Friday, February 3, 2017

Violence As A Tool

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon Church is no stranger to violence. Early in the Church’s history the Mormons were persecuted and were subject to mobs and the violence that accompanied mobs.
Mobs drove them from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1833; from the state of Missouri in 1839, after the governor of the state issued an order in late October 1838 that the Mormons be expelled from the state or “exterminated”; and from their city of Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846. Following their expulsion from Nauvoo, Latter-day Saints made the difficult trek across the Great Plains to Utah.
Their adversaries in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois resented the Saints’ differing religious beliefs and social and economic practices. They also felt threatened by the Saints’ growing numbers, which meant that Mormons could increasingly control local elections. These opponents attacked the Saints, first verbally and then physically. Church leaders, including Joseph Smith, were tarred and feathered, beaten, and unjustly imprisoned. Other members of the Church were also the victims of violent crimes. In the most infamous incident, at least 17 men and boys, ranging in age from 9 to 78, were slaughtered in the Hawn’s Mill Massacre. Some Latter-day Saint women were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted during the Missouri persecutions. Vigilantes and mobs destroyed homes and stole property. Many of the Saints’ opponents enriched themselves with land and property that was not justly theirs.
The expulsion from Missouri, involving at least 8,000 Latter-day Saints, occurred during the winter months, heightening the suffering of the thousands of refugees who lacked adequate food and shelter and were sometimes subject to epidemic diseases.
At the Latter-day Saint settlement of Far West, some leaders and members organized a paramilitary group known as the Danites, whose objective was to defend the community against dissident and excommunicated Latter-day Saints as well as other Missourians. Though the existence of the Danites was short-lived, it resulted in a longstanding and much-embellished myth about a secret society of Mormon vigilantes.
Many people in the 19th century unjustly characterized the Latter-day Saints as a violent people. Yet the vast majority of Latter-day Saints, in the 19th century as today, lived in peace with their neighbors and families, and sought peace in their communities.
Elder Henry B. Eyring, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated, “The gospel of Jesus Christ that we espouse abhors the cold-blooded killing of men, women, and children. Indeed, it advocates peace and forgiveness. What was done here (Mountain Meadows massacre) long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct.”
Like the Jews who have lived with this kind of treatment for centuries, members of the Mormon Church have a heritage that includes violence. Often without self-defense. Is it a wonder that the state of Utah is one of the most gun-friendly states in the U.S.?
I do not relish violence. But if violence is needed to defend then we should be familiar with it. I don’t consider myself a violent person. But under the right circumstances I would use violence. Some have a problem with reconciling being Christian and being capable of violence. I don’t understand the problem. I do not like nor condone violence or war. I like the actions of Moroni. When he thought the Nephites were to be attacked he fortified the cities.
1. Earth/dirt was “heaped” up into a “ridge” or wall “round about” the city; sometimes a “breastwork of timbers” was used to reinforce the inside of the earthen wall; in at least one instance, stone was also used to build the wall (Alma 48:8; 49:4, 18; 50:1; 53:3).
2. Naturally, the displacement of dirt created a “ditch … round about” the outside of the wall or bank (Alma 49:18).
3. A timber palisade, picket, or parapet on top of the earthen wall (Alma 50:2–3).
4. Towers above the timber picket, with bastions (“places of security”) atop the towers, from which defenders of the city could safely “cast stones … and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls” (Alma 50:4–5).
Now that is preparation! I know we are not at war in this country. But why can’t my family be free and safe enough to be in our house and not worry about a home invasion? Why can’t someone in a town leave their lawn mower out on their front lawn and not worry it will be stolen? Fortifying your home will be different from Moroni. But if still should be done.
Think about the firefighter. They are truly heroes. But one thing about firefighters is that they are completely professional. They have really made it a practice to fight fires! We have fire alarms everywhere. There are sprinkler systems everywhere. There are fire extinguishers everywhere. We even made it law that these things are everywhere. How unusual is it for you to pass a fire plug? Even the building industry has laws and code where they build with fire retardant materials! Homes have smoke detectors. We have fire drills all the time. These things have become part of our lives and they work! So why do we not prepare for violence the same way? Is there a firefighter in every building? No, but there is a way to contact one.
As President Eyring said above, avoiding violence is what we seek. I don’t have any problem with that, that’s what I prefer. But I trust the Lord to be with me if I must meet violence with violence. But if not. Do you know where that reference comes from?
(Daniel 3:17-18):
"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were faced with a literal fiery furnace. Their response to this impossible situation was nothing short of amazing.
The three men were given a choice by King Nebuchadnezzar. They could either bow down and worship the golden idol that he had made or they could be placed into a furnace. It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
Their answer is in the above scripture. Basically it is: “God will take care of us and protect us, but if not, He is still God and we won’t worship yours.”
I believe God will help me to defend myself or my family but if not…
Violence is something to avoid but to learn about. You may need it one day.
Semper Paratus
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