It’s 2017 now and we have a new president. Back in November we all (more or less) stayed up late that fateful night to see who would be our Commander in Chief for the next four years. On that night, the structures set up by the founders of this country allowed the United States to elect a new President. How momentous! How epic!
But what about those who did not vote for President Trump?
This question, what do we owe the president, isn’t about Clinton, Trump, Obama, Bush, Kennedy or even Washington. This is a question about the office of President of the United States. It is a commonly held belief that the United States was founded by inspired men and influenced by the hand of God. I myself promote this idea.
But what if one of those men had been more like Adolf Hitler?
What Is The Real Question?
In July 1961 there was a very controversial psychological experiment (the ethics of which are highly debatable) called the Milgram experiment. This experiment showed that humans have a tendency to displace blame upon authority figures. It even showed that humans are capable of justifying murder based on the premise of “following orders.”
We must contrast this idea with the 12th Article of Faith that tells us that “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” So we are supposed to listen to what our secular leaders say as well as those religious?
So the question here is where is the line drawn? In the Bible, the story of Daniel the Prophet teaches a lot about this subject. He refused to eat the food of the King of Babylon and then refused to worship anything besides the Lord. Both those things were contrary to what the King said. So the question of this article is really what do we owe our political leaders, specifically the President of the United States of America.
In this article, I will use the pronoun “he.” This is simply because as, of yet, there have been no female presidents. That does not mean that a woman could not be president or that I do not promote women in political office. It is simply a matter of precedent and convenience as far grammatical pronouns go.
We Owe Him Our Prayers
The President has a lot on his plate. Whether you think he is doing a good job, or not, he still has to deal with so much. He also has a lot of responsibility and therefore a lot of people counting on him. I think the number is about 300 million. Last time I had that many people looking to me to lead were….. well, never! So the least we can do is pray for him.
We even have the great example of Wilford Woodruff. During the dedicatory prayer of the Salt Lake Temple he said:
“We pray Thee to bless the president of the United States and his cabinet, that they may be inspired to conduct the affairs of this great nation in wisdom, justice and equity, that its rights may be maintained at home and abroad and that all its citizens may enjoy the privileges of free men.”
Let us be generous in our prayers for the well-being of the President. Surely we can pray that he be guided by the Spirit. We may not know for sure if he is or isn’t but we can be faithful and the Lord will provide miracles in His own way. I know there will always be political division, but let our prayers bind us together as brothers and sisters united in the fight for the freedom of the children of God.
We Owe Him Our Respect and Consideration
“We believe in being subject” and I believe that we should act in accordance with the established law. In America, we have a governmental system that, albeit imperfect like every other governmental system, allows for the involvement of the common man. We live in perhaps the most politically free society in the world. We should resort first to political means to cause a change in the government. Until it changes, we should obey and seek the common good. Violence should be our last resort.
We are also to respect him at least for the sake of his office. He is another chain in a long tradition that was created to uphold freedom and to seek out every good thing for mankind. It would be shortsighted on our part to disrespect one man because he is or isn’t fulfilling his role (as we see it) in that long tradition. This primarily deals with legal actions he takes that are against our personal views.
With our obedience, there is a caveat though. If we look back in history we can learn a lot about our relationship with political leaders from the period of practiced polygamy. If you want to know more about polygamy, go here, but for our purposes, we will only state some of the facts.
There was a period where many of the Church leaders were imprisoned, members were disenfranchised, Church land was confiscated, and all of it just because the Church practiced polygamy. The Law, as established at the time, called for the practice to end. The Church did not comply until the Lord directed the Church. Thereby revelation moved the Church and not secular law.
The caveat I mentioned then, is that we obey revelation before political order. Even this statement is an oversimplification and each person should seek the Spirit in these decisions. I would hope that our first loyalty would be to God and the guidance of His Spirit in our personal lives over political ties.
We Owe Him Our Expectations
We also owe the President our expectations. By this, I mean that we should expect him to be patriotic and act in the best interests of America. We should expect him to give as much as he has for this country. We put him in the position to affect massive change. It’s not too much that we expect him to do so to benefit America. These expectations should be realistic, and that can only come when we understand how the government should work. The point is that we should hold him to the highest standards.
We should at least expect him to obey the law and live a morally decent life. When Joseph Smith ran for President (and yes he did), he put out a pamphlet describing his own beliefs and political stances. On page 7 of that pamphlet, he expressed his fear that “The Governor Himself may be a mobber and instead of being punished as he should be, for murder and treason is allowed to destroy.”
It’s apparent that Joseph expected that political leaders hold themselves up to high standards, so I see nothing wrong with expecting the President to be an upstanding citizen. Our personal opinions of what a good citizen is may divide us, but we can all commonly expect the President to obey the law. If and when he doesn’t, he should be punished according to the law just as every other American.
**I think it is important to mention that while violence is our last resort, when a leader takes too much power unto himself and becomes a dictator, destroying the God-given freedoms of his people, that people should rise up to take back their personal liberties by whatever honorable means necessary. I hope and pray it never comes to that.**
What We Don’t Owe the President
I think it’s also necessary to understand what we don’t owe him as well. We don’t owe him our opinions. In this great country, we are enriched by a diversity of thought. We should be able to disagree with the president and his opinions. The Constitution defines our freedom of speech and charges the President, and the rest of the government, to protect it. Freedom of Speech is just an extension of freedom of thought, which is God given.
Let us feel free to disagree, but let’s stop being disagreeable. The president is going to make mistakes. I don’t know anyone who can’t go four years without making a mistake, so let’s cut him some slack. Instead, let’s get behind him, give him our opinions, but push with all of our might for all of the good things he does. This goes for whatever political party you hold to. Let’s all stop pointing fingers and start moving our feet. That’s how we’ll get something done.
God Bless America
I may be biased, but I love America. I think it is one of the greatest places on Earth. We have imperfections, but we are among the most blessed people in history. Next time you think of the President of the United States, don’t complain. Be grateful that if you don’t like this one, you can elect someone else in four years.
I challenge you to be more supportive of the President. If you don’t like anything he does, research his policies until you find something you do like. If you still don’t like anything he does, then find a way to get involved and let him know (peacefully and respectfully). We need all of us to come together to move this great ship that is America. Let’s all get on board and move in the same direction: forward.
Go ahead and share your opinions below.