Friday, August 11, 2017

Not Being A Man Of Blood

There is a story in the Book of Mormon that bears repeating, again and again. It is the story of Moroni, the Nephite Captain, and Zerahemnah, a Lamanite Captain. The Lamanites had a large Army. It was bigger in number than the Nephites. But Moroni was smart and outfitted his army in armor. The Lamanites only had a loincloth. Moroni and his army were also righteous. As the battle went on the Nephites were defeating the Lamanites. At one point they had them surrounded in a valley. They were winning and in the middle of it all, Moroni gave the command to stop, and had his men take a step back. Then he gave this speech:
1 And it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah: Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you.
2 Behold, we have not come out to battle against you that we might shed your blood for power; neither do we desire to bring any one to the yoke of bondage. But this is the very cause for which ye have come against us; yea, and ye are angry with us because of our religion.
3 But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.
4 Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.
5 And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us—
6 Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.
7 And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.
Zerahemnah’s response was terse and adamant: “Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break, and also our children; but take our weapons of war, and suffer that we may depart into the wilderness; otherwise we will retain our swords, and we will perish or conquer”
They finally were put in a position to take an oath and depart.
Zerahemna was not considered a good guy. He hated Nephites. He even appointed ex-Nephite leaders because he knew they were more ruthless. Yet he knew the importance of an oath. He wouldn’t take an oath he would probably break.
Moroni felt the same way.
11 Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken, therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war. Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the conditions which I have proposed.
He was willing to continue a battle to death rather than let the Lamanites leave without taking an oath to not come back to battle against them.
How are we with oaths? Would we be willing to risk our lives rather than break an oath?
As LDS members we get baptized and make a covenant with God. When we make this covenant it is similar to an oath. A covenant is two sided where an oath is more one sided.
June 1, 2017 marked the 288th anniversary of the first military oath taken. I know that was over a month ago, but it’s been on my mind. I know that I usually talk about this every year but I do that because I find it most important in my own life and my family’s lives.
I would rewrite Moroni’s words for myself.
I do not aspire to be a man of bloodshed. But if bloodshed must be to protect me or my family, “then we will see who shall have power over me and my family; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.”
There comes a time when we must stand up. There comes a time when we must defend. Will we ever be called upon again to fight off tyranny? I do not know. I hope not. Will we have to fight off evil? We already do fight off evil, but it may come to a physical fight. Will you be ready? Will you have training? Will you have the means to defend your family? You cannot depend on anyone or anything else. If you do, you’re lying to yourself. Can the police really save your family from murder and rape? They are good, but not that good. They will clean up after all the evil is gone. They will bring the criminals to justice, but how can they defend your family in their moment of need? You must be there for them. You can’t expect God to do something you have been charged to do. If you have the means to defend, have had the training and have practiced, then Heavenly Father can step in if Devine help is needed. We must depend on God after all we can do.
I know this article is the proverbial “beating the dead horse” but I feel strongly about it and want spread this sentiment. You do not have to be a violent person to desire to defend yourself and your family. When the time to do violence comes, if you have prepared, you will do what needs to be done. But only if prepared. Be prepared.

Semper Paratus
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