“A Statement on Government, Lesson 53: Section 134,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324–325 (1981), 105–6
“Lesson 53,” Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide, 105–6
We should understand the proper relationship between the rights of government, the God-given rights of individuals, and the rights of religious organizations.
Section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants outlines the responsibilities of governments in general.
Enforcement of laws with equity and justice
Protection of the inherent and inalienable rights of the individual
Restraint of and punishment for crime
Maintenance of freedom of religion
Each individual has inherent and inalienable rights.
The right to worship as he pleases
The right to own and control property
The right to protect life
Each individual has a responsibility to sustain and uphold the government in preserving individual rights.
Sedition and conspiracy are not justified for religious purposes.
Religious organizations have no authority concerning property rights or the right of life.
Religious institutions may deal with its members’ conduct by withholding fellowship and good standing in the organization.
Churches have the right to preach the gospel and warn the members as long as they do so in a lawful manner.
The rights of religious institutions and societies are also given in Doctrine and Covenants 134.
Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach this section in its historical context.
D&C 134. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder this section.
D&C 58:19–21. Is man justified in breaking the laws of the land?
D&C 58:22. How long will men be subject to earthly governments?
D&C 98:5–8. What should the law of man provide for the individual?
D&C 98:9. What is the result of allowing the wicked to prevail?
D&C 98:10. What kind of individual should be supported in the government process?
D&C 101:77–80. Why were the laws and constitution of the United States established? How does this principle apply to other countries?
For additional references see topical guide, s.v. “Governments.”
Teachings, p. 57. How have governments become corrupt?
Teachings, p. 117. What was the content and spirit of the Church’s political motto?
Teachings, pp. 248–54. What is the major contrast between the government of God and the government of men?
Discourses, pp. 354–58. Counsel concerning the principles of theocracy, republican government, fitness of officials, and church and state.
DS, 3:288–89. Are there apostate philosophies in governments?
DS, 3:313–21. What are the principles of government?
Ezra Taft Benson, in CR, Apr. 1976, pp. 134–38. What is the relationship of righteousness to government?
Spencer W. Kimball, “President Kimball Limits Political Role of Church,” Deseret News, 31 Mar. 1978, p. 6A. You can recognize the Church’s position on an issue by determining if the position is upheld by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve.
List on the chalkboard the principles of preserving the inherent and inalienable rights of the individual as illustrated from the following scripture chain taken from the Book of Mormon.
Read Alma 43:45–47 and point out the “better cause” which inspired the Nephites over their enemies. What justification did they have for their course of action? Did they take the offense in the conflict? Who directed their course?
Read Alma 44:4 and discuss the promises of God to the faithful in the circumstances described
Read Alma 48:14–15 and show the basic principles revealed to govern the righteous in stressful conflict with the wicked. What are the two courses of action that the people of God should follow in threatening circumstances?
Note the characteristics of the Nephite leader described in Alma 48:11–13, 16–17. What is unusual about this kind of military-political leader?
As you have probably noted, it is unusual to cover only one section (especially a relatively short one) in one lesson. This lesson, however, provides you with an excellent opportunity to read the entire section together in class, analyzing and discussing the salient points. Note that the section covers three major issues: the role of government, the rights of individuals, and the rights and limitations of religious organizations.
As you study the section in class you could make a three-column chart on the board to summarize the important concepts.
The theme analysis at the beginning of this lesson contains a good summary.