There is an article in the online LDS magazine, Meridian Magazine titled “Who Is My Enemy?” Written by Family Life Professor Dr. Wallace Goddard, it represents a body of political thought in the LDS Church that tends toward moderation.
The main premise of the article is that the spirit of contention is wrong and that we shouldn’t harbor ill will against political adversaries. While I agree with that, and, in fact, with almost everything the article says, I disagree somewhat with what it seems to imply. And it implies that political adversaries are not our enemies. And he goes on to suggest that we should not impute evil motives to our political adversaries.
I just finished reading Alma, chapter 2. This article by Dr. Goddard helped me see it in a fresh perspective. If you will remember, this is about the Amlicites. It is five years after the Nephites had decided to change their form of government from having a king to a system of judges. Amlici was the founder of a political faction among the Nephites that wished to revert back to the old system. He wanted them to have a king. And specifically, he wanted to be the king. And it seems that enough people were on his side of the issue that when it was decided that a popular referendum needed to be held on this issue, the outcome was not a foregone conclusion. The text breathes a sigh of relief when Amlici’s faction lost.
Now, as we read this text, we have the benefit of the inspired commentary that labels Amlici as “a wicked man” and gives us great clarity as to his intentions. But I would not be surprised at all to have learned that his intentions were not all that clear at the time to the people who were rallying to one side or the other. Is going back to a system you followed just five years ago a radical idea? It doesn’t seem to be. And so it is in our time. Some seem to be able to see clearly the intentions of various political players to take away our liberty, to overthrow the family and Christianity. Others feel that it is wrong to ascribe those motives to those who differ on political issues and are more disposed to want to compromise.
When Amlici lost, he was very angry. Interestingly, we don’t read in the text of any efforts by the free Nephites to try to compromise, “get along,” or see if they could smooth over some differences. So the whole political dispute ended up in a war. Furthermore, Amlici, before he was defeated, ended up forming an alliance with the Lamanites, the external enemies of the Nephites. Analogies with our present political climate in the United States are eerie, as certain political factions seem to have a disturbing affinity for foreign countries and philosophies that many of us would consider enemies of freedom.
As we continue to read in The Book of Mormon more about their politics during the period of the judges, we become acquainted with that political firebrand, Captain Moroni. I come to the disturbing conclusion that Captain Moroni does not meet the standards of political discourse as laid down by Dr. Goddard.
And there was one comment written by a reader of the article that I found particularly troubling: “I am going to school at a very liberal university and it is hard to keep quiet, especially over the issues of abortion and especially when facts are so distorted. But if I said something, I would only fuel the fire of contention. The best advice I heard anyone say during a political discussion is to: ‘Smile and Nod.’ :)” Really? Is that what we have covenanted to do when we accepted the gospel, that when the lives of innocents are treated as worthless, that we should just “smile and nod?” But that is where this thinking leads.
Satan is using politics to further his causes. And those causes include: getting people to envy one another, tearing down the family and morality, and taking away our liberty. Is it not Christian to resist that with energy? So while I agree that we should treat political opponents with Christian charity, I also believe that in some cases they seek our destruction or overthrow and they are our enemies, and they should be resisted with all the fire and zeal of Captain Moroni.
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