To read part one, click here.
Although the Constitution was not perfect and certain compromises were made in order to get it ratified, the men who brought it forth did a number of things incredibly well.
The founders were wise men. They understood this eternal truth: “. . . it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, … they immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion” (D&C 121:39). In order to guard against its misuse, they attempted to separate, define, and restrain the power of government.
The Constitution also did a remarkable job at preserving man’s agency. Of course, agency is a big thorn in the side of the adversary, so he opposes and seeks to destroy anything that preserves it.
While Satan will never pass up an opportunity to corrupt an individual, his most efficient method for impacting the most people (and disrupting the kingdom of God) is through earthly governments. This provides him with the means to carry out his plans on a “wholesale level.” Using government, he can impact the agency of millions with a single decree or the stroke of a pen.
President Joseph Fielding Smith explained, “Satan has control now. No matter where you look, he is in control, even in our own land. He is guiding the governments as far as the Lord will permit him. That is why there is so much strife, turmoil, confusion all over the earth. One master mind is governing the nations. It is not the President of the United States…it is not the king or government of England or any other land; it is Satan himself.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, pp. 314-315)
Just as Christ does, Satan recruits volunteers to help him with his work. He seduces them with promises of power, wealth, fame, and pleasure, as well as “freedom” from accountability. In order to minimize resistance, he works behind the scenes. He is very persistent and patient.
One day I was working in the orchard at the inn and happened to lean on a fence post. Suddenly, the post snapped off right at the ground. Upon closer inspection I noticed the inside of the post had been eaten away by termites. It looked like Lacy Swiss cheese. Termites feed on wood pulp. They don’t like light. They stay below the surface, out of sight, careful not to break through the exterior surface of the wood and expose themselves to sunlight. If they find their way into the framework of a house, they will, over time, weaken and destroy the integrity of the house.
Termites are a problem in many areas. Once you understand the nature of the threat and know what to look for, you can spot the telltale signs of problems. But since termites work below the surface, once the damage becomes visible on the outside, it is often too late. The damage has already been done.
President Heber G. Grant once told the saints in General Conference, “[Satan] plans to destroy liberty and freedom — economic, political, and religious, and to set up in place thereof the greatest, most widespread, and most complete tyranny that has ever oppressed men. He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods” (October 1942 General Conference).
From this and other such warnings, it sounds to me like we have a termite problem in America.
Of the many titles used to describe the adversary, another one we could add to the list is “the father of termites.”
We can learn a great deal about “spiritual termites” from reading the Book of Mormon. In Ether chapter 8, Moroni explains that they were the cause of the destruction of both the Jaredite and Nephite nations. Then he warns us that in our day they would also seek to seek to overthrow, not only the freedom of this land, but all lands, nations, and countries. (Ether 8:21-25)
As Americans we lean heavily upon the Constitution to safe guard our God-given freedoms and to provide us with religious liberty. Although that important document appears to be mostly intact (on the outside), if you look closely you will see signs of damage. It is beginning to crack.
The prophet Joseph Smith once predicted, this nation would be on “the very verge of crumbling to pieces”… with “the Constitution upon the brink of ruin.” Are we approaching that time? Perhaps that question is best answered by considering how the Constitution is regarded today.
There are those who feel that the American Constitution is nothing more than a product of the Eighteenth Century agrarian society. It is now obsolete — even one of our Supreme Court Justices has suggested that other nations should no longer look to the US Constitution for guidance, because there are other better options now available.
And said J. Rueben Clark, “Do not think that these usurpations, intimidations, and impositions are being done to us through inadvertence or mistake; The whole course is deliberately planned and carried out; its purpose is to destroy the Constitution and our government; then to bring chaos, out of which the new Statism, with its slavery, is to arise” (as quoted in Ezra Taft Benson’s 1966 BYU Devotional, “Our Immediate Responsibility“).
What is the solution to these threats to our Constitution and our freedom?
Does it rely on getting a certain person in the White House? Passing a particular law or another Amendment?
