Lessons on Freedom and Patriotism
Lesson No. Twenty-Four
The Use of Force in Defense of Freedom
“From the Book of Mormon we learn how disciples of Christ live in the time of war” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, p. 21). War will continue until the Millennium. The Book of Mormon teaches latter day disciples concerning the use of force in the defense of freedom.
The only acceptable motive for the use of force is to defend our freedom – Aggression, domination, or revenge is never an acceptable use of force. (See 3 Nephi 3:19-23; Mormon 3:14-16) Like the Nephites, we must be “inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
"And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer your selves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed" (Alma 43:45-47; see also Alma 48:14-16).
There is also a responsibility to defend others who cannot defend themselves. (See Alma 43:11-13) This is particularly true when aggression against the defenseless "would lay a foundation for serious consequences...which consequences would lead to the overthrow of [our] liberty" (Alma 50:32).
Preparation is essential - Moroni "had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God. Yea, he had been...throwing up banks of earth... and building walls of stone round about their cities and the boarders of their lands" (Alma 48:7-8). Moroni prepared them "in a manner that which never had been known among the children of Lehi" (Alma 49:8).
Moroni's extensive preparations produced successful results. (See Alma 49:13-23; 50:1-6) The Lamanites were "exceedingly afraid" and "exceedingly astonished" (Alma 43:21; 49:9). The Nephite armies "did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which [Moroni's preparations] did bring forth unto them" (Alma 50:12). These preparations allowed the Nephites to "prosper exceedingly" and "there was never a happier time..." (Alma 50:18-23).
These principles in our day - History, scripture, experience, and observation teach the following:
Americans have sacrificed millions of lives and untold resources to defend our freedom and that of others with no motive to dominate others. Military victory has been followed by a sincere desire and attempt to promote freedom. This has been successful with Japan, Germany and South Korea. The Lord will continue to use our efforts to defend freedom for his purposes. This is happening in areas previously controlled by the Soviet Union such as Eastern Europe. In time it will be so in the Islamic countries and in China.
Our military has come to the defense of freedom whenever called upon. However, civilian leaders have too often not understood the threat to freedom or how to defend it. Following correct and tried moral and economic principles will strengthen and expand our freedom.
More emphasis should be given to moral and economic strength, and defensive technologies like cyber capabilities, missile defense, precision weapons, and improved intelligence gathering.
Like Moroni, we should live and pray "that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored." For this is "a chosen land, and a land of liberty" (Alma 46:16-17).