Posts Tagged 'Respect'

1 Chronicles Chapter 10

The children of Israel had been led by judges, chosen by God and under His direction. This went on for many years, until the Israelites allowed the influence of surrounding nations to persuade them to have a king instead of following after the Lord’s pattern. This was around 1095 B.C. As their first king, the Lord chose a Benjamite named Saul. He was a very good, humble, young man when chosen by God. However, he gave in to personal weaknesses over time, and lost the favor of God (see 1 Samuel 15:23).

The Philistines had risen in power during the reign of Saul and he became afraid. He tried to pray for answers, but because of his disobedience, they were not answered. He went to the witch of Endor, and the spirit of Samuel told Saul he and his sons would die (see 1 Samuel 28). This chapter of Chronicles occurs somewhere around 1047 B.C. (according to the chronology of the Bible), after Saul had been told he would die. It begins as follows:

1 Now the Philistines fought against Israel; and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines, and fell down slain in mount Gilboa.
2 And the Philistines followed hard after Saul, and after his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchi-shua, the sons of Saul.
3 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded of the archers.
4 Then said Saul to his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. So Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.
5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise on the sword, and died.
6 So Saul died, and his three sons, and all his house died together.
7 And when all the men of Israel that were in the valley saw that they fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, then they forsook their cities, and fled: and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.

The Philistines went against Israel and fought them hard. The Israelite army retreated to mount Gilboa, but the Philistines pursued them and killed many, including the sons of Saul. The Philistines chased after Saul and he was shot by an arrow. Saul asked his servant to kill him, so that he would not be tortured by their enemies, but the servant refused to do it because he was afraid. Saul chose to do it himself (see also 1 Samuel 31). Once the servant saw it, he also killed himself. The men of the land where this happened, saw that Saul and his sons were dead, and they ran away, leaving their cities for the Philistines to take and live in them. (see also 2 Samuel 1:10 for another witness of Saul’s death)

8 And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his sons fallen in mount Gilboa.
9 And when they had stripped him, they took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols, and to the people.
10 And they put his armour in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the temple of Dagon.

The Philistines went to the dead to take what they could from them, and they found the bodies of Saul and his sons. They stripped Saul, took his head and armor, and sent word to their people. They displayed his armor in their temple (the house of Ashtaroth) and his head in the temple of Dagon. (see also 1 Samuel 31:8-10 – his body was displayed on the wall of Beth-shan).

11 And when all Jabesh-gilead heard all that the Philistines had done to Saul,
12 They arose, all the valiant men, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

The men of Jabesh-gilead heard of the things that the Philistines had done to body of Saul. The valiant men went to the place where the bodies of Saul and his sons had been disrespected, and took their bodies to Jabesh where they buried them. Then they fasted for seven days, which was tradition according to the law of Moses. In the law, the Lord declared that any who touched the dead, were unclean for seven days. (see Numbers 19:11)

13 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the Lord, even against the word of the Lord, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it;
14 And inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse.

The reason that the Lord allowed Saul to die in battle, was because he had transgressed and gone against the word of the Lord. He had knowingly turned to the forbidden choice of seeking after speaking with the dead, instead of turning to the Lord. In the law found in Leviticus 20:6, we read, “And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” As a result, Saul was not protected in battle and the kingdom was then given to David, the son of Jesse, whom the Lord had chosen to be his successor. This was fulfillment of the prophecy of Samuel to Saul which said, “But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.” (see 1 Samuel 13:14)

I have been thinking about the description of the men in verse 12, which says they were valiant men. Which means men showing courage and determination. At first glance, it may seem to mean that these men had the courage necessary to enter the land of the Philistines, at the risk of their own lives, to gather the bodies of their royal family. This would indeed make them men worthy of the description of being valiant. However, I think it is possible that the recorder of this event felt something more about these men. As I said above, it was law that a person who touched the dead were considered unclean. It would seem that more often than not, those who could avoid even looking upon a dead body, would avoid it, so as to avoid all possibility of uncleanliness. Yet these men had such a respect for Saul and his sons (this does not mean they supported him or followed him, but that they respected that he was their leader who had been chosen for them by the Lord), that they were willing to make a personal sacrifice of cleanliness, in order to give them the honor they deserved and no longer be mistreated by their enemies. They were valiant men, because they honored the law of Moses in a time when many of their brethren were not faithful to the law. They made their choice knowing it would have personal consequences both physical and spiritual, but also knowing that their leaders deserved more in death then they had received. They were definitely valiant men of Israel.


2 Samuel Chapter 1

This is the beginning of a new book in the Old Testament, which is otherwise known as the Second Book of the Kings. According the the Bible Dictionary, this was part of the same book in the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, but has been split in the version which is used in the King James version. I believe the split has to do with it being the record of two kings in Israel. In the narrative of the first book of Samuel or the First Book of the Kings, the people of Israel chose to have an earthly king rather than follow the prophets under the direction of the Lord. The first king, anointed by the Lord, was Saul. Saul allowed the influences of the world and the temptations of the adversary, to creep into his heart. He became a wicked man and the Lord withdrew from Him. David was chosen and anointed to be the next king, though he did not become the king right away. King Saul feared David and after several attempts at killing him, David showed his good character, and spared Saul’s life more than once. David trusted in the timing of the Lord. Eventually, Saul met his end in a battle against the Philistines. This second book will tell of the reign of David and it begins as follows:

1 Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag;
2 It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head: and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance.
3 And David said unto him, From whence comest thou? And he said unto him, Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped.
4 And David said unto him, How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me. And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.
5 And David said unto the young man that told him, How knowest thou that Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?
6 And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.
7 And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, Here am I.
8 And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9 He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10 So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.

David had been in his home in Ziklag, for just two days, when a man from Saul’s army, came mourning and he bowed down to David. The man told him that he was from the camp of Israel, and that he had escaped. He told David that the Israelites had fled and that many had died, including Saul and his son, Jonathan. When asked how he knew these things, the man said that he had seen Saul leaning upon his spear, as the Philistines came upon him. Saul saw the man and asked who he was. The man told him he was an Amalekite. He said that Saul told him to kill him, and so he did. The man took his crown and bracelet and brought them to David. David rent his clothes and fasted, in mourning for their king and for Jonathan, as well as all those who they had lost in that battle.

It seems that the Amalekite was making a claim to something happening in a way that the previous chapter told differently. It is my guess that the Amalekite hoped that in claiming to kill Saul, he would find favor in the sight of David, because it was known that Saul had made himself an enemy to David.

13 And David said unto the young man that told him, Whence art thou? And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.
14 And David said unto him, How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth thine hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?
15 And David called one of the young men, and said, Go near, and fall upon him. And he smote him that he died.
16 And David said unto him, Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth hath testified against thee, saying, I have slain the Lord’s anointed.

David asked the man where he was from, and the man told him he was an Amalekite stranger. Then David asked how he was able to kill the anointed of the Lord without any fear. I think in saying these things to the man, he was telling him that he was wrong to think that David would have been pleased to hear these tidings. Instead, David was prepared to punish the man for it. David commanded one of his men to kill this man who claimed to have killed Saul and he told him that he had brought this upon himself by his own testimony.

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
21 Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.
22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23 Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
24 Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

David lamented over the death of Saul and Jonathan with a song to go with an instrument. This would have been fitting, since David had first served Saul in playing for him. I find it interesting that it says it was written in the book of Jasher, which is not one that we currently have in our Bible. This must be among the lost scriptures. It is always a wonder to me, all the things that we possibly do not know, because they are in the lost scriptures of the prophets of old.

The song of David tells the Israelites to not give the Philistines more opportunities to boast of how they had killed the mighty men of Israel. He sang of the mountains receiving no moisture where Saul, the anointed, had fallen. He praised both Jonathan and Saul and told Israel to weep for Saul who had brought them good fortune. He hints to the loyalty of Jonathan to his father, in spite of the things that we know Saul did to him, by saying that they were not divided in death. Jonathan was there to fight under the command of his king and his father. David mourned for the loss of Jonathan, whom he loved more dearly than he loved any woman. The Israelites had lost much in this fight.

It is good to know that, even though Saul had brought a lot of trials and tribulations into David’s life, he did not rejoice in his death. He knew that Saul had done many good things in his life, and that he had done a lot of good for Israel. He honored Saul, because Saul was his king, anointed by the Lord to be such, and he deserved great respect for it. David was not seeking after the throne or power. He was a man of honor and integrity, and at least at this point in his life, he was a great example to Israel.

Sharing the Sunshine

I was looking back through some drafts I had written in the past and I saw this one and wondered why I did not finish writing it. I think it may have been because I had a plan in mind for my study already. I am a planner. Sometimes I have an internal struggle with where I expect my study to take me, and where the spirit guides it to go. Right now I am trying to get through the Bible, but really that is a huge goal. And the way I study, it is going to take a while. A long while. So, today I am going to break away from it for just a moment.

There are many places throughout the scriptures, which teach us how we should live as saints. There is one in particular that stuck out to me a while back, because it describes basic principles of living the gospel. In 1 Peter 3:8 we read, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous”. What does this mean to me?

First, The Lord expects us to be unified. We need to be one, whether in our marriages, in our families, at church with other saints, or really anywhere else where we hope to have strength. We need to be working towards the same goal or at the least, walking in the same direction. In Peter’s epistle to the saints of his day, I think he was teaching how they should have been within the church. As saints and members of the church of Jesus Christ, we need to have the same goal in mind. That goal is the same goal of our Father in Heaven. We need to have a goal for the salvation of mankind. Do we desire for others to live with God again, as we desire it for ourselves? Do we knit ourselves together so that we can all reach that goal together? Mosiah 18:21 reads, “And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” When I think of this, I imagine linking arms with the sisters in Relief Society. Knitting requires 2 needles to work. These two needles bring two sides of the work together. The work becomes one whole without separation. We can be one in our purpose when we meet together often as the yarn of our own work, and use our spiritual gifts and talents to link with one another. Then our hearts will become knit together and we will strengthen, enrich, and uplift one another. With that one eye, one faith, and one baptism, we can be strong enough to stand firm in the gospel.

The Lord wants us to have “compassion one of another”. We should care for the temporal and spiritual welfare of others. If one of us suffer, we all suffer. In 1 Corinthians 12:26 we read, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” This makes me think of family life. It is often said that a happy Mom, means a happy home. It is interesting to me, to watch how the attitude of one individual in the home, can determine if we all have a good attitude. Attending to the needs of others, benefits all of us. We should willingly give to the poor and needy. Paying tithes and offerings is one way which we can give to those in need. Also paying closer attention to the lives of others around us, we will be able to see and even discern needs that are there. The instruction given in these latter days can be found in Doctrine and Covenants 52:40, which says, “And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple. (empahsis added)” What else can we do? We can visit those who are alone, such as the widows. President Monson, our prophet today, has given us a great example of being there for the widows. When he was bishop, he made it a point to be there for the many women in his ward, and he remained loyal friends to them for the remainder of their lives. In addition, we can pray for others. As we pray and serve, we will feel deeply for those around us and the welfare of others will effect us in meaningful ways. That is the kind of compassion the Savior has for each of us. Compassion leads us to greater faith and service. It was recently my privilege to serve at a funeral for a gentleman in our church. I enjoyed doing the service, but even greater was the opportunity to watch as many gathered together in compassion one of another. I watched as every detail of the help was done with the upmost in care and consideration for what those in mourning would need. There was an incredible outpouring of love, even in the simplest things. This kind of compassion is so beautiful and is one of the best ways we can show the light of Christ to others.

