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by A. D. Sorensen
Equality among persons is understood by Latter-day Saints as essential to divine love, which explains and justifies all other ethical virtues and principles (Matt. 22:37-40). All persons are of equal value in the sight of God. Each person (of every nation and every race) is as precious to him as another (2 Ne. 26:33; Alma 26:37). From God all people will receive equivalent opportunities through Jesus Christ to attain eternal life, his greatest blessing (1 Ne. 17:33-35; Hel. 14:17; D&C 18:10-12). All who are worthy to become heirs of Christ will enjoy equality with him and with each other in the Celestial Kingdom (D&C 88:106-107).
Latter-day Saints believe that when people love as God requires them to love (John 15:9-12), having full and equal regard for one another, they can form a Zion society as directed by the Lord and enjoy in this world the type of equality that defines relations between persons in the celestial world (D&C 78:4-8; 105:4-5). References to equality in latter-day scriptures primarily concern the building of Zion and living according to celestial law. In Zion the people have "all things common among them" (3 Ne. 26:19; 4 Ne. 1:3; cf. D&C 82:17-18; 104:70). They have equal chances to develop their abilities and equal opportunity to realize them in the work of Zion, all contributing according to their individual strengths and talents (D&C 82:17-18; Alma 1:26). A Zion people labor together as equals by organizing themselves according to the principle of "equal power" (D&C 76:94-95; 78:5-7; 105:4-6). For example, on the local level "all things" are done according to the "counsel" and "consent" of the community (D&C 104:21). Each member has an equal role in giving counsel and an equal vote in giving consent (see Common Consent). But equality of power also defines the relations between members so that each is the center of decision and action in performing an individual stewardship within the community (D&C 82:17; 104:70-76).
Celestial law also requires that persons receive as equals that which is essential to survival and contributes to well-being. Consequently, in Zion there are "no poor among them" (Moses 7:18; 4 Ne. 1:3). This does not mean that every person receives the same amount. The "needs," "wants," and "circumstances" of individuals vary so that treatment of them must also vary to be equal in effect (D&C 51:3, 8; 42:33). Still, it is "not given that one should possess that which is above another." When such inequality exists, "the world lieth in sin" (D&C 49:20; cf. Alma 5:53-54), and "the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit [are] withheld" (D&C 70:14).
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Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Equality
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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