Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sin and Politics in the Book of Mormon

This post is different than normal, since I'm WAY behind with my posts (I have several in the pipeline, I just can't seem to finish polishing them) I have decided to share some thoughts my dad shared with me a little while ago about politics and the Book of Mormon and how it relates to sin. I know that this has controversial potential (religion and politics together, sounds dangerous right?) so I'm well aware that people will disagree as is my dad aware of that, so feel free to comment. I think my dad provides some thought provoking insights from the Book of Mormon in regards to our personal responsibilities in regards to politics. On with the article:

In Alma 8:16 and 17 there is an interesting definition of sin, one that I had not considered before.
The angel says to Alma:
8:16- And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them.  Yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them.  17- For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people.
Their sin is explained as one that could be seen as politics.  They were studying to destroy the liberty of “thy people”.  Since the angel refers to “his people” in his speaking to Alma, I see this as being an effort by those in Ammonihah to take away the religious freedom of those who belong to the church – Alma’s “people”.  It was not adultery or other traditional “sins”, rather, one of plotting to take away the rights of others and possibly in this case specifically religious freedom.  
We see another reference to this in Alma 9:19.  “For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people”.  And then I think we need to note that verses 20-22 describe how they have been delivered from bondage, had all things spiritual made known unto them, had their prayers answered, faith strengthened, visited by the Spirit of God, having conversed with angels, being given spiritual gifts, being delivered out of Jerusalem (he goes all the way back to Lehi) and having been saved from sickness, famine and war.  It is a lengthy outline of the many blessings that the people have received throughout their history and then in 23 we see the warning “And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.”
It may not initially seem related to “politics”.  However, I believe it is related since it deals with the sins of the “people” as a group, and the nation can only fall if the “people” forget God and allow those above them to take control.  Allowing those in power to take over seems to be frowned upon of itself.  
Back in chapter 8 verse 11 we see those liberals in Ammonihah state that they “are not of thy church, and we do not believe in such foolish traditions” and then in 8:13 we see their behavior toward Alma where they “withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city.”  These behaviors are all similar to those we see today from the liberals.  
In our society today, we see a group of individuals who are effectively taking away our right to worship and to have God in our everyday public lives.  God has now been removed from schools, from the work-place, from public buildings and meetings and for the most part from public discourse.  And those who are seeking to remove this freedom from us are not through.  They are still seeking to remove every remaining vestige of religion – specifically Christianity – from our lives and it doesn’t seem that they will be satisfied until they have succeeded in doing so.  
Our liberals today seem to be following the same course as those in the city of Ammonihah.  They ridicule those who believe in God and Jesus Christ.  They revile us and would in many cases spit upon us if they could get away with it.  In our case today, they have advanced beyond studying to take away our liberty and are actually in the process of doing so.  
I keep referring to “they” and “liberals”, but let me point out that these are also people in positions of influence and power.  Our political leaders, leaders in various organizations (for ex. schools) and those who are influential in public opinion.  Note in Alma 10:27 that Alma warns:
And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.”
The leaders and those in positions of influence are identified as those at the foundation of the problem which is also our problem today.  It is a pattern that will also lead to our destruction as it did theirs.
I find it so interesting that in Alma 8 God identified specifically what their sin was.  Now, if we note Ether 8:23-25 there seems to be a parallel warning about our day.  We are warned about our own destruction if we “suffer these things to be.”  Those “things” being groups (and our support of them) who are built up to get power and gain.  To be very specific, verse 25 is very explicit:
“For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies.”
It may seem that the passages in Ether are more focused on general destruction of the people by taking away political rights – but due to verse 22, I believe there is a direct correlation between these groups seeking to take away the rights of the people in general and religious rights in specific.  Ether 22 states:
And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of this saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground.”  
Evidently, these two things go hand in hand.  Those who combine to seek power and gain will, and do, seek to deprive the people of their rights of religion and will in due course kill them to obtain their goals.  We also see that sadly there is a large portion of the population that gets pulled into the group supporting the combination.  Of course we see that happen in the Book of Mormon several times – and it does not end well in each instance.  War and destruction inevitably follow.  
If we return to the account of Alma in Ammonihah, we learn in 10:22 that it is only because of the prayers of the few righteous who still exist in “the land” that the Ammonihahites have not already been destroyed.  So what happens?  In 14:8 the believers – men, women and children, are burned to death – and removed from “the land”.  This was the last bit of protection for those in Ammonihah, and we see in 16:2-3 that all those in Ammonihah were subsequently killed by a Lamanite army – and it is suggested that all of those from Ammonihah were destroyed, with captives only being taken from some of the surrounding areas.  
What an amazing pattern and it begs the question of our day today and what is currently happening within our government and where it is going.  How much longer do we have before the Lord sends judgment upon us?