Latter-day Saints look forward to the coming of, and the rise of, the political kingdom of God on this earth in preparation for the second coming of Christ, with the presiding High Priest as its King, and ruler, essentially a monarchy, ruled in righteousness.
Under the Constitutional Republic established by the Founding Fathers, the Lord has asked us to befriend “that law which is the constitutional law of the land”, specifically, laws that support “that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges” (D&C 98: 5-6).
It was for this purpose, then, that a republic was organized upon this continent to prepare the way for a kingdom which shall have dominion over all the earth to the ends thereof. (Orson Pratt, quoted in The Progress of Man 420 by Joseph Fielding Smith)
This republican form of government is one of the best suited considering the wicked nature of man, and his tendency to exercise unrighteous dominion (to rule in wickedness) when given a little power (See: D&C 121). A constitutional republic tends to be less corruptible, or rather takes longer to be corrupted. Unfortunately we’ve now lost much of what the Founders established, and find ourselves under a corrupt, socialistic, welfare-state, overrun by Gadianton robbers.
God’s own system of government is a Kingdom. In fact, we learn, in the Book of Mormon, that “if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people — I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” (Mosiah 29: 13)
Say what?! That’s right: “it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you”.
Hence, within the LDS Church, there are so many references to God’s “Kingdom”, a Patriarchal order within that Kingdom, and the promised blessings for the faithful to become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses. That is God’s order of things.
Therefore, Mormons are Monarchists. We even practice monarchism within our households, with husband and wife ruling as King and Queen of the family (hopefully in righteousness, and in accordance with Doctrine and Covenants 121).
Some might find this idea troubling, that Mormons are monarchists, especially considering the fact that the American Revolution was fought for independence from a tyrannical monarchy. But it wasn’t fought because of the monarchy, it was a fight against tyranny. It is not the form or system of government which is most important, but the principles espoused by such government. The system/form of government is a tool. Tools can be used for good or bad, what’s most important is that we use them for good. So long as the representatives, rulers, or ruler, is ruling in righteousness, the form of government is not as important (though, let’s not forget that the scriptures tell us if we could always have righteous rulers we should have a King – Mosiah 29: 13).
Even the 12th Article of Faith states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (12th Article of Faith) (more references to monarchy). This alludes to our focus on the importance of correct principles and righteous rulers being much more important than the system of government.
“Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God.” (Marion G. Romney, “The Rule of Law,” Ensign, Feb 1973, 2)
A righteous government, regardless of what form (Monarchy, Democracy, Republic, etc) (note: “righteous government”), will “establish the laws of God, and judge [the] people according to [God’s] commandments” (Mosiah 29: 13).
28 thoughts on “Mormons are Monarchists”
I thought Mormons were anarchists?
“Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God. …” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 339.) (quoted by Marion G. Romney, “The Rule of Law,” Ensign, Feb 1973, 2)
“History, both sacred and secular, clearly records that the struggle to preserve and safeguard freedom has been a continuous one. Prophets of God as watchmen on the towers, have proclaimed liberty. Holy men of God have led the fight against anarchy and tyranny. Moses was commanded to ‘proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.’” (Ezra Taft Benson. General Conference Talk – October 1966. Protecting Freedom – Our Immediate Responsibility.)
Justin, I should also state that I have read several of your articles on ldsanarchy.wordpress.com. I’m pretty sure you’ll disagree with me, and perhaps even say that the anarchy that the prophets have opposed is not the same as the anarchy you support. I’ve read your definitions of anarchy, and I’ll still say it’s incompatible with the Gospel, and cannot result in order, only disorder and chaos.
I see. So, I’m a monarchist, am I? And all this time I thought I was an anarchist. Thanks for setting me straight about my beliefs. And thanks for setting all the other Mormon anarchists straight, too.
Just out of curiosity, does this mean that the Divine Right of Kings is true, too?
Lol — LDSM just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
So does what defines a “Mormon” come from the bank of prophet-quotes that you have — or from the standard works?
Yes — the governments of God and Satan are both called kingdoms.
In the case of God, His heavenly government is based upon the voluntary cooperation of his subjects, with himself as their King, their God, their Father, their Judge and their Lawgiver. He holds these titles and positions because His subjects choose Him to hold them (meaning by the voice of the people, not by a Divine Right of Kings). God does nothing without the consent of the governed. There is no compulsion, whatsoever, only complete and utter freedom, all things being done by free agency and voluntary cooperation.
On a political scale, although it is rightly be called a kingdom, it most resembles tribal anarchy, with the tribal Chief being God himself and the tribal or customary law used being the gospel of Jesus Christ given by the tribal chief and voluntarily accepted by the common consent of the tribal members. (In practice, it would look like what this book project describes.
There are many tools Satan uses to destroy agency: e.g., temptation, sin, deception, drugs, and technology. But the main instrument used is the state. Only with the inception of a state can Satan duplicate his spiritual kingdom on the earth and control every aspect of those who pertain to it.
Here’s a good, recent article about how the term “anarchy” has been maligned. Given what governments have given us during the 20th century, I’m will ing to give anarchy a chance.
“Even the 12th Article of Faith states: “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (12th Article of Faith) (more references to monarchy). This alludes to our focus on the importance of correct principles and righteous rulers being much more important than the system of government.”
Joel Skousen once suggested that Joseph Smith might have said that to John Wentworth knowing it would be published, hoping to get the government off “our” backs by showing we obey the law. What do you think about that?
Sure, that could be the reason. We certainly can’t just read the Articles of Faith and ignore all the other scriptures that give further context to Mormon doctrine, such D&C 98, 101, 134, etc which give further insight into our beliefs regarding righteous government.
Anyways, the basis of the articles revolves around this one scripture:
“if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people — I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” (Mosiah 29: 13)
This makes sense Brian as just men would not exercise unrighteous dominion and compulsion. which was the main purpose of the Constitution, to “bind” men down with its chains to prevent “UNJUST” rulers from destroying God given rights.
If you have a Godly leader, that does Gods will, it is possible to do so without the Constitution. The problem is not likely that will happen, with exception to Christ and maybe a few others.
One reason for this article is not really to promote monarchism but to get people thinking more about principles vs tools.
I enjoyed it. Thought provoking material. keep up the good work!
“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Except when it comes to illegal aliens.
“sustaining the law”
To be precise, we are thearchists. Which is in perfect harmony with the founders, who said that we don’t need a mortal king because Jesus Christ is our king.
that is in Nephi somewhere isn’t it?
I’m an onion.
Brigham Young said that the form of government of the United States differs but little from that of the Kingdom of God; I would say that you’re off a little in your second paragraph about the Constitution not being the way Heaven operates.
“If we look at the record of mass murder, exploitation, and tyranny levied on society by governments over the ages, we need not be loath to abandon the Leviathan State and … try freedom.” ~ Murray N. Rothbard
Anarchy in its purest form is based on peaceful behavior and voluntaryism in a stateless society, while government is based on aggression, theft, force, and deceit. …
No one it seems understands the simple concept of anarchy, and certainly can’t grasp the concept of anarchy as a viable social system. This says a lot about the “success” of the government indoctrination prisons called “public” schools. Obviously, the worship and acceptance of the State is now the primary driver in the American thought process. This is unfortunate. …
Those who believe that anarchy is chaos without justice fail to understand that anarchists simply want to be left alone. The fact that they want to be left alone should naturally convey that they also don’t want to infringe upon the liberty of others. Self-rule means that one’s life is directed from within instead of being controlled from without. This concept should not be foreign to any man who desires to enjoy a free life.
