This post is a little longer than usual, so I am going to break it up into parts, but please stick with me to the end, and it will pay off (I hope)!
The Spirit of the Law
Let us imagine three different kinds of laws:
1. Man-made laws, like speeding. 2. Natural laws, like gravity. 3. Spiritual laws, like love.
Are natural laws also spiritual laws, and vice versa? Is gravity a spiritual law; or is love a natural law?
What if man-made laws went against natural law? Or against spiritual law?
God hath given a law unto all things by which they move in their times and seasons;
And their courses are fixed, even the courses of the heavens and the earth.
In a conflict-of-laws situation, how do we know which law to follow?
What are Laws?
There are several basic points we need to examine before we get to the end.
1. Laws are not self-existing. They require a Lawgiver.
Hear my voice and follow me, and you shall be a free people and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come, for I am your lawgiver.
2. To enact a law, the lawgiver must have authority. For example, if I told everyone in my neighborhood it is against the law for them to park overnight in front of my house, they would laugh because I don't have authority to make parking laws. (I would have to petition the City Council.)
3. The lawgiver must also have power to enforce the law. Otherwise, the law is nullified. (Pretend there were no officers to enforce the speed limit on the freeway. Would more people speed? Or if there was no way for the government to collect the payment of taxes. Would fewer people file their tax return?)
4. While the lawgiver needs power and authority to ordain and to uphold the law, laws depend primarily upon the consent of the governed (just ask the parent of any teenager).
The issue of consent is vitally important. It was this principle behind the "no taxation without representation" debate. It was also a fundamental element in the War in Heaven.
5. Since universal enforcement is practically impossible, totalitarian states rely on the cooperation of the people, who, through mutual surveillance of each other, tattle against their neighbors to the authorities, who then send the wrongdoer to a "reeducation" camp, or worse.
A Brief Public Service Announcement
When you cannot trust your neighbor, that is a sign we are getting really ripe, as a people, and are becoming dangerously close to being rotten.
How could Zion ever exist in a culture of suspicion, where we cannot trust our neighbors?
You see, in the free world, people prefer the government to stay out of their homes and lives (Brigham Young said, "To mind your own business incorporates the whole duty of man"); but when the people themselves become complicit as little deputies of the Sheriff of Nottingham, you begin see the genesis of Gadianton.
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Program
As I was saying, whether the lawgiver's authority arises from the voice of the people (democracy), or the people's acknowledgement of the divine right of kings (monarchy), or the people's acquiescence to Party rule (communism), or the people's acclamation of God's authority (theocracy) -- the people's consent to the authority of the lawgiver is always necessary.
5. When the consent of the governed is withdrawn, and the lawgiver chooses to enforce the law anyway, we call that "tyranny."
(Hang in there! We're going places . . .)
6. These principles apply to religious, as well as civil, governments.
For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church by the prayer of faith.
What is the percentage of "all"? One hundred percent.
7. Now, let's think of laws as merely describing a cause-and-effect relationship.
For example, if you register your vehicle, you will be able to drive it on public roads. If you do not register your vehicle, the government may impound it.
There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated.
8. It is our relationship to the law, not the law itself, which is "good" or "evil."
Without law, we could neither "act nor be acted upon."
9. Righteous laws arise from God's perfect character and reflect his unchanging nature. His laws are the same for everyone (even Christ!) because he is "no respecter of persons."
10. Unrighteous laws are arbitrary and capricious, changing according to who is in charge. These laws are applied unequally based on an individual's status:
Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and wicked go unpunished because of their money;
to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills that they might get gain and glory of the world, that they might more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills.
Thus we see that the wicked like to appear lawful, and to keep up the pretense of legality, when in fact they are a "law unto themselves."
That which breaketh a law and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and althogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment.
Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
11. When a civil government or religious authority gets to this point, we call it a "secret combination."
For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations . . . and whatsover nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed.
(Ether 8:19, 22)
Once upon a time I was advising a group of elected officials as their attorney. These elected officials could be described, politically, as conservative.
The elected officials were angry at some decisions of the United States Supreme Court. They derided the Supreme Court's decisions as "unconstitutional." They asked me if I agreed.
I said, "First, the Supreme Court itself cannot agree on whether a law is constitutional -- which is why they usually split 5-4."
(I like to joke that if you put three attorneys in a room, you'll get five opinions.)
"But our system of government," I continued, "Is based on the people accepting the majority will of the Court. So if the Court says it is constitutional, it is -- whether I agree or disagree."
(Remember, any subject matter taken up by the Court must be relating to man-made laws.)
"So what do we do?" they asked.
I answered, "You persuade the people to amend the Constitution."
If the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you.
What is the Law of Zion?
We made it to the end! Here is my point:
Zion is simply a society where the laws of man, the laws of nature, and the laws of heaven, all coexist in harmony.
And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.
They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I require at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom.
(D&C 105:5, 3-4)
Sure, we can't change the celestial law; we can't erase gravity; we can't alter the laws ordained before the foundation of this world -- but . . .
. . . we can change man-made laws.
And we should! If any practice, policy, rule, position, ordinance, resolution, tradition, doctrine, or thing of whatsoever name, is not of God, then let us do all within our power to increase the light of our laws.
For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.