In the church, there is a common tendency to idolize the U.S. Constitution. We frequently hear that it is an inspired document and that the men who were responsible for its creation were raised up by God to this very end. Some even go so far as to believe the Constitution is a revelation from God, equal in authority and as binding upon the people as the scriptures themselves. Many U.S. LDS imagine that the government of the Lord in the Millenium will be some version of the constitutional republic created by the Founding Fathers, namely, a democratic Republic. Adding fuel to this fire is the oft-repeated “Constitution-hanging-on-a-thread” prophecy, which is attributed to Joseph Smith, though there are various versions of it, the texts of which are not canonized, but which are revered and believed by many U.S. LDS to be true. (Non-U.S. LDS are not as enamored as the U.S. LDS with the Constitution, so they don’t quote this prophecy so much.)
But what does the Lord actually say, in the canonized scriptures that we have, about the Constitution?
CONSTITUTION OF THE LAND
The Lord said, “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; and as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.” (D&C 98: 5-7)
The Lord said, “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.” (D&C 101: 77-80)
Joseph Smith prayed, “Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth; have mercy upon the rulers of our land; may those principles, which were so honorably and nobly defended, namely, the Constitution of our land, by our fathers, be established forever.” (D&C 109: 54)
That’s pretty much all that is said about it. It is mentioned in two revelations in which the Lord speaks (D&C 98 and 101) and it is mentioned in the revealed dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple (D&C 109.)
There are some interesting things about these three revelations. First of all, the Constitution is never called the U.S. Constitution. It is either called “that law of the land which is constitutional,” “the constitutional law of the land,” “constitution of the people,” “Constitution of this land,” “those principles,” and “the Constitution of our land.”
Secondly, it is never implied that the Lord is referring to the entire Constitution. There are qualifiers among these revelations. In other words, the Lord is referring to that part of the Constitution that supports “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges.” He also says that “whatsoever is more or less than this,” meaning this rights and privileges part of the Constitution that supports the principle of freedom, cometh of evil. So, from the first revelation, the Lord explains that there is a part of the Constitution that is justifiable before the Lord and that belongs to all mankind, not just Americans, and that there is a part of the Constitution that is not justifiable before the Lord and that “cometh of evil.”
In the second revelation, the Lord explains that the Constitution (the part that supports the principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges) “should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh.” He also mentions the moral agency of man (which reminds me of anarchy) and then the Lord says something quite peculiar. He says, “Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.” The word “therefore” means “for that reason” or “consequently.” So, the part about slavery in the Constitution obviously came of evil and was ‘not right,” but also any part of the Constitution that caused that “any man should be in bondage one to another” was “not right.”
As all forms of government force people to obey certain rules, called government laws, upon pain of death, imprisonment or property theft, government in and of itself causes all men to “be in bondage one to another.” So, pretty much the entire Constitution is in the “more or less” category that “cometh of evil.”
Finally, the dedicatory prayer refers to the Constitution of our land as “those principles,” and prays that they be established forever. The only “principles” justifiable in the Constitution are the ones referred to in the first two revelations. These are the principles that support that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges; that should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh; that allow every man to act in doctrine and principle and according to their moral agency and their individual accountability; that are justifiable before the Lord; and that belong to all men.
So, what are these principles? We call these principles the Bill of Rights. Only the Bill of Rights fits the above description and only the Bill of Rights belongs to all mankind. It is instructive, too, that the Bill of Rights was written to protect the people specifically from the government (the rulers.) The Bill of Rights is the only part of the U.S. Constitution that is truly of the people. It is truly the Constitution of our land. Anarchy, therefore, is consistent with these revelations.
Next Anarchism/Anarchy article: Anarchy does not require perfect people
Previous Anarchism/Anarchy article: 1930’s Spanish Anarchy