Sunday, July 10, 2016

Does Freedom Require Peace?

I've had the pleasure of studying the Book of Mormon as outlined in the 8-11 year-old teacher guide of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. That sentence felt wordy. Let's try again. This teacher's guide: Primary 4: The Book of Mormon, has been my study companion this year. Still weird? Oh, well.

This week I was teaching the lesson on Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty. I feel like this is a story most LDS youth learn pretty early on. It's quite momentous. Moroni is upset that his fellow Nephites aren't following God, but instead seeking their own power and gain. So in an act of military leadership, he rips his coat and writes what becomes his military motto on it.

It reads: In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.

He then fastens this piece of rent cloth onto a pole (like a flag) and proceeds to put on his armor. Later, he uses this Title of Liberty to go and recruit his army. Those who join him promise to abide by this motto and never forsake their God. They swore that if they broke that promise, Moroni could leave them at the hands of their enemies.

It's a pretty intense pre-war cry.

After reading a few verses of scripture that explain this story, I asked my class to list the six things Moroni wrote on this torn coat.

"Religion and God," one responded.

"Wives and Children," another replied.

"Good, what else?" I asked as I wrote these on the board.

"Freedom?" said the first voice.

"Yes, and?" I proded.


"No, but the whole thing was called the "Title of Liberty," remember?" I corrected.

There was a long pause.

"Freedom and what?" I asked, realizing the other answers had all come in pairs.

"Justice?" a student said almost knowing for certain it was incorrect.

"No. Freedom and Peace," and at that moment it struck me. Freedom and Peace go together just like Religion and God, Wives and Children. Freedom and Peace are a set of two concepts that go hand in hand.

Freedom and peace.

When I came home I took a little more time to ponder this personal revelation I felt like I'd received in class. I didn't expound on it much in class, because it is my personal revelation, but it is such a profound thought to me.

Do we have freedom if our nation is constantly at war? Do we have freedom if our society constantly bickers with one another? Can freedom exist without peace?

Captain Moroni was fighting for his people's freedom (and, spoiler alert: he won), but he understood that, that freedom would not come until they were at peace. Peace would not come until they could stop defending themselves against the attacks of the Lamanites. Peace would not come until his own government and Church stopped having contention from the inside. It was actually this very inside tension that led to the Title of Liberty, not the outside threat of the Lamanite army. He created the Title of Liberty in response to a threat that came form inside his own city and amongst his own people. He knew his freedom depended on their being at peace with one another.

So can we truly be free if we are not at peace? 

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