Posted by: 2thdocbob | 6 May 2018

Of Walls and Integrity

This is a post about integrity, not a post about politics.


The Great Wall of China has an interesting history, with much tradition. It was supposedly built to keep out the invading hordes to the north. It was thought to be so strong as to be impenetrable, and too long to circumvent. But it was penetrated, not once, but three times, during the Song, Jin, and Ming Dynasties.

great-wall-china

It was not breached or scaled. The enemy is said to have simply bribed those who had responsibility to “keep the gates.”[i] In fact, there is mention of a traitor at the gate, General Wu Sangui, who switched sides when he realized that defeat to the Manchus was inevitable.

When I read this story, it made me think of another great military story, which I have read and reread many times, in The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

the-kjv-bible-and-the-book-of-mormon-episode-24-2011-10-18

At the end of the Book of Alma, in The Book of Mormon, the reader is confronted with a series of chapters describing a lengthy war between the Nephites and the Lamanites (who are actually led by a group of dissident Nephites). Mormon, the compiler of this ancient record, was led by the Spirit as he chose which of the extensive records to include. The title page of the Book of Mormon informs us that the book was written for us in our day.

Ezra Taft Benson, a modern-day prophet, testified:

“The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us.

“Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations.”[ii]

One of the important lessons for us comes early in the war chapters. The rebellion of Amalickiah, who left the Nephites and led a conspiracy to murder the king of the Lamanites and take his place, is described. He then used his operatives to “inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi.”[iii]

Meanwhile, we read of the efforts of Captain Moroni, the military leader of the Nephites to prepare his people for the eventual war. “Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.”[iv]

Of course, Moroni made an effort to strengthen both the Nephite armies and their fortifications.[v] But in addition to the physical preparations, he knew that spiritual preparation was the key to their survival. We are also told “And thus he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.”[vi]

The record continues with a description of Moroni and his fellow leaders.

“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.
“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”[vii]

Moroni’s brothers in arms were described in this fashion:

“Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.
“And thus they went forth, and the people did humble themselves because of their words, insomuch that they were highly favored of the Lord, and thus they were free from wars and contentions among themselves, yea, even for the space of four years.”[viii]

It scarcely seems necessary to comment that such leaders are as common today as oysters in the Sahara.

The record also includes a description of the people and their faith:

“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.”[ix]

This is a good to how a righteous people should view their nation’s defense. I note that they had no hesitation to arm themselves, but their reliance was on God’s strength. This is a lesson that the Nephites’ forefathers, the Israelites, never seemed to grasp throughout their Old Testament wars, that they should trust in their God to deliver them.

The record continues with a description of the Nephites’ attitude toward war, and their justification for it.

“Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all—they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God.
“Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites.
“Yea, they could not bear that their brethren should rejoice over the blood of the Nephites, so long as there were any who should keep the commandments of God, for the promise of the Lord was, if they should keep his commandments they should prosper in the land.”[x]

These wars were prolonged by dissension from within, as a group dubbed “the Kingmen” sought to usurp power from those who became referred to as “the Kingmen.” The distractions caused by the Kingmen nearly led to the downfall of the Nephites, much like the traitorous actions of the gatekeepers of the Great Wall.

Although the Chinese rulers were focused on the enemy without, they failed to look to the integrity of those within. Moroni focused on both, but because freedom of choice is one of the most basic freedoms, he still had to deal with those who lacked integrity.

This is a great lesson for us, today. The best way to avoid war is to be well-armed and obedient to the commandments of God. However, we should be willing to defend ourselves, our families, our homes, and our right to worship, by whatever means the Lord should command us.

As we seek to preserve our liberties, we must never forget our God, the source of our liberties, and our Savior, Jesus Christ, who freed us from the bondage of sin and death. This focus will preserve our own integrity and help to shape the integrity of our own society as well. We must build our walls, but we must ensure the incorruptibility of that which is within the walls.

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[i] See Great Wall of China History and Facts, http://www.china-mike.com/china-tourist-attractions/great-wall-china/history-facts/, and The Failure of the Great Wall, https://gbtimes.com/failure-great-wall.

[ii] The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion, General Conference, October 1986. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1986/10/the-book-of-mormon-keystone-of-our-religion?lang=eng.

[iii] Book of Mormon, Alma 48:1.

[iv] Ibid., Alma 48:7.

[v] Ibid., Alma 48:8-9.

[vi] Ibid., Alma 48:10.

[vii] Ibid., Alma 48:11-13, 17.

[viii] Ibid., Alma 48:19-20.

[ix] Ibid., Alma 48:14-16.

[x] Ibid., Alma 48:23-25.

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