Compassion leads to charity, the pure love of Christ. Disciples of Christ should love each other as brothers and sisters. The love I have for my siblings causes my mind to be focused on them often. I want them to have true happiness and joy. I want them to have peaceful family lives. I care deeply for how they are doing, even though I am far from all of them. We should love one another, whether our actual kin or not, with the desire to remain brothers and sisters in the eternities. Having a love like this will help us to fellowship one another continually. In Doctrine and Covenants 38:24, the instruction for us is to “let every man esteem his brother as himself…”. The Savior taught by example in this. In John 15:13, He said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He loved all people with the brotherly love, and He showed us that love, by giving His life for us.

To be pitiful is to be full of “the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others“. Followers of Christ should be tender hearted and compassionate. It is our duty to take on one another’s pains and burdens, or to make them lighter in whatever ways we can. We should be sensitive to others and easily moved to love when we see others in need. This epistle of Peter does not teach us to have a little pity for others, but to be full of it. Our hearts should be filled with care and concern for others who are having any kind of difficulties in life.

Finally, we are taught to be courteous to one another. Show others the honor and respect they deserve as children of God. Be genuinely polite to others. A difficult, but important way to remain courteous, is to refrain from gossiping. Our comments of others, should always be positive and uplifting. Showing others the kind of respect you would want them to give to you.

Being of one mind, having compassion one of another, loving as brethren (and sisters), being pitiful, and being courteous come with ease and grace when we have the light of the gospel active in our lives. A song which goes right along with this is “You Can Make the Pathway Bright”. I love the words, and often think of them in the mornings as I prepare for the day ahead.

You can make the pathway bright,
Fill the soul with heaven’s light,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Turning darkness into day,
As the shadows fly away,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

I have experienced darkness in my own heart at times. There are many who suffer from deep depressions, feelings of hopelessness and much more. We can help them, by sharing our sunshine, which is the light of Christ in each of us.

You can speak the gentle word
To the heart with anger stirred,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
Tho it seems a little thing,
It will heaven’s blessings bring,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

There is so much power in kind words. Responding to others’ negativity in kind, does nothing to help any situation. If we choose to share our light with kindness, cold hearts will warm and hard hearts will soften.

You can do a kindly deed
To your neighbor in his need,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And his burden you will share
As you lift his load of care,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

Thinking outside of our own lives is the key. When we serve others in need, we share the light of Christ. Small acts of kindness are not that hard to do if we just pay attention to others around us. Opportunities to serve are all around us.

You can live a happy life
In this world of toil and strife,
If there’s sunshine in your heart;
And your soul will glow with love
From the perfect Light above,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.
If there’s sunshine in your heart,
You can send a shining ray
That will turn the night to day;
And your cares will all depart,
If there’s sunshine in your heart today.

We will be happier, others around us will be happier, and life will seem easier, when we live and share the gospel light with others. Why? Because it is His light, the light of Christ. Everyone loves to have a little more sunshine in their life. I know I do. I hope that I can be less selfish and less focused on those things that do not matter in the grand scheme of things, so that I can serve Christ by sharing His gift that has blessed my life so much. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Leviticus Chapter 19

The book of Leviticus has been a book of instruction and commandment for the covenant people of the Lord. Since living among a nation, such as Egypt, many false traditions and customs would have been deeply set in the lifestyle of these people. It was necessary for the Lord to establish His law, which required commandments in all areas of life. These things make up the law of Moses, which the people were expected to live in order to receive the promised blessings of Abraham. This chapter begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

God is holy. In the Bible Dictionary, under Holiness we read, “a holy person meant one who held a sacred office. The Israelites were a holy people because they stood in a special relationship to Jehovah. Under the guidance of the Prophets it was seen that what distinguished Jehovah from the gods of the heathen was His personal character. The word holy therefore came to refer to moral character.” The Israelites were commanded to be holy, because they were to stand apart from the world and live high moral standards, as God lives. Latter-day revelation commands us to do the same. Doctrine and Covenants 82:14 we read, “For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” Holiness is not perfection. This is a specific call to become more holy. Perfection would be holiness in wholeness. We are commanded to become a people of greater moral character. We are to be continually working on that special relationship we have with the Lord. That means we start each day with the desire and drive to return to the Lord and live as he would have us live. This is how we keep this commandment.

3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.

Often times the word fear means to reverence. In this case, a man was to treat his parents with reverence and respect at all times. The Israelites were to keep the sabbath and to remember that He was their God. The Lord was the reason they were who they were, and living how they were living. He is the reason we are as well. Many don’t realize this, but He the Lord of all. Those of us who have been taught this, are expected to keep it in our hearts and minds. The sabbath is His hallowed day and we should remember that as well.

4 Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.

There was to be no idolatry or worshipping of other gods. In 2 Nephi 9:37 we read, “Yea, wo unto those that worship idols, for the devil of all devils delighteth in them.” It makes Satan pleased, when he can draw our attention away from the true source of joy and happiness, which is Jesus Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:16 it says, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” There are many things which we make into idols in our lives and all of them will fail us and lead us to the destruction of our souls, if we allow them the opportunity. This is why the scriptures teach us to watch and pray always. The Lord was the one and only God of the Israelites, as he is the one true God today and the one whom we should worship.

