We are working on a study of law/constitution in the D&C. Here are a few of my notes and thoughts, so that we have them easily accessible.
The “more or less” coming of evil phrase in verse 7 is most similar to 3 Nephi 11
The “free indeed” is only here and John 8
“Rights and privileges” is often in the BofM and usually refers directly to rights and privileges of the church or religion
“constitution” is associated with principles in D&C 109
“wicked rule, people mourn” – Proverbs 29
It seems, so far, that the logic runs thus:
The people wonder: What should we do about the laws of the land? What should be our relation to them?
God answers: First, before I can answer that, remember that you should always, always obey my commandments.
Second, remember that I make you free. That is a gift from God, not man.
Third, inasmuch as the law is constitutional, and here, constitutional means preserving rights and privileges (of religion?), then you are justified in “befriending” it. Note that you are not commanded to do anything, just justified in befriending, since it is not getting in the way of what God gives you. God makes you free, and so does the law. As long as the law is not getting in the way, then you are quite justified in befriending it.
Fourth, there will be rulers which administer the law. There will be good and bad ones. Even if the law is good, if there is a wicked ruler the people will mourn. If there are good ones, things work fine. Notice what kind of rulers to seek after: HONEST, GOOD, WISE. You do not need a brilliant ruler, nor a powerful ruler, to give you freedom. God already did that, and the constitution preserves that as well. You just need rulers who are good and honest, and if they are honest then they will administer the laws as they stand, which won’t get in the way of the freedom God gave you.
There are many allusions to other texts, Book of Mormon, Old Testament, New Testament, and even other places in the D&C. There is a lot packed in here!
And now in current days, it is hard to know how to apply this. How do you know if someone is honest and good and wise? And also, how can we tell if something is preserving our rights and privileges or not? With such high and serious accusations being shouted at and by nearly every politician, how does one know what to do? For now, I remain aloof from voting, since I can’t honestly say I can tell who is honest, wise, and good. I think it’s possible to know in a local election, but in a national or state election it seems all-but impossible. Anywhere there is that much money involved, I don’t know what to trust. Too much advertising and persuasion so that someone can be elected. Hard to not feel used for someone’s career.
Anyway, the point is that here is a beginning look at D&C 98. Lots more to come and maybe even a few insights worth keeping. 🙂