hear liberty principles being taught. Recently I’ve heard talks touching on religious freedom and abortion. In this year’s Priesthood and Relief Society manual, President Hunter is quoted as saying: “God’s chief way of acting is by persuasion and patience and long-suffering, not by coercion and stark confrontation. He acts by gentle solicitation and by sweet enticement.” [Chapter 2]

    2. There are other problems today that weren’t as big a problem a couple decades ago when there was more focus on the Constitution, such as pornography, drug abuse, divorce, financial debt, self-reliance, and emergency preparedness. When it comes down to it, it’s more important for most people to overcome these problems first before focusing more of their energy on defending the Constitution. Can you adequately defend the Constitution when your craving drugs, need a job, are under major marriage stress, etc? One must correctly prioritize problems to overcome–and Church leaders do well in prioritizing those topics over the Constitution and proper role of government.

    However, to your point, if we focus on the two great commandments, that will go a long way in helping us overcome other bigger problems to allow us more time to defend our rights.

    In summary, if we live in the US, and we have other aspects of our lives in order, then we should still spend effort in defending the Constitution. This charge has not been removed!

  8. I so appreciate the time and effort expending physically and mentally and spiritually in creating this excellent treatise. And I found it very thought provoking.

    Additionally, I am most impressed by your personal desire for righteousness and the blessing the Lord has given you to understand the significance of the two great commandments and their arching overshadowing of all the commandments. I can tell you count it as a great blessing and guide to your life

    Just a couple of observations – I think when He was speaking of the law, He was referring to the gospel in sum, that is all truth as revealed from dispensation to dispensation and as will be more fully revealed during the millennium. There has never been nor will there ever be anything revealed for the salvation, or more appropriately said for the saints, the exaltation of mankind, that will not fall under these two great laws. So despite the fact that the gospel in the larger definition truly encompasses all truth, the law He was referring to is all the truth revealed for our salvation and exaltation.

    Since learning that the ‘law will go forth from New Jerusalem’ and the ‘word shall go forth from Jerusalem’ and that the law shall be the Constitution, I am trying to understand how that will be implemented. For the time being, I believe it will be used from a practical application of implementation for dealing with issues of social need on a wider scale, like roads or factories or the like – that people will exercise their agency (for agency will still be very much the most cherished virtue to allow all those Zion peoples to choose righteousness)thru a ‘political’ process under the Constitution to accomplish the societal needs during the millennium. So the millenium will provide the perfect or optimum environment for the exercise of agency and operation of the Constitution as the Lord designed it. (And that beyond its original purpose to establish a nation where the gospel could be restored and flourish and offer its blessings to the rest of mankind thru missionary work)

    thanks again for a delightful treatise! and God bless you to fulfill His designs for you and your family!

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