5 And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will.
6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.
7 And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.
8 Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

The Israelites were commanded to only give of peace offerings by their own will. Sacrifices that were unwillingly giving, were in vain. Moroni 7:6 says, “. . . for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.” If we willingly give our own sacrifices today, such as a broken heart and a contrite spirit, we show the Lord that we want to be obedient are devoted to Him. The Israelites were to partake of the peace offering on the same day or the following, but not on the third day. Anything that was left, was to be burnt. It was a sin to eat it after the second day and was no longer a sacred offering with the Lord. Any who went against this commandment was to be cut off, or excommunicated from the church.

9 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to leave the outskirts and gleaning of their fields to those who were poor or a stranger. I am sure that if they followed this commandment, they would have enough for their own needs through the blessings of the Lord. This was a commandment, that teaches us it is not good to be selfish, but that it is good to help those in need. If we follow this same principle with our own belongings, the Lord will provide for our needs as well. We should be willing to give of those things that are on the outer portion of our own field, so that others in need may have more.

11 Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.

They were commanded that they should not steal, cheat or lie to each other.

12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.

No one was to take the name of the Lord in vain, either to swear by it or to profane or defile it in any way.

13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.

They were not to commit any kind of fraud to one another, or to rob each other. When something was due to another, it was to be paid right away. It is not acceptable for any person to take advantage of another or to deny them of what they are owed.

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded kindness to those who were handicapped with deafness or blindness. They were to respect God. Respect to God, would cause one to extend that kindness and not to block the way of others. This goes for all those who are struggling when we are not, either physically or spiritually. When we know someone is in darkness or cannot hear what they need to hear, it is our responsibility to help them find their way and not to do things which would cause them to stumble or fall. This is a commandment for us to be a people of compassion.

15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.

Judgment was to be righteous and just. I like that it points out both the poor and the mighty, because it can go both ways. There is no place for favoritism in judgment, but all are to be treated the same in this.

16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the Lord.

They were commanded not to be the bearer of tales, or gossip. I think that when it says not to stand against the blood of their neighbor, that it means to do anything against, or in opposition to, them or their family.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

A commandment was given, that they should not hate their brother. They were commanded to give wise rebuke, so that another would not suffer sin. I think this might be like constructive criticism, to help another to avoid mistakes of iniquity. The footnote at the beginning of this verse reads, “Though you may reprove a neighbor and not tolerate his sin, do not hate him.” If we look at it this way, it says that we should not hate those around us for their sins, but we do not need to tolerate their sin. We live in a world today, where people think that if we abhor a sin, we must hate the individual. This is not the case. I hate when my children lie to me. I think it is awful and I will not hesitate to reprove them when they do it. All the while, I love my children unconditionally. The commandment is for us to behave this way with all people. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:43 we read, “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;”. We cannot stand by and allow sin to destroy those around us without doing what we can to help when prompted to do so, but we must do these things with a heart full of love towards them.

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

The Israelites were commanded not to avenge wrongs or hold a grudge against another. They were commanded instead, to love their neighbor as themselves. The people of God have always been commanded to be a loving and charitable people. In 2 Nephi 26:30 we read, “. . . wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing. . .” We too have been given this commandment, which we can find in Doctrine and Covenants 59:6 where it says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” and likewise in Doctrine and Covenants 88:125 which reads, “And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” If we love others as we love ourselves, I believe we will find it much easier to keep the other commandments of God.

19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

In all things, the Israelites were to keep the commandments, which were many by this point. The things of their lives were to be kept pure. Cattle and seeds were not to be mixed breeds. The clothes they wore were to be a single material, such as entirely cotton or entirely wool. This would insure that all things were in harmony with one another.

20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
21 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.
22 And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.

I think this means that a bonded woman who had relations with a man other than her betrothed, such as the man to whom she was bonded, was not to be put to death, rather because she was not a free woman, she was to be questioned. The footnote for being scourged says, “there shall be an investigation or inquisition.” The man of this act, was to bring a trespass offering to the tabernacle and have an atonement made for his sin. Then he was to be forgiven.

23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.
25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded, that when they first planted fruit trees, they were not to partake of its fruit for the first three years. In the forth year it was holy fruit, probably to be given to the purposes of the Lord. In the fifth year, it was to be that person’s fruit to have as an increase.

26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

There was to be no eating of blood. Enchantments and observing times, or any kind of sorcery, were forbidden. The footnote for rounding the corners reads, “by cutting the forelocks of the hair of the head.” They were not to make themselves bald or shave their beards. Scarring or marking their skin as a sign of mourning, was also forbidden. These things were probably common at that time. Some of these were rites of those who worshipped other gods or who wished to draw unnecessary attention to themselves, rather than worship the Lord.

29 Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

Prostitution of their daughters was forbidden. If they practice these acts, the land was sure to become full of it and other acts of sexual promiscuity and obscenities.

30 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.

The sabbath was to be kept holy and the sanctuary of the Lord was to be reverenced.

31 Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.

They were forbidden to participate in wizardry, superstitions, or with those who claimed to speak with the dead. The footnote for this verse reads, “Do not turn to magic or necromancy.” It says to be defiled by them, which I think is a way of saying to be taken by their trickery. In my current study of history, it seems that many of the kings and other leaders had taken to having magicians and turning to those who said they could predict futures and speak with the dead, in order to make decisions for their people. This was sure to lead people to following after evil and eventual destruction.

32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.

The footnote for this verse says, They should “rise before the face of old age.” It was to be an honor, to have a head of gray hair. They were to honor their elders, especially their parents. Again, they were commanded to respect God.

