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Friday, August 30, 2013

The U.S. Constitution should have the respect and honor of every Latter-day Saint

Canada was opened to missionary work in 1830. Since then, more than 160 countries have been opened to missionary work with an ever increasing percentage of Church members (today more than half) living in countries outside the United States. Yet the U.S. Constitution should have the respect and honor of Latter-day Saints worldwide. Before you disagree, please consider the following.


God established the U.S. Constitution

In every country, Mormons have the same four volumes of scripture, the standard works, by which to measure truth. Notice in this audio clip how Ezra Taft Benson repeatedly emphasizes a certain word as he reads from section 101 in the Doctrine and Covenants:

"I am grateful that the God of heaven saw fit to put his stamp of approval upon the Constitution and to indicate that it had come into being through wise men whom he raised up unto this very purpose. He asked the Saints, even in the dark days of their persecution and hardship, to continue to seek for redress from their enemies 'according,' he said, 'to the laws and constitution ... which I have suffered [or caused] to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh' (D&C 101 :77). And then he made this most impressive declaration: 'And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood' (Ibid., 101:80)." (BYU Speeches, 1973.)


The U.S. Constitution belongs to all mankind

Speaking as God's mouthpiece to the Church and to the world, Ezra Taft Benson reminded us that the U.S. Constitution "belongs to all mankind" (D&C 98:5) and "should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh" (D&C 101:77) (Ensign, Nov. 1987; italics Benson's).


The U.S. Constitution and the Restoration

Ezra Taft Benson testified "that America is a choice land. (See 2 Ne. 1:5.) God raised up the founding fathers of the United States of America and established the inspired Constitution. (See D&C 101:77–80.) This was the required prologue for the restoration of the gospel. (See 3 Ne. 21:4.) America will be a blessed land unto the righteous forever and is the base from which God will continue to direct the worldwide latter-day operations of His kingdom. (See 2 Ne. 1:7.)" (Ensign, Nov. 1988.)

He declared: "Only in this foreordained land, under its God-inspired Constitution and the resulting environment of freedom, was it possible to have established the restored church. It is our responsibility to see that this freedom is perpetuated so that the Church may more easily flourish in the future." (Ensign, Nov. 1987.)


The future of the U.S. Constitution

Regarding the future of the Constitution, Ezra Taft Benson stated: "The elders of this church have a prophetic mission yet to perform so far as the Constitution is concerned." (New Era, May 1975.)

He gave this solemn warning: "Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: 'Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.'" (Ensign, Nov. 1987.)


In the tradition of the founding fathers

Ezra Taft Benson asked: "Now, how are the elders going to prepare for that mission? How are they going to know what the Constitution is so they will know when it is on the brink of ruin? In many of the law schools of today you will hear that the Constitution is whatever the Supreme Court says it is. Could it be that the Supreme Court, which President McKay said is leading this nation down the road to atheism, is the agency to tell us what this divine document is? Can we learn best how to preserve it by studying what it is at the hands of some of those who are seeking to destroy it?

"But President McKay had a better approach when he encouraged us to support good and conscientious candidates who are truly dedicated to the Constitution in the tradition of our founding fathers. Ah ... there it is ... the Constitution in the tradition of our founding fathers. They are the ones the Lord referred to as wise men. It is to them, the Lord, and his prophets that we should go to determine what the Constitution is." (New Era, May 1975.)


We should all be grateful

Ezra Taft Benson proclaimed: "We have recently celebrated the bicentennial of the signing of the United States Constitution [which marks] the beginning of a series of bicentennial anniversaries of events leading up to the ratification of the Constitution, implementation of the government it created, and the writing and ratification of the Bill of Rights.... It is as a result of these events that we are able to meet today in peace as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. For this we should all be eternally grateful" (Ensign, Nov. 1987; italics Benson's).


Every Church President

Every Church President, from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson, has affirmed that the U.S. Constitution is an inspired document. The Constitution should therefore be appreciated by all Latter-day Saints.

