The Rule of Law
Marion G. Romney, “The Rule of Law,” Ensign, Feb 1973, 2
The Lord has said that “there is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:20–21.)
It would seem from this declaration that there is no permanent progress made in any field or in any place except it be through obedience to the governing law. We know this is true in the heavens, because the Lord has said:
“… that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
“That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin [sin being the breaking of the law], and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. …
“For … judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
“And … he hath given a law unto all things, by which they move in their times and their seasons;
“And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth, which comprehend the earth and all the planets.” (D&C 88:34–35, 40, 42–43).
This scripture tells us that all things in God’s economy, even those which to us seem inanimate, obey the laws by which they are governed.
“… the earth [for example] abideth the law of a celestial kingdom, for it filleth the measure of its creation, and transgresseth not the law.” (D&C 88:25.)
“Therefore, … it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father;
“That bodies who are of the celestial kingdom may possess it forever and ever; …
“And they who are not sanctified through the law which I have given unto you, even the law of Christ [which is his gospel—the perfect law of liberty], must inherit another kingdom, …
“For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.
“And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.
“And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory. …” (D&C 88:19–24.)
How blessed are Latter-day Saints to be assured by the revealed word of God that there will be no capriciousness in the world to come; that the rule of law is irrevocable; that every soul will be rewarded according to the law he has obeyed; that all divine law is as immutable as the law of gravity; that it is the same yesterday, today, and forever; that judgment will be mercifully administered, but that it will be administered pursuant to law, and that it will not rob justice. Not only are Latter-day Saints blessed by having this knowledge concerning “the rule of law”; they are twice blessed by having both a knowledge and an understanding of the laws by which they are to be judged.
In light of our knowledge of “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), how shortsighted, how foolish, how tragic it would be if we were to fail to obey that law.
“The law of Christ” is all-inclusive. It concerns not only rules that shall govern beyond the grave, but also the law of nature here and now—local, national, and international.
Latter-day Saints should strictly obey the laws of the government in which they live. By our own declaration of faith we are committed to do so, for we declare to the world that “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (A of F 1:12.)
This we do in harmony with the Lord’s command:
“Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.
“Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet.” (D&C 58:21–22.)
“Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God. …” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 339.)
When the “rule of law” breaks down in a family, a community, a state, or a nation, chaos reigns.
The kingdoms of heaven are to be free from chaos, because no one will be in any one of them who does not by his own free will obey the laws thereof.
A Latter-day Saint should strictly obey every law of God, including the constitutional laws of the land in which he lives, and do it with a good and honest heart.
In this day of declining morals and increasing disrespect for law, we can all profitably review and check our own performance against the Ten Commandments, which are basic laws of God not only, but also constitute the foundations of Judeo-Christian secular law.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
“Thou shalt not kill.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.
“Thou shalt not steal.
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” (Ex. 20:3–4, 7–8, 11–17.)
Strict obedience to these laws in the spirit of the first and great commandment—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. And the second [which] is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39)—will help one to obey the law of the land and the celestial law of heaven as it applies to mortality.