Now on to some spiritual inspirations.
I chuckled when one woman in our Sunday School class today said, "I read this week's assignment and couldn't for the life of me figure out what we were going to get out of it! All it contains is wars and more wars."
We all laughed and nodded our heads. Though I hadn't read the assignment myself, I knew going in there was far more to the last 21 Alma chapters of the Book of Mormon than talk of wars and strategy. This woman, as well as the rest of us, came away with a better understanding of what we, and those who lead us, need to remember in times of war. These are the principles that should govern our attitudes and actions.
No matter how much we absolutely hate the idea of going to war, there are times when war is necessary. There are times when bloodshed is unavoidable. What's important is the reason behind the war.
In the Alma chapters we are dealing with two different factions: Lamanites, who wanted to rule unrighteously over everyone, and the Nephites, who were God's people. As we read in Alma 43:9-11,
9 And now the design of the Nephites was to support their lands, and their
houses, and their wives, and their children, that they might preserve them
from the hands of their enemies; and also that they might preserve their
rights and their privileges, yea, and also their liberty, that they might worship God according to their desires.
10 For they knew that if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites, that whosoever should worship God in spirit and in truth, the true and the living God, the Lamanites would destroy.
11 Yea, and they also knew the extreme hatred of the Lamanites towards their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, who were called the people of Ammon—and they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it—therefore, if they should fall into the hands of the Lamanites they would be destroyed.
The Nephites were fighting for their families, for liberty, and for the chance to worship God according to their own wishes. Sound familiar? Is this not one of the main reasons the first immigrants to the Americas revolted against the King of England? If we are to go to war, let it be for righteous reasons. Not for gain, not for unrighteous dominion, not for power or money. Let it be in behalf of those things we, as mankind, are entitled to: freedom from oppression.
I wish I could recall exactly where the quote had come from, but our teacher related to us words spoken by one of our latter-day apostles, saying there are times we will be called into enter in to war. Why is this significant? There is a big difference between entering into something someone else has started, rather than starting it ourselves. We cannot be the instigators. This is not the Lord's way.
Neither should we shed blood when it is not necessary. At one point the Nephites had the Lamanites surrounded. They could have finished the wicked men off, knowing they probably wouldn't have to deal with going to war again for at least a while. They could have remained in peace. Instead they chose to offer a deal as we can read in Alma 44:1-2, 6.
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.
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.
If the Lamanites were willing to deliver up their weapons of war, return to their own families, and not come against them again, the Nephites would set them free. These men did not want blood on their hands. They did not want to fight. They didn't set their hearts in anger and hatred against those who came against them. How many of us can say the same?
By simple numbers the Lamanites should logically have been able to do away with the Nephites, but this was rarely the case. The reason for this is stated plainly in Alma 44:3-4.
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.
These men had such great faith in their Lord, they knew He could and would sustain them and strengthen them in this time of need, so long as their desires remained righteous. Those who have the Lord behind them will ever come out the victor.
My favorite came from the last verses we specifically pointed out. They are found in Alma 48:11-13, and speak specifically of Moroni, the captain over the Nephites. I believe this man represents the perfect example of what a righteous leader is.
11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;
12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
How many of our government leaders do you know who'd gladly give up their lives in the pursuit of our countries rights, people, and religions? Can you imagine what an extraordinary force this country would be if we were led by such men and women?
War is never wanted. It is sometimes necessary. Fortunately we have a Heavenly Father and Brother who are ever looking after those of us who enter into a war for the right reasons.