33 And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.
34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

They were commanded to treat strangers with love as they would one of their own family, or a citizen of their land. They had been strangers once in Egypt, and when they were initially taken in, they were loved and treated kindly. The Israelites were not to oppress the stranger, the way that they were eventually oppressed in Egypt by the later rulers.

35 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.
36 Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.
37 Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.

All judgment was to be righteous in all things, including measures. Because the Lord delivered them with righteous judgment, they were to obey Him and follow His laws.

It seems as though the Lord needed to give a reminder often that He was the one responsible for these commandments. The footnote in v. 14 for the phrase ‘I am the Lord’ says, “Note that this phrase occurs fifteen times like a seal of authority upon each of these statutes.” The things around us may have changed since these laws were given, but we are still expected to remember the Lord and remember the commandments he has given. I think that if we can remember the Lord and that the commandments are His and not from men, we will be able to follow them with exactness.

I think this phrase, in it’s repetition, also reminds us to turn to the Lord when we struggle with these things. When we have trouble honoring our parents, remember the Lord and He will help us. If we don’t know quite how to keep the sabbath, the Lord can help us. If we are having trouble putting other things before the Lord, he will forgive us and give us strength. If we find giving to the needy to be difficult, or don’t know where to begin, the Lord will guide us. If we find ourselves gossiping or using unkind words, we can turn to the Lord for courage to be better. If we struggle with anger, resentment, or thoughts of revenge, the Lord will be there to calm our troubled hearts and show us how to forgive. The Lord has not placed us here to fail. He knows that we will have hardships when it comes to keeping all His commandments. Can we imagine that God would ask us to do something, and then refuse to help us to accomplish that thing? If we do, we do not see God as the loving parent He is.

It is a blessing to have commandments and direction from the Lord, to help us stand apart from the worldliness around us. It is a blessing to know that He is there for us every step of the way. We can be a holy people because He promises that perfection is in our future if that is our desire.

Are we Dedicated to Strengthening Families?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of one of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:
Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.
Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

Every person is part of both a spiritual family and an earthly family. I believe that families are the most important unit of anything that God has created on this earth. Earthly families have the great potential of being together forever, whether they are just a husband and wife or parents with several children. In respect to the time after the Savior comes again, Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 reads, “And that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” Because families are so important, it is vital that we work to keep the bonds and relationships strong.

How do we strengthen our family? When I think of examples of strong families, I think of how they look happy to be together. I believe that when love is tenderly nurtured in the home, joy and happiness are there. In Ecclesiastes 9:9 it says, “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” The reward or portion of the reward we receive in this life, is our family. They are the reason for the work we do and when we love them, we will find true joy. I think love is the key tool to strengthening our families.

Additionally, one of the greatest sources of strength that we can have in this life, is prayer. Through prayer, the Lord can bless our families to be able to get through any difficulty and to stay strong when times are good as well. Prayer together builds a unity that will be lasting. In 3 Nephi 18:21 we read, “Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” My family has been greatly blessed for praying together. Hearing my husband pray on my behalf, gives me support in such a personal way that it shows just how much he cares for me. I believe our children will benefit from hearing us pray for them and all the things they are dealing with in their days. I know it may sound silly, but I truly believe that the ‘family that prays together, stays together’.

Mark 9:37 says, “Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.” Children are a gift from God. Part of strengthening our families is taking on the responsibility to have them if we are able. I understand that this decision really is between couples and Heavenly Father, but there are so many people in the world today, who are choosing to have careers and focus on worldly things, instead of receiving one of these beautiful spirits into their families. Having children is challenging and difficult, but the life lessons we learn and the growth that we attain will strengthen our families greatly. The earth was created for this purpose. In Isaiah 45:18 we read, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” The earth serves its purpose when we bring children into the world. I know that having children when we are capable, is one of the greatest ways that we can be strengthened as married couples.

In a family, strength comes from teaching and learning together. Parents should always be looking for ways to teach their children things that are both spiritual and secular. Learning from one another, sharing understandings, and seeking for answers together, will bring families closer together. In Moses 5:12 it says, “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.” Our first parents were the first example of teaching all that they knew to their sons and daughters. When we work to teach one another, I believe the Lord will bless us all with greater knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Proverbs 24:5 reads, “A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.” I know that this also applies to families as a whole. We should seek for wisdom and knowledge as a family so that we can nourish one another and become stronger as a whole.

Strengthening our families is helped when we honor one another. In Exodus 20:12, we read the following commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Our parents deserve our honor and respect. Likewise, children need to be respected also. If we say or do anything to tear one another down, instead of saying things to encourage, compliment and uplift each other, we are not adding the strength that our families need. The things we choose to do will reflect greatly on our family name. Moreover, a strong family is one where the individuals live in a way to make the whole family proud. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “. . . A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” I know this goes both ways and as parents we need to remember that we do not want to do anything to shame our children either.

We strengthen our families by being a good example of righteous principles. Likewise, a bad example can weaken a family. Jacob 2:35 reads, “. . . Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.” Applying the principles of the gospel to our lives makes us stronger as individuals and in turn builds our family up as well. Job 17:9 says, “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” The Lord blessed the righteous and faithful. When we live righteously, we gain the strength to be more capable of enduring through the difficulties of every day life. As part of the learning process to gain this strength, the Lord will show our families where we need to improve. We learn this in Ether 12:27, which reads, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” When we humble ourselves as families, we make the decisions to change things we do as a group. For example, our family recognized, through inspiration of the spirit, that we had a weakness when it came to the things we chose to watch on tv. When we faithfully humbled ourselves and removed those shows that were not good for us, we grew together as a family. The Lord has promised us that “. . . he that is faithful shall be made strong in every place . . .” (see D&C 66:8).

