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Constitution of the United States

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The Constitution of the United States of America is considered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be an inspired document. The Founding Fathers are considered men foreordained, or raised up by God, to establish the constitution and a free nation wherein the Gospel could be restored.

The constitution has the following essential characteristics:
  1. The whole philosophy of constitutional government is that all sovereign power rests with the...people.
  2. It is capable of specific interpretation and encourages a course of stability and uniformity of action where governmental affairs are concerned.
  3. It creates an ideal system of checks and balances where the possible exercise of autocratic powers is concerned.
  4. The government has no rights; it has duties only. It is ordained to serve the people.
  5. It preserves the natural rights of man.
  6. Means are provided for the constitution's own change and amendment. [1]

In the Book of Mormon, prophets predicted that America would be a nation wherein no kings would rule (2 Nephi 10:11-14). The people who would possess the land would be "free from bondage and from captivity, and from all other nations (Ether 2:12). The Gentiles were to be "established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father" (3 Nephi 21:4). This, so that the Book of Mormon could come forth and the Lord's church be established. "And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:80; 109:54). [2]

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "The constitution of the United States is a glorious standard. It is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun. We say that God is true; that the constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true; that the Book of Mormon is true; that the Book of Covenants is true; that Christ is true; that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true, and that we know that we have an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, whose builder and maker is God." [3]

Said the Prophet Ezra Taft Benson:

...we honor more than those who brought forth the Constitution. We honor the Lord who revealed it. God Himself has borne witness to the fact that He is pleased with the final product of the work of these great patriots.
In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on August 6, 1833, the Savior admonished: “I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:6).
I reverence the Constitution of the United States as a sacred document. To me its words are akin to the revelations of God, for God has placed His stamp of approval on the Constitution of this land. I testify that the God of heaven sent some of His choicest spirits to lay the foundation of this government, and He has sent other choice spirits—even you who read my words—to preserve it. [4]

Said the Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:

The Constitution under which we live, and which has not only blessed us but has become a model for other constitutions, is our God-inspired national safeguard ensuring freedom and liberty, justice and equality before the law. [5]

And from Apostle Dallin H. Oaks:

The United States Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. It has served Americans well, enhancing freedom and prosperity during the changed conditions of more than two hundred years. Frequently copied, it has become the United States’ most important export. After two centuries, every nation in the world except six have adopted written constitutions, and the U.S. Constitution was a model for all of them. No wonder modern revelation says that God established the U.S. Constitution and that it “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77).
George Washington was perhaps the first to use the word miracle in describing the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. In a 1788 letter to Lafayette, he said:
It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the delegates from so many different states (which states you know are also different from each other in their manners, circumstances, and prejudices) should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well-founded objections.” [6]
The success of the convention was attributable in large part to the remarkable intelligence, wisdom, and unselfishness of the delegates. As James Madison wrote in the preface to his notes on the Constitutional Convention:
There never was an assembly of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them.” [7]
Reverence for the United States Constitution is so great that sometimes individuals speak as if its every word and phrase had the same standing as scripture. Personally, I have never considered it necessary to defend every line of the Constitution as scriptural. For example, I find nothing scriptural in the compromise on slavery or the minimum age or years of citizenship for congressmen, senators, or the president. As President J. Reuben Clark said, we believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention achieved the required balance between popular sovereignty and stability through a power of amendment that was ultimately available but deliberately slow. Only in this way could the government have the certainty of stability, the protection of minority rights, and the potential of change, all at the same time. [8]

Latter-day Prophecies Concerning the Constitution

First from Brigham Young, second president of the Church: “Will the Constitution be destroyed? No: it will be held inviolate by this people; and, as Joseph Smith said, ‘The time will come when the destiny of this nation will hang upon a single thread. At that critical juncture, this people will step forth and save it from the threatened destruction.’ It will be so” (Journal of Discourses, 7:15).
Now another witness, John Taylor, third president of the Church: “When the people shall have torn to shreds the Constitution of the United States, the elders of Israel will be found holding it up to the nations of the earth, and proclaiming liberty and equal rights to all men, and extending the hand of fellowship to the oppressed of all nations” (The Gospel Kingdom, Deseret Book Co., 1943, p. 219). This is part of the program.
A final witness is from George Q. Cannon, former member of the First Presidency, who said that “the day will come when the Constitution and free government under it will be sustained and preserved by this people” (Journal of Discourses, 23:104.)
Now, I declare to you that if we are not in the beginning stages of the fulfillment of this prophecy, we are at least in the stages where we are preparing for its fulfillment. [9]

References

  1. Bruce R. McConkie, Gospel Doctrine, Second Edition, pp. 159-160.
  2. McConkie, p. 160
  3. Teachings of Joseph Smith, pp. 147-148
  4. Ezra Taft Benson, “The Miraculous Constitution,” Friend, Sep 1987, inside front cover.
  5. Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Times in Which We Live,” Liahona, Jan 2002, 83–86.
  6. Letter from Washington to Lafayette, 7 Feb. 1788, quoted in Catherine Drinker Bowen, Miracle at Philadelphia, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1966, p. xvii.
  7. Quoted in William O. Nelson, The Charter of Liberty, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987, p. 44.
  8. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Divinely Inspired Constitution,” Ensign, Feb 1992, 68. [1]
  9. L. Tom Perry, “God’s Hand in the Founding of America,” New Era, Jul 1976, 45. [2]

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