The Book of Mormon
and the Constitution

Chapter 26: The Lord’s Plan Versus Enforced Priestcraft

The Central Position of the Family in the Gospel Plan

      To accomplish His purposes here on earth, the Lord has established three organizations: The family, the Church and government. However it is the family which is the important one of the three. The other two exist mainly for the purpose of enabling it to function properly. It is the only one of the three which will survive death.

      As it is the Lord’s work and glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children, even so this should be the work and glory of parents here on earth. The scriptures declare that eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God. (D&C 14:7) But this gift is a continuation of the family relationship into the eternities.

      Earth life is a proving ground during which we demonstrate our worthiness for parenthood hereafter. What greater power could the Lord confer than that of parenthood? To possess within ourselves the wellsprings of life, and to be entrusted with the molding of the lives of pure, innocent children seems to be the ultimate stewardship. This privilege is most desireable above all others because it enables us to obtain the greatest happiness possible. The family relationship is the source of true joy, and joy is the transcendent object of existence. (2 Ne. 2:25)

The Responsibility of Parents for Training Children

      The conduct of parents is of infinite importance to their children because in large measure it determines whether or not those children will obey the Lord’s commandments. In the book of Proverbs we find this: [p. 194]

Train up a child m the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov. 22:6)

      The Book of Mormon confirms the above statement and adds the infinitely important truth that if, due to parental neglect, children commit sins, responsibility for those sins rests upon the parents. Just before his death, Father Lehi pronounced a blessing upon the heads of the children of Laman and Lemuel in which he said:

But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up m the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.

Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents. (2 Ne. 4:5, 6)

      Similar statements have been made by modem prophets. The late President Joseph F. Smith said this:

Not one child m a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example and training, were in harmony with the truth m the Gospel of Christ, as revealed and taught to the Latter-day Saints.

Fathers and mothers, you are largely to blame for the infidelity and indifference of your children. You can remedy the evil by earnest worship, example, training and discipline, m the home. (Gospel Doctrine, P. 301)

      The following scripture which imposes upon delinquent parents the sins of their children is especially interesting because it indicates the critical period during which the teaching should be done:

And again, inasmuch as parents have children m Zion . . . that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith m christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents. (D&C 68:25; emphasis added)

      This scripture appears to state that parents must prepare their children for baptism and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to understand the first four principles and ordinances of the Gospel prior to the age of accountability. In this connection let us remember that the Lord has said: [p. 195]

. . . little children . . . cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me: (D&C 29:46, 47)

      Thus during this early age, the Lord, by controlling Satan, gives parents a special advantage in guiding and training their children without interference from the evil one.

Can Any Obligation Be More Important than the Training of Children?

      If it be true that the righteousness or wickedness of children is largely a consequence of how parents perform their duties; and if delinquent parents must bear responsibility for the sins of their children, does the Lord consider the parental duty to train children more important than any other? The following revelation given to the prophet Joseph Smith, Frederick G. Williams and Sidney Rigdon who, at the time the revelation was given constituted the First Presidency of the Church, appears to indicate that He does:

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.

And verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation;

You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.

And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not fight in your house.

Verily, I say unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, that in some things he hath not kept the commandments concerning his children; therefore, first set in order thy house. Verily, I say unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun . . . .

. . . you have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord;

Your family must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings, or be removed out of their place.

What I say unto one I say unto all . . . (D&C 93:39- 49) [p. 196]

      Let us first note that according to the verse last quoted, these instructions given to the First Presidency are applicable to everyone. Then let us note that among these admonitions is this: therefore, first set in order thy house. This appears to state that regardless of the position we hold in the Church or in society, our first duty is our family. This agrees with President McKay’s well known dictum that:

No other success can compensate for failure in the home.

      Another point which seems of particular importance is this: because of Frederick G. William’s failure to teach his children light and truth, he was being afflicted and subject to the power of Satan. He was admonished that if he would be delivered, he must set in order the things of his house.

      How many Church members are suffering afflictions for the same reason as did Frederick G. Williams? How many have considered the possibility that we can be afflicted and subjected to the power of Satan for failure to bring up our children in light and truth? When things go well at home, no problem on the outside seems too great to overcome. But when we are failing to discharge our primary and most important responsibility properly, our resolve is weakened, we have feelings of guilt, our ability to help others solve their problems is diminished and our courage is sapped. The wisdom of obeying the Lord’s admonition to, first set in order thy house, and to bring up your children in light and truth, is most important.

