Can A Latter-day Saint Be Too Patriotic Or Defend The Constitution Too Much?

September 7, 2011

My wife and I try with limited success to study the scriptures together every morning.  We usually read the Book of Mormon, but today we were thinking about Elder Oaks famous talks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” so we read that for our scripture study.  It is truly a great talk from a true prophet.

One of the things Elder Oaks does is point out how an excessive strength in patriotism, freedom and patriotism can be our spiritual downfall.  As we read, I had a curious thought, something I have never thought before: God who already knows the future may know that the American people are doomed by their wickedness and the wickedness they allow, and he may have other plans for the minority of righteous that remain.  After all, as the scriptures assure us, the Holy Ghost will not always strive with us.  If we persist in our wickedness He will withdraw his protection and leave us to ourselves.  If this is actually the case, we ought to be more balanced in our efforts by spending less time agonizing over the fate of freedom and the USA, and spend more time building for our glorious future.

If the Constitution cannot be saved in the present situation, maybe it can be saved by resurrecting it in a new country, Zion or the New Jerusalem.  The Church has been buying up property in Jackson County on a major scale and doing the same in Daviess County, Missouri at Adam-ondi-ahman.  Maybe there are things we could do to aid that effort by improving the order and righteousness in our families, attending the temple more often, and preparing ourselves to be good citizens in a new land.

Many have said that there is no wilderness to flee to as the saints fled from Nauvoo to the Great Basin.  That may be true now, but that could change.  Hugh Nibley in teaching his Book of Mormon class said that wildernesses are man-made.  Almost all of them were peopled and prosperous at one time.  We see ruins of the ancient Anasazi in the wilderness of our desert southwest.  The wilderness of Arabia and the land once referred to as the Fertile Crescent was not alway barren.  There are evidences of high civilization in the Amazon jungle and in portions of Central America.  All over the world we see evidences of wilderness that was not always wilderness.  Maybe Missouri will be such a place in some future day.

If the Lord wants us to focus our efforts on building up a future Zion in some future wilderness, perhaps he has already written off the USA as a free country.   The Book of Mormon repeatedly cautions us that the American Gentile will be “swept off” if it becomes ripe in wickedness.  Perhaps we are seeing the beginning of that.  How wicked do the people of this nation have to be before it is ripe in wickedness?  President Hinckley said that he did not know that we were less wicked than Sodom and Gomorrah. I don’t see how the collapse of freedom and the USA could be far away.

Here are a couple of passages from Elder Oaks talk that inspired me in these new ideas:

1. My first example concerns Satan’s efforts to corrupt a person who has an unusual commitment to one particular doctrine or commandment of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This could be an unusual talent for family history work, an extraordinary commitment to constitutional government, a special gift in the acquisition of knowledge, or any other special talent or commitment.


17. Leaving the list of dangers peculiar to students, I come to the subject of patriotism. Love of country is surely a strength, but carried to excess it can become the cause of spiritual downfall. There are some citizens whose patriotism (as they define it) is so intense and so all-consuming that it seems to override every other responsibility, including family and church. For example, I caution those patriots who are participating in or provisioning private armies and making private preparations for armed conflict. Their excessive zeal for one aspect of patriotism is causing them to risk spiritual downfall as they withdraw from the society of the Church and from the governance of those civil authorities to whom our article of faith makes all of us subject.

I feel that keeping a proper balance in this matter is part of living the gospel.  We should not altogether neglect patriotism and a desire to defend the Constitution any more than we should neglect family history work, missionary work, or improving our families.  Our scriptures and the gospel that proceeds from them contains all of these elements, and none should be neglected.  We must exercise these strengths in a balanced way that avoids gospel hobbies.

What do you think?