Thomas S. Monson spoke specifically of Ezra Taft Benson's love for the U.S. Constitution, "I think it is the inspiration of Almighty God that at this particular time we have serving as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Ezra Taft Benson, one of the greatest advocates of freedom, and one of those who loves most the Constitution of this land." (Church News, Dec. 30, 1989.)


Affirmed again in 2012

According to Quentin L. Cook, "The U.S. Constitution ... is viewed by Latter-day Saints as both inspired and necessary to the Restoration. Five elements of the Constitution have been identified as being particularly inspired....

These five basic fundamentals have been a great blessing and were necessary to the Restoration of the gospel. We share with many others a love and appreciation for the Constitution." (See Quentin L. Cook, "Ensign," Sept. 2012.)

The above article continues: "Do Latter-day Saints believe the U.S. Constitution is a divinely inspired document? The Lord Himself answered that question when He declared, 'I established the Constitution ... by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose' (D&C 101:80).

"Since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who called the U.S. Constitution 'a heavenly banner' (in History of the Church, 3:304), latter-day prophets have said the Constitution is divinely inspired, declaring that America by divine design was prepared as the place for the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. The freedoms and protections enumerated in the Constitution—including freedom of speech, assembly, and religion—made the Restoration possible.

"Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has observed: 'After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them. No wonder modern revelation says that God established the U.S. Constitution and that it "should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles" (D&C 101:77).'" (Ibid.)


Conclusion

The U.S. Constitution should have the respect and honor of all Latter-day Saints. This is not just a political wish. It is firmly grounded both in scripture and in the teachings of latter-day apostles and prophets.

8 Comments:

Blogger Casey said...

Much as I respect the US Constitution, I find in the scriptures few justifications for the kind of technical separation of powers it establishes--the closest we get is the Book of Mormon's judgeships, which operated very differently. Aside from the preamble most of the Constitution is, frankly, dry and legalistic, although there's definitely a lot to admire in the Bill of Rights. Still, I'm not sure that accounts for the Godly status people like Benson attributed to it. I'm more inclined to conclude that he revered the Constitution as a symbol for an abstract idea of what he imagined America to be rather than for its actual words--after all, at least in his apostolic days he wasn't shy denouncing others who claimed similar reverence for the constitution while espousing different political beliefs.

8/31/2013 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Holden said...

The US constitution is an inspired document produced by wise men raised up by God. Few members would want to disagree with that. Inspired by the equality the French revolution espoused the US constitution was a beacon to many after it, but does that make it perfect? While that is not the issue raised many American LDS talk about it in similar terms to scripture. I don’t see it as such. I think there are dangers in that approach. While it is important that we follow the teachings of prophets and apostles when they speak as such we have to consider that when they talk about the US constitution they may be speaking as Americans who just happen to be church leaders. Find me a quote from a prophet or apostle who was not born in the US saying something more than that the constitution was an inspired document produced by wise men raised up by God and then I will look more closely at it.

As a British citizen, I live in a country in which we also have freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Britain is well known for its tolerance and freedoms but the surprising thing is we are without a written constitution. We have not felt the need for one. From here the US constitution is seen as a constitution of checks and balances developed out of an fear of tyranny (despite having no real experience of tyranny just Britain’s begin rule !) Don’t get me wrong the US constitution is important especially for the laudable rights enshrined within it but it is fear that also inspired it. This fear that was important in its development still holds sway in American culture. We can see that in the gun culture where people feel that they have to have guns because of the fear of home invasion, civil unrest or invasion by other nations ( the latter is so unlikely – who has ever invaded the US apart from us?). We can also see it in the fear that many Americans have of their own government in that they view their government as wanting to take away their liberties!!! Fear also affects the way americans view their political system and economy.. America is about the only first world country that believes it cannot afford to provide health care and other basic provisions for its citizens. “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” Martin Luther King, Jr. ’ Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights ’ Chicago, March 25, 1966
Talk about rights and liberties, to most western countries this is a basic one.

The scriptures say that by their fruits you shall know them. I don’t see the fruits of the US constitution as being that desirable – great for americans but not for me. I am just glad that I live in a country where people aren’t afraid and fear is not a major issue in political discourse

8/31/2013 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

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Casey, re: "I find in the scriptures few justifications for the kind of technical separation of powers it establishes."

