(A talk given in Sacrament Meeting, July 10, 1994, Laguna 2nd Ward, Sacramento, CA Stake. IN Entry: Moroni1)
As I was asked to speak on Book of Mormon stories, I immediately thought of a section of the book we do not often talk about: That of Capitan Moroni. As I thought of this, I realized that I have questioned why the stories surrounding Capitan Moroni have been included in the Book of Mormon. Capitan Moroni is somewhat a unique individual in the Book of Mormon. Capitan Moroni is not a prophet, missionary, or king. He has no “religious” duties so far as the book records. He is somewhat similar to Mormon, except we also consider Mormon to be a prophet, as author of the Book of Mormon.
Not only does Captain Moroni have not religious responsibilities in this most religious book, he seems to have a job which is very irreligious–Captain of the Nephite armies.. The nagging question (and not just for me I am afraid) is “Why does a book which is another testament of Jesus Christ (the Prince of Peace) deal so much with war?” Because of these questions, I have not been able to apply these stories to my life as easily as I have other stories from the Book of Mormon.
However, after another review of this section of the Book of Mormon (Alma chapters 43-63) I believe I have found some additional insights.
Let’s first set the stage for these chapters. The Nephites were under a democratic government; with Pahoran is serving as the Chief Judge. The Zormamites had just become Lamanites. Alma the Younger completed a number of missions, and has just be translated (Alma 45:18-19). Helaman, his son, becomes the head of the church.
May I suggest the following for your next reading of the chapters about Captain Moroni: First, I think of these passages less as teaching about war with a physical enemy, and more about the battle with the enemy of all righteousness. We all must do battle with the enemies of our souls. We should prepare for the these battles, both individually and as a church, by following the example of Captain Moroni.
Second, look for the lessons Captain Moroni has to teach as a model citizen and political leader. We will review some of the lessons together in just a moment.
II We should defend our homes, families, religion and freedom,
We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life (D&C 134:2)
President Benson’s quote from The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner pages 8 – 9
III We should seek for good people to lead us and
IV We should be good people when in public service
President George Washington, in his first Inaugural Address acknowledge the hand of God in the establishment of our country when he said
It would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe,–who presides in the Councils of Nations,–and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States. . . .–No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the affairs of men more than the People of the Unitied States.
We should not fear to let our feelings be known about our devotion to God while serving our fellow man.
V We may need to use political tools even though we do not wish to
We may find aspects of the political process distasteful. We may not enjoy writing letters, attending precinct meetings, or even voting. We must use the weapons available to us to fight the battles that must be fought if we are to maintain our liberty.
VI We should not use political tools when it is not necessary, and
VII We should stop using political tools when our objective is achieved
In more than one instance Moroni ended a battle before all the enemy were destroyed in an attempt to prevent the killing of more individuals. He also sought out ways to achieve his objectives without using political means when possible.
VIII We have different callings in this life
We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he [God] hold men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society. (D&C 134:1)
If God has instituted government, then serving our government should be considered service to God. It is not less legitimate than service within the church.
IX We should prepare to avoid problems, rather than react to them
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Take Especial Care of Your Family”, Ensign May 1994, pp. 89-91
. . . As parenting declines, the need for policing increases. There will always be a shortage of police if there is a shortage of effective parents! Likewise, there will not be enough prisons if there are not enough good homes. . . .
Brothers and sisters, we may not be able to change such trends, but we can refuse to be part of them. . . .
Society should focus anew on the headwateres–the family–where values can be taught, lived, experienced, and perpetuated. Otherwise, brothers and sisters, we will witness even more widespread flooding downstream, featuring even more corruption and violence (see Gen. 6:11-12; Matt. 24:37).
If the combination of rainmakers prevails, however, the rains will continue to descend, and the floods will continue to come. Dikes and sandbags downstream will be no match for the coming crests. More and more families, even nations, if built upon secular sand instead of gospel granite, will suffer.
As the number of dysfunctional families increases, their failures will spill into already burdened schools and streets. It is not a pretty scene even now.
Nations in which traditional idealism gives way to modern cynicism will forfeit the blessings of heaven, which they so urgently need, and such nations will also lose legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens. . . .
X We should be united
Although we are free to chose, we are also responsible for our choices
According to the laws and constitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles; That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgement
Therefore we should be careful what we choose to support
Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name; For this is a very sore and grievous sin against me, and against my people . . . (D&C 101:97-98)
XI Other lessons
The 2000 stripling warriors teach of what the impact of youth can be for good. I remember learning what an influence I, as a 17 year old, could have on adults when I served a the youth representative for the Utah Swimming Association. They asked for my opinion on how we should use some funds which were available to us, and I told them what I thought should be done. I was surprised when they followed my suggestion. I did not know I could have such an impact upon people so much older and wiser than myself.
Moroni’s letter to Pahoran, the chief judge, teaches that we must do all that we are able before we can expect the Lord’s assistance in our behalf. It also teaches us that our aim in governmental service should not be pride and ambition to service to other.
Pahoran’s response teaches that we should be willing to forgive when other’s make mistakes, even if they are directed towards us.