The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the divinely inspired Constitution of the United States. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been taught for nearly two hundred years that the Lord “raised up” wise men to write the Constitution and that the document is divinely inspired.
Today members of the Church of Jesus Christ and friends who listened to General Conference were taught about the Constitution by President Dallin H. Oaks. President Oaks has the distinction of serving as a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren at the U.S. Supreme Court, as a law professor, and as a Utah Supreme Court justice until he was called to the apostleship in 1984. Therefore, he is professionally qualified to discuss the Constitution.
President Oaks discussed the importance of the Constitution to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth and the Church of Jesus Christ organized less than fifty years after the Constitution was written and ratified. The First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion was crucial to the Restoration.
According to President Oaks, members of the Church of Jesus Christ have a responsibility to defend, protect, and preserve the Constitution because we know that it was divinely inspired. We should also pray for the Lord to bless all nations and leaders. In addition, members must study the Constitution to learn its inspired principles and then advocate for those principles.
We should seek out and support wise and good persons who will support those principles in their public actions (Doctrine and Covenants 98:10). We should be knowledgeable citizens who are active in making our influence felt in civic affairs.
President Oaks continued by teaching that there are at least five divinely inspired principles contained in the United States Constitution. (1) “The Constitution established a constitutional democratic republic, where the people exercise their power through their elected representatives.” (2) The delegated power is divided between the national or federal government and the sovereign states. (3) There is a separation of powers between the “independent executive, legislative and judicial powers so these three branches could exercise checks upon one another.” (4) The Bill of Rights is a cluster or collection of guarantees for individual rights and specific limits on governmental authority. (5) “The vital purpose of the entire Constitution. We are to be governed by law and not by individuals, and our loyalty is to the Constitution and its principles and processes, not to any officeholder.”
President Oaks warned that there are “many threats that undermine the principles of the Constitution.” This is one reason why members of the Church of Jesus Christ must “be knowledgeable citizens” and “seek out wise and good persons” to represent us.
No party, platform or individual candidate can satisfy all personal preferences. Each citizen must therefore decide which issues are most important to him or her at any particular time. Then, members should seek inspiration on how to exercise their influence according to their individual priorities. This process will not be easy.