12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
The 12th article of faith is one that speaks about our role in relation to government. We have a responsiblity to be loyal to the governments which over see us. This article talks about honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. What is our role and how do we do this.
Amongst libertarian circles which I am part of this can come off as arguing that we should just obey without question. I don’t believe that is the point of this article however. As a libertarian I believe in speaking up against wrongful and corrupt laws within the country, city or province that I live in, however that does not mean that I believe that I can pick and choose which laws I want to obey based on whether I agree that they are good or bad, for or against liberty and freedom.
If you are passionate about defending freedoms from oppressive laws, many of which I would rather not have to obey, like I am it is important to remember that we can hardly help to defend the freedoms and liberties if we are in prison.
Like every law or commandment there are always exceptions but only in extreme cases should we disobey a law.
Being subject to kings, presidents, magistrates is not only a reality of life but necessary. This has been shown time and time again throughout scriptural history. Through the bible and Book of Mormon there has always been a form of government brought out by the people with which the stories take place. Whether that is kings or judges, or other forms of government.
Mankind has alway’s been subject to rulers in one form or another and for any society that functions at all we must have a leader and government to do so effectively. This applies not only within the church but within our nations in a secular environment as well. Even within our own homes there is government with the leadership of the home being the parents and the subjects of that home government being the children.
Businesses have government (aka management) within them as well outlining the rules of conduct of its employees and interactions with their customers. Failure to comply with any form or level of government results in unpleasant consequences.
For minarchist like myself the roles of that government should however, be limited to the most basic and neccessary roles for the functioning of soceity. That is protecting our rights and liberties. We are however still subject to even for those who live within the most libertarian leaning governments.
Our loving father in heaven wants us to be as free as we can be under whatever government we reside under. To achieve this objective we must ensure we are living within the law to the best of our ability so that we can use whatever legal means we have to spread the message of the gospel or otherwise.
There are certainly times when civil disobedience is important and like I mentioned earlier this is not about obeying the law no matter what. Many throughout the history of the world and certainly in North American history have used civil disobedience to spark drastic change. Rosa parks refusing to give up her seat, people who help with the underground railroad and freed the slaves, the translators of the bible into english were all acts of civil disobedience. These are examples of extreme cases and serve as the exception to the rule rather than a reason to be disobedient to the law.
I do not believe that God expects us to simply submit to unjust and evil men just because they are the leaders we have in place now, But I do believe that God expects us to be obedient to all laws that do not put us in a place to contradict the gospel standard and that support liberty and freedom.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew.