Our Responsibilities As Citizens: Top Scriptures

LDS Members Believe in Obeying and Honoring Earthly Governments

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS/Mormon) are instructed in scripture to obey and honor the earthly governments they live under. This is summarized by the following six scriptures.

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The most succinct statement on our responsibilities as citizens is found in the Articles of Faith #12. We obey, honor and sustain the government we live under, regardless of what type it is.

Scripture:

We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
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Heavenly Father expressly instructed that we should obey all earthly laws.

Scripture:

And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

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This is the most thorough statement of our responsibilities as citizens.

Earthly governments should protect life, liberty and property. Good people should be selected as earthly rulers, regardless of what type of government it is.

Citizens should not rebel or seek to overthrow their earthly governments. Change should be sought within governmental mechanisms.

Earthly governments have a right to manage earthly affairs. However, they have a particular responsibility to protect freedom of conscience. They should punish the guilty who violate earthly laws.

Citizens have a right to protect themselves when emergencies arise and when earthly governments cannot respond in a timely manner.

Scripture:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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We must pay to earthly governments the taxes and tributes they require. This is in addition to what Heavenly Father requires of us.

Scripture:

And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:

Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Cæsar, or no?

But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?

Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Cæsar’s.

And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which be Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.

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After the second coming of Christ, we will live under a perfect system where Christ is our spiritual leader, as well as our governmental leader. Until that time we are to give our loyalty to the earthly government we live under. If we follow the commandments, there will never be any need to break earthly laws.

Scripture:

Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.

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Heavenly Father acknowledged that early members were persecuted, against the law. He endorsed efforts by members to receive justice from earthly rulers for what they suffered.

It is clear from these passages, that Heavenly Father wants us to seek redress from unlawful acts inside government mechanisms and not through unlawful means.

Heavenly Father also states clearly that no one should be in bondage.

Scripture:

And again 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, and redeemed the land by the shedding of blood.

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