Our family will be strengthened when we are actively in defense against Satan and his influence. We are in defense mode when we live the things that the Savior has taught. In Ephesians 6 we read the following:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

We need to be vigilant in not allowing Satan’s influence into our families. There is so much in the world today that is working to break the family unit down. Our attitudes, the things we choose to be entertained by, and the worldly things we seek after can break down our family relationships without us even realizing it. Doing things together such as family home evening, scripture study, prayer, attending church, serving others, and wholesome activities, will bring our families closer together and keep Satan’s influences from so easily breaking us down.

Greater still, our families will be strengthened when we make the choice to be sealed for time and all eternity. As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that God has given us the ability to become forever families. Authorized priesthood holders, in temples of the Lord, are able to bind worthy families eternally to one another and to God. This is a greater commitment than anything we can be a part of in this life. Because my own family is sealed, I am more aware of how the things I choose to do will affect us as a group both in this life and after it. In Malachi 4:6 we read, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” I believe the greater version of this promise can be found in Joseph Smith-History 1:39, which says, “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” These promises can only be realized through the amazing blessings of being sealed as a family. I don’t know what greater source of strength there can be in a family, than to know that they are able to be with each other forever.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we should strive to help other families to be strengthened as well. We need to stand up for families in the world today. We should support those things that lead to building families and fight against the evils that seek to drive families apart. Making our families a priority over careers and other extra-curricular activities, shows others the true value of family. We should live as examples of happy families and show others how our families can bring us the most joy and fulfillment in life. Being consistent with our family traditions and such (i.e. family holidays, prayer, game nights, scripture study, dinners, etc.) will stand as a bright example to others. Doing things together like playing, learning, and simply being together, will show others that we care about our family relationships. We need to help others to see that it is never okay to disrespect or dishonor our family members. We should never talk bad about our family members, gossip even if it may be true, or say or do anything that would make them feel bad. Being an example of love towards our family, in our words and actions, will go a long way in building other families up. Moreover, remember that even though we are part of separate earthly families, we are all part of the same spiritual family. The more we can share this gospel principle and that we really can be part of an eternal family, the stronger our spiritual family will be.

I cannot truly express in words, just how grateful I am for my family. I love my husband and children with all my heart. I am so grateful for my parents and siblings and all that I have learned and continue to learn from them. I rejoice in the hope of being with all of them forever. I am grateful for the things I learn from the Relief Society, and the church and gospel, which help to build and strengthen my family more each day. I hope that others can recognize just how important it is for us to work on strengthening our families and also helping others to have strong families as well.

Family Responsibilities

View the entire lesson here: Family Responsibilities

What responsibilities do husbands and wives share in raising their children?

My family has recently studied “The Family: A Proclamation to the World“, which teaches us that parents share the duty of loving and caring for their children. It says, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” Every parent should work to find opportunities to teach their childrenIn Deuteronomy 32 we read the following:

45And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
46And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.

We need to specifically teach our children to keep the commandments of God. We should do our best to teach them whenever the opportunity presents itself. As parents, I think we sometimes feel like our kids should already know things that they haven’t been taught. Then sometimes our kids are forced to learn things the hard way, through making mistakes that they could have avoided if they had simply been taught.

Parents need to do their best to provide for their necessities of life. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” Heavenly Father is the spirit Father of our earthly children, as much as He is of each of us. He puts His trust in us, by allowing us the privilege of raising His children. We deny our faith in God when we do not do all that we are able to provide for our children, because we choose to not recognize His children for what they are.

Children also need to be shown how to be and to help them to know how to be honest and faithful people. They learn this by example from their parents. In Mosiah 4:15 we read, “But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness …”. Parents are responsible for living an honest and true life that their children can follow. This teaching must be done out of love, and parents should recognize that everyone will make mistakes and will need love, guidance, and support to do the best they can.

How can husbands and wives support each other in their roles? Where can single parents turn for support?

Every home is different, but the ideal situation has the father taking on the role of provider, meaning he works to provide the necessities for his children, and a mother taking on the role of nurturer. Sometimes the situations of the family do not allow for this, and it is then that things must be adjusted so that both the physical and spiritual needs are met. Husbands and wives can support one another, by allowing their spouse to do their part. One should not be in control of everything or telling the other how they should do everything, but they should work together to fulfill these responsibilities. Parents can support each other by being grateful for the things done by their partner. Showing this gratitude and helping children to show their gratitude as well, will go a long way in strengthening the relationships in a family. Single parents can turn to other family members and to their ward family for support. Most of all, parents can turn to the Lord for support, whether they are married or single.

What positive examples have you seen of fathers raising their children?

In the scriptures there are many great fathers. Alma the elder is a great example to me, of a father doing his best to raise a wayward son. We learn from him, that we should not give up on our children and stop praying for them. Lehi is another good example of a father. He was an example to his sons of following the spirit, and having faith in God. He had a great love and desire for all his children to follow the strait and narrow path.

In my own life, I have seen many examples of good fathers. The one that comes to mind right now is my grandfather who passed away last year. He was an extremely loving father, who made teaching his children a priority in his life. He worked very hard to provide for his family, but did not let work get in the way of spending quality time with his kids and grandkids.

What positive examples have you seen of mothers raising their children?

One of the best examples in the scriptures, is from the story of the stripling warriors. In Alma 56 and 57, we learn of the teachings of these mothers and the example of faith in God that they were to their sons. In Alma 56:47 we read, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” It was by their teaching and example, that their sons were able to have faith and not fear.

