Earlier this year, I wrote about our children being plates, and our duty as parents to ‘labor diligently’ to engrave the important teachings upon them. Since then, I have noticed a few other situations in which we can substitute our role as parents (that includes teachers, leaders, and adults in general) into the stories and characters of the Book of Mormon to make them come alive. In this case, I would like to use one of the most famous letters written in the entire record, and read it as if it was written directly to you (or us, since I am including myself in this audience).
Background for the Book of Mormon story: The year is approx. 62 BC (a.k.a the 30th year of the reign of the judges) and the Nephites have been battling the Lamanites since Amalickiah dissented and joined the Lamanites and stirred them up to anger which started this monstrous war way back in the 19th year of the reign of the judges. That means that at this point, these two nations have been battling for over 11 years. The Nephites had just regained several cities on the heels of the miraculous story of the strippling warriors, and yet, in a time when the Nephites should have really finished the Lamanites off and ended the war, the people of Nephihah are driven out by the Lamanites, and both Helaman and Moroni noticed (and are astonished) that the provisions, troops, and support that should have been sent out (that Moroni had assumed had been sent to Nephihah) to each of their respective armies (from their homeland Zarahemla) are much less than what they should be. This leads Moroni (as it did Helaman and his other chief captains) to become “exceedingly sorrowful, and they “began to doubt” if the Nephites would be victorious.
Now let’s pause to understand that Nephi did not doubt the Lord, not one bit. What he did doubt was the righteousness of the people, citizens, and leaders in the entire Nephite nation. He knew 100% that victory can only come with righteousness. He also knew that any Lamanite success was directly related to to the wickedness of his own people (Alma 59:11-13). This situation made Moroni angry – leading him to write a letter to the guy in charge – Pahoran, and that is where we find ourselves in this story.
Background for how that story can relate to our lives: The year is 2016, and the battle between good and evil has been raging on for pretty much as long as there has been people. There have been many successes by good, yet evil keeps taking over cities which we assumed were in safe hands, and it keeps invading families, communities, and our children’s schools that we also assumed were guarded, protected, and safe. This evil has made its way into our homes through various types of media and ‘entertainment’. We could say that evil is gaining the upper hand and people have been forced to flee Nephihah on their way to ‘complain’ to Moroni. So, Moroni writes us (the guys in charge of our children) a letter (found in Alma chapter 60). Let’s assume that Moroni is a representative of the youth of the church. Someone who is knee deep in the battles that our young people face in the world today – and is aware of their condition.
1 … Behold, I direct mine epistle to (insert name) …and also to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war.
As parents, we were chosen to govern and manage the affairs of this war (between good and evil) and the troops who are fighting in that battle.
2 … Ye have been appointed to gather together men, and arm them with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war of every kind, and send them forth against the Lamanites.
As parents, are we ‘arming’ our children with ‘all manner of weapons of war’? Because the enemy is.
3 … The troops (our children, their friends, the young people of the church) have suffered exceedingly great sufferings; yea, even [spiritual] hunger, thirst, and fatigue, and all manner of afflictions of every kind.
5 … Great has been the slaughter among our people; yea, thousands have fallen by the sword, while it might have otherwise been if ye had rendered unto our armies sufficient strength and succor for them. Yea, great has been your neglect towards us.
Could these verses be any more true about our youth today?
7 Can you think to sit upon your [couches] in a state of thoughtless stupor, while your enemies are spreading the work of death around you?
Are media and other forms of ‘entertainment’ literally blinding us into a ‘thoughtless stupor’ related to the war that is happening all around us? Worse yet, are we allowing the enemy to slip right by us while it is ‘entertaining’ us?
8 They who have looked up to you for protection, yea, have placed you in a situation that ye might have succored them…to have strengthened them…
Who better than parents are ‘in a situation’ (i.e. responsibility) to succor and strengthen our children?
21 Do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our [couches] and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?
I hope we don’t expect the school teachers and/or church leaders to ‘deliver’ or ‘teach’ our children for us…..
22 Yea, will ye sit in idleness while ye are surrounded with thousands of those, yea, tens of thousands who do also sit in idleness, while there are thousands round about… who are falling by the sword, yea, [spiritually] wounded and bleeding?
The image of America sitting on the couch watching TV while Satan and his evil army are attacking, wounding, and killing our youth is a sad reality of this world.
24 Now, repent of that which ye have done (or not done), and begin to be up and doing, and send forth [spiritual] food and men unto us…
25 Show unto me a true spirit of freedom, and strive to strengthen and fortify our armies
27 If there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining…
29 Behold it is time, yea, the time is now at hand…
34 Adhere to the word of God and send speedily unto [us] of your provisions…
Moroni is literally pleading with all of us to ‘make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us’. We are the ones who have been placed in the situation as leaders, teachers, and parents of the youth who are so critical to this war in the latter days. We cannot fail them by withholding our support or our provisions. We cannot sit idly by as they are relentlessly attacked, wounded or killed and we cannot allow our homes to become compromised and/or overtaken like Nephihah. We must maintain our fortifications and our protections.
We must govern and manage the affairs of this war. Don’t let the enemy dictate what we do. We must help our children understand that they are in a war – a real war. We cannot be naïve. We cannot downplay the enemy nor his intentions because we – all of us – have been appointed ‘to gather together our [children], and arm them with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war of every kind, and send them forth against the Lamanites’.
Let’s not just send them forth. Let’s work diligently to arm them with all manner of weapons of war, and then – we can send them forth to win.