Why Do Mormons believe the Constitution of the United States was inspired by God?
To a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there are few principles as important as the principle of “agency.” Agency is a gift from God to allow us personal growth through liberty and choice. In life, we choose what to be and how to live. God sent His Son Jesus Christ to free us from the bondage of sin and give us liberty through the gospel, but he also knew that oppressive governments would never allow the gospel to flourish. Totalitarian states create systems of control over their populations such that the right to worship is restricted or controlled.
Consider the case of the early settlers of this country. Many of them fled England because their natural rights were being violated. They had no freedom to worship God as they saw fit. To hold political office and influence laws, one had to be a member of the state church, the Church of England.
The Land of Promise
Ancient prophets on the American continent had great views of latter-day America. They saw things concerning the destiny of this country and how God would use it as a base of freedom, both religiously and politically, and called this country “the land of promise.” These prophesies are recorded in The Book of Mormon, another witness of Jesus Christ, and a companion volume of scripture to the Holy Bible.
One such prophet named Nephi, saw in vision the events that would lead up to the founding of this nation. He recorded in 1 Nephi 13 the following events (red text are my comments):
Discovery of America by Columbus
10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles (Europeans) from the seed of my brethren (native Americans).
11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
12 And I looked and beheld a man (Columbus) among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten (Some settlers like Cortez wreaked devastation on the American continents).
The people flourish and are righteous
15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.
16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.
The Revolutionary War
17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.
18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.
19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.
Nephi sees they have the Bible
20 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.
21 And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book?
22 And I said unto him: I know not.
23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass (these plates were records that Nephi’s family brought from Jerusalem and contained the ancient scriptures from Adam to the time of Jeremiah), save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
The U.S. Constitution
In 1787 the 13 separate states became a nation with the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. At this moment in history, the Lord brought together an amazing group of men to create a document that would ensure political freedom and guarantee rights to life, liberty, and property.
Modern Day Revelation Affirms the Constitution
In 1820, the Lord opened the heavens in answer to a young boy’s prayer and called him to be a prophet just like prophets were called anciently. His name was Joseph Smith and the revelations he received are recorded in a book of scripture the LDS church uses in conjunction with the Bible and Book of Mormon. That book is known as the Doctrine & Covenants because it contains doctrine and instruction in the covenants of the Lord. There are several references in those revelations to this nation and its founding as well.
4 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.
5 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.
6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;
7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.
8 I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
77 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;
78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, [block]17[/block]
79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.
80 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 109:54 (This is from the dedicatory prayer for the Kirtland, Ohio temple)
54 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.
But what about slavery?
Observant readers will notice in D&C 101:79 the Lord says it is not right that man should be in bondage to each other, and yet some say slavery was written into the constitution. At the time our country was founded, we never would have gotten the constitution passed unless there was a provision for the South to keep their slaves. They would never have ratified the document. The 3/5ths clause in the constitution has caused many people to stumble in their understanding that the document was a document of freedom.
The South wanted greater representation in congress and so they wanted to count their slaves as people for purposes of representation in congress. The North then said if the South was going to count slaves, which the South regarded as property, the North would use other objects of property such as animals to increase their representation. This led to a compromise position where the constitution would count 3/5ths of a slave as a person for purposes of representation and thus the anti-slavery North would retain greater representation. It had nothing to do with black men being only worth 3/5ths the value of a white man. It was inherently an anti-slave position to reduce the power of the pro-slavery South if they fully counted slaves. (Click to watch a video clip by David Barton and Glenn Beck to see this explanation)
America is the Promised Land
With the Constitution established, this country became a place of hope and freedom, attracting immigrants from around the world to come and live their dreams in an environment where they could flourish. Their desires to worship God blessed their lives and rooted them in a choice land.
To summarize, in the LDS faith, we believe the Lord prepared this land for a glorious purpose. He established it as a place where political freedom would maximize individual liberty and allow for a restoration of His gospel under the protection of the inspired Constitution. Most people that have never read the Book of Mormon have no idea what it actually contains. They have no idea that it is a Book of Scripture from ancient American prophets who saw our day and wrote the book especially for us. They not only preach the gospel of Jesus Christ as a second witness to the Bible, but also discuss principles of government and the destiny of this nation. I encourage you to get a free copy of the Book of Mormon and read it for yourself. I know anyone who reads it and asks God with an honest heart if it is true will receive an answer that it is.
This was part 2 of a 2 part series. Click here to read part 1, “Is the United States in the Bible?”
What does the Book of Mormon teach about Jesus Christ?