Sunday, March 2, 2014

"All Men Are Created Equal" But How?

We belong to a marvelous Church in which we all get invitations from time to time to teach, lead, participate and grow and learn.  We are all amateurs, but we do receive incredible instruction on how to do things better.

David M. McConkie
Here's a sampling of the instruction teachers in the Church have received, as recently as last General Conference from David M. McConkie, 1st Counselor in the Sunday School General Presidency. He titled his remarks "Teaching with the Power and Authority of God". Seriously, if we aren't teaching this way, why bother?

"First, it means that you are on the Lord’s errand. You are His agent, and you are authorized and commissioned to represent Him and to act on His behalf. As His agent, you are entitled to His help. You must ask yourself, 'What would the Savior say if He were teaching my class today, and how would He say it?' You must then do likewise.

"This responsibility may cause some to feel inadequate or even somewhat fearful. The pathway is not difficult. The Lord has provided the way for every worthy Latter-day Saint to teach in the Savior’s way.

"Second, you are called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. You must not teach your own ideas or philosophy, even mingled with scriptures. The gospel is 'the power of God unto salvation,'  (Romans 1:16) and it is only through the gospel that we are saved.

"Third, you are commanded to teach the principles of the gospel as they are found in the standard works of the Church, to teach the words of modern-day apostles and prophets, and to teach that which is taught you by the Holy Ghost." (emphasis mine).

I wonder if we haven't all participated in lessons in the Church almost near-adoration is expressed for the great strides Satan is making in the last days to undermine the gospel. Little or no inspiration from the God of Heaven is to be found whenever we congratulate Satan on his success among us. Oh, and by the way, does ANYONE know what will happen thirty years from now? Can we say for a fact that if the trends continue, we will be completely apostate and Satan will have won? When we are so determined to bear testimony about the works of Satan, and when we ignore the word of God, how can we expect to be edified together in a meeting like that? (See D&C 84:110).

This world is filled with sophistry, even in our chapels of worship, and continually we are reminded of the false doctrines abounding in society. It's as though we would give credence to those who would assert atheism equates to belief in God. Let's give everyone equal time, even if they stand in opposition to the revealed word of God. Being the true Christians we are, so the reasoning goes, we must grant equal time for the devil's advocates. Call me whatever you like, but I reject that idea.

I reflected during Sunday School hour about how contorted this idea of "equality" has become since the founding of America. When the founders wrote in our core document, the Declaration of Independence, and they said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. . . ,” what did they have in mind? It would be fool-hearty indeed to suggest they meant all men are equal in all things, and yet that seems to be the direction our rudderless godless society has drifted in recent years.

Today's sophists would have us believe that even in matters of marriage there must be equality - that a marriage between members of the same sex must be defined in the law as being equal to a marriage between members of the opposite sex. There is a true doctrine associated with equality between the sexes, and you'll find it here.

Do you suppose the Founders meant all men and women should be born into the same social stratus? Do you think they meant all men and women should have equal sized estates and financial acuity? Such interpretations fly in the face of even the most casual observations of the human condition. Even the founders, drawing upon their own life experiences, would have never made a declaration so simplistic and absurd on its face. It's illogical. Each of the Founders came from diverse backgrounds, opportunities for education and vastly differing degrees of success in the accumulation of varying degrees of wealth, position and influence.

If you accept that everyone should be equal in all things including marriage, would you also assert the Founders meant all men and women were equally talented in all things? Would all people have equal musical talents, writing abilities, intellectual gifts, all dispensed with equality for all? Would there be a state religion where all men and women had the identical belief about the doctrine of Christ? Why not? If we make them equal in marriage status, why wouldn't we make them equal in EVERYTHING else? Isn't that what God would do? Wouldn't that be fair and equal? And then the final step, the coup d'etat, putting the final nail in the coffin of moral agency and representative republic - let's make the state the God of equality and justice for all. All that final step requires is a benevolent dictator, and voila - a new King is crowned.

Would any of the Founders have asserted the civil government should be delegated the duty to make certain all this was accomplished with the even-handed judgment of a King Solomon? Not on your life! Your own human experience, whatever it is, would deny these assertions on their face. They are idiotic ideas, aren't they? And yet we continue to give audience to all these false doctrines in the dedicated houses of worship where we meet each week. It is astounding to me!

