Spiritual or Temporal
Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.
Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.
Doctrine and Covenants 29:34–35
Spiritual and Temporal Connected. We cannot talk about spiritual things without connecting with the temporal things, neither can we talk about temporal things without connecting spiritual things with them. They are inseparably connected . . . .
We, as Latter-day Saints, really expect, look for and we will not be satisfied with anything short of being governed and controlled by the word of the Lord in all of our acts, both spiritual and temporal. If we do not live for this, we do not live to be one with Christ. (President Brigham Young, 1864, JD-10:329)
Whenever there is a disposition manifested in any of the members of the church to question the right of the President of the whole church to direct in all things, you see manifested the evidences of apostacyof a spirit which, if encouraged, will lead to separation from the church and final destruction. (President Brigham Young, 1865, JD-11:136).
Is it our duty to preach to this people and plead with them, until we can govern and control them in all temporal affairs as much as in spiritual affairs? I answer, it is the absolute and imperative duty of the Elders of Israel to try and control themselves and their families and their brethren, until they can hold control over all things in righteousness . . . .
Our faith and labor are vain, and we are still in our sins, or else it is our duty to lead this people in every act of their lives, as much in their temporal as in their spiritual affairs, so far as pertains to building up the kingdom of God on the earth . . . .
There is no man on this earth who can receive the Kingdom of God in his heart and be governed according to the laws of that Kingdom, without being governed and controlled in all temporal matters. If you are not of one heart and mind in [p. 16] these things, never think of Jackson County, for you will not be wanted there. (President Brigham Young, 1864, JD-10:333-8)
His servants are authorized to counsel and dictate in the greatest and what might be deemed the most trifling matters, to instruct direct and guide His Saints. (President Brigham Young, 1868, JD-12:245)
It is just as much my business, Latter-day Saints, to dictate in these [temporal] things as it is in regard to the sacrament we are partaking of here today . . . . Now ask the Father in the name of Jesus whether I am telling you the truth about temporal things or not, and the same Spirit that bore witness to you that baptism by immersion is the correct way according to the Scriptures, will bear witness that the man whom God calls to dictate affairs in the building up of his Zion has the right to dictate about everything connected with the building up of Zion, yes even to the ribbons the women wear; and any person who denies it is ignorant. There is not a man or woman in the world who rises up against this principle but what is ignorant; all such are destitute of the spirit of revelation and enjoy not the Spirit of Christ. (President Brigham Young, 1867, JD-11:298)
No Dividing Line Between Spiritual and Temporal. I have never yet found any one who can draw the dividing line between our spiritual and temporal interests, neither do I expect to. I believe that it is quite as necessary that we should attend to the temporal, as it is to attend to the spiritual duties which devolve upon us, and vice versa. It will not do to devote all our time to the spiritual part, nor all to the temporal alone. We must not run to extremes, but we should carry on the work of the Lord committed to us, in all its parts, or bearings. (Joseph F. Smith, 1879, JD-20:342)
Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs; they did not believe that he was capable of dictating to the people upon temporal matters, thinking that his duty embraced spiritual things alone, and that the people should be left to attend to their temporal affairs, without any interference whatever from Prophets or Apostles. Men in authority there would contend with Joseph on this point, not openly, but in their little Councils. After a while the matter culminated into a public question; it became so public that it was in the mouth of almost every one.
In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, Ye Elders of Israel, Father Smith is present, the Prophet is present, and here are his counselors, here are also High Priests and Elders of Israel, now, will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between [p. 17] the spiritual and the temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it? Not one of them could do it. When I saw a man stand in the path before the Prophet to dictate him, I felt like hurling him out of the way, and branding him as a fool . . . .
I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things• Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be. (President Brigham Young, 1864, JD-10:363-4)
Revelation on Temporal Affairs. If God can organize us as a Church, if he can unveil the heavens to us, draw aside the curtain of futurity, and enable us to penetrate the veil and gain a certain knowledge in regard to the future, certainly he can make known or reveal something about a few temporal things, such as plowing, sowing, building, planting, trading, manufacturing, making railroads, and a thousand other little things that have to be attended to in this world. If he can do the bigger things, I think he can do the less.
