I have often wondered why God allowed Mormon to include the war chapters in the Book of Alma. How could ingenious military strategy, the ebb and flow of battles, and the ensuing body count be relevant in our time. My thoughts about these chapters changed when I had the opportunity to serve in a singles ward. All of a sudden, some of these stories became quite relevant.
These great young men and women in the ward were, like Captain Moroni’s soldiers, among the best and the brightest. They were strong in their resolve and pure in their intentions. But because of the awfulness of their surroundings, at times they gave into temptations. Temptations against which they had shielded themselves for most of their lives.
How could that happen?
Captain Moroni knew it was only a matter of time before the Lamanites came to battle. To prepare his people for this eventuality, Moroni caused massive earthen walls to be built around their major cities. On top of these great mounds of dirt were intricate works of timber. These timbers created shields to protect soldiers from the arrows, spears, and other lethal projectiles of their enemy.
When a numberless army of Lamanites approached the City of Noah, the Nephites grew concerned. This was to be the first time these fortifications would be tested. Would these mounds of dirt and works of timbers really protect them?
Amazingly, these fortification worked.
Soon after the