Being Good Citizens
Taught By Jeff Stone
December 20, 2009
This lesson is all about participating and trying to make a difference in your community. There are a couple of scriptures that discuss the role of government along with our role as citizens. However, mostly what you’ll find below will be a list of quotes regarding this subject.
Questions and Answers
Here are a few thought provoking questions along with scriptures to answer the questions:
In August 1835, a general assembly of the Church at Kirtland, Ohio, unanimously approved a declaration of beliefs about government. This declaration is recorded in D&C 134.
- What are the purposes of civil governments? (D&C 134:1, D&C 6, D&C 7, D&C 8, and D&C 11).
- “For the good and safety of society” (D&C 134:1).
- “For the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty” (D&C 134:6).
- “For the protection of all citizens in the free exercise of their religious belief” (D&C 134:7).
- “For redress of all wrongs and grievances” (D&C 134:11).
We as saints are to obey the laws of the land and further should be actively engaged in good causes such as strengthening our community. Here’s what The Lord and his Prophets and Apostles have had to say about these matters:
Elder L. Tom Perry:
“As Church members, we live under the banner of many different flags. How important it is that we understand our place and our position in the lands in which we live! We should be familiar with the history, heritage, and laws of the lands that govern us. In those countries that allow us the right to participate in the affairs of government, we should use our free agency and be actively engaged in supporting and defending the principles of truth, right, and freedom” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 87; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 72).
From the Church Handbook:
” . . . as we participate in government and political processes, we should do so with the understanding that “the Church is politically neutral. It does not endorse political parties, platforms, or candidates. Candidates should not imply that they are endorsed by the Church or its leaders. Church leaders and members should avoid any statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of political parties or candidates” (Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 2: Priesthood and Auxiliary Leaders , 325).
“Members should do their civic duty by supporting measures that strengthen society morally, economically, and culturally. Members are urged to be actively engaged in worthy causes to improve their communities and make them wholesome places in which to live and rear families” (Book 2, page 325).
Letter From First Presidency:
“We strongly urge men and women to be willing to serve on school boards, city and county councils and commissions, state legislatures, and other high offices of either election or appointment” (First Presidency letter, 15 Jan. 1998).
Supporting Worthy Causes:
“While Dolina Smith was serving as Young Women president in the Toronto Ontario Stake in 1986, she asked an expert to speak at a fireside about the growing problem of pornography. Later she became involved with a nationwide group called Canadians for Decency, which mobilizes thousands of anti-pornography Canadians to contact their elected officials as specific concerns about pornography arise. …
“… In 1990 her involvement increased when she was named chairperson of Canadians for Decency. In this new role she has given numerous presentations before the provincial and federal governing bodies that make and change pornography laws. She has also spoken to many groups of citizens who work with local governments to clamp down on the spread of pornography in their communities” (Donald S. Conkey, “Together We Can Make a Difference,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 68).
Elder M. Russell Ballard:
“In the Church, we often state the couplet, ‘Be in the world but not of the world.’ … Perhaps we should state the couplet … as two separate admonitions. First, ‘Be in the world.’ Be involved; be informed. Try to be understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity. Make meaningful contributions to society through service and involvement. Second, ‘Be not of the world.’ Do not follow wrong paths or bend to accommodate or accept what is not right. …
“Members of the Church need to influence more than we are influenced. We should work to stem the tide of sin and evil instead of passively being swept along by it. We each need to help solve the problem rather than avoid or ignore it” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 100–101; or Ensign, May 1989, 80).
President Gordon B. Hinckley:
“It is amazing what courtesy will accomplish. It is tragic what a lack of courtesy can bring. We see it every day as we move in the traffic of the cities in which we live. A moment spent in letting someone else get into the line does good for the one who is helped, and it also does good for the one who helps. Something happens inside of us when we are courteous and deferential toward others. It is all part of a refining process which, if persisted in, will change our very natures” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 70; or Ensign, May 1996, 49).
Other Scriptural References:
- Choosing Wise Leaders: D&C 98:10
- Obeying the Law of the Land:
- Church and State: D&C 134:4, 9
- Service: Matthew 25:34–40
- Good Cause: D&C 58:27
This is an excellent lesson for all of us on how to improve our relationship with our fellow citizens, members or not. We, Latter-Day Saints, have a great responsibility to bring the light of Christ to the world, and being good citizens is a great place to start.