Laws and Lawyers

When King Mosiah introduced a new form of government, he distinguished between the law and the people who administer it. The problem with monarchy is that it is too easy for the king to change the law (Mosiah 29:22-23). But when leaders are chosen by “the voice of the people,” they can be held accountable to uphold the law (Mosiah 29:28-29). Ensuring that the laws are just becomes the responsibility of the people collectively (Mosiah 29:26-27).

Nine years later, the people in the city of Ammonihah had still not understood this principle. When Amulek denounced their lawyers, they said he had condemned their law:

This man doth revile against our laws which are just, and our wise lawyers whom we have selected.
(Alma 10:24)

Amulek attempted to clarify that he supported the law, but that the people who were supposed to administer it were not following that law.

The people were unable or unwilling to grasp that distinction. “He hath lied unto us,” they said; “for he hath spoken against our law… And again, he has reviled against our lawyers, and our judges” (Alma 10:28-29). When Alma and Amulek were subsequently imprisoned, multiple witnesses declared that “they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers and judges” (Alma 14:2, 5).

Loyalty to a person or a group of people can be dangerous. We can become so focused on defending them that we fail to recognize when we are drifting from the truth. Abinadi asked the priests of King Noah, “If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it?” (Mosiah 12:29). But when he was condemned to death, the priests cried out, “He has reviled the king” (Mosiah 17:12). They valued allegiance to King Noah over adherence to true principles.

Today, I will prioritize truth. I will strive to live in harmony with divine law. I will support my leaders and my friends but will not allow my loyalty to them to cloud my judgment of right and wrong.

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