“Unit 29: Day 3, Doctrine and Covenants 134,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)
“Unit 29: Day 3,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide
On August 17, 1835, a general assembly of the Church met in Kirtland, Ohio, to consider the proposed contents of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Because the Prophet Joseph Smith was visiting Saints in Michigan, Oliver Cowdery presided at the assembly. In the meeting, the Saints unanimously voted to include a declaration that Oliver Cowdery had written regarding the beliefs of the Church concerning government and laws.
Doctrine and Covenants 134 contains words and phrases that may be difficult to understand. The following list of definitions may be helpful as you study this section:
Inviolate (verse 2): Safe, not violated
Magistrates (verses 3, 6): Public officials who administer the law
Republic (verse 3): A government in which people elect leaders to represent them
Sovereign (verse 3): A supreme ruler, such as a king or queen
Amenable (verse 4): Accountable
Infringe upon (verse 4): Interfere with, limit, violate
Prescribing (verses 4, 6): Establishing
Dictate (verse 4): Order people to do things a certain way
Suppress (verse 4): Limit, restrict
Inalienable (verse 5): Undeniable, cannot be taken away
Sedition (verse 5, 7): Rebellion against government leaders
Deference (verse 6): Compliance, submission
Supplanted (verse 6): Replaced
Anarchy (verse 6): Lawlessness—the absence of rules and government or rebellion against rules and government
Proscribe (verses 7, 9): Forbid
Conspiracy (verse 7): The act of secretly working together to overthrow a government or other organization
Breach (verse 8): Break or violate
Redress (verse 11): Make something right
Encroachments (verse 11): Unlawful intrusions
Exigency (verse 11): Urgent need
Servitude (verse 12): Bondage, slavery
- Imagine that your family is joining with other families to form a new country with a new government. Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What do you think is the purpose of a government?
What are a few of the laws you would establish if you were the leader of the new country?
Review the introduction to this lesson and the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 134. Look for the reason the Saints felt they needed to publish a declaration about governments and laws.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 134:1, looking for who instituted the idea of governments. Based on what you learn from this verse, complete the following truth: Governments are instituted by for the benefit of .
From verse 1 we also learn the following truth: Government officials are accountable to God to act “for the good and safety of society.”
- In your scripture study journal, do the following:
President Ezra Taft Benson testified of the importance of what he called “mankind’s three great rights.” In his following statement, the phrase “Founding Fathers” refers to the men who established the government of the United States of America.
“The Declaration of Independence affirmed the Founding Fathers’ belief and trust in God in these words: ‘We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’
“The Doctrine and Covenants states, ‘We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life’ (D&C 134:2). Life, liberty, property—mankind’s three great rights” (“Our Divine Constitution,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 4).
Imagine you live in a place where the government generally protects the rights of its citizens but has recently enacted a law that you disagree with. Which of the following is an appropriate way to respond? (Circle one.)
Protest by deciding not to abide by any of the laws of the government.
Threaten or hurt the government officials who created the law you disagree with.
Gather others to overthrow the government.
Legally express your views or concerns, but support and uphold the government by obeying the laws.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 134:5–6, looking for what it teaches about citizens’ responsibilities.
One principle this verse teaches is that we are to sustain and uphold the government where we live.
Which article of faith does this principle remind you of? (Look in the Articles of Faith in the Pearl of Great Price to check your answer.)
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why do you think it is important for citizens to sustain and uphold the government?
According to Doctrine and Covenants 134:6, God wants us to respect and obey divine laws and human laws. What do you think we should we do when a law of the land goes against our beliefs?
As you think about this question, read the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In the case of a conflict between the requirements made by the revealed word of God, and those imposed by the secular law, which of these authorities would the members of the Church be bound to obey? In answer, the words of Christ may be applied—it is the duty of the people to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s [see Luke 20:21–25] …
“Pending the overruling by [God] in favor of religious liberty, it is the duty of the saints to submit themselves to the laws of their country. Nevertheless, they should use every proper method, as citizens or subjects of their several governments, to secure for themselves and for all men the boon of freedom in religious service. It is not required of them to suffer without protest [the] imposition by lawless persecutors, or through the operation of unjust laws; but their protests should be offered in legal and proper order. The saints have practically demonstrated their acceptance of the doctrine that it is better to suffer evil than to do wrong by purely human opposition to unjust authority” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. , 422–23).
- Think about people you know who sustain and uphold their government and the law. In your scripture study journal, write about one or two of them. What have you seen them do to sustain and uphold the government and the law?
In Doctrine and Covenants 134:8, we read that governments have a responsibility to punish those who commit crimes and that citizens have a responsibility to help “in bringing offenders against good laws to punishment.”
- Write a short paragraph in your scripture study journal describing what you will do to sustain and uphold your government and its laws.
In Doctrine and Covenants 134:7, 9–10, 12, we read that governments should establish laws that protect religious observance but should not favor one religion over another. We also read that religious societies have a right to punish their disorderly members by excommunicating them or withdrawing their fellowship from them but that such societies do not have authority to make judgments or inflict punishments that would take their members’ property or harm them physically.
According to Doctrine and Covenants 134:11, citizens should be allowed to ask their government for help if they have been wronged. This verse also includes a declaration that citizens are justified in defending themselves and others when there is an urgent need and the government is unable to help.
Think about what you appreciate about your country or community.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 134 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like share with my teacher: