The Anti-Nephi-Lehite Puzzle

June 26, 2004 | 59 comments
By

In the rather endless recent comments on war, torture, and politics, both Rob and Dan have made variations on the claim that it is better to suffer death rather than commit certain sorts of moral wrongs. Rob’s claim to me is more interesting, because as a pacifist he seems to claim that it is better to be killed rather than kill another. Dan and Rob, are of course, free to object that I am putting words in their mouths (which is probably correct), however, the basic proposition raises an interesting question: Why might killing be worse than death?

The problem of course, is that death and killing seem to be very nearly synonomous. Oviously they have different meanings. However, generally we think that killing is wrong precisely because (for lack of a more artful phrasing) it results in death. The Anti-Nephi-Lehites present a more interesting position. They seem to think that suffering death is not such a big deal. One will return to one’s Savior and provided — I assume — that one is properly prepared, this will be a wonderful experience. Yet if death for the Anti-Nephi-Lehites isn’t such a big deal, why is it a big deal for those that they might kill?

There are a couple of answers to this question. First, some scriptures suggest that it may be that one runs the risk of sending a person back to God unprepared to meet Him. Hence, the evil of killing lies in the fact that it may damn another’s soul. I am not sure that this position is theologically tenable, however, because it seems to suggest that the one can be damned by the choices of another, which runs counter to both the idea that we are responsible for our own salvation and the idea that God has the power to make up for the evils inflicted on us by others.

Second, one may point out that killing a person inflicts hardship and suffering here and now on those with whom he or she is related. The problem with this, is that presumeably death would inflict the same hardship on Rob’s family were he to be killed as a result of his pacific principles. Why favor those related to the slaughtering Lamanites over those related to the slaughtered Anti-Nephi-Lehites?

Third, one might argue that death, while perhaps not an eternal tragedy, nevertheless involves a real loss of mortal enjoyments and opprotunities, which are not without value. Again, however, we run into the problem of why the lost opprotunities of one are to be favored over another. Remember, the problem comes from the fact that we think that killing is worse that death. Hence, the puzzle assumes that at least one death will result.

Finally, there may be something about the act of killing itself that imposes such tremendous costs on the soul that death is preferable. If this is the ultimate justification, there is an oddly self-centered quality about it. It is not really the death of the other than is decisive but rather the self-inflicted spiritual wound.

Just to be clear, I am not arguing that killing people is not generally speaking a horrible wrong. I am not even arguing that death is never preferable to killing. I am simply pointing out that there is a real puzzle here. In particular, if death is preferable to killing in some cases, it seems that we need some way of understanding why some deaths are less grievously evil than others.

A final thought: if we do have some theory that adequately explains why some deaths are less grievous than others, then we may have the beginning of a justification for war. Hence, there is an odd sense in which the pacifism of the Anti-Nephi-Lehites may contain within itself the seeds of its conceptual destruction. This is only speculation, however, since I freely acknowledge that it is not at all clear to me what the theory that we are seeking actually looks like.

59 Responses to The Anti-Nephi-Lehite Puzzle

  1. clarkgoble on June 27, 2004 at 1:05 am

    Interesting question Nate. I suspect that one case of value is that you are taking away an other’s life without their permission while when you kill yourself you aren’t. It is that idea of ownership of ones body. The problem is that there are plenty of places that suggest we *don’t* have ownership of our body – God does. I’ve heard that appealed to as a critique of suicide.

    The real issue is when is something suicide? Certainly there is a difference between putting a gun to my head and letting someone else murder me without doing anything about it. But is there *that* grave a difference? I bring this up as the anti-Nephi-Lehites are often portrayed as Ghandi-like pacificist. I don’t think that’s right, mind you. I think they only refused to fight because of their past actions. They were worried about blood lust and becoming as they were.

    But it is an interesting question…

  2. Eric James Stone on June 27, 2004 at 1:40 am

    I don’t think the Anti-Nephi-Lehis are much of a model for today’s Mormon pacifists.

    While not willing to go to war themselves, because of the oath they had taken, they fully supported the Nephite war effort with their labor. In fact, at one point the situation became so dire that they were about to break their oath to come to the aid of the Nephites, but were convinced to send their sons instead, who had been too young to swear the oath.

    In looking at it, it almost seems they were more concerned about oath-breaking than about taking a life. After all, if the taking of Lamanite lives was their concern, shouldn’t they have prohibited their sons from going to kill Lamanites?

  3. Bob Caswell on June 27, 2004 at 2:09 am

    “…why some deaths are less grievous than others…”

    While I’m sure war deaths aren’t pretty, it seems like there are worse ways to die, like torture, etc. Didn’t Saddam order certain gruesome [grievous] deaths of certain people? Not that this alone is necessarily justification for war, but I’m just trying to answer Nate’s question. If someone is causing others to die in a painful [grievous] way, wouldn’t a less “grievous” death happen if you were to kill that person in a less painful way?

  4. Dan Burk on June 27, 2004 at 6:42 am

    I think Eric Stone is correct that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were not “pacifists” in the sense that we use the modern term. In part they were willing to die rather than break their oath. But in part it appears that they felt their previous crimes — including killing — had been so heinous that they feared to add any additional killing to that burden. Also, possibly, they feared that if they went back to killing, they might reverse the process of repentence they had gone through and backslide to their previous attitudes.

    Although I think Rob would disagree with me, my reading of the ancient and modern prophets indicates that they justified killing under very limited circumstances: as self-defense in an extreme last resort, in certain circumstances where the Lord specifically authorizes it, and a couple of others. The problem seems to be that it is easy to develop a taste for violence — Captain Moroni appears to be one of the rare exceptions who could kill without hating and without becoming accustomed to it. The prohibitions on initiating wars and showing extreme restraint in defense tend to lessen the probability that we will develop a propensity for such actions.

    Consequently, I primarily agree with Nate’s final suggestion — that war and killing (and torture even more so) are to be avoided if at all possible because such activity endangers the warrior spiritually. If this is a selfish reason, then avoidance of any sin is selfish, since they all do spiritual damage to a greater or lesser extent. The warning of the Book of Mormon is that warfare almost inevitably leads to such damage, both personally and collectively.