The solution, I believe, is not in reforming the Constitution, but in reforming the people.
If we ever hope to reverse the current negative trends, we must begin with ourselves, in our homes, working from the bottom up. This is the same method we use in the Church. The responsibility lies with each of us. We need to learn, understand, and uphold those principles that preserve agency and accountability. If we don’t, no elected leader (or group of leaders) will ever be able to correct our course.
Don’t get me wrong; it is important to elect good leaders and pass good laws, but if we think we will fix things from the top down, we are kidding ourselves. This solution appeals because it puts the responsibility on someone or something else. It would be nice to think we could elect a few key people and then stand back and watch as they set everything right, but it won’t happen that way.
We, in this church, have a special obligation and duty. It is rumored that Joseph Smith said something to the effect of, “This people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction.” If this is the case, are we prepared to do this?
Perhaps, this task will fall to our children. Who is teaching and preparing them to lead the cause? Will they be sufficiently prepared?
There are misguided (and even corrupt) leaders in positions of power. Yes, modern day Gadiantons are among us, and they are doing the same thing that was done in Book of Mormon times; continually stirring up the people to war; changing the laws to make what is evil acceptable and what is righteous intolerable; appointing corrupt judges that allow the wicked to go free; removing restraints and calling it “freedom”; corrupting the morals of the people, and even “seduc[ing] the more part of the righteous until they [have] come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils” (Helaman 6:38).
These words by President Benson are thought provoking: “If America is destroyed, it may be by Americans who salute the flag, sing the national anthem, march in patriotic parades, …but Americans who fail to comprehend what is required to keep our country strong and free—Americans who have been lulled away into a false security” (Conf. Report April 1968).
Threats to agency, freedom, and religious liberty come in many forms — some are external, like those described above, while others are more internal, such as personal corruption and apathy. We must guard against both.
Apathy and other diversions (such as an insatiable appetite for entertainment) keep many able-bodied soldiers on the sidelines. All that we hold dear – “our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” – are at risk.
“We are all enlisted till the conflict is o’er… come join the ranks, come join the ranks” (Hymn No. 250 “We Are All Enlisted”).
So, what is the greatest thing you can do for your country?
When faced with a serious “termite” problem, Nephite governor Lachoneus went to great lengths to protect his people. Despite all their many preparations, he knew on whom their deliverance relied, and he pled with his people, “As the Lord liveth, except ye repent of all your iniquities, and cry unto the Lord, ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton robbers” (3 Nephi 3:15).
As we repent and seek to cleanse the inner vessel, we are choosing Christ and choosing liberty!
And what is the most patriotic thing you can do for your country?
Nephi, who saw our day and the turmoil and unrest there would be among the nations, reassured his brethren, “Because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power . . . and the Holy One of Israel . . . will preserve the righteous by his power . . . Wherefore, the righteous need not fear” (1 Nephi 22:26).
The greatest thing you can do for yourself, your family, and your country is live righteously. When the people are righteous, righteous leaders get elected, good laws are upheld, and the nation prospers.
The powers of discernment, the ability to receive personal revelation, and the protection of Heaven are all dependent upon righteousness. In the difficult times in which we live, our reliance on these will steadily increase “till the conflict is o’er.”
We’ve drifted from the well-defined and limited government the founders envisioned. It has taken us over 200 years to get where we are today: where God has been completely removed from public schools and public places, where evil men seek to make pornography “public” and religious practice “private,” where millions of unborn children have their lives terminated under the pretense of “freedom,” where a powerful, worldwide conspiracy seeks to extinguish the flame of Liberty in this land as well as the rest of the world.
We have our work cut out for us, but we are not alone.
We know that in the end, Christ will be victorious. The kingdom of God will not be overthrown, but things will continue to get a bit bumpy along the way. As we preserve agency and accountability, we are choosing Christ and defending liberty, which is our only hope to weather the storm and come out victorious on the other side.
May we not shrink from our duty. Remember the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.