Franklin, Adams, Jefferson drafting the
Declaration of Independence
My reading of what happened in the Continental Congress when all these inspired men from all the Colonies got together and agreed to sign the Declaration of Independence, is very different than what I am hearing all around me today. I would assert as forcefully as I know how that the Founders meaning in that statement suggests all men were created as equally accountable to God under God's Law. Easy to say, but how would you buttress that assertion? Here's another author who understands the principles involved.

Why would I suggest they were writing of equal accountability under God's Law? The simple answer is that words have meaning and the plainer the words, the easier it is to understand what words are meant to convey. Remember, we have not only the words of the Declaration of Independence, but many of the Founders continued to write and leave behind a rich legacy of their meaning and their interpretation of those words for us. Thomas Jefferson wrote these lines, sometimes forgotten in our emotional and misguided debates today from the first paragraph, which states:

Thomas Jefferson
“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” (emphasis is mine).

In this opening paragraph, the Founders were setting before their readers a fundamental and universal truth that God's law would be their standard. Emphatically, they asserted citizens, but also all civil servants tasked with the work of the government, were accountable to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God." They apparently did not believe in separation of God and state. All we do, they asserted, was to be done in our interactions with one another under the all-seeing eye of God to whom we are all ultimately accountable.

Then later in the main body of the Declaration's text, they enumerated the egregious wrongs King George had inflicted upon them in violation of what? The Law of God. The colonists through their elected representatives made a compelling argument these violations by King George could no longer imbue him with their allegiance nor loyalty to his civil rule over them. King George, they remonstrated, had stepped out of his role as being subject to "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" and therefore they were justified in severing alliances with England and going their own way. It was a fundamental religious argument at the root of the Declaration of Independence.

Simply put, King George had moved so far away from all that was just and holy in God's Law, the colonists could not at once be under God's authority, accountable to Him and also to King George. The two were too far apart. Let's not forget how radical such an idea was in the hundreds of years before that time in England, when it was asserted the King was the Law of God on earth. England held inviolate the doctrine of "Rex Lex" - “the King is Law.” So misguided were they in those days they had come to construe passages like Romans 13 to assert that whatever the King did was what God had inspired him to do. Did you catch a comment Barack Obama made a couple of weeks ago, when he asserted those who supported the Democratic Party were "doing the work of God"? Barack "Rex Lex" Obama.

Samuel Rutherford
It would take centuries, but ultimately over the course of the 1600s, men like Samuel Rutherford began thinking in a correct way. Rutherford suggested a new interpretation he called "Lex Rex" - “the Law is King.” He put forth the idea there was only one God of Heaven to which men were accountable, and no King on earth could assert that claim to the throne. The fathers of the Reformation noticed from their studies of the Bible that all men are equally sinful before a righteous God and all men, even Kings, are equally accountable to the absolute Law of God. Along came King Charles I, who began imprisoning people without cause and tried dissolving Parliament. By then the people were wisened and took action. He was beheaded. Leaders would come along, Oliver Cromwell being one of many, who would explain King Charles I had violated the Law of God and exceeded his jurisdiction.

These are not just stodgy old stories without meaning and without application in our day. Indeed, they are as fresh as today's headlines. Our Founders were bold enough remind the world that God governs in the affairs of men. That fact alone helped them find the courage to defy the King who was a law breaker. God's Law. They were full of such faith and “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” that they were not afraid to pledge their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor.

Joseph Smith
Rather than giving equal time to stupidity, especially in our houses of worship where we come for inspiration and edification on the Sabbath Day, let us herewith resolve to honor the legacy of our Founders and the Prophet of the Restoration. Let us promote and defend the truth that all men and women are equally accountable before God and His Word. Section 78 of the Doctrine and Covenants lays out the Lord's plan for making all men equal in earthly things through voluntary contributions, and that is something very different than government confiscating personal property through taxes then allocating in their all-wise interpretation of "equality".

Under God's Law, every man and woman is accountable to God’s Word “without respect of persons.” (Romans 2:11). That means there are no exceptions, no special dispensations for sinners, since we are all equally sinful under the same terms of salvation and acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer through His perfection and grace. (Moroni 10:32-33).

That's what it means to be equal in all things in God's eyes, not to have civil servants who become dictators and dispense equality as they happen to interpret its meaning for us.

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