Monday, May 02, 2011

War is awful stuff

So they got him--they got Osama bin Laden, who they say was the chief head honcho who was out to destroy our nation.

And many of my smartest friends are condemning the people who are rejoicing, all of them by quoting scriptures about how we're not supposed to rejoice at the death of a wicked man. I am not disputing that we shouldn't rejoice at the death of a wicked man, nor that we shouldn't glory in killing, nor that it is right to love your enemies and do good to them that despitefully use you.

But it is also a commandment for men to protect their families (see the Proclamation to the World).

And while there are times that we are instructed to lay down and let our enemies kill us, there are other times, too, when we defend our liberty.

For example, "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;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.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. Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives. And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity."

I would like to suggest that perhaps people are rejoicing in their liberty that the death of the figurehead of the enemies represents, rather than in his death as a human being. And that is not wrong.

Alma 58:12 says, "And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty."

These righteous prophets were determined to conquer their enemies. Is it wrong, then for us to have the same determination--not to glory in their destruction, but to secure our liberty to worship our God, to raise our families, to live our lives safe from the continued attempts at destruction we've dealt with for the past ten years? This is not a sinful pursuit.

Alma 53:7, the Stripling Warriors "entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage." Why enter into such a covenant if they had no reasonable hope of success--even if it meant someone somewhere was going to die or else they were? Again, these are our HEROES.

In fact, it is so RIGHT to defend ourselves (including rejoicing when God grants us victory, mind you) that Moroni "Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty. " (Alma 51:17). In Alma 60, Moroni again condemns a government who refuses to defend its people, letting thousands die.

Thousands of Americans have died at the hands of our enemies. While it is, indeed, wrong to rejoice in the death of the wicked, there is nothing wrong with defending our liberty and rejoicing when a victory is won, even if it's not the end of the war.

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