I have seen many examples in my life as well. The best examples have been of love, patience, and kindness. I have witnessed sweet moments of teaching and love that come from soft spoken words to little children. I have seen countless sacrifices by loving mothers who give up their own wants and needs to bless the lives of their children. I am so grateful to the many examples of good mothers in my life.

How do children help their parents build a happy home?

I often wonder what I did in my home growing up, to help my parents have a happy home. I can recognize the things I should have done more, now that I am a mother. For me, the greatest things that children can do is to love each other. My hardest moments as a mother, come when my children are fighting and unhappy. Happiness in the home, is greater when children obey their parents. In Colossians 3:20 we read, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” This does not mean that parents should force their children to do things or exercise any unrighteous dominion over them, but that children should do the things their parents ask of them. Children can help by being an example as well. When my girls remind me to say a prayer, or want to share the things they have learned at church, and so on, their example teaches me more then I think I teach them. Children help by being willing to participate in family activities and in taking care of the house and needs of one another. A happier home will come when children serve and love one another and their parents.

What should children do to honor and respect their parents?

As I mentioned above, children should obey their parents. Another way they can honor and respect their parents, is to live in a way that would never bring shame to their parents. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” Children who are righteous and live wisely will live to make their parents proud, which is a great way to honor them. Children should show respect in their words and actions, both in the home and outside of it. How we speak about our parents can affect how others see them, and we should not do things that would cause others to judge them.

What did your parents do that led you to honor and respect them?

My mother has made family history a priority in her life, which is something that I have admired and loved in her. Her example has pushed me to do what I could do as well. I want to continue to do this work, so that I can make her proud and honor her. My father has taught me the value of music and meaning the things that I sing. These lessons have strengthened not only my performances, but my testimony as well. I have a great respect for my Dad’s musical talents and I hope that my desire to follow his instructions will honor him as well. Most of all, I hope that I honor my parents by how I am raising my own children. I am far from perfect, but I hope that I have learned from the examples that they have shown me, because I am truly grateful for them and the person I have grown up to be because of them.

What can each member of the family do to make home a happy place?

Using all of the things mentioned above, will make a happy home. All family members should follow the commandments, listen to one another, respect and love one another, serve each other, be kind and considerate, and so on. A happy home is a home of peace, love, laughter, enjoyment, health, and more. We need to do as the Savior taught us in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” This is an active love that comes through doing our part.

What are some traditions and practices that can make home a happy place?

Things that make a happy home include family prayer and scripture study, family home evening, and going to church together. It is also very important that we find ways to have fun together through playing games, doing projects, and so on. I am so grateful for the family and for the opportunity to learn and grow because of the responsibilities that I have to my own family.

D&C Section 134

In August of 1985, the saints held a general assembly of the church to discuss the Doctrine and Covenants and its contents. This section is described as a “declaration of belief regarding governments and laws” and it was accepted by a unanimous vote of the saints. It was given a preamble as well which said, “That our belief with regard to earthly governments and laws in general may not be misinterpreted nor misunderstood, we have thought proper to present, at the close of this volume, our opinion concerning the same” (History of the Church, 2:247). It is not direct revelation from the Lord, but as I understand it, there is nothing in this declaration that is against the gospel principles and it is fully in line with what we should believe as saints of God. As active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), saints have a duty to be aware and active in their communities as is possible. I have been fortunate to live in the United States, where we have many freedoms and liberties because of our government. I am very grateful for this.

The saints had been wrongly accused of many things in these first years of the restoration of the gospel. Among these false accusations, was one that said they were unsupportive of law and order. This declaration showed the world what the saints believed and how they expected government to work. This section begins:

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.
2 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.
3 We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
4 We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.

I whole-heartedly believe that government is part of the plan of God. I believe that when Christ comes again, our government will be His government, which is perfectly righteous. I don’t think that any government that is instituted today, is the perfect government, because they are all man-made, but I know that some are better than others because of influences of the spirit on good people. Government helps us to establish and maintain the laws, so that we all can live in safety and peace, therefore it is necessary that we have some type of government. These verses declare that no peaceful government can exist unless the people are free to choose for themselves, have a right to property, and are able to protect life. When these things are taken away, the people become placed in some kind of bondage to another, which is never according to the plan of God.

In my study I found a quote by David O. McKay when he who eventually became President of the church. He said, “That government is best which has as its aim the administration of justice, social well-being and the promotion of prosperity among its members” (in Conference Report, April. 1930, p. 80). I like this quote because it is not social well-being or the promotion of prosperity, but it is “and” or both. The best government will seek to help its people in need and encourage prosperity. A nation can have both of these things, if done correctly, and we see evidence of this time and time again in the Book of Mormon. One example is of the Nephites, not long after Christ had visited them. In 4 Nephi 1 we read,

2 And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
. . . 7 And the Lord did prosper them exceedingly in the land; yea, insomuch that they did build cities again where there had been cities burned.
. . . 18 And how blessed were they! For the Lord did bless them in all their doings; yea, even they were blessed and prospered until an hundred and ten years had passed away; and the first generation from Christ had passed away, and there was no contention in all the land.
. . . 23 And now I, Mormon, would that ye should know that the people had multiplied, insomuch that they were spread upon all the face of the land, and that they had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ.

I believe that we can have people who are prosperous and who are common (not rich and poor), without taking away any freedoms. I believe that we can persuade men to choose to give of their abundance to the poor, without forcing anyone and taking that choice away. When people choose to give to the poor, everyone prospers, but when people are forced by things being taken from them, no one does.

The saints declared that governments need workers who will handle the laws with equity and justice, and that these same people should be chosen by the will of the people. It is the duty of every righteous man or woman, to seek out good and just leaders and help them to lead their country in the right ways. As far as America goes, I don’t think that enough people realize that if the voice of the people who are trying to live righteous lives, would be heard louder, our leaders would also be influenced to lead righteously. We have the ability to persuade those who are in government positions, if we stand up for what we believe.

