Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Book of Mormon Contrasts: Revised

Sometimes the Book of Mormon seems to contradict itself. On one hand it's saying that the righteous will be happy and the unrighteous will be unhappy, but then it shows various stories of bad guys beating up good guys, and one starts to wonder.

Of course, we should be righteous for righteousness sake and because we love God. But are they are any perks to being righteous? And what about our promised blessings?

In Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, it seems like there's no advantage to being righteous. Two groups of people have a parallel story. While the People of Zeniff get in trouble for  unwise choices, the bravely righteous People of Alma seem to fall into exactly the same hardship.

Zeniff's people aren't terribly wicked but are overzealous and leave themselves to be taken over by the Lamanites. They bear grievous burdens, essentially enslaved by the Lamanites. Not many years later, Alma's people risk their lives to follow God, but also get captured by the Lamanites, who force them to bear hard burdens like slaves.

So it seems bad choices bring on hard consequences, and good choices...also bring on hard consequences?

Mormon explains that Alma's people endure bondage because because "the Lord sees trieth their patience and their faith" Mosiah 23:21. In other words, good people need to experience the bad to learn and grow, but that doesn't mean the promised blessing for the righteous are not fulfilled.

By focusing on the few differences between these two almost-identical situations, we see certain blessings that make the same trial more bearable for those who didn't bring it on themselves. During the People of Alma's bondage their "burdens were made light" (Mosiah 24:15).  Which maybe doesn't mean easy, but means easier, and even though both peoples escaped by slipping away at night, they means to do so was different for each. For instance,  Zeniff's people had to drug the Lamanites to escape, devising their own plan and providing wine from their own resources, yet the Lord gives Alma's people more heavenly aid and takes care of the drugging Himself, "[causing] a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanites" (Mosiah 24:19).

In the midst of hardship, like the People of Alma's bondage, it can be difficult to see that we are blessed.  While we must go through trials to gain experience and faith, trials are inherently easier for those who obey God because they don't have to relearn how to follow Him to fix the problem.

In the Book of Mormon, good and evil can seem so black and white, but we see that all people experience the same things, making us dependent on God's grace, but our righteous efforts are not in vain. They never are.


  1. I love this comparison! I feel like that is such a common issue today- that people feel that no matter what they do, they will still find themselves in hard situations, which often is translated to the consequences of actions. But life isn't meant to be so easy!

  2. I like your scope: "it seems like there is no advantage to being righteous." You present the issue realistically and beautifully.