Ezra Taft Benson
Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and un-virtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all of these good qualities. (See D&C 98:10) 1
We must become involved in civic affairs. As citizens of this republic, we cannot do our duty and be idle spectators. It is vital that we follow this counsel from the Lord: “I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil. And I egive unto you a commandment, that ye shall forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, that ye shall live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God” (D&C 98:8–11).
Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities. 2
Men who are wise, good, and honest, who will uphold the Constitution of the United States in the tradition of the Founding Fathers, must be sought for diligently. This is our hope to restore government to its rightful role.
I fully believe that we can turn things around in America if we have the determination, the morality, the patriotism, and the spirituality to do so. . . .
. . . I further witness that this land — the Americas — must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church and bearers of His priesthood to do all we can to preserve our liberty. 3
Gordon B. Hinckley
The Book of Mormon narrative is a chronicle of nations long since gone. But in its descriptions of the problems of today’s society, it is as current as the morning newspaper and much more definitive, inspired, and inspiring concerning the solutions of those problems. I know of no other writing which sets forth with such clarity the tragic consequences to societies that follow courses contrary to the commandments of God. Its pages trace the stories of two distinct civilizations that flourished on the Western Hemisphere. Each began as a small nation, its people walking in the fear of the Lord. But with prosperity came growing evils. The people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders who oppressed them with burdensome taxes, who lulled them with hollow promises, who countenanced and even encouraged loose and lascivious living. These evil schemers led the people into terrible wars that resulted in the death of millions and the final and total extinction of two great civilizations in two different eras. 4
Can we doubt that there is a sickness in our society? We cannot build prisons, even here, fast enough to accommodate the need. We have in this nation more than a million people in prison. The number is constantly increasing. Why is this happening? I believe that a substantial factor in all of this is that we as a nation are forsaking the Almighty, and He is forsaking us…. A recent poll indicated that a majority of Americans believe that the private lives of public officials need not be considered as a factor in their eligibility for public office. How far we have come from the time of George Washington, who stated in that first inaugural address the mandate “that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality. 5
I am confident that so long as we have more politicians than statesmen, we shall have problems. 6
Words of Mormon 1:17-18
For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—
Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.
And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.
2 Nephi 13:12
“O my people,” said Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, “they who lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths.”
Mosiah 23:9-12, 14, 17
But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;
Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.
Nevertheless, in this I do not glory, for I am unworthy to glory of myself.
And now I say unto you, ye have been oppressed by king Noah, and have been in bondage to him and his priests, and have been brought into iniquity by them; therefore ye were bound with the bands of iniquity.
And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.
And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men.
And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.
And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous king to rule over them;
Yea, all his iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated—telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God.
Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of Amlici; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
Therefore, if it were possible that Amlici should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God.
Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.
We believe that all governments necessarily require civil officers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites–in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon the will and appetite is placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters. 7
We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. 8
Before any man can be considered as a member of civil society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governor of the Universe. 9
I’ve lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: That God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We’ve been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. 10
The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way
to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to
regulate your life by its precepts.
Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as
well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer
Christians for their rulers. 11
To vote for wicked men, it would be sin. 12
- The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner, page 30.
- Ezra Taft Benson, CHB 28-31
- Ezra Taft Benson, “A Witness and a Warning” 33
- Gordon B. Hinckley, First Presidency Message, Ensign, August 2005.
- Provo City Community Centennial Service, August 4, 1996.
- “Be Positive,” Young Single Adult Fireside, BYU Marriott Center, March 6, 1994.
- Edmund Burke, Works 4:51-52.
- John Adams, Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6; The Works of John Adams (Boston, 1854), vol. 9, pp. 228-9.
- James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments (1785)
- Benjamin Franklin, Speech to the Constitutional Convention (28 June 1787); Manuscript notes by Franklin preserved in the Library of Congress
- John Jay, [i]John Jay: The Winning of the Peace[/i]. Unpublished Papers 1780-1784, Richard B. Morris, editor (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1980), Vol. II, p. 709, to Peter Augustus Jay on April 8, 1784.
- Hyrum Smith, Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 323.