Our society has long been force-fed the propaganda that we cannot survive and prosper without the State. Our training in such matters begins at a very early age and continues throughout our lives. The transformation from a somewhat free society to our current one of servitude has taken a long time, but it has happened nonetheless. Now, most in this country are knowingly or unknowingly dependent on the government in one fashion or another, but many more thrive exclusively on government largess, and due to government protectionist practices. Did this happen accidentally or did it happen by design? I think the latter is the obvious answer to this question. – Gary D. Barnett
See his compete article at http://lewrockwell.com/barnett/barnett36.1.html
The one principle of hell is — “I am my own.”
Of course, just because someone famous quoted someone else, that doesn’t make the quoted statement authoritative. But this particular sentiment, along with such variations as “it is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven” does deserve some study if we are serious about the idea that humans, in their fallen state, cannot aspire to salvation without submitting to divine law.
It is the doctrine of freedom (as taught by the prophets) that freedom is dependent on law, because without law there can be no connection between a person’s actions and the outcome that befalls that person. Freedom is not simply liberty to act, it is the potential to meaningfully effect one’s destiny through intelligently chosen actions. The laws which connect each action to the particular and general consequences of such action are the mechanism by which our liberty to act as we choose can become our freedom to chart our eternal course, just as the linkage between a car’s steering column and front wheels is what makes it possible to drive (rather than helplessly ride) a car.
The truth is that “principled” anarchists believe in laws the same as everyone else, they talk of virtually nothing else except the real laws that govern human interactions regardless of legislation or “authorities”. And yet they fail to grasp that this is what they are doing, or the greater significance of such genuine laws of human interaction. By assuming that “laws” are artificial and inherently bad, they lose the ability to speak meaningfully to questions of what kind of behavior constitutes tyranny (literally rule without authority of law).
The fact remains that we cannot take any action without, to some degree, imposing our will on others. Nor should we desire to be able to do so, since it is only those consigned to a state of perdition who have the luxury (if they consider it so) of being unable to have any further meaningful impact on the existences of others. By choosing to live within the reality created and illuminated by God’s glory and intelligence, we choose to be engaged with all others willing to live in harmony with all other divine existence.
But of course it is too simple to say that we are monarchists. In truth, God chooses to be affected by us as much (or more) than we are affected by Him. He is as subject to the law as anyone else, or more so, and this is what makes true Kingship. That person who, submitting to the absolute demands of the law in full, embodies in action and being the spirit and principle of law thus becomes truly a King.
And it is a mistake as well to say that the Constitution of the United States is not an apt pattern of the true laws that bind and sanctify all true kings, that they rule because they embody to their people the principles those people have chosen to live under, just as God Himself is the very substance of the Divine Kingdom we aspire to enter into. True, the degenerate and corrupt practices of men have made a mockery of the principles of law on which the Constitution is founded, but so too it has ever been with every government run by humans.
The truth is that a true king could have no objection to the principles of the Constitution, for such a ruler will not need to hold titular offices or authority granted by legislative acts of deliberating representatives of worldly factions. He would command fealty and obedience from all who wished to live under the principles manifest by his very person.
And yet, let us not infer that the simple existence of such a king would settle all matters of government so as to not require the efforts of lesser men to understand and implement the law he embodies. Were that really so, then it would be impossible to understand mortal existence as having any purpose at all, for certainly the mere presence of God would settle irrevocably all questions of duty and right conduct. Just as it requires effort for us to understand and follow even such an ultimate expression of Purpose as is represented by the Almighty, with such an intimate relation to us that we are to be regarded as children of the Father (despite the obvious differences), so too it is not improper to mediate our understanding of the rule of law by means of legislative procedure.
The only real questions are, firstly, whether the legislation we create reflects the spirit of true law? And secondly, whether we have obtained the moral authority to promulgate and enforce such laws by our own compliance with them? It is in these criteria that we must find the failings of human governments if we are to usefully (and, I might add, Lawfully) distinguish tyranny from legitimate authority.