All Latter-day Prophets have affirmed the U.S. Constitution was inspired. This is true whether or not there are justifications in the scriptures for its technical provisions.

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Casey, re: Benson's "apostolic days."

I fear you have drawn hasty conclusions based on incomplete information. Ezra Taft Benson was full of integrity and always had good reasons for what he said and did. Specifically, his feelings about the U.S. Constitution were grounded in scripture and the teachings of his fellow apostles and prophets.

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Casey, re: Those "who claimed similar reverence for the constitution while espousing different political beliefs."

Benson described his feelings this way: "I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land."

I don't believe he ever denounced anyone who felt as he did about the Constitution.

He continues: "At this particular moment in history the United States Constitution is definitely threatened, and every citizen should know about it. The warning of this hour should resound through the corridors of every American institution—schools, churches, the halls of Congress, press, radio, and television, and so far as I am concerned it will resound—with God's help.

"Wherever possible I have tried to speak out. It is for this very reason that certain people in Washington have bitterly criticized me. They don't want people to hear the message. It embarrasses them. The things which are destroying the Constitution are the things they have been voting for. They are afraid of their political careers if these facts are pointed out. They therefore try to silence any who carry the message—anyone who will stand up and be counted."

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Martin Holden, re: "Find me a quote from a prophet or apostle who was not born in the US saying something more than that the constitution was an inspired document produced by wise men raised up by God and then I will look more closely at it."

John Taylor, third President of the Church, was born in Milnthrop, Westmoreland, England. He often spoke of "that sacred palladium of human liberty—the Constitution of the United States," and "that sacred palladium of human rights—the Constitution of the United States." In fact, John Taylor said more about the U.S. Constitution than any other Church President except Ezra Taft Benson.

More importantly, where does scripture say that prophets from another country, who offend my culture, needn't be believed?

8/31/2013 01:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Martin Holden said...

I have been to John Taylor’s birthplace. Yes he did say a lot about the US constitution mostly in defence of the saints, largely arguing for states rights and objecting to federal intervention with regard to marriage. He certainly believed the constitution was inspired and that it was not being followed but what I am arguing against is seeing it as more than that. It is not scripture and while I have no objection to Americans revering it – I just don’t see why non- americans should.

I am not sure what you meant in your last comment

8/31/2013 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger DavidH said...

I have not doubt that God influenced and inspired to some degree with founders of the U.S. Constitution. But I believe God has influenced and inspired the founders of other nations and peoples. Just because the U.S. Governmental structure has been influenced by God does not mean that the structure of the governments of other nations has not been so influenced. Although being said, I do not believe the U.S. Constitution qualifies as scripture. I personally do not think God put Divine imprimatur on the continuation and accommodation of slavery explicitly contemplated within the Constitution. That is, it is not an "inerrant" document--if it were, the Constitution would not provide for its own amendment.

8/31/2013 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

Joseph Smith had some major problems with the Constitution. Primarily, he took issue with the states rights issue. Of course, despite its flaws, he also had a deep respect for it.

I believe the Constitution was an inspired document--but it was also a compromise, created from the differing views and conflicting priorities of representatives from many different states. We've added to it--and mostly improved it--over time, but it is certainly still a flawed document. Important, inspired, flawed.

9/01/2013 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger R. Gary said...

Speaking as God's mouthpiece to the Church and to the world, Ezra Taft Benson reminded Church members worldwide that the U.S. Constitution "belongs to all mankind" (D&C 98:5) and "should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh" (D&C 101:77)...

"It is as a result of these events [the establishment of the U.S. Constitution] that we are able to meet today in peace as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. For this we should all [Church members worldwide] be eternally grateful" (Ensign, Nov. 1987; emphasis Benson's).

9/01/2013 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Martin Holden said...

I don’t understand the argument that the US is the only place where the church could be restored. Britain and Canada had similar freedoms of religion and certainly the missionaries had no problem preaching there, probably less than in the US. I thought the church was restored in the US because that is where the Book of Mormon and Zion was not because of its constitution.

9/01/2013 11:00:00 AM  

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