  5. Julien on June 27, 2004 at 7:57 am

    “…my reading of the ancient and modern prophets indicates that they justified killing under very limited circumstances: as self-defense in an extreme last resort, in certain circumstances where the Lord specifically authorizes it, and a couple of others”

    That’s exactly the way I’d put it, what I especially liked about what you said, Dan, is the EXTREME LAST RESORT part. I think that’s something we tend to overlook, and I think that’s something that’s being overlooked a lot in the current debate about the war in Iraq (not that I would wanna start a new one on that… ;). The questions are:

    1. Is the killing I’m doing really preserving life?

    2. Is there no other way I could have prevented deaths, without causing the side effects that my own killing somebody may have? (In war situations the destruction of infrastructure, broken families, civilian deaths…)

    3. Do the pros outweigh the cons of killing?

    4. Do I resort to violence because it’s “necessary” (after having answered the first three questions), or is it just more “comfortable” for me?

    Those are tough questions that would probably trigger a debate themselves, but I think they are a good point on which to start deciding on whether killing is justified, or if the possibility of one’s own death because of refusing to kill should be considered…

  6. lyle on June 27, 2004 at 9:43 am

    Julien: Will you please attempt to create a “last resort” policy that is not _situation_ specific? I.e. with the benefit of hindsight, do _not_ try & create a “last resort” for Iraq policy…but give us an idea about what you mean? Your questions above are great…but they are questions, not your answers. And if you want to admit that answers must be situation specific & can’t be known beforetime, then perhaps you might want to give others the benefit of the doubt (you know, innocent before guilty…something we American’s claim we learned from the Brits?) before passing sentence in hindsight.

  7. Julien on June 27, 2004 at 10:57 am

    lyle, I never meant to give concrete answers, that’s the whole point of the question. I’m not trying to justify my criticism of the Iraq war in hindsight, either (by the way, I had this opinion before already, and if I should be proven wrong by Iraqi stability in the not too far future, then I will be happy to admit I was wrong). I won’t try to create a last resort policy that is not situation specific, because I don’t think that such is possible. I will not try to answer my question, because I don’t believe that to be possible without talking about a specific situation and having a little more insight into the matter than I do. You told me I was passing judgment on hindsight, if I understood you right – I’m not doing it on hindsight, because that’s the opinion I had before the war started, and like I said, for the benefit of the Iraqi people and “world security” I would prefer to be proven wrong than right.

    lyle, I don’t have the answers to my questions, and I don’t believe there are any that fit just any situation. It’s something the people involved will have to ask themselves. All I tried to point out is that I find these question to be a good base to decide upon whether violence or killing is justified in a specific situation. The answer depends on the situation and on the people involved.

    (I hope you understand what I’m saying. English is only my third language after German and French, and sometimes I have a hard time coming across clearly… ;)

  8. lyle on June 27, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    Julien: your english is great. and you are probably correct re: the impossibility of pre-definining a set of criteria or conditions. however…it should be attempted to demonstrate the futility notwithstanding.

    also…if one can’t say ‘beforehand’ when it is correct/incorrect to do/not do “x,” then…I don’t think there are any grounds for criticism after the fact either. that is my not so hidden agenda in asking for ‘answers’. :)

  9. Julien on June 27, 2004 at 3:33 pm

    lyle, I understand your point, but don’t quite agree with it in every respect. I will give you a more thought over answer tomorrow, since I’m turning the computer off for the day (darn time-change…). Have a good afternoon! ..er… and the mentioning English as my third language was not intended as “fishing-for-compliments”… ;-)

  10. Julien on June 27, 2004 at 3:34 pm

    thanks for the compliment anyways! ;-)

  11. Clark Goble on June 28, 2004 at 2:07 am

    Julien, while I think your list is what most people think when they think of justifying killing, I wonder how you would judge Nephi’s actions to Laban. There it definitely wasn’t life being preserved but a religious tradition. While one could argue that Lehi and his family’s life was in danger, one could say that simply fleeing the Jerusalem area would have taken care of that…

    I also wonder about Teancum’s actions in the BoM. He is one of those complexities in the narrative that I’ve mentioned. Is he good or bad?

  12. Julien on June 28, 2004 at 3:32 am

    One thing I might say that was different about Nephi, is the fact that he was directly inspired by the Lord. The fact of his being a prophet – or being raised to become such – would make him clearly discern what was of the Spirit and what was not. I have to say, though, that if Gordon B. Hinckley told me to kill somebody, I don’t know how I’d react, even if he was the prophet… (The whole Abraham-Isaac problem).
    I think that by the killing of Laban life actually was preserved. The ownership of the scriptures was crucial for the surviving of the whole religion. Without the scriptures they would have never had a base to teach their descendants about their religion, they would have fallen like the Lamanites, no restoration, and no LDS Church today (simplified…). I believe this was a crucial thing that probably was told Nephi, and thus preserved a lot of life of the souls that otherwise would have been damned, or at least had not the opportunity for progress. I believe in this case the one death of Laban was not as “important” as the spiritual death of a whole people.

    As of Teancum, I’ll have to read up on that…

  13. Clark Goble on June 28, 2004 at 4:02 am

    Personally I think the vagueness and ambiguity with which the spirit often communicates makes Nephi or even more so Abraham’s actions quite amazing. Perhaps their revelations were considerably more clear and “miraculous” than what most of us experience.

    I’m not sure your justification of Laban works though as you seem to be confusing the survival of life (typically taken as immediate survival – i.e. some form of self defense) with survival of a *way* of life. Now I happen to think that defending ones way of life is important. But I’m not convinced there was no other way to do this. It makes for an interesting situation that I think correctly ought to make us question our conceptions of violence.

  14. Julien on June 28, 2004 at 10:15 am

    Clark, what you say makes sense, and you’ve got me standing in front of the problem with three question marks in my head… It just ain’t that easy a question, is it? ;-) I sure wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I’d have to make that sort of a decision.
    You made a good point on differentiating between “life” and “way of life”. Using violence to preserve one’s way of life is a pretty controversial thing, tons more so than preserving actual life… I don’t know what all the consequences had been, had Nephi not slain Laban, I don’t know what would have happened, had he tried harder to get to the plates without violence (I’m not even sure that what the BoM describes he did is ALL he did). All we are being told is that the Lord told him, and I frankly can’t imagine that an “everyday person” like us would be able to judge on whether something so complicated was from the Lord or not, and I sure hope I won’t be put in that sort of a situation…

  15. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 1:23 pm

    I have to agree with what Eric James Stone wrote about Anti-Nephi-Lehis and pacificism. I don’t believe there’s a single character in the entire book of Mormon who is a pacifist by today’s definition of the term.

    Clark Goble raises the question of whether Teancum is good or bad. I see Teancum as extremely heroic. He’s a sort of Book of Mormon Phinehas … he sees a blatant evil-doer who is attempting to destroy the Church, free government, etc. and personally sees to it that the evil-doer is dead. This happens in the context of war, not civil society.

    It’s interesting to see that captain Moroni and other righteous Nephite generals employed spies, infiltrated secret combinations, set up ambushes and created strategies that left their enemies mortally vulnerable … so the use of assassination as a tactic is not a problem if the target is wicked.

    I actually don’t see the Nephites as a group that were hesitant to kill or that even used violence as a last resort. I’m not saying they used violence as their first option… but as I said earlier — pacifism is simply not present in the Book of Mormon. There are no Nephite or Lamanite pacifists. Yes, people occasionally refuse to fight — but it’s never because they fully oppose the concept of violence itself.

  16. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 1:41 pm

    The fact that pacifism is so rare in the BOM is a testament is because the message of the BOM is about how pride and warfare destroys societies. Christ and the Anti-Nephi-Lehis are the exception. The fact that Nephite society couldn’t live up to those standards…and was subsequently destroyed…is a powerful message about the futility of war as a solution.

    Again…Christ is the ultimate role model. The Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s came the closest to following that model. At least initially. I would read the subsequent actions of supporting the Nephite armies and sending their children to battle as a loss of faith. The almost broke their covenants, and failed to teach their children to avoid the same mistakes they made. What was the result? We always look at the short term results–not a single one of their kids was killed. But when you look at the long term results, the People of Ammon go to the land northward, where within a generation, they have fallen away. If you go back and read Ammon’s account, the Lord says that “this generation” of converts would be blessed. The later generations fell away. Why? You can’t send a whole generation of young men off to war without wreaking serious havoc on their emotions and belief systems.

    Again…the BOM is a tragic cautionary tale. Even the Anti-Nephi-Lehis turn out to be tragic figures. Instead of roll models, they end up as another reminder of how important it is to teach correct principles to your children.

    Christ alone is left as the shinging example. As it should be. The book is a testament of Chirst. It warns us not to trust in men. To follow Christ instead. Is it possible that the Church is under condemnation (D&C 84:57) because it hasn’t got this message yet?

  17. Nate Oman on June 28, 2004 at 2:06 pm

    Rob: I asked a philosophical question that you seemed to have treated as a exegetical question. Suppose that I agree with your interpretation. I think that Republican Mormons are evil, Christ denying people. I move to Texas and the two of us open up a United Order specializing in organically grown vegatables that we raise aloft as a beacon of hope and dream of what Zion can be. In the evenings, we have philosophical discussions in which we try to work out the theoretical basis of our beliefs. As the sun sinks slowly toward the horizon on day, I turn to you and I say, “Obviously the pacifist intepretation of the Book of Mormon is correct and those who disagree are clearly Christ denyers. Still, it is a bit of an intellectual puzzle why killing is worse than death. Why do you think that this is?”

    What do you say?

  18. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 2:16 pm

    Rob,

    The Book of Mormon doesn’t depict Jesus Christ as a pacifist either. Before he appeared to the Nephites, the wicked were purged (killed) by earthquakes and other natural disasters. The text states that the wicked were killed because of their wickedness.

    3 Nephi Chapter 9:1-13
    1 And it came to pass that there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants of the earth, upon all the face of this land, crying:
    2 Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!
    3 Behold, that great city Zarahemla have I burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof.
    4 And behold, that great city Moroni have I caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned.
    5 And behold, that great city Moronihah have I covered with earth, and the inhabitants thereof, to hide their iniquities and their abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them.
    6 And behold, the city of Gilgal have I caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up in the depths of the earth;
    7 Yea, and the city of Onihah and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Mocum and the inhabitants thereof, and the city of Jerusalem and the inhabitants thereof; and waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them.
    8 And behold, the city of Gadiandi, and the city of Gadiomnah, and the city of Jacob, and the city of Gimgimno, all these have I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof; and the inhabitants thereof have I buried up in the depths of the earth, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them.
    9 And behold, that great city Jacobugath, which was inhabited by the people of king Jacob, have I caused to be burned with fire because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth, because of their secret murders and combinations; for it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land; therefore I did cause them to be burned, to destroy them from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them.

    10 And behold, the city of Laman, and the city of Josh, and the city of Gad, and the city of Kishkumen, have I caused to be burned with fire, and the inhabitants thereof, because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations.
    11 And because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them, I did send down fire and destroy them, that their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them.
    12 And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations.
    13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?

    Eric James Stone already provided a good explanation of why the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were not pacifists.

    Pacifism isn’t just “rare” in the Book of Mormon. It’s non-existent. I’m not saying there couldn’t have been any Nephite or Lamanite pacifists. But there is no record of them and there is no scriptural sanction or support for pacifism (in the Book of Mormon).

  19. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 3:21 pm

    Danithew–there may not be any pacifists according to your definition–I’ll agree that the ANLs left that position, and I argued that they did so tragically. As for the destruction before Christ’s visit, there are many ways to read this. In Revelations 7 we learn about angels that are in charge of the winds, that are told to hold them back to preserve life. Controlling natural elements, and the effects of those elements, is something we aren’t really up to speed on, so hard to make too many claims. Of course, some people blame God every time the weather kills someone. I think the role of God in killing through the weather is an intersting question…still open in my mind.

    Nate: Why is it better to be killed than to kill? I have some ideas–but these might be just my own attempts at justification. As Chris Hedges wrote in his book “War is a Force that gives us Meaning”, there are many ways in which warfare victimizes those who carry it out. There are many studies of the psychological effects of warfare on soldiers. War takes a horrible toll.

    Just look at Christianity in Europe–faith in God was devastated by WWI and WWII. Many feel that those wars were justified, at least from the American side. Really? We’re going to free Europe at the cost of destroying faith in God? It is kind of just a “what if” exercise, but can’t we imagine a world where we solved those problems without destroying so much faith? If Enoch were on the earth, and he had a Zion city state, could they have done something more in the face of those wars?

    But back to the question…why is killing (and not just war) worse than being killed? Is it selfish to not kill, just to keep your own self unspotted from that sin? Personally, I think that violence breeds violence, that you can’t break the cycle of violence without refraining from violence, even to the point of sometimes having to absorb the full force of violence.