In verse 4, the point is that religion is not a man-made institution, but an eternal institution from our eternal creator. As latter-day saints, we believe in the free exercise of religion, not just of our own, but of all religions that do not stop others from their rightful freedoms. We believe that nothing of man should be allowed to interfere with the institution of religion, or stop men from being able to worship freely as they choose. I love the last line of this verse, “the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.” There are things that government is responsible for and should be, but forcing people to believe something or stopping them from freedom of thought and desires of the soul is completely wrong. I believe that all men should be allowed to worship freely, as long as how or what they worship does not stop anyone else from that same freedom.

5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
6 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.
7 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.
8 We believe that the commission of crime should be punished according to the nature of the offense; that murder, treason, robbery, theft, and the breach of the general peace, in all respects, should be punished according to their criminality and their tendency to evil among men, by the laws of that government in which the offense is committed; and for the public peace and tranquility all men should step forward and use their ability in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.

We have a duty to follow the laws of the land in which we live, but we must have the right to choose and think for ourselves. It is the responsibility of a government to have laws and to have consequences for those who choose not to follow the laws. As it says in the twelfth article of faith, latter-day saints believe in “obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law”. There have been times when the laws of certain lands have taken away the freedom to follow the laws of God, and in these times, I believe it becomes a matter of sincere prayer to God for his help to be able to live His law. Sometimes it takes making a stand for a belief, such as Daniel who continued to pray even though he was commanded by his ruler that he must not pray to God. He was still allowed to choose and suffered the consequences of the law, but God protected him for following His law. I hope that I do not have to experience that kind of contradiction between the laws of this land and the laws of God, but I know that it is a possibility as we draw closer to the second coming. God will bless us if we do our best to obey his laws and live righteously.

It can sometimes feel difficult to respect our leaders who make choices we do not like, but as saints we need to be better than this. We should respect the office which these individuals hold, even when we disagree with their individual policies or decisions. For example, our president should be respected as the leader of our country. He should not be attacked as a person, because this is not a Christ-like thing to do. We do not have to agree with his decisions to respect him as our leader. Likewise, we do not have to agree with the decision of every law that is made, but we should respect and sustain it as a law. If we disagree with a leader or a law, it is our duty to do what we can to change what we do not agree with, not to disrespect or disobey.

Everyone one of us has responsibilities over something in our lifetime. For some it is nations and for others it is a home. We are all held accountable for how we lead and how we act in that responsibility. I have hope in the belief that those leaders who are unjust and unkind, will be held accountable for that in the eternities, because I believe in the justice of God. But as much as I hope for that, I must remember that I need to be the best leader in my home, so that I do not hold the same fate for making bad choices as well.

There is nothing wrong with punishment that is deserving for the crimes committed. Suffering for crimes is like the suffering for our sins that is an eternal principle. As a mother, it can be difficult at times to figure out what punishment is appropriate for the wrongs that are done in my home, but I know that there would be absolute craziness and a lack of respect for any rules if there were not any consequences. As saints, it is our duty to own up to our own mistakes, to take the appropriate consequences as they come and to repent fully for them. We do not consider ourselves above any laws. We are bound to uphold them as citizens of our countries. If we are striving to be honest citizens, then we will not do anything to stop another from proper punishment, and we will not cover up any crimes. We can and should still show love for anyone who has done something wrong, while allowing the consequences to be put into action. Punishment is in place for the benefit of all men and women.

9 We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.
10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them. They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

There is wisdom in keeping the laws and rules of the land in the control of those who lead the land, and separately keeping the laws and rules of any religion in the control of those who lead that religious group. Although, I have a desire for all men to believe as I do and to worship as I do, that does not mean that the leaders of a church should have control over a land. We cannot learn and grow if we are not given the choice to worship freely. I am happy when there are good, religious individuals as leaders in the government, because a righteous influence for good is ideal. But the church should leave the control of government to those who have been chosen to lead it. Likewise, any government should allow the churches to lead their own churches, as long as there is nothing that they do contrary to the laws of the land.

11 We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.
12 We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men; such interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every government allowing human beings to be held in servitude.

Any person has the god-given right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their own property. There are appropriate ways to deal with any abuse or attack that comes against us, and we should be wise in doing what is appropriate. Likewise, governments should have a responsibility to provide help in the appropriate situations. If, however, a government chooses not to help or is unable to help, when assistance is fully deserved, there is a right to our own defense against attacks.

As saints, we are believers in taking the gospel to the world. However, it is a gospel of peace and if preaching the gospel would put the peace or safety of others in jeopardy, it is not the right time for it. We do not believe that people should not be allowed to hear the gospel, but we will respect the laws of the lands. If we live righteously, and if as a church we are being strengthened and fortified, the Lord will open doors for the gospel in places where it has not been allowed before. I believe this is true.

I am so grateful for the safety that comes from having a government in place. I am glad that I live in a country that allows as much freedom as I have. I believe in laws and consequences and I know that we will be blessed by God for being good citizens where ever we live. I believe in freedom, and I am especially grateful to live where I can choose to worship freely and in a time when I do not need to fear for my life because of it. I am very grateful for the saints, who believed as I do now, and who endured through so many trials so that I could live the life of freedom that I have now.

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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Currently I am studying the The Old Testament. I will be studying from the LDS - King James Version of the Bible (see link below). I am studying along with the book, Scripture Study for Latter-day Saint Families: The Old Testament by Dennis H. Leavitt and Richard O. Christensen.

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