Our lawyers are poison. They feel they own the law. No one but them can read the constitution rightly. Or at least that is what they think. Our elected officials are frauds, and our government is full of corruption. Immersed in these circumstances, we see what is on the horizon and are ill prepared, partly because we don’t know our own doctrine. This article is about one doctrine we should understand in such days.
Look, sure, we have an article of faith that says
Article of Faith 12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
But we have wildly misunderstood it. The man who penned that article himself very clearly distinguished between rule of law and abuse of power. He did not believe in subjecting himself to abuse of power.
We have somehow lost the sense of the man that wrote that. We think it means that if the government says “jump”, our question should be “how high”? We proved our spiritual incompetence when homosexual marriage was illegally forced on Utah and we rolled over like Tories instead of standing like founders. We apparently had never heard of holding truths to be self evident. We apparently had no idea that there are things endowed by the creator which governments cannot violate. And so we bowed and kissed the royal hand rather than standing belligerently on sacred ground.
Joseph Smith escaped from Jail on more than one occasion. I wish we could memorize that fact and repeat it to ourselves every time we quote the 12th article of faith. Joseph Smith evaded arrest when he was able to. But our unthinking cog-like interpretation of the 12th article of faith, we would think it would be wrong to do the same thing even if we knew the law was being abused.
Could we please understand article of faith 12 the same way Joseph Smith himself did?
Good principles frequently come in conflict with each other. As Adam had to choose whether to eat the fruit or to remain with Eve, so we also frequently must choose between conflicting good principles. And, just as in Adam’s case, sometimes it is critically important that we get those choices right.
Somehow, we have gotten this idea in our heads that Article of Faith 12 is the penultimate law, and we think that whenever it conflicts with any other good principle, then God expects us to obey article of faith 12. That is crazy talk!
When we must choose between law and that which is most sacred, we must choose that which is sacred.
Do we realize how many of the scriptures involve violating the law in order to do what was right?
We know Nephi killed Laban. Could I kindly point out that it was illegal for him to do so? If Nephi refused because that was “illegal” his descendants would have perished in disbelief. There would be no stories of Jacob, Alma, Mosiah, Benjamin, Moroni, Mormon, etc… There would be no Book of Mormon. When we repeat Article of Faith 12, could we please repeat to ourselves that we would have no Book of Mormon if Nephi had not done something illegal? And that it was the Lord that commanded him to do it.
We know Azariah, Mishael, and Hannaniah would not bow to the statue and were thrown into a fiery furnace. What they did was not subjecting themselves to the king. Instead they refused to obey his command and God blessed them for it.
When Moses killed an Egyptian who was raping an Israelite, that was illegal. It was still the right thing to do and God held Moses guiltless for doing so. Moses had to flee Egypt for slaying the Egyptian, but he kept the confidence of his God. If Moses had stayed his hand he could not have freed Israel. He would have been disgraced before his God if he had stood idly by while an Egyptian was raping an Israelite woman.
When Alma fled king Noah, could we agree that Alma was not subjecting himself to the king? And thank goodness.
When the midwives of Israel disobeyed Pharoah, they were not subjecting themselves to kings like Article of Faith 12 says they should. And the Lord blessed them for it. But if they had subjected themselves to the king then the cost would have been their own souls. You cannot butcher babies and not pay an eternal price.
When Zechariah refused to disclose his son’s location to the Roman Soldiers, that was illegal. He was not subjecting himself to king Herod. He was rebelling against King Herod to protect his wife and son. Had he revealed them, he could not have had them in eternity. Eternal marriage is not for cowardly traitors.
And when we must choose between law and that which is most sacred, we must choose that which is sacred. It is crucial that we do so.
If the law says we should send our girls into the hands of perverted boys in the privacy of locker rooms and restrooms, we will not have those girls in the resurrection if we comply. Disobedience may be illegal, but if our daughters cannot look to us for protection of their virtue than we do not deserve them and will not have them in eternity.
If the law says a doctor has to perform abortions, that doctor still cannot do so without losing his soul. The atonement does not cover the shedding of innocent blood. If he complies then his act cannot be redeemed by the blood of Christ and he must suffer in hell for it. The law of man cannot excuse him for what the blood of Christ itself will not cover.
If the law says we need to load up our girls at the local military office to go fight in combat, we can go ahead and offend our God with our compliance or we can disregard the requirements of the law and feel happy to have purchased his confidence.
We can recite Article of Faith 12 all we want, but that which is sacred must come first. If it does not, the consequences can cost us eternity.