. . . Do you not think that we need revelations about government as much as anything else? I think we do. I think we need God to dictate to us as much in our national and social affairs as in church matters. (John Taylor, 1872, JD-15:175-6)
Church Must Speak Out in Temporal Matters. The Church exists for the welfare of its members. It holds to the doctrine that men are that they might have joy. Therefore, whatever affects human welfare, temporally or spiritually on earth or in heaven, is accepted as the concern of the Church.
This doctrine leads the Church into problems of mans physical, mental, moral, economic, social, and political well-being, into his every need. It strives to bring about conditions that will promote general, rounded, complete welfare. It cannot look with favor upon one-sidedness in life, one part of mans nature satisfied, another unsatisfied. It does not hesitate, because of individual prejudices or the danger of making enemies, to speak frankly and fully about any and every phase of human life. To cower in some one corner of human need is held in contempt by the Church; and certainly such a Church should be held in contempt.
In the revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith, this matter is made very clear. Man is engaged in an eternal journey. Life on earth is but an episode in everlasting life. Therefore, all things that touch this eternal traveler belong to the plan under which he is moving forward. The distinction between things [p. 18] spiritual and temporal vanishes; they become merged, as the palm and back of the hand, as the warp and woof of the cloth. Mans physical concerns acquire a spiritual value; and his spiritual activities have temporal counterparts. Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal . . . for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual (D. & C. 29:34, 35).
By this doctrine, Church leaders feel themselves free and under obligation to discourse on any and every need of the day and of man, no matter under what man-given name it appears. They would be poor leaders if silence was enjoined upon them within any field of human interest. Indeed, the very life of the Church is involved in this free discussion of mans welfare.
However, let no misconception arise. The Church holds itself aloof from propagandists or parties. In politics, for example, it is neither Republican, Democratic nor mugwump. It tests and measures every man-made policy by the eternal, unchanging principles of the gospel. If a proposed policy is in harmony with these principles, it is approved by the Church, if in opposition to gospel principles it is disapproved. The ax hews at untruth no matter where the chips may fall. Whether Democrats wail or Republicans weep is of no consequence. The Church is not in politics, but up to the shoulders in the fight for truth, which is the battle for humanitys welfare. (John A. Widtsoe, 1943, Evidences and Reconciliations 1:207-8)
Obedience to Counsel Needed. There is that terrible tradition, that has such strong hold of all our minds, that the Priesthood of God and the religion of Jesus Christ have nothing to do particularly with temporal matters. It is a tradition almost as old as Christianity. It has come down to us for generations and centuries and is fully interwoven in the hearts, minds and feelings of the children of men, and it is an exceedingly difficult thing to get them to comprehend that temporal things and spiritual things are alike in the sight of God, that there is no line of demarcation between the two, that the religion of Jesus Christ applies to one as much as another and comprehends within its scope temporal equally with spiritual matters. (George Q. Cannon, 1879, Gospel Truth 1:350)
The Need for Unity in Temporal and Spiritual Matters. If the Latter-day Saints were one politically and financially, and in all their endeavors to build up the kingdom of God, there would be a great power in the midst of this people . . . . [p. 19]
Let the Latter-day Saints be agreed upon their temporal and financial interests. I will ask the question: Do you think the Father and the Son are agreed in their political views and their financial operations? Why every Christian in the world says yes, and we say yes; and we cannot be one, in the sense Jesus prayed for us to be, without this . . . . We are gathered together that we may become one, as a people, in our politics and in our financial matters, as well as in our faith. (President Brigham Young, 1866, JD-11:275, 278, 287)
Some are inclined to say, the Lord has a right to manage my spiritual affairs, but I will not allow Him to interfere with my temporal affairs. Why, bless your soul, temporal things pertain to spiritual things. They minister to the spiritual man though they may be clothed with a tabernacle of flesh . . . . And President Taylor has as much right to direct the people in temporal things as he has in spiritual things. We ought to acknowledge that right, and ought to do it freely and cheerfully, because we should see that it is right. We are under no compulsion to do so if we do not see that it is right; but at the same time it is a correct principle, and every Latter-day Saint ought to have intelligence enough to know that this is the best thing for him to doto be united, to be one with his brethren . . . .
