The Book of Mormon is filled with doctrines and principles that invite us to come to our Savior for redemption. Nephi teaches us that we:
“...talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26).
So, I have often wondered why Mormon included so many chapters dealing with war in his record. He was a soldier/general in his own time and the connection there is pretty clear, but what did he hope to accomplish by adding the experiences of Captain Moroni, Helaman, Teancum, and many others to the record?
Maybe his purpose was to give us hints about ways to prepare for and overcome the influences that he saw in his visions of the future. Like most prophets, the times he witnessed were not his – his own people were fast approaching annihilation and anonymity. They were beyond help but the future generations (those in our day) might find some assistance in the experiences of the past if he were to record them for their benefit.
With that in mind, I have selected several short excerpts from the Book of Alma that Mormon included to guide us in the battles we will face. The war for the souls of our families and friends is real and the guidance given in these snippets are inspired by a Godly concern for the welfare of future generations. I present them for your perusal and use if you find them sufficient for your needs.
#1 – Alma 43:9, 48:10 – Know why and who you are fighting
Every war has ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ The challenge is recognizing which is which. The battles faced as parents, leaders, and individuals are very much like the wars waged all through history. The difference between who is good and who is bad really depends on the motives for fighting.
In these first few verses, Mormon invites us to remember that if the purpose for war is to protect families (wives, children, etc.) and maintain the rights of liberty and peace (including the right to worship as desired) then the battle is justified. Any other purpose is probably selfish in its origin (position, money, glory, power, etc.).
#2 – Alma 43:23-24 – Collect data any way possible
Any good general craves information about the enemy so he can be prepared. Sometimes it comes easily but most often it requires great effort to get the kind of knowledge that will result in defeat of an enemy. Protectors must be willing to go to many extremes to understand and know what is happening in the lives of those they seek to protect. How else will leaders know the challenges that confront the ones they serve?
And yes, there will be times when it is necessary to seek out spies to help with the reconnaissance. All the help available should be used. Despite what some may say, keeping eyes and options open is the only way to avoid defeat in this great battle. Parents and family should not be ashamed to search out answers to important questions to protect loved ones.
#3 – Alma 44:1-5 – Fight, but be careful not to make total destruction the goal
Righteous efforts to maintain safety often result in confrontations between competing parties. These experiences can degrade into a battle of wills and a desire to totally destroy the offending parties. One of the things Mormon highlights in the wars led by Captain Moroni is the desire he (Captain Moroni) had to protect the lives of all participants. His was never a war designed to annihilate the enemy. He only wanted to stop the aggression and invite those who sought to destroy freedom to change their ways.
Parents and leaders are not out to destroy those they serve and love. The purpose of their battling is to keep the way safe for those whom they care to protect. If the enemy will stop trying to drag their children or family away, they will cease to use the tactics of war to stop them.
#4 – Alma 49:3-5 – Remember the past and prepare for the future
When a battle is won, don’t forget the things that were done to bring victory. Build on the weaknesses that invited the original challenges and use the knowledge gathered to prepare for the next event. It also helps to remember the words of Jesus, quoted by Mormon, in the book of Ether:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them (Ether 12:27)
Enemies will recognize weaknesses, often before combatants do, and use them to overcome. All who would protect have to be humble enough to realize they are weak and make the adjustments necessary to overcome those challenges.
#5 – Alma 53:8-9 – Avoid contentions in the ranks
Every adversary looks for ways to invite dissension amongst their enemies. The easiest battle to win is the one fought against a divided enemy. Whatever is done must be done in love and with an eye single to the Glory of God. His influence must be the foundation for everything. Only with His help can the war of this life be won.
Mormon was a great general and worked hard in his life to protect his people. He was ultimately a failure as a general but his teachings can be the foundation of our own success in the personal war with wickedness. Using his counsel we can stand firm and find safety in the doctrines and principles as taught by Jesus Christ through his living prophets. The words are true and the power is in them.