One of the most scandalous things that an LDS lover of liberty can say to another person in a heated political conversation is : “Amen to your priesthood.” I’ve said it before. It’s no way to make friends or win an argument, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not true.
In 2010, LDS Liberty published an article talking about how unrighteous dominion can cause us to lose our priesthood. It is one of the most read LDS Liberty articles ever published.
D&C section 121 establishes under what principles the power of the Lord will function:
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
I would like to add a new dimension to this understanding of lost priesthood. Let me prime your mind with a good general principle of government supplied by president, and prophet Ezra Taft Benson in his talk ‘The Constitution – A Heavenly Banner’:
“By deriving its just powers from the governed, government becomes primarily a mechanism for defense against bodily harm, theft, and involuntary servitude. It cannot claim the power to redistribute money or property nor to force reluctant citizens to perform acts of charity against their will. Government is created by the people. No individual possesses the power to take another’s wealth or to force others to do good, so no government has the right to do such things either. The creature cannot exceed the creator.”
This principle that government, chartered by men for protection of their rights, cannot act in a way that any individual man also may not act is a principle for all people. It is not specific to the operations of the priesthood because it is universal in application.
Government, done righteously, is a collective manifestation of what any individual man can do. Is there a difference between what a man can do and what God may do? Yes there is.
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
This power which God has is known as the priesthood.
We know from section 121 that priesthood cannot be used in any degree of unrighteousness and we also know that man cannot rightfully coerce his fellow man through government because that authority hasn’t been granted to any man. So, what does a priesthood holder do when he commits something that nobody is authorized to do by supporting unrighteous dominion?
1. He finds himself in violation of the commandments or in sin. Thus he also:
2. Finds himself in violation of priesthood principles, which can only operate under principles of righteousness.
When one sins, not only does he willfully fall short of the expectations that God has for all people, but also actively denies his covenant to be a tool in the hands of God solving a given problem His way. He has essentially walked away from the priesthood by his own free will.
I’m not sure if it smarts less to tell someone that God has taken away his priesthood or that he has left it. Nevertheless, fact of the matter is this: Anyone who harbors the expectation of acting in the name of the Lord whilst also insisting upon participating in something he knows to be in direct violation of the principles in D&C 121, is deluding himself.
Let me review a basic principle in light of this discussion:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
When the Lord gives any commandment to the children of men that limits what they may or may not do, he is also limiting what men may do collectively to obtain certain ends. This is in keeping with the principle that the creature cannot exceed the creator.
When this same perfect being gives a mandate that men must act to help others, feed the hungry and further good causes in this world, does he expect us to do so by abandoning the restrictions he has placed on human action? According to Nephi, he provides the means by which all good things may be accomplished in righteousness. It is also found in D&C 121:
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
This is where faith enters the picture. We must have faith as men and as holders of the priesthood of God that all good things can and will be accomplished by righteous means. If we resort to justifying unprincipled government action because we have a “good reason”, are we not declaring that we do not believe? Are we not telling our Father that we know better than He? What good is our priesthood then, if we know better than God? Are we not walking away from the power of God when we use the arm of flesh to break the commandments….in the name of ‘the good’ no less? Not only does it strip us of our priesthood and our salvation, but it is also foolish. It’s especially daft since adhering to the previous verses in D&C 121 works much better:
And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.
Why is it again that many are called but few are chosen? We spurn the revealed words in the scriptures in favor of the vain imaginations of men. When we read them, we fool ourselves into thinking that they either don’t apply to us or that they mean something different. We allow the father of lies to make us feel that we don’t have the righteous power to change anything. Even worse, we assume that because everyone else is wicked, that we shall be given a pass. We reject our priesthood by authorizing’ government to do things which are contrary to the eternal law which is our responsibility to preach. We join the masses of people deluded into working against our the plan of our Father in Heaven.
Why are many called but few chosen? It is because we reject the priesthood.
Elders of Israel: It is time to awaken and arise. It is time to save the Constitution, build the kingdom and build Zion.
Image: LDS Media Library