Monday, February 23, 2015

Alma 46:12 -- On War

"And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole."
Alma 46:12

This is from one of the war chapters in the Book of Mormon.  Sometimes I think that we wonder, if God is all about love, why is there so much war in the scriptures?  Are we supposed to be learning how to kill people?  Of course that is not the case, but then why preach death in the books that are supposed to be teaching us what to be?  I think it is because God is trying to show us that some things are worth defending.  Specifically, here, the things that Captain Moroni writes on his coat.
It's a tough line, trying to balance things like "ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (3 Nephi 12:39) and "let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God" (Alma 61:14).  One way to balance them is individually versus societally.  If someone individually offends us, we should probably let it go.  If, as a society, our freedom is threatened, then we should probably not just let it happen.
Now, please don't read into this that I am favoring violence of any sort.  I think war is always an offensive exception.  The rule is love.  Christ tells us that even to be angry is to put our souls in danger (Matthew 5:21; 3 Nephi 12:22).  And harming or killing people to establish dominance or to eliminate some group that we don't like is completely wrong.  But even God had to take action in the War in Heaven, to separate the influence of the evil from the good.  And, like Captain Moroni, sometimes we have to stand up, and separate ourselves from or defend ourselves against evil.  ... Let's hope we never have to take that step.  And let us never treat violence lightly... but let us also be sure that if we do stand up as Captain Moroni did, we are doing it for the right reasons.  For God, religion, freedom, peace, and family.  Otherwise, we are not only cutting short the gift of life given to people on the other side of the conflict, we are putting our own souls in jeopardy. 

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