Wars and rumors of wars . . . this is a phrase I’ve read and heard so much in the very short forty-four years I’ve lived on this earth.
The Lord has said that in the last days there will be “wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45:26). As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are a people of peace. We follow the Savior, who is the Prince of Peace. We look forward to His millennial reign, when wars will end and peace will be restored to the earth (see Isaiah 2:4). However, we recognize that in this world, government leaders sometimes send military troops to war to defend their nations and ideals. (Gospel Topics – War, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.lds.org)
The gospel of Jesus Christ has spread across the world. The Book of Mormon has been translated into dozens and dozens of languages. Therefore, Latter-day Saints are loyal citizens of dozens and dozens of countries and therefore subject to, as quoted in our 13th Article of Faith,
to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law. 13th Article of Faith Military service shows dedication to this principle. (Gospel Topics – War, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.lds.org)
This would seem to present a problem to the Latter-day Saints who are citizens of those countries concentrating on war and world domination. One such dilemma was faced by the German Mormons in World War I and II. Because we are a law abiding people, many good righteous Mormons were forced to fight for Germany, rather than walk away. This does not condemn them.
Moira Tyrell, another blogger on this site is a military wife and has addressed a similar topic in her A Soldier for the Lord post. She eloquently writes about how Mormons can fight in war and still be as the Stripling Warriors, Helaman and Captain Moroni. But I would like to discuss
The Mormon Church is very, very clear on this topic:
If Latter-day Saints are called upon to go into battle, they can look to the example of Captain Moroni, the great military leader in the Book of Mormon. Although he was a mighty warrior, he “did not delight in bloodshed” (Alma 48:11). He was “firm in the faith of Christ,” and his only reason for fighting was to “defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion” (Alma 48:13). If Latter-day Saints must go to war, they should go in a spirit of truth and righteousness, with a desire to do good. They should go with love in their hearts for all God’s children, including those on the opposing side. Then, if they are required to shed another’s blood, their action will not be counted as a sin. (Gospel Topics – War, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, www.lds.org)
President Gordon B. Hinckley has spoken more than once about the wars we face as a people today. He has tried to offer the comfort of the gospel, while helping Mormon soldiers to deal with the horrors of war which are thrust upon them. The world is divided against how to deal with the present threat. Some countries support, some are against. And with the decisions these countries make, their Mormon soldiers have to follow orders.
“I think our Father in Heaven must have wept as He has looked down upon His children through the centuries as they have squandered their divine birthright in ruthlessly destroying one another.
“In the course of history tyrants have arisen from time to time who have oppressed their own people and threatened the world. Such is adjudged to be the case presently, and consequently great and terrifying forces with sophisticated and fearsome armaments have been engaged in battle.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “War and Peace,” Ensign, May 2003, 78)
“From the war in heaven to this very day, through all the millennia of time, man has been on the earth, there has always been someone, with armies at their behest, robbing others of their freedom. If this were not so, there would no need of righteous armies, righteous men and women, willing to lay down their lives to defend, as Captain Moroni did,
“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.” (Alma 48:10)
At the same time as the righteous fight for the cause of freedom, there are the righteous in the marauding and destroying armies of the enemies. What of them?
In your military duty you must follow the dictates of your country. In your hearts you pray mightily, day and night, for the courage, the strength and healing peace of Jesus Christ to be poured upon you every day. You live honorably. You fight honorably. You conduct yourself as honorably as you are allowed within the dictates of the laws of your country.
Know that when life is taken, a scar is left on the heart and spirit of the one who took that life. Whether the action was justified and necessary or not, no one escapes this haunting memory. Only through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, who has paid for everything you will suffer, will you find the forgiveness you need. No, not forgiveness from God, because you’ve done nothing wrong. But the forgiveness you need to give yourself.
It does not matter which side of the war you are on . . . all will suffer, the righteous more so unless they willingly turn this burden over to Jesus Christ. This is one battle you cannot, nor should you ever, fight alone.
But let this be said, as it has been, by a prophet of God:
“First, let it be understood that we have no quarrel with the Muslim people or with those of any other faith. We recognize and teach that all the people of the earth are of the family of God. And as He is our Father, so are we brothers and sisters with family obligations one to another.
“… But as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally. Those in the armed services are under obligation to their respective governments to execute the will of the sovereign. When they joined the military service, they entered into a contract by which they are presently bound and to which they have dutifully responded.
“… When all is said and done, we of this Church are people of peace. We are followers of our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Prince of Peace. But even He said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).
“This places us in the position of those who long for peace, who teach peace, who work for peace, but who also are citizens of nations and are subject to the laws of our governments. Furthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe that God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do. It may even be that He will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “War and Peace,” Ensign, May 2003, 78)
Stand tall as sons and daughters of God. Allow your thoughts, emotions and actions to be guided by Him. If you will do this, then you will come out this conflict stronger and more able to serve Him in the years ahead. You are not responsible for the actions of your governments and commanders, you are responsible for behaving in a manner befitting a Latter-day Saint in every way that you are able.
“Even in an evil world we can so live our lives as to merit the protecting care of our Father in Heaven. We can be as the righteous living among the evils of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded that these cities might be spared for the sake of the righteous. (See Gen. 18:20–32.)
“And, above all, we can cultivate in our own hearts, and proclaim to the world, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Through His atoning sacrifice we are certain life will continue beyond the veil of death. We can teach that gospel which will lead to the exaltation of the obedient.
“Even when the armaments of war ring out in deathly serenade and darkness and hatred reign in the hearts of some, there stands immovable, reassuring, comforting, and with great outreaching love the quiet figure of the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. We can proclaim with Paul:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39.)(Gordon B. Hinckley, “War and Peace,” Ensign, May 2003, 78)
Listen to the words of a living prophet, an apostle of old and more importantly, listen to what the Lord has said to each of us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28.)
May God bless and keep each of you in His healing arms. In your darkest hour, regardless of what corner of the world you may be in, turn to Him and let Him give you surcease from the pain, if only for a moment, that you may continue in your appointed duty.