It is Better That One Man Should Perish…

I started my blog last year as a way to keep track of my pregnancy. Well, I didn’t do much of that, but I have spent a lot of time writing on a variety of topics. And I have picked up some readers on the way. It is humbling to know that people who I have never met are willing to take time from their days to read the things I have to say. Out of curiosity, I installed one of those visitor maps to see where my readers are coming from. So far today, I’ve had two hits from across the pond. (Hi there!) Really, it is amazing.

But, knowing that so many of my readers are people who don’t know me or where I am coming from does put a certain responsibility for my words on me. I don’t hide who I am, nor do I apologize for it. Where appropriate, though, I do try to explain things that I think many of you wouldn’t get.

My point?

Today, I received a comment on one of my recent posts. My general rule on comments is that I will approve them as long as they don’t attack someone other than me, they are not abusive, and they don’t contain foul language. I approved this comment. But that doesn’t mean that it sits well with me.

It isn’t because the commenter obviously disagrees with my religion. I can handle that–I’ve had to my whole life. It is the idea of commenting on someone’s blog for the very first time and referring to their deeply-held religious beliefs as “myth.”

After posting my brief summary of Nephi killing Laban, I went to bed and thought a lot about the discussion with my children, as well as how the story might be perceived out of context (although, based on the fact that this commenter had a blog called “Recovering Mormon” on her bloglist, I’m detecting the possible sound of an axe grinding…). And you know, I can see where the idea of God telling someone to kill another person could sound sort of odd.

Maybe it was because I had the Fourth of July celebration to look forward to the next day, but I laid in bed and thought about a young man that I have known for years. He attended my church growing up, and was my little brother’s best friend. After graduating high school, he entered the military, where he went on to become a very notable sniper in Iraq. Several years later, I can still easily find an article that mentions him on the internet (I would link to it, but it mentions my town–all one traffic light of it–and we all know how I feel about my privacy). At the time that the article was written, when he was still in Iraq, they estimated that he had killed somewhere in the vicinity of 50+ insurgents.

Do I think this makes him evil?

No.

Would I be afraid to have him around my family?

Heck, no.

Did I, the next day, celebrate him and others like him, and all that they have done to protect this wonderful country and the liberties that we enjoy?

Absolutely.

The parallels between Nephi and this young soldier are not lost on me. Even if you take the self-defense angle out of the story (Laban had robbed Nephi and his brothers, then tried to have them murdered), Nephi’s task–as unpleasant as it was–served a much greater purpose. During the course of that story, in 1 Nephi 4:13 it says:

Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

If Laban had lived, an entire nation and their posterity would have lost the words of God.

Similarly, without brave young men like my brother’s friend, terrorists would have greater success, despots would rule, and thousands more would have died for nothing more than the nature of their ethnicity.

Maybe the title of my post was misleading. I do believe there is right and wrong. But sometimes, you just have to look a little closer to perceive the reason that something is right.

So, let me take the opportunity to offer up my sincerest gratitude to all those (past and present) who have done the hard things to save a nation.

God bless you.

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5 Comments

Filed under Church, Faith

5 responses to “It is Better That One Man Should Perish…

  1. Hm. Perhaps I should have qualified what I meant by the word myth. I have a horrible propensity for falling into my academic background (Sociology of Religion with an emphasis in Mormon social constructs. I wrote my master’s thesis on the effect of temple participation in the lives of young adult Latter-day Saints, which was reviewed by researchers at the Church Office Building and used in further refining curricula for preparing members for their temple experience) and using academic language that isn’t germane to a mainstream audience.

    By myth, I merely meant story. The word myth covers a broad spectrum of meaning. On the one end, it means an exaggeration or idealized conception. Toward the middle, it means a misrepresentation of the truth. On the other end, and the context in which I was using it, it means a traditional story.

    In the context of your earlier post, I may have misunderstood what you were trying to convey. If so, I apologize. I have often struggled to reconcile the story of Laban and Nephi. Yes, Laban robbed Nephi & Co. Yes, he tried to have them killed. If the scriptures read, “And Nephi did turn in self-defense upon Laban and did smite off his head” I might not squirm. But the story presents a conundrum that I think some may find difficult to reconcile. How can God, who commands us not to kill, command us to kill?

    If my previous comment created discord for you, I apologize. While I may read “Recovering Mormon” I also read “Mixed Nuts”. I read both for the same reasons: to understand individuals on both sides of the aisle in their journeys in and out of faith.

  2. Then I apologize for my grinding axe comment. I had considered the academic use of myth, but made my assumption based on the fact that you seemed to express disbelief in the story.

    So, do you mind if I ask your background with the church?

    I do understand how it can be a challenging concept. That is why I tried to bring it into something more people could relate to, as I really do believe that Nephi’s position was very similar to that of a soldier’s.

  3. Apology accepted. As for the story, let’s just say, I harbor questions that I figure one day God and I will discuss, along with what the heck he was thinking when he thought menstruation would be a good idea. But that’s a totally different subject.

    As for my background with the church, depending on which side of the family you’re looking at, I’m either a fifth generation Mormon of pioneer stock or I’m a third generation Mormon of 20th century converts. I’m an RM (Austria Vienna Mission) and have held callings from Sunday School teacher to Temple Ordinance Worker. That said, though, I haven’t actively participated in church in nearly eight years.

    Lack of active participation aside, though, there is a great deal in my life that continues to mirror my Mormon upbringing. And, while I may not choose to participate, I respect the choice of others to participate. I have been and remain fascinated by the role religion plays in society and the need it fills in the lives of individuals. In addition to my primary area of specialization, my sub-area is Islam in the West. I’ve also followed evangelical faith adherents, but on a lesser scale.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve read your blog for a very long time and only delurked the other day. (In fact, I’m trying to remember how I found your blog, but I’ve come up blank. I know it was a link on someone else’s blog and I clicked out of curiosity.) I admire the way you write about your faith. You present it in a manner that is accessible to everyone without being patronizing or preachy or defensive. (And I’ve read a lot of patronizing, preachy, defensive blogs by Mormon writers. I’ve also read a lot of bitter, angry, axe-grinding blogs by disaffected Mormons.) Yours is refreshing.

    Again, my apologies for any offense I may have committed. Thanks for calling me out, though, on my use of the word myth without clarifying. My bad!

  4. You really have paid me one of the best compliments I have ever received. Thank you.

    I don’t know that I have ever mentioned it on my blog, but I am the first person in my family to have been born into the church (and just barely, at that–my mom was pregnant with me when she was baptized). My father has never joined the church, although he gives much credit to the church for who his children became. He supported his sons on missions and sent his daughters (and one son) to BYU. And he understood when we married in the temple. Just a couple of weeks ago, he flew across the country so he could sit in the waiting room in St. George while my brother was remarried.

    It sounds like you have a really interesting background. I am glad that you delurked (even if I misunderstood at first–really, I do feel bad about that). Feel free to keep commenting. I really do like hearing from other people.

  5. Sounds like you grew up in a cool family!

    I don’t know if I have an interesting background other than to anyone but me, but I will say, it’s been a fun one. I’m not your typical, run-of-the-mill Mormon, that’s for sure. I’m known to make waves because I can’t abide canned responses or rote thinking. I believe religion and faith are meant to challenge us to be better than the basic premises and tenets espoused by the faith of our choosing or upbringing.

    Anyway–I’ll keep reading Mixed Nuts and commenting occasionally. I like hearing other perspectives, too.

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