The Constitution

Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Nephi describes an expansive vision in which he viewed many future events. One of those was the immigration of Europeans suffering religious persecution to the American continent and the establishment of the United States of America:

I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land;

1 Nephi 13:16-20

The foundation of this new country was the creation and ratification of the Constitution, a document which specified the rules by which the government of the new country would operate.

In August 1833, the Lord reminded church members suffering religious persecution to uphold the constitution:

And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

Therefore, 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 98:5-6

Four months later, when these people had been driven from their homes and were staying in nearby counties trying to decide what to do next, the Lord again reference the Constitution in His guidance:

I say unto you, those who have been scattered by their enemies, it is my will that they should continue to importune for redress, and redemption, by the hands of those who are placed as rulers and are in authority over you

According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.

Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

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.

Doctrine and Covenants 101:76-80

President Dallin H. Oaks recently clarified that inspired is not the same as perfect:

Our belief that the United States Constitution was divinely inspired does not mean that divine revelation dictated every word and phrase, such as the provisions allocating the number of representatives from each state or the minimum age of each. The Constitution was not “a fully grown document,” said President J. Reuben Clark. “On the contrary,” he explained, “we believe it must grow and develop to meet the changing needs of an advancing world.” For example, inspired amendments abolished slavery and gave women the right to vote.

Defending Our Divinely Inspired Constitution,” General Conference, April 2021

President Oaks identified five inspired principles contained in the Constitution:

  1. The source of a government’s power is the people.
  2. The national government’s authority is limited. Some authority is reserved for individual states or for the people generally.
  3. Three branches of government—executive, legislative, and judicial—operate independently and exercise checks on one another.
  4. Certain rights are guaranteed to everyone in the country.
  5. We are governed by law, not by individuals. Our loyalty is to the Constitution and its principles and processes, not to any office holder.

Today I will be grateful for the Constitution of the United States. I will be grateful for the inspired principles which have formed the foundation for the government of my country. I will defend and uphold those principles, even as I strive to realize the ultimate vision of the Constitution: a society in which all people enjoy fundamental rights and no one is above the law.

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