Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Prophets and Patriotism in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon offers many lessons about patriotism. Mormons often ponder the example of that great warrior, Captain Moroni, who led Nephite armies in defensive battles against enemies and saved many lives with his brilliance and faith. But the Book of Mormon, and even Captain Moroni, have much more to say about patriotism and war. Since the book was compiled for our day, we need to consider its message and apply it to situations we now face.

A key point to me is that prophets and other men of God like Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon are not afraid to speak out against unrighteous rulers and laws. While they are true patriots who stand for and even fight for the freedom and welfare of their nation, they are often accused of being unpatriotic or even treasonous.

When Abinadi stood before King Noah and his court to stir them to repentance and to remember the deliverance and liberation of their fathers through the power of God, he stood as a "conservative" standing up for the true legal principles of liberty, denouncing the corruption of a bloated government growing fat and wicked on heavy taxes. He warned that they would lose their freedoms and come into bondage unless the people and their leaders repented (Mosiah 11: 21-23; 12:2-5). King Noah accused him of being divisive and stirring up contention (Mosiah 11:28) and wanted him dead. Ultimately, King Noah put him to death for speaking out against the King and the people (Mosiah 17:8,12). Alma, who believed Abinadi's message and started preaching privately, was also condemned for "stirring up the people to rebellion" (Mosiah 18:33) and thus King Noah sent his security forces after Alma. Abinadi and Alma were accused of being threats to the security of the state and had to be eliminated, but they were true heroes and patriots.

Alma in Ammonihah would also be condemned for speaking out against the rulers and laws of that nominally Nephite people. "This man doth revile against our laws which are just, and our wise lawyers whom we have selected" (Alma 10:24). Alma was being unpatriotic according to his accusers, but he was on a mission from God, who told Alma through an angel that wicked men in Ammonihah were plotting to overthrow the liberty of the Nephite people (Alma 8:17). Alma was working to preserve Nephite liberty, and was preaching a message that would have brought freedom and security to the people of Ammonihah. But he was imprisoned for his treason and would have been killed had God not miraculously delivered him.

A related scene occurs in Helaman 7 and 8, when people gather around Nephi on his tower and hear him condemn their wickedness and the secret combination that is gaining power in their political and economic systems. Some supporters of that combination essentially accuse him of being unpatriotic and anti-Nephite, stating that he had reviled their law and their nation (Helaman 8:2-6).

Captain Moroni spoke out and fought against kingmen, and was ready to overthrow the ruler of the land (Pahoran) if his suspicions had proven correct. Some of the most dangerous enemies he faced were those within Nephite society.

Christ, the true source of freedom, was condemned for treason against Rome, and Joseph Smith also was accused of treason.

True prophets have long faced such accusations, even when they are valiantly fighting for the principles of liberty and freedom.

In the future, do not be surprised to see Latter-day Saints accused of not being true Americans or of being "divisive" and harmful to democracy for opposing gay marriage, or for preserving the institution of the family, or for speaking out against sin and corruption.

And do not make the mistake of thinking that those who object to possible wickedness or corruption in high places are being unpatriotic.

1 comment:

T said...

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