As a society organized under a common government, our society is dependent on agreement on principles, including a common set of morals. As John Adams correctly put it, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Thomas Jefferson was given credit for these words of the Declaration which marked the formal decision to rebel from British rule: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” John Locke advocated freedom of life, liberty and property. Jefferson did not use John Locke’s “property” but changed it to “happiness.”
Those words were written against an ecclesiastical, intellectual, philosophical, legal and governmental background that assumed a meaning for the word “happiness.” The idea of happiness envisioned in the Declaration of Independence incorporated the notion of virtue and the existence of a natural moral law established by a Divine Creator. This moral law was knowable through reason which would permit us to detect objective norms of right and wrong. It revealed to us God’s eternal law, the same God who created the natural order, and revealed Himself to mankind in Christ.
We are not solely dependent upon reason and the Bible to understand the means to gain happiness. We have this from Alma 41:10-11: “Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness. And now, my son, all men that are in a state of nature, or I would say, in a carnal state, are in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity; they are without God in the world, and they have gone contrary to the nature of God; therefore, they are in a state contrary to the nature of happiness.” However much men may seek happiness in wickedness, it cannot be found there.
Not only is it contrary to the nature of happiness to live contrary to the nature of God and godliness, it is likewise contrary to our ability to govern ourselves peaceably. When we as a people cannot agree on morality, and decide what is, to a large segment of the population considered to be immoral, to then be supported, justified, protected and sustained by the Constitution, the Constitution becomes wholly inadequate for governing us.
In a revelation given us in August 1833, we were cautioned: “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. 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.” (D&C 98:5-10.)
Christ was not “an high priest which cannot be touched with the felling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15.) Christ knows how to help us in our struggles because He has likewise suffered from every point of temptation that men must endure. Alma 7:11 explained this about Christ, “he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.” Every difficulty men encounter, Christ likewise encountered and therefore He understands how to minister to all our needs, comfort us in our trials, and help us endure what cannot be avoided.
Modern scripture explains Him and how He overcame sin, He “is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; And that he created man, male and female, after his own image and in his own likeness, created he them; And gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship. But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man. Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.” (D&C 20:17-22.) When we “give heed” to our temptations, we lose the battle our Lord won.
It is possible to live in a world filled with sin and avoid becoming embroiled in the errors. Do not let your eyes focus on the wickedness you see around you, but look up to heaven and the example of Heaven’s God, where there is no corruption.
Our society is no longer sustainable as a cohesive and unified people. It may take years for it to finish its disintegration, but its failure is well underway. The only means to salvage a peaceable society will be to either convince the whole to repent and return, or, failing that, to divide into separate bodies and allow those who agree on certain moral principles, to live together.
We have an opportunity to attempt to convince others to repent and return. This ought to be our work for now. It seems likely we will follow the foolish example of the Book of Mormon people who previously lived on this land and, like them, divide into warring factions before destruction will sweep away the more wicked people from this land.
The Book of Mormon warns us plainly: “For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off. And this cometh unto you, O ye Gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God—that ye may repent, and not continue in your iniquities until the fulness come, that ye may not bring down the fulness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land have hitherto done. Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written.” (Ether 2:10-12.)