The Twelfth Article of Faith

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

We believe that government is something that was established by God before the world began. God is our ultimate King and Ruler, with His Son, Jesus Christ and Lord over all mankind. Government, when led by good people trying to do what is best for its subjects, is designed for the benefit of everyone. This belief is expressed in Doctrine and Covenants 134:1. “We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society.”

We are subjects and citizens in kingdoms, nations, countries and so on. In these societies, we are to be held accountable for our own actions. The only way for us to be held accountable is if we have individuals or groups which oversee the creation and enforcement of the laws of the land. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:3 we read, “We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same . . .”. Without leaders of the land, I think that we would have chaos and a lot more evil in the world. Those who rule may be kings, presidents, rulers, or magistrates depending on the type of government. In Titus 3:1 we read of what the saints should be willing to do. “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work”.

We do not believe that any should be allowed to rule in a way where they seek to get gain at the expense of those they lead. Men should be free to think for themselves and have protection for themselves and their loved ones. We also believe that it is a god-given right for us to have our own property and belongings, and that no government should force a person to give these things up, and when absolutely necessary they should be properly compensated. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:2 we read, “We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

We believe that it is our duty as subjects, to obey, honor and sustain the laws of the land. This does not mean that we need to be subject to them in religious matters, because they do not govern our souls. In Matthew 22:21 we read, “. . . Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Again in Doctrine and Covenants 134:7 we read, “We believe that rulers, states, and governments have a right, and are bound to enact laws for the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief; but we do not believe that they have a right in justice to deprive citizens of this privilege, or proscribe them in their opinions, so long as a regard and reverence are shown to the laws and such religious opinions do not justify sedition nor conspiracy.” If we are committed to following God’s laws, then we will be willing to follow all laws of the land, as long as they do not go against the things of God. In Doctrine and Covenants 58:21 we read, “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.”

As saints, we should be willing to respect those who lead our country, even when we may disagree with how they rule. In 1 Peter 2:17 we read the words of Peter. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” We believe that we, as citizens, should stand up for what we know is right, while remembering that we are all children of God and we each deserve respect in our duties. In Doctrine and Covenants 134:6 we read, “We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men owe respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.”

I believe that we can learn a great deal from being obedient to the laws of the land. When we are disobedient to these laws, we tend to have physical and tangible consequence that we are made to experience. With spiritual laws, often times the consequence is not one we may immediately recognize or understand, which may make them harder to follow. If we can restrain our passions and desires in a way that keeps us obedient to the laws of the land, we can be better prepared to be obedient to those laws of God. I am grateful for the laws of the land, because they give me a sense of security and safety physically in this life, that I know I would not have otherwise. I am grateful for those leaders who have the difficult work of making decisions for multitudes of people with diverse backgrounds, cultures, desires, and so on. I have a hard enough time leading in my home, and could not imagine trying to take on that responsibility. I believe that it is our duty to pray for these leaders, that they might be inspired in righteous ways and truly do what is best for all of their citizens and subjects. I know that it is also our duty to speak up when decisions are being made, so that we may be an influence for good. We have a responsibility to be aware of what our governments are doing and ways that we can help our societies.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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