I may choose to physically inhabit the center of a busy road and demand to be left alone…but whether that is truly lawful or not depends a great deal on whether or not others using the road have a lawful right to do so. If not so, then I may be acting according to the law. But otherwise, my claim to a legitimate right to be left alone while occupying that space could be in serious doubt, and it may be that I would be denying others their rights without any authority to do so under the law…hence my demand to be left alone would be a species of tyranny, imposing my will on others without regard for the principles of Law.
NO KING BUT CHRIST THE KING OF KINGS. ETHER 6 22-23
I agree with what you said about it being of greater significance that we adhere to correct principles and uphold righteous rulers than what system of government we use. However, I would be quick to add that whatever government we use, for it to be truly worthy before God, it must support the principle of agency, which is far more difficult in some forms of government than others. It is not enough to have laws that enable righteousness, but we must allow wickedness as well (to the point that it does not harm others) for agency to truly exist.
I too believe the Church is structured under a monarchic principle, and that the most important factor for any funcional political model is adhering to correct principles.
I know Prophet Joseph Smith supported democracy, but in defense of earthly monarchies: When kings become corrupted tyrants (which is an exception), they at least can be removed from power, as they are visible. That cannot be said of many democracies today , which seem to be ruled by well financed, unaccountable interest groups, which to a great extent control the democratic process through campaign financing and the MSM. Here, the voting out of -essentially similar- politicians and the illusion of self determination dissolves all responsibility.
Saying we are monarchists is true, but also misleading in a sense. It is my understanding that the Government of God (in eternity and during the millennium) is a theodemocracy, or more accurately, a theorepublic.
Also, all the anarchist comments just illustrate to me how blind many are to how plain the words of the prophets have been on the subject. The Government of God is after the Patriarchal Order, any person who believes otherwise needs to read the Pearl of Great Price carefully.
I always thought of Mosiah’s speech as ruling out the possibility of Monarchy. The key word in the quoted statement being “if” obviously implying that Mosiah does not believe that it is in fact possible to be ruled by righteous kings. Kind of like when people say that Communism would work if it didn’t involve all of the government force and murder, well it does involve that so Communism doesn’t work. The problem with Monarchy isn’t even that we cannot find a man righteous and capable enough to be a king, no the problem arises when he is dead. We have no way of ensuring that his successor will be a righteous man, or that if he is then he will remain so. Just look to David and Solomon for examples on righteous kings becoming wicked.
Also if we take the principles of section 121 as the guide for how a righteous King would lead, and therefore how righteous government of any form would act, then we could not truly associate that with anything which we now understand as government. This would be a government that has rejected force. If it wants me to do or not do something then it will use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love, kindness, pure knowledge. Right now if I fail to pay taxes the government will not kindly and gently persuade me to pay them, they will forcefully demand that I pay them and should I refuse they lock me up or kill me. God’s dominion flow’s unto him, “without compulsory means”. That sounds a lot like the voluntary society that anarcho-capitalist dream of.
Casting out of Heaven? Exercise of private property rights. They don’t behave on his property they have initiated force by so doing and are made to leave. If someone won’t respect your property you have every right to induce them to leave even with force if necessary. Libertarians, especially the anarchist type are concerned with the initiation of violence, they find nothing wrong with just reactions. Mass murder really isn’t so from God’s perspective as he isn’t actually ending the existence of anyone by having the children of Israel whipe out whole nations merely moving them from one place to another. The earth is his property also he can have us leave whenever he wishes.
The fact that Joseph Smith was anointed as a king following the formation of the Council of Fifty, as the JS Papers Project has brought to light, should lay to rest an ambiguities concerning the form of government he espoused. The theocratic vision of the Kingdom of God Joseph and his brethren aspired to was always oriented towards an enlightened monarchy. Orson Hyde prayed for the Jews to receive a king when he dedicated the Holy Land to their restoration. Let us also pray for the children of Ephraim to receive a righteous king to lead us too.