Inherited Lies Are the Mainspring of All Corruption

      The Lord has stated that in these last days,

. . . darkness covereth the earth, and gross darkness the minds of the people, and all flesh has become corrupted before my face. (D&C 112:23; see also D&C 38:11; 82:5; 84:49)

      We are given an indication of the primary reason for this darkness by the following scripture which speaks of:

. . . the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the [p. 197] children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans trader the weight of its iniquity. (D&C 123:7)

      In another modem day revelation the Lord says:

And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth through disobedience and because of the tradition of their fathers. (D&C 93:3 9)

How Can this Chain of Inherited Lies Be, Broken?

      If inherited lies and false traditions which are being handed down from generation to generation constitute the mainspring of all corruption, how can this chain of falsehood and deception be broken? In Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants part of which is quoted above, the Lord gives the following as the way in which this may be done:

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depend upon these things.

You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. (D&C 123:12-17)

      This is just one of many scriptures which teach that those who have the gospel have an obligation to share its teachings with those who are in darkness. Church members are called to be the very small helm, the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. From the scriptures quoted above it would appear that one of the most important of all truths which could be taught to a world in darkness is that parents have a responsibility to bring up their children in light and truth. Or as the late President Kimball once expressed the matter, the home truly is the place to save society. [p. 198]

Scriptural Truths Regarding the Training of Children

A. What Should Children Be Taught?

      Reference has already been made to D&C 68:25 wherein the Lord commanded parents in Zion to teach their children concerning the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel. After giving that instruction He goes on to admonish parents to “teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord;” to observe the Sabbath day, to avoid idleness, to seek for the riches of eternity and avoid greediness. Let us consider some other scriptural instructions regarding what children should be taught.

      After the Lord had explained to Adam such things as the fall, the atonement, free agency, faith and repentance He told him:

Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children . . . (Moses 6:58)

      Concerning the Ten Commandments with their related statutes and judgments, the Children of Israel were told this:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (Deut. 6:6-9)

      Finally we mention again the Lord’s commandment to bring up your children in light and truth. (D&C 93:40)

B. What Should Children Not Be Taught?

      To destroy the faith of a child by teaching him false doctrines seems [p. 199] to be one of the worst sins one can commit. Such is severely condemned by the Lord in the following passage:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt. 18:6)

      How can one be certain that he is not teaching falsehood? The prophet Mormon sternly warns us against making a mistake in distinguishing between beliefs which come from Christ and those which come from the devil and gives the following advice on how to avoid doing so:

Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Moro. 7:14-17)

      The Lord gave us another method for distinguishing between truth and falsehood, and that is by examining the fruits of those from whom the teaching comes. Said he:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matt. 7:15-20; 3 Ne. 14:15-20) [p. 200]
C. Should Children Be Taught the Precepts of Men?

      The Book of Mormon prophets warn latter-day Gentiles repeatedly against accepting the “precepts of men.” While there is no specific definition given of the term, it appears safe to conclude that by the term “precepts of God” they meant to include the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets, while by the term “precepts of men” they meant to include all other teachings.

      While there does not seem to be any outright prohibition against teaching the precepts of men, the following scriptures condemns such unless they are taught by the power of the Holy Ghost:

Cursed is he that . . . shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. (2 Ne. 28:31 )

      The terrible danger of learning the precepts of men and the wisdom of the world without being firmly grounded in the gospel is explained in the following passage:

O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. (2 Ne. 9:28)

      A case history is provided by the Book of Mormon in which the Lamanites were taught the Nephite language and also to read and write. However they were not taught the commandments of God along with this learning, and the result was disastrous. (Mosiah 24:4-7) Nephi foresaw that in these latter days, even the humble followers would err in many instances because they are taught by “the precepts of men.” (2 Ne. 28:14) Modem day scripture states that even though the fulness of the gospel is given to the Gentiles in these latter days, “they turn their hearts from me because of the precepts of men.” (D&C 45:28, 29) [p. 201]

D. Who Is Qualified to Teach Children?

      We have already noted that the Lord has given parents the responsibility for teaching their own children. Some parents may feel themselves unqualified or incapable of teaching their children that which they need to know. Should they feel so? What does the Lord require that children be taught? The following words of the prophet, Nephi should help answer this question:

. . . feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.