We want you to be one both in temporal, political and religious things, in fact, in everything you put your hands to in righteousness. We want you to be one, one as God and Christ are one, seeing eye to eye. (Joseph F. Smith, 1884, JD-25:250-1)
Gospel Helps In All Phases of Life. There are people in the Church who sometimes complain because some of their leaders, either bishops or stake presidents, or even occasionally one of the General Authorities, gives advice on practical, everyday, temporal matters.
There are some who suppose that the direction of the Church leaders should be limited to spiritual matters and never touch the practical things in life.
They forget that all through the centuries the prophets of ancient times gave practical advice, even on political and other current questions. They did it as the prophets of God. They did it as the servants of God trying to guide and direct the people into paths of safety. There were some who objected anciently to this kind of advice, but in spite of objections the prophets gave itthe people could follow it or reject it as they liked, but the advice was there. [p. 20]
The leaders of the Church in our day from pioneer times on have been cognizant of the needs of the people in whatever field that need might occur. They have recognized that we have a practical religion, and that our religion will help them in all phases of their daily life, not just the contemplation of spiritual blessings to be had behind the pearly gates. (Mark E. Petersen, CN-6/20/59)
Follow All Divine Direction. If I or any other man give counsel that meets with opposition, that intrudes upon the affections, meditations, and feelings of the people, and is harsh to their ears, bitter to their souls, it is either not the words of truth, or they have not the fountain of life within them, one of the two. If the Lord speaks from the heavens, reveals his will, and it comes in contact with our feelings and notions of things, or with our judgments, we are destitute of that fountain of truth which we should possess. If our hearts are filled with the Spirit of truth, with the Spirit of the Lord, no matter what the true words from heaven are, when God speaks, all his subjects should Hallelujah! praise God! We are ready to receive those words, for they are true. (President Brigham Young, 1861, JD-9:3)
1. We find ourselves often quoting the words of prophets, and, lest there be some doubt as to what a prophet is, we submit that it is one who, under the appointment and inspiration of the Lord God, speaks truth as the spirit moves him, regardless of what the world is thinking and regardless of what men would like to hear.
And, therefore, a prophet is seldom popular, and the cost of being a prophet is always great, for he may be called upon to say those things which are not pleasing, even unto himself, and he may find himself fighting against a tide of mass-misconception, and, as history records, be stoned, crucified, banished, ridiculed, shunned, or rejected. For the truth is not pleasing unto all men, and time has proved that majorities are not always right . . . .
It is not important that a prophet should say those things with which you and I are in full accord. But it is important that you and I should bring ourselves into full accord with those things which a prophet speaks by virtue of his office and calling. (Richard L. Evans, 1939, E-42:672)
2. Prophets have always offended people. And no prophet was as offensive as Jesus. To the world, a prophet is a good fellow as long as he is dead or minds his own business. If he is dead we can play with his words and make them say anything we want them to say. But if he is living, he doesnt always mind his own business. At election time we want him to keep still even though we acknowledge from time to time that elections are crucial events. But we do not want to believe God unless he tells us what we want to hear. We especially get upset if the prophets tell us what is true or false in the academic areas. We think they are not qualified to speakat least not in our field. The experts on political science want the prophets to keep still on politics. The experts on evolution want them to keep still on Bible interpretation. So it goes: Arent there enough things for the prophets to do without sticking their noses into our business? Let them see to their welfare programs and to the problem of sin. We will take care of the rest. So say the present day schoolmen. (Glenn L. Pearson & Reid E. Bankhead, A Doctrinal Approach to the Book of Mormon, pp. 79-80) [p. 21]