Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Did God Raise Up and Inspire the Writing of the U.S. Constitution?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday is the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution is the foundation of the federal government because it provides the structure of the government and limits the power of the government. According to President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the “United States Constitution is the oldest written constitution still in force today.” This Constitution was written for and adopted by the original thirteen American colonies, but today it is a model for nations worldwide. “Today, every nation except three have adopted written constitutions.” 

            President Oaks is uniquely qualified to speak about the Constitution. He explained in his talk in the April 2021 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ that he has studied the Constitution “for more than 60 years.” He spent some of those years as “a law clerk to the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.” He also worked as a professor of law for 15 years and served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court for 3.5 years. “Most important, I speak from 37 years as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, responsible to study the meaning of the divinely inspired United States Constitution to the work of His restored Church.”

            The U.S. “Constitution is unique” and “is of special concern for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world,” according to President Oaks. His reason for this statement is that God revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 101:77, 80 that He “established” the Constitution “for the rights and protection of all flesh.” This idea brings this question from President Oaks: “What was God’s purpose in establishing the United States Constitution?”

We see it in the doctrine of moral agency. In the first decade of the restored Church, its members on the western frontier were suffering private and public persecution. Partly this was because of their opposition to the human slavery then existing in the United States. In these unfortunate circumstances, God revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith eternal truths about His doctrine.

God has given His children moral agency – the power to decide and to act. The most desirable condition for the exercise of that agency is maximum freedom for men and women to act according to their individual choices. Then, the revelation explains, “every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:78). “Therefore,” the Lord revealed, “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:79). This obviously means that human slavery is wrong. And according to the same principle, it is wrong for citizens to have no voice in the selection of their rulers or the making of their laws.

            President Oaks continued his talk by explaining why Latter-day Saints believe that the Constitution was divinely inspired. Even though we do not believe that every word was inspired by God, we believe that there are inspired principles in the document. Some of those principles are: (1) the principle that the people is the source of power for government, (2) the division of delegated powers between the federal government and the sovereign states, (3) separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, (4) the Bill of Rights which guarantees of certain freedoms for the people and certain restrictions on government, and (5) the overall purpose of the Constitution – government “by law and not by individuals.”


No comments:

Post a Comment