For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do. (2 Ne. 32:3, 5)

      This quotation appears to state that all of the knowledge essential to our eternal welfare is contained in the words of Christ. The Lord has included within the scriptures all of the directions necessary to guide our actions. Is it not true then that if we teach our children to understand the words of Christ, we have fulfilled our obligation to bring them up in light and truth? Is this beyond the capacity of parents? Certainly not. The Lord never requires anything of us which is beyond our ability. Since the sin is upon their heads if children are not taught properly, they will want to be extremely cautious before delegating this duty to others. To whom may they safely turn for help if such appears necessary?

      The prophet, Alma who had seen the awful consequences of allowing corrupt priests to teach, specified that teachers possess these qualifications:

And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments. (Mosiah 23:14)

      Modem revelation requires the same qualification in these words:

. . . and if ye receive not the spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:14)

      In choosing teachers, parents should beware of those who practice priestcraft. According to the Book of Mormon, those guilty of this sin are to be feared more than any others and should be avoided at all costs. [p. 202] Their character and motives are described thus:

He (the Lord) commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion. (2 Ne. 26:29)

The Plan of the Adversary for Rearing Children

      In accordance with the doctrine which declares there must be an opposition in all things, and that men must be given the opportunity to choose between good and evil, the Lord has permitted the adversary to present to us his plan for training children. It is expressed in the tenth point of the Communist Manifesto in these words:

Free education for all children in public schools.

      If we use the test the Savior gave for distinguishing between good and evil, i.e., that an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, we know that public schools are wrong. They are wrong because communism and all of its programs are evil.

      The late President David O. McKay in stating the position of the Church on communism, said this:

The entire concept and philosophy of Communism is diametrically opposed to everything for which the Church stands . . . No member of this Church can be true to his faith, nor can any American be loyal to his trust, while lending aid, encouragement, or sympathy to any of these false philosophies, for if he does, they will prove snares to his feet. (See Appendix I)

      If we use the test proposed by Mormon to judge public schools, they must again be condemned because instead of teaching students to believe in Christ, they teach doctrines like evolution which deny that He created the world.

      By implementing this tenth provision of the Manifesto, Satan proposes to rob parents of that stewardship by which they may gain eternal life. At the same time he would accomplish certain other goals which are diametrically contrary to the scriptures. As noted in Chapter XI, placing education under the control of the state, and using the police power to compel people to finance and support it, constitutes the practice of [p. 203] enforced priestcraft. This is specifically forbidden by the Lord and will cause the destruction of that nation which engages in it. (Alma 1:12)

      Since in nations like the United States and Russia, the public schools teach only the precepts of men and are forbidden to teach the scriptures and the commandments of God, this is contrary to the scriptures. And finally the public school system denies parents the right to select teachers who meet the qualifications required of them by the scriptures.

The Problem of Those Who Oppose Enforced Priestcraft

      Public education in the United States today is a huge government enterprise. It spends more money and hires more people than any other enterprise. Approximately one half of all taxes collected at the state and local level are used for its support. Other billions of dollars are spent on it each year by the federal government.

      There are many fine people who not only send their children to public schools, but are employed by the system. For those who believe or suspect that it constitutes the sin of enforced priestcraft which is condemned so often and so severely in the Book of Mormon, this presents a most serious practical problem.

      If government did not compel parents to keep their children in some regularly organized school, and if they were not compelled to financially support the public system even while paying the cost of a private education, their problem would be less difficult. Or if parents had the option of sending their children to a public school wherein they could have their children taught faith in God along with the precepts of men, certainly this would alleviate the difficulty of the problem they face.

      It should be remembered that public education laws in some areas permit parents to school their children in their own homes, provided of course, that the children are taught in those subjects dictated by the state. This may prove to be a workable alternative for some. Also those righteous souls who make their living in the system may find some solace in the thought that since public schools are mandated by law, and since the system needs good moral people as teachers, they are making it better than it otherwise would be.

      Nevertheless, if public education constitutes enforced priestcraft as [p. 204] has been concluded herein, we should remember that it is considered a serious sin in the eyes of the Lord and that if we do not abolish it voluntarily, He will do so when He comes. (3 Ne. 21:19)

      Furthermore if the chain of inherited lies is to be broken so that coming generations can know the truth, the responsibility of doing so rests upon those who have the knowledge regarding enforced priestcraft contained in the Book of Mormon. [p. 205]

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