I studied Moroni 7-9 for my Come, Follow Me lessons this week. There are many gems in these chapters that would be good foundations for essays. However, I feel impressed to write about chapter 9, possibly the last letter that Mormon wrote to his son, Moroni.
1 My beloved son, I write unto you again that ye may know that I am yet alive; but I write somewhat of that which is grievous.
2 For behold, I have had a sore battle with the Lamanites, in which we did not conquer; and Archeantus has fallen by the sword, and also Luram and Emron; yea, and we have lost a great number of our choice men.
3 And now behold, my son, I fear lest the Lamanites shall destroy this people; for they do not repent, and Satan stirreth them up continually to anger one with another.
There are several thoughts that we can take from the first three verses of the chapter. First, it is quite evident that Mormon has great love for his son, Moroni. Second, we do not know the three people that Mormon mentions, but they must have been people that Moroni would know. Were they brothers to Moroni? Were they Moroni’s friends? We do not know. We only know that Mormon was relaying the information to Moroni. Third, we know that the war was going badly. There had been a great battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites, and the Nephites “did not conquer.” Fourth, Mormon voiced his fear that Nephites had become so wicked that they would be destroyed. Fifth, we learned that Satan stirred them up to anger.
Mormon continued with the topic that I wish to address tonight.
4 Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.
5 For so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth me that they have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.
A few points that I found in these verses is that Mormon continued to work with the people even though he feared that they had reached the point of destruction. It is a true principle that people who fail to follow the Lord can become very wicked in a short period of time. This is a warning for our nation because many Americans are turning from God. Mormon again wrote about the anger of the people. They were so angry that they were not afraid to die, and they had “lost their love, one towards another.” There were numerous cities in the United States that were looted and burned because people were so angry. What if those riots were happening in the entire nation?
Mormon wrote that his people would “tremble and anger” when he tried to preach the word of God. Their response was like other scriptural examples: The Jaredites rejected Ether when he tried to preach to them, and they sought to kill him (Ether 13:22). The people in Jerusalem sought to kill Lehi when he tried to preach to them (1 Nephi 1:19-20). The unrighteous people in Ammonihah were so angry with Alma and Amulek for their preaching that they took the believers and their scriptures and burned them (see Alma 14).
The way that people respond to the teachings of prophets demonstrates their state of righteousness or wickedness. In the case of the Nephites, it shows that they were in an advanced stage of wickedness, the same stage where total cities or societies are destroyed. This great wickedness seems to come with great anger. Many people in our day blame other people for their own anger. Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints explained that we can choose whether we will act with self-control or react with anger.
A cunning part of [Satan’s] strategy is to dissociate anger from agency, making us believe that we are victims of an emotion that we cannot control. We hear, “I lost my temper.” Losing one’s temper is an interesting choice of words that has become a widely used idiom. To “lose something” implies “not meaning to,” “accidental,” “involuntary,” “not responsible” – careless perhaps but “not responsible.”
“He made me made.” This is another phrase we hear, also implying lack of control or agency. This is a myth that must be debunked. No one makes us mad. Others don’t make us angry. There is no force involved. Becoming angry is a conscious choice, a decision; therefore, we can make the choice not to become angry. We choose!
To those who say, “But I can’t help myself,” author William Wilbanks responds, “Nonsense.”
“Aggression, … suppressing the anger, talking about it, screaming and yelling,” are all learned strategies in dealing with anger. “We choose the one that has proved effective for us in the past. Ever notice how seldom we lose control when frustrated by our boss, but how often we do when annoyed by friends or family?” (“The New Obscenity,” Readers Digest, Dec. 1988, 24; italics added) (Ensign, May 1998, 80).
Mormon mentioned that the Nephites were so angry that they lost their love one to another. The loss of love for others is a sign of the loss of the Spirit. This is one of the tragic results of anger and wickedness. The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that the loss of love is a tragedy. This loss of love leads to other problems, such as divorce, abuse, and abandonment – all of them are present in our society. Elder David E. Sorensen of the Presidency of the Seventy explained how we can lose love in our homes.
In much of today’s popular culture, the virtues of forgiveness and kindness are belittled, while ridicule, anger, and harsh criticism are encouraged. If we are not careful, we can fall prey to these habits within our own homes and families and soon find ourselves criticizing our spouse, our children, our extended family members. Let us not hurt the ones we love the most by selfish criticism! In our families, small arguments and petty criticisms, if allowed to go unchecked, can poison relationships and escalate into estrangements, even abuse and divorce. Instead, … we must “make full haste” to reduce arguments, eliminate ridicule, do away with criticism, and remove resentment and anger. We cannot afford to let such dangerous passions ruminate – not even one day” (Ensign, May 2003, 11-12).
Anger does not have to turn to destruction in our personal or public lives. We can act on our feelings and keep them under control. God gave agency to each of His children, and He expects us to use our agency to act and not to be acted upon. People act, and objects are acted upon. We are children of God, and we have agency to act.