The Philosophy of Men Against the Wisdom of God
Latter-day Saints seeking to return to the sound constitutional principles of the Framers are constantly confronted by the point of view that times have changed and that the principles of the Framers are no longer applicable. In fact, one usually hears plausible sounding reasons why the constitutional system established by God through the Framers cannot work in this day. But Latter-day Saints hearing those arguments should bear firmly in mind that they are hearing the wisdom of men criticizing the wisdom of God.
The Counterfeit Wisdom of the World
Although the wise of the world praise each other and receive honors of men, Latter-day Saints should not be deceived by this show of wisdom, but should look to the record. The record shows that their wisdom is only in appearance and not in substance, because it consistently fails. Concerning the effectiveness of the wisdom of the world the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote:
The world itself presents one great theater of misery, woe and "distress of nations with perplexity." All, all, speak with a voice of thunder, that man is not able to govern himself, to legislate for himself, to protect himself, to promote his own good, nor the good of the world.(1)
Attempts to promote universal peace and happiness in the human family have proved abortive; every effort has failed every plan and design has fallen to the ground.(2) [p. 154]
Sources of Counterfeit Wisdom
The popular political ideas taught as sound in most schools, urged by most politicians, and favored by most communications media, come from two principal sources. The first of these two sources is the learned and prominent men of the world, of whom the prophet Jacob wrote:
O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they harken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not.(3)
The second principal source of the popular political philosophy of the world is those who are consciously conspiring to overthrow our free constitutional system. All Latter-day Saints should carefully study an extremely important pamphlet entitled Statements on Communism and the Constitution of the United States, by President David O. McKay, from which the following statements are taken:
There is another danger even more menacing than the threat of invasion. . . . It is the unpatriotic activities and underhanded scheming of disloyal groups and organizations within our own borders . . . the secret, seditious scheming of an enemy within our ranks, hypocritically professing loyalty to the government, and at the same time plotting against it, is more difficult to deal with.(4)
I mentioned Communism in its war against individual liberty and free enterprise as surreptitiously sowing poisonous seeds within the body politic.(5)
The popular political philosophy of the world promoted by both the worldly wise and the communist conspirators is essentially the same. This is to be expected because both receive their inspiration from the same source, [p. 155] the usurper Satan, who is temporarily permitted to exercise dominion as "the god of this world."(6)
Sound Political Principles Unlike Popular Political Philosophy
The Prophet Joseph Smith pointed out that sound political principles are very different from the popular political philosophy of the world.
The government of the Almighty has always been very dissimilar to the governments of men, whether we refer to His religious government, or to the government of nations. The government of God has always tended to promote peace, unity, harmony, strength, and happiness; while that of man has been productive of confusion, disorder, weakness, and misery.(7)
Furthermore, Latter-day Saints should not expect the worldly wise to accept or even understand sound principles since these can only be understood through the Spirit of the Lord. Lacking that spirit, the worldly wise will receive their inspiration from another source, and will regard foolishness as truth, and truth as foolishness. This fact was expressed by Paul, who wrote:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.(8)
Latter-day Saints Should Interpret the Constitution the Way They Interpret Scripture
There is a special reason Latter-day Saints should reject the popular political philosophy of the world. That reason arises out of the fact that it is their belief that the Framers acted under inspiration in designing the Constitution. Hence, Latter-day Saints have a duty to support the Constitution as originally intended by the Framers. This attitude [p. 156] toward the Constitution was expressed by J. Reuben Clark in these words:
To me, that statement of the Lord, "I have established the Constitution of this land," puts the Constitution of the United States in the position in which it would be if it were written in this book of Doctrine and Covenants itself. This makes the Constitution the word of the Lord to us.(9)
If a person recognizes the Constitution as being of the nature of scripture, then he should interpret it as scripture is interpreted. How does one interpret scripture? Clearly, he does not interpret it correctly if he ignores both the words and the known intent of the writer and instead gives the words a meaning in harmony with currently popular philosophy but contrary to the intent of the prophet who wrote them. Such a method of interpretation amounts to nothing less than rejecting the word of the Lord in favor of the futile wisdom of men.
How then should scripture be interpreted? First, the task should be approached with an attitude of prayerful humility and faith and a willingness to accept the counsel of the prophets even if contrary to one's preconceived beliefs. Next, the words must be studied for their natural, ordinary meaning, particularly in the light of their context. In addition to their written context, the words should be considered in the light of the writer's intent or objective and other related principles of the gospel and other statements on the same or similar subjects by the same writer.
When Latter-day Saints recognize the Constitution as a form of scripture and interpret it as such, they find themselves returning to the intended constitutional system as established by the Lord. They also see clearly that the many changes made by interpretation under the false doctrine of flexibility of the Constitution amount to nothing short of rejection of the real Constitution and the substitution by uninspired men of a different system made of the [p. 157] popular philosophy of men mingled with some of the words of the original Constitution.
Socialism Contrary To True Interpretation of Constitution
Furthermore, when Latter-day Saints interpret the Constitution as scripture is interpreted, they also see clearly that the constitutional system, with its free enterprise economy and solid recognition of private property as a God given and unalienable aspect of freedom, is utterly contrary to socialism. Since the two systems are incompatible, faithful Latter-day Saints will reject the popular political philosophy of men and will cleave to the Constitution as written and intended by the Framers. This thought was well expressed by Marion G. Romney, an apostle, a lawyer, and a former Democratic office holder when he reminded Latter-day Saints of their "duty to eschew socialism and support the . . . Constitution as directed by the Lord . . . ."(10)
Socialism Based On Satan's Philosophy of Equality
Actually, socialism is really an outgrowth of Satan's philosophy of equality which is the opposite and a counterfeit of the true gospel philosophy of equality. The true philosophy of equality is that all people are equal in the sight of God in that He is no respecter of persons. This means that each person will be judged and rewarded or condemned according to what he himself did, regardless of who he is or who his ancestors may have been.
As the scriptures point out, a necessary consequence of the true philosophy of equality is that men are likely to be unequal in all other respects. This is because individual differences will result in each person performing differently and receiving a different reward or condemnation.(11) [p. 158]
On the other hand, Satan's counterfeit philosophy of equality is the opposite. It seeks to equalize rewards regardless of individual performance. It is often expressed in terms of taking from those who have and giving to those who have notthat is, using compulsion to share the wealth. Instead of the gospel philosophy of rewards and condemnation based on individual performance, it proposes no condemnation but only equal rewards for all regardless of individual performance.(12)
This means that under Satan's false philosophy of equality men will not be equal in the sense of being judged fairly according to a single standard and receiving what they deserve. Since men will perform differently, equalizing rewards will require the use of the compulsory power of the state to take from some a reward they merit in order to give others a reward they don't merit.(13) This will violate the gospel philosophy of equality or fairness in judgment since it will mean that some will be judged by a more lenient standard than is applied to others. [p. 159]
Furthermore, from a false temporal philosophy, Satan's philosophy of equality spills over into a false and treacherous religious philosophy. This is the popular philosophy of the world that regardless of a person's efforts all are going to the same place and all will receive the same reward in the next lifealthough many who accept this philosophy do not believe that there is a life after death.
Instead of looking to socialism to solve problems, Latter-day Saints should be grateful that the lessons of socialism have confirmed the inspiration of their prophets, and particularly the Framers in rejecting socialism both as economically unsound and as leading to loss of freedom. [p. 160] [p. 161]