    When the ANLs were slaughtered, that had a huge impact on the Lamanites that were killing them. They were stung for their sins. A miracle happened. Some who had previously rejected the gospel were brought to accept it when the cycle of violence was broken. When some folks laid down their lives and showed them the true costs of their actions, rather than providing legitimacy to violence by fighting back.

    So…nonviolence as a missionary tool? To break the cycle of violence? To show the world the only alternative to violence and follow the example of Christ, who was willing to die rather than perpetuate more violence?

    Nonviolence is a powerful tool…and it is not a mere selfish position. I think it is incredibly costly, often requiring the life of those who would follow it. Most aren’t willing to pay that price…which is why examples are so hard to come by, and possibly why we are still caught in endless rounds of warfare and violence rather than living in the Millenium.

  20. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 3:40 pm

    Rob,

    You’re letting yourself off the hook a bit too easily. Go back and look at 3 Nephi Chapter 9 more closely. The individual speaking uses the personal “I” over and over again saying “I destroyed this city, I burnt this city with fire, etc. and etc.” My understanding is that God the Father does not speak directly to the inhabitants of the earth on many occasiosn and then usually only a few words. This is not some random group of vigilante angels acting without God’s approval that we’re talking about here. From the language that is used it’s hard for me to see this being someone other than the Savior Himself speaking. Even if the argument is made that this is an angel — it would have to be an angel that is speaking with authority granted by God. It’s the personal “I”, claiming responsibility for the deaths and destructions that occur, that is striking to me in this context.

    One question that has occurred to me in regards to the Anti-Nephi-Lehis is this:

    Do you have to be a murderer to make an oath you will never kill?

    I am tempted at first to say that the answer could be no *except* that the Book of Mormon seems to preach that (particularly) men have a responsibility to protect their wives, children, liberty etc. even through bloodshed. I’m not sure that’s a duty a person can give up merely due to a pacifistic desire.

    Pacifism, in my mind, is too idealistic for this world, because pacifism would allow the wolves to destroy the flock. Perhaps some of the wolves would be converted but the Book of Mormon text says that in addition to those whose hearts were stung and who were converted, there were also those who simply left the scene frustrated and went on rampage somewhere else. I’ll look this up to make sure my memory is serving me properly …

    Rob, it’s a very interesting position you’ve taken, that basically the Book of Mormon is a warning against non-pacifistic societies of what happens to societies that don’t have pacifists. But the prophets within the book don’t come up with this criticism themselves. The instruction they give (and that prophets of other books of scripture give, for that matter) is that men should fight to protect their wives, children, liberty.

    I’m just not seeing a way that any man can find a moral way to evade this prophetic instruction.

    Obviously this does not translate into the idea that a man has to support every war or that every war is justifiable. Certainly not. But pacifism, as far as I can tell, is not an option that is given to the Saints by the prophets.

    Let me say it in other words. I don’t believe any prophet has ever instructed Saints that they should avoid violence to the degree that they lose their own lives in doing so. No such instruction has ever been given.

  21. Eric James Stone on June 28, 2004 at 3:42 pm

    > Personally, I think that violence breeds
    > violence, that you can’t break the cycle of
    > violence without refraining from violence, even
    > to the point of sometimes having to absorb the
    > full force of violence.

    Who did more to stop the violence of the Nazis toward the Jews?

    1. The Soviet, English, American and other allied armies, using violent means.

    2. The Jews who did not use violence and allowed themeselves to be put in concentration camps and then killed?

    By your theory, the only way to stop the Nazis is to refuse to fight them. That didn’t do the Jews a whole lot of good, did it?

    By your theory, the Nazis should still be at war with the Allies, since the allies could not break the cycle of violence by using violence.

    (Note: I’m not saying that violence can’t lead to more violence; I’m just saying that it is not inevitable.)

  22. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2004 at 4:09 pm

    Danithew,

    As we all know, anything interesting and even vaguely related to the Gospel was at some point said by Brigham Young or by someone who “heard it from the prophet Joseph Smith”. So your claim that no prophet has ever counseled complete pacifism is a pretty strong one. That said, I completely agree with your summary of 3 Nephi 9.

    While we’re at it, throw in this statement by the Spirit to Nephi when he was specifically told to kill Laban:

    12 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;

    13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

    And the fact that Pharoah’s Army was explicitly destroyed by God letting the waves fall in on them.

    I appreciate Rob’s enthusiasm. I believe that we need to be very mindful of the evils that result from war and killing. But pounding this pacifism note on the gospel keyboard too hard is unwise, given the stated text.

  23. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 4:11 pm

    Eric: You seem to have a rather common, though not very nuanced view of WWII and I think you make too many assumptions about consequences and alternatives to WWII. There wasn’t a righteous nation involved on either side there, it was a complex mess…a disaster. And yes, millions of Jews died in WWII–isn’t that one of the greatest testimonies of the 20th Century, if we will accept it, that killing is wrong? WWII wasn’t Christ’s answer to Hitler. It was Churchill and Roosevelt’s.

    Danithew wrote, “I don’t believe any prophet has ever instructed Saints that they should avoid violence to the degree that they lose their own lives in doing so”–re-read D&C 98. Our enemies are here to test us to see if we will remain in the covenant in the face of possible personal loss of life.

    As for the destruction of the wicked by Christ in 3 Nephi…that hardly is a justification for anyone else doing the same thing. If any of our leaders can descend out of a cloud (without an airplane), I’ll start listening to their arguments about the justification for leading us to war.

    To some, Christ destroying these cities will probably look like an opening for our own warfare…”I’m just doing what Jesus did–Christ destroyed people, so I’m just trying to be Christlike by destroying some evildoers.” I would have to be shown where Jesus told us to do just that. And then look at why he did that.

    Some have taken my pacifist position, or maybe my articulation of it, the wrong way. So, let me add a nuance. I don’t see it as black and white for all people at all levels of understanding. However, I think that there are clear distinctions (black and white) between different levels of approach.

    Christ is trying to get Telestial and Terrestrial people to the Celestial level. The only way to get to the Celestial level is through nonviolence. Sometimes (like the Revolutionary war, Nephite society, etc.) Christ lets Terrestrial people (but not Telestial people) off the hook on the war thing–justifying, i.e. absolving of the full consequences–self-defense. Christ usually lets the wicked destroy the wicked. Since warfare cannot be reconciled with true Christianity (Pres. McKay), sometimes Terrestrial people are allowed to defend themselves by shedding blood. Just like I sometimes let my kids get away with things that would never be acceptable behaviour in an adult. You can only justify war by accepting a lower law and to some degree falling short of the Celestial law. We are being tested to see if we will stay true to the non-compulsory strategy we adopted in the pre-mortal life, or if we will seek to impose our views by the force of arms.

    I’m in a hurry and not sure this completely states my views. Again, I’m far more interested in building Zion than in looking for theological justification for wars fought by uninspired leaders.

  24. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2004 at 4:31 pm

    Rob seems to have backed away some from the “God is a pacifist” argument in the face of evidence that God does kill people and authorize their killing. Let me try to add something to Nate’s original question that stems from thinking about God’s relation to killing.

    Resurrection is a priesthood ordinance. In that it requires the power of God to be done. Birth and death are both needed parts of the plan of salvation. They are akin to ordinances. Thus misuse of sex (which is strongly linked to birth) and misuse of violence, which is linked to death, are both, besides their other problems, a form of blasphemy. One is taking the place of God and misusing your agency to usurp His prerogative. He could stop you if He wished, but we are here to be tested, so we are free to do things we should not.

    So think of killing as performing an essential ordinance at the wrong time, in a blasphemous way, without authority. This is wrong and sinful. Letting someone kill you is to let them do a bad thing, but they are the ones who are blaspheming. Or maybe that pacifism is a failure of stewardship not to defend that which we are given but that belongs to God (our life and body) to the bitter end.

    This defense may not be wise if our previous sins make violence a spiritually dangerous path for us. In the ANL case, perhaps they were better off dying because their prior killing made them especially vulnerable to bloodthirstiness. Thus their past sins made them incapable of defending their stewardhsip without exposing many of them to a temptation they would have difficulty resisting.

  25. Nate Oman on June 28, 2004 at 4:41 pm

    “Again, I’m far more interested in building Zion than in looking for theological justification for wars fought by uninspired leaders.”

    Rob: I don’t think that this is what I am doing. I am simply trying to understand something that seems a bit odd to me.

  26. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 4:42 pm

    Rob,

    I would never use 3 Nephi Chapter 9 as a justification to destroy an entire city or people. I am not advocating all wars or an all-out war. What I am arguing against is pacifism — the complete and utter rejection of violence in any situation whatsoever. There is a difference between the two stances.

    3 Nephi 9 simply shows in a very dramatic way that Jesus is not a pacifist or an advocate of non-violence in every situation. I don’t think that God/Jesus should be used as examples of pacifism advocates — because the scriptures don’t depict them that way. The scriptural picture is much more complicated and nuanced than that. In some situations we God/Jesus advocating non-violence and in other situations we see God/Jesus advocating violence or taking responsibility for violence.

    It’s difficult then to imagine that an LDS person can conscientiously draw the conclusion that pacifism (total rejection of violence in every situation) is justifiable, without wresting the scriptures and condemning God’s words/actions?

  27. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 4:50 pm

    By the way, I found some verses that discussed the way the Lamanites reacted to the killing of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis who refused to fight in battle. Some were stung and converted. Others were frustrated and went on a rampge elsewhere. It also appears that some went through a repentance process at a later date. The results are a mixed-bag. At least though some ARE converted. That’s not a bad thing.

    Alma 25:1-9
    1 And behold, now it came to pass that those Lamanites were more angry because they had slain their brethren; therefore they swore vengeance upon the Nephites; and they did no more attempt to slay the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi at that time.
    2 But they took their armies and went over into the borders of the land of Zarahemla, and fell upon the people who were in the land of Ammonihah and destroyed them.
    3 And after that, they had many battles with the Nephites, in the which they were driven and slain.
    4 And among the Lamanites who were slain were almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah, and they were slain by the hands of the Nephites;
    5 And the remainder, having fled into the east wilderness, and having usurped the power and authority over the Lamanites, caused that many of the Lamanites should perish by fire because of their belief—
    6 For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.
    7 And it came to pass that those rulers who were the remnant of the children of Amulon caused that they should be put to death, yea, all those that believed in these things.
    8 Now this martyrdom caused that many of their brethren should be stirred up to anger; and there began to be contention in the wilderness; and the Lamanites began to hunt the seed of Amulon and his brethren and began to slay them; and they fled into the east wilderness.
    9 And behold they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites. Thus the words of Abinadi were brought to pass, which he said concerning the seed of the priests who caused that he should suffer death by fire.

  28. Jordan Fowles on June 28, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    Hey- is this another argument that I could use to support a view of God as a utilitarian? The conversion of a few was worth the slaughter of the many, because at the end of the day that slaughter was for the greater good- ie more souls being saved in the Kingdom of God?

  29. Eric James Stone on June 28, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    > It’s difficult then to imagine that an LDS
    > person can conscientiously draw the conclusion
    > that pacifism (total rejection of violence in
    > every situation) is justifiable, without
    > wresting the scriptures and condemning God’s
    > words/actions?

    Danithew, I think we need to draw a distinction between believing that pacifism is a justifiable course of action for a particular person, and believing it is the only justifiable course of action for all people.

    I don’t really have much of a problem with someone who has genuinely decided as a matter of conscience that they would rather die than use violence against another human being.

    What I do have a problem with is people who insist that anyone who does not believe the same is un-Christian, or not following a higher, Celestial law, or in some other way is less righteous than they are.

  30. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 5:52 pm

    Eric: I’m not claiming to be more righteous. I may or may not live up to what I believe. However, I do see nonviolence as a higher ideal than violence (something I don’t think you object to, you just think sometimes it is unavoidable in persuing some even higher ideal–am I mis-stating your position here?).

    What I’m trying to show is that pacifism (I don’t like to use this term, because it is too broad–taking in opposition to war based on a whole range of reasons) as taught by Christ is the only ideal for those who try to follow his teachings and build Zion. There are other standards for other people, and other mansions in Our Fathers kingdom for them.

    If we seek to follow the teachings of Jesus, we can’t use God’s killing of people (if such is the case) as justification for violating his express command not to kill, to renounce war, and proclaim peace. God may not be a pacifist–I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about that, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away–but as our living example Jesus Christ was, and He has repeatedly and consistently taught us to reject war. That’s why war cannot be reconciled to true Christianity. You can come up with moral justifications for war, but not without violating Christ’s teachings.

    But as members of Christ’s church, we shouldn’t be looking for justifications for war. Christ may allow people who can’t live his teachings to be justified in engaging in war…but only under the most controlled of circumstances we read about in D&C 98. And justification is a far cry from sanctification. Just because it is justified (full guilt will not be ascribed) doesn’t make it right. I can be justified in doing something, and still chose not to do it. And in the case of warfare, in D&C 98 it still isn’t clear that violent ends are justified. Being commanded to go to battle or having enemies placed “in your hands” still doesn’t necessarily justify the taking of life. There might still be ways to fight your enemies without lethal force.

    So far, I haven’t denied the words of any prophet and seen a consistent message…war cannot be reconciled with the teachings of Jesus. Sometimes people do wrong things. Sometimes Christ even lets them do it without paying the full price of their actions. That doesn’t make it right.

  31. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 5:59 pm

    Nate:
    Didn’t mean to imply that you were necessarily among the war justifiers on this thread (and others…I feel like I’m being flanked by multiple threads!). There are several conversations going on here…I was referring to one of them.

    As for your question, I’ve tried to put down a few initial ideas about why it is better to be killed than to kill. I’m not sure that they rise above “its a commandment not to kill” and that killing takes a horrible toll on the killer. An interesting question, I’m sure if we could see as God sees, we’d have a more interesting take on this.

  32. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2004 at 6:05 pm

    Tell me if you disagree with the following or if I’m missing something important:

    Nephi killed Laban.
    He was told to do it by the Lord.
    If he hadn’t have done it, that would have been wrong.
    When he was told to do it, God stated explicitly that the death of this man was better than the alternative.

    So what am I missing? If you are arguing that we don’t kill people in the Celestial kingdom, I’m with you. But here is a very clear case where God orders a killing and says that it is the right thing to do.

    If you say this is an exception that’s fine, but now you have a pretty little setup: if God specifically authorizes a killing, it’s an exception. If he doesn’t, its wrong. Either way, your pacifism can never be shown to be wrong.

  33. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    FYI:

    My understanding is that the commandment not to kill in the Ten Commandments is not clearly against all killing. It may just be against murder. This is the annotation I saw from the Hebrew anyway.

  34. jeremobi on June 28, 2004 at 6:24 pm

    “Either way, your pacifism can never be shown to be wrong.”

    Nice insight, Frank. I like the way you think. Rob knows he’s on the fringe and that his faithful interpretation is only one of many—it’s his own.

    But his “pacifism” as I understand is not based on some appeal to scientific method and whether it can be invalidated.

    How could we invalidate the Nephi-Laban story as you see it? Do you know for certain what exactly the Spirit told Nephi? Or that the event really happened? How do you know it? By faith, right? I bet it’s the same for Rob.

  35. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 6:29 pm

    Rob,

    Interesting point you make, that war might be justified but not sanctified. I can see that as a possibility. It could explain why God would command violence at certain points but at the same time we can have a counsel to “renounce war.” It could also explain how captain Moroni could engage in bloody war but not love bloodshed. We are not supposed to delight in the downfall of our enemies and this is definitely something to think about.

    Eric James Stone,
    I do think its morally wrong for an individual pacifist to renounce all forms of violence in any kind of context. This is denial of the reality that it is at least sometimes necessary to resist evil with violence. In certain situations this isn’t just an individual right but an individual responsibility. Renouncing violence in all its forms, in any context = allowing evil, in certain situations, to do whatever it wants.

    There is a real responsibility to resist evil, even sometimes with violence. I remember reading the anger many Jewish people felt that so many Jewish people had gone meekly into the Nazi ovens. I am not about to point a finger at the victims of the Holocaust myself (I’m not worthy) but I think sometimes those who are most passive or pacifist are not so noble in allowing evil to trample over themselves (and then afterwards others). As has already been referenced many times, the Anti-Nephi-Lehis had a very unique relationship with the issue of murder/violence and were atoning for that sin in the only way they knew how. But even they did not utterly renounce the sometimes need for violence. The mothers who had taken the oath taught their sons to take up the sword. This was absolutely vital and morally necessary because otherwise the Nephites would have been burdened by a group of people who were enjoying their protection without offering any support to the war efforts and sacrifices that the Nephites had taken upon themselves. Total pacifism on the part of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis would have been immoral and selfish.

    An individual who renounces all forms of violence, in any context, is selfishly and self-righteously refusing to admit the societal and governmental obligation that exists to defend the innocent, the weak, etc. from the ruthless people who exist in every society. In addition, they are refusing to recognize the validity and heroism of those who are recognizing their obligation and sacricing their lives as a result. To condemn all violence in all contexts is to critize a lot of people who deserve the utmost admiration and respect.

  36. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    I don’t want to judge Nephi here, but how do we know if he did the right thing? Maybe, like Abraham or Jacob he could have wrestled with the Lord to come up with an alternative. We have a very short account of this here. It _may_ be the clearest refutation of a pacifist position. But it seems to be more of an anomolie…which makes me wonder if there isn’t another interpretation we should have here.

    I am left wondering if there wasn’t another alternative. And think about all the repurcussions of Nephi’s actions. Laman and Lemuel now consider him dangerous…willing to kill because he hear’s voices. Eventually, Laman and Lemuel feel (we would say unjustifiably) that Nephi is a threat that should be eliminated. They have all the evidence they need…they know he’ll kill a drunk guy…maybe they’re next? Does this contribute to the disintigration of their family? Is the whole story of the struggles of the BOM an example of what happens when fathers force their children to do things against their will (why did Lehi compell all his sons to go with him instead of letting them stay) and people use violence to further their otherwise righteous aims? I may be the only one wondering here, but it seems to be a viable message one could take away from reading the BoM.

    Instead of using this story to justify something Christ strictly forbids everywhere else, I’m trying to see how the message might be different than originally suspected. I’m not trying to twist scriptures, just seeing if there might be something more there.

  37. Rob on June 28, 2004 at 6:39 pm

    Danithew: “An individual who renounces all forms of violence, in any context, is selfishly and self-righteously refusing to admit the societal and governmental obligation”

    No…it might mean that they recognize that their society is corrupt and they see the only way to build a Zion society is to not participate, and even actively preach opposition, to participating in the wars of that society.

    As for being self-righteous, that’s hard to prove. Selfish–not if they are willing to lose their life to follow Christ’s nonviolent teachings.

    Moroni didn’t build Zion. If you follow him you will get what he did, a flawed society that eventually collapsed in violence and bloodshed. Even his valiant wars didn’t hold off the Lamanites for long…a couple years later the wars continued and the Lamanites took over Zarahemla. Moroni lost. He just happened to die in a respite from the fighting.

    I’m trying to follow Christ here. Feel free to follow Moroni. I’m just trying to point out that if you do, you’re bound to get the same results…not Zion, but an endless round of wars that will lead to the destruction of our own society.

  38. Frank McIntyre on June 28, 2004 at 7:01 pm

    Jeremobi,

    I know what the spirit told Nephi because we have the record of what the spirit said and I have faith that the record is true. We all share that faith at some level. But we don’t share this pacifism that Rob espouses nor should such a pacifism be integral to one’s testimony in the way the Book of Mormon is.

    The scientific comparison is a little off, I am taking the scriptures as the source of knowledge, not an experiment. Thus the “tests” are looking at scriptures assuming them to be true.

    Rob,

    If you want to argue that this is a special case and so killing is only justified when directly ordered, you are free to do so. To say that Nephi was wrong to kill Laban is another thing entirely. This is why it is a bad idea to exalt certain ideas too highly. You start making arguments about why prophets of God are actually murderers and that the Book of Mormon starts off with a lie about at least one revelation.

    You talk as if is some huge repository of statements by Christ swearing off all violence. I know of no such repository.

    We are to love our enemies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kill them. Turning the other cheek is in response to insults.

    Almost every prophet is the Book of Mormon fought in wars. Joseph Smith, who started a milita, shot at the men who came to kill him. Brigham Young was also not a pacifist. Neither is Gordon B. Hinckley. Why is your interpretation of the scriptures so different than theirs? What secret insight do you have?

    There are some prophetic statements encouraging us to be more peaceful. I think those are correct. But that is a long haul from “never-kill” pacifism.

  39. Nate Oman on June 28, 2004 at 7:07 pm

    Rob:

    It seems that you have offered essentially two argumetns. First, you claim that killing inevitably twists the soul in some irredeemable or at least unjustified way. Second, you claim that killing leads inevitablely to social decline and catastrophe.

    I am not sure what to make of your first claim. I think that it needs to be fleshed out a bit more. Your second claim, however, seems like a bit of slippery slope fallacy. You seem to suggest that societies that condone killing are inevitably engulfed in violence and anarchy a la the Book of Mormon. This is empirically false. Hence my problem with this line of argument.

  40. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 7:09 pm

    Maybe this verse will satisfy something in each of our arguments. This is a verse where Moroni is specifically speaking to the “remnant of this people” …

    Moroni 7:14
    Know ye that ye must lay down your weapons of war, and delight no more in the shedding of blood, and take them not again, save it be that God shall command you.

    I’m going to stop arguing here. I’m not sure we’re actually achieving anything. I doubt either of us would budge much in the positions we have taken.

  41. Matt Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:16 pm

    Rob,

    You’re invoking a double standard. You suggest we view the Moroni through the lens of his failure to establish Zion and perpetual peace, but conveniently forget that Christ failed to transform his society into Zion, too.

    Because you presumably don’t think I should dismiss Christ because of his inability to create Zion at Jerusalem, you’ll need to propose a different standard for weighing Christ’s and Moroni’s achievements.

  42. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:17 pm

    “societies that condone killing are inevitably engulfed in violence and anarchy a la the Book of Mormon. This is empirically false.”

    Actually, it’s empirically true, isn’t it? Ultimately, all societies are engulfed in violence and anarchy. What remains to be seen is whether they are so engulfed as a direct result of their attitudes towards killing.

  43. Kingsley on June 28, 2004 at 7:18 pm

    “I’m trying to follow Christ here. Feel free to follow Moroni.”

    Holy Hannah, do you have any idea how simpering & self-righteous that sounds? Please, please, please at least try to assume that people who disagree with you (including Pres. Hinckley & Moroni) are trying to follow Christ too.

  44. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:30 pm

    Kingsley, settle down man!

    There’s nothing “simpering & self-righteous” about what Rob is saying. In fact, it’s an interesting perspective — Moroni was a military leader, geared towards the struggles of his age. I can see how one could suggest that some of what he is saying is based on principles of conflict and armed struggle. I’m sure that Rob wasn’t trying to discard ALL of Moroni’s writings or suggest that Moroni wasn’t a follower of Christ. But to the extent one chooses to totally put war aside, Moroni’s teachings in that respect would become somewhat irrelevant, wouldn’t they?

    Of course, that would mean you’d agree that being a pacifist is a doctrinally valid choice. That seems unlikely…

  45. Kingsley on June 28, 2004 at 7:36 pm

    Steve Evans: No, I’d agree that being a pacifist is a doctrinally valid choice. I doubt that Rob would extend me the same courtesy. Taken with the rest of his war comments, Rob’s most recent comment does exclude Moroni (at least warrior-Moroni, which is pretty much all we have of him) as a follower of Christ. I stand by my “self-righteous & simpering” comment. Go ahead & follow Moroni, meanwhile I’m going to follow Christ is exactly that.

  46. Eric James Stone on June 28, 2004 at 7:38 pm

    > However, I do see nonviolence as a higher ideal
    > than violence (something I don’t think you
    > object to, you just think sometimes it is
    > unavoidable in persuing some even higher ideal–
    > am I mis-stating your position here?).

    Rob, I think you’ve stated my position correctly.

    Given a choice between a violent and a non-violent method of achieving the same objective, I think just about everyone on this board would agree that the non-violent method is preferable.

    So, the question then becomes, are there any ideals higher than non-violence? If not, then violence cannot be justified.

    I would say that as Latter-day Saints, there is at least one ideal that must take precedence over non-violence, and that is obedience to God.

    There are several reasons for this, the most important of which is that, in the context of eternity, violence here on earth has little meaning except as part of the trials of mortal existence, whereas the very purpose of those trials is to determine our willingness to obey God.

    (Note: This context explains why, if we are commanded to do nothing to prevent innocents from being killed by evildoers [as happened to Alma and Amulek], it is the correct thing to do. In the eternal context, it does not matter whether we or others are killed or die of natural causes. What matters is our obedience to God.)

    Now, if obedience to God is a higher ideal than non-violence, then violence in obedience to God can be justified. At that point, the debate becomes whether violence in a particular situation is truly in obedience to God.

    But the only way I can see for the Mormon pacifist to be able to maintain that violence is never justified is by maintaining that God has commanded against all use of violence, and there are no exceptions to that command.

  47. Matt Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:39 pm

    Steve,

    If you go back and read Rob’s comments, you’ll find he frequently suggests that he and Christ are engaged in one work, the rest of us engaged in another. I thought it was fair of Kingsley, who didn’t seem unsettled to me, to point out that Rob’s language is unnecessarily condescending.

  48. danithew on June 28, 2004 at 7:45 pm

    I would like to challenge Rob to a boxing match to settle this once and for all.

    Just kidding. :) For one thing, even if I could get him to fight me, I’d probably lose.

  49. Kingsley on June 28, 2004 at 7:46 pm

    “Moroni was a military leader, geared towards the struggles of his age. I can see how one could suggest that some of what he is saying is based on principles of conflict and armed struggle.”

    Moroni did not choose what went into the BoM based on visions of our day, Mormon did.

  50. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:57 pm

    Kingsley, not sure what this has to do with what I wrote, but:

    1. Mormon didn’t dictate what Moroni wrote.
    2. Moroni did in fact choose his words based on visions of our day: see Mormon 8:35.

    Does that make a difference, somehow?

  51. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 7:57 pm

    Matt, I guess just get upset when others attempt to usurp my name-calling role around here.

  52. Eric James Stone on June 28, 2004 at 8:15 pm

    Um, there were two Moronis. Try not to confuse them.

  53. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    EJD, I’m talking about Moroni, son of Mormon, last Nephite prophet… hee hee! Wrong Moroni! I had to read back about 5,000 posts to try and figure out which Moroni everyone was talking about! Stupid nephites and their lack of nomenclature…

  54. Kingsley on June 28, 2004 at 8:36 pm

    Steve Evans: I simply meant that one cannot dismiss the Captain Moroni portions by saying, “Well of course Captain Moroni is going to present himself & his cause in a heroic, righteous light,” as Captain Moroni didn’t choose what went into the BoM (I didn’t realize you were speaking of the later Moroni). Attributing the “I have seen your day” statement to Mormon was a slip-up.

    I still think it’s a rather tortured stretch to dismiss great hunks of the BoM with “Well, that was their perspective back then.” When you doubt that I would agree to the doctrinal validity of pacifism, you highlight a depressing phenomenon: the assumption that the ability to admire both the Anti-Nephi-Lehies & the Standard of Liberty Nephites simultaneously somehow equals a Patton-esque love of war. Rather, it points to an ability to deal with paradox, to believe that, depending on the situation, seemingly contradictory positions can be held by a Christian without him nullifying his Christian-ness. So far, I have not seen any admirers of the Standard of Liberty Nephites either dismiss or explain away the Anti-Nephi-Lehies—they seem to be able to appreciate both groups on their own merits—while some Anti-Nephi-Lehies admirers seem to be unwilling or unable to acknowledge the Standard of Liberty Nephites (or their Latter-day equivalents) as valid Christians. It seems strange that those who have taken the most (popularly at least) liberal position are unwilling to extend their liberality to opposing viewpoints, & stranger still that they would accuse Nephi (in the case of his killing Laban) of self-serving after-the-fact rationalization or Moroni of bending to the stresses of his day rather than temper their position even slightly.

  55. Steve Evans on June 28, 2004 at 10:07 pm

    Kingsley, if it makes you feel better, I consider myself a pacifist/anti-nephi-lehi admirer, but I admire Captain Moroni and the bravery of Nephites fighting for their liberty. Perhaps I am the exception to what you’ve seen thus far. I haven’t engaged in the rationalizations you describe, for that matter.

    More likely, most run-of-the-mill liberal people aren’t speaking up. I think you’d find that most ‘liberal’ members (whatever that means) would be able to admire both types of BoM heroes. I have the action figures for both, in any event.

  56. Kingsley on June 28, 2004 at 10:18 pm

    “More likely, most run-of-the-mill liberal people aren’t speaking up. I think you’d find that most ‘liberal’ members (whatever that means) would be able to admire both types of BoM heroes. I have the action figures for both, in any event.”

    I’m sure you’re right. An extremist marks his terrority the same way a wolf does. It’s uncharitable for me to read run-of-the-mill non-participation as run-of-the-mill acquiescence. & I didn’t know they made action figures of Anti-Nephi-Lehies. That’s interesting. Hopefully, kids’ll see them as more than cannon fodder.

  57. jeremobi on June 29, 2004 at 1:54 am

    danithew:

    Rob stands about 6’2″, 225-230 lbs–but he’s no Tyson. I’d be happy to provide the Sockem’ Boppers! :>)

  58. StephanF on July 1, 2004 at 2:37 pm

    I just discovered this site and this is a great thread but there is something that seems to be missing here. The Lamanites are often described as “delighting in the shedding of blood.”

    I have always gotten the feeling that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were fighting an addiction to killing. They didn’t take the oath because they thought killing was never justified, remember later when they were going to break the oath to help the Nephites, but because they liked-no, enjoyed, killing so much. They were rightly afraid of going back to the way they were, particularly now that they knew that killing was bad.

    God could be merciful because the Lamanite culture encouraged killing and so they didn’t know better but after they were converted they did know better and while that would not stop them any more then the Nephites from protecting themselves, they understood themselves well enough that they had an addiction to killing and so had to stop cold turkey and never do it again or most likely turn into berserkers far worse then the Lamanites ever thought to be.

    Just some thoughts I have had on the subject.

  59. StephanF on July 1, 2004 at 2:39 pm

    I just discovered this site and this is a great thread but there is something that seems to be missing here. The Lamanites are often described as “delighting in the shedding of blood.”

    I have always gotten the feeling that the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were fighting an addiction to killing. They didn’t take the oath because they thought killing was never justified, remember later when they were going to break the oath to help the Nephites, but because they liked-no, enjoyed, killing so much. They were rightly afraid of going back to the way they were, particularly now that they knew that killing was bad.

    God could be merciful because the Lamanite culture encouraged killing and so they didn’t know better but after they were converted they did know better and while that would not stop them any more then the Nephites from protecting themselves, they understood themselves well enough that they had an addiction to killing and so had to stop cold turkey and never do it again or most likely turn into berserkers far worse then the Lamanites ever thought to be.

    Just some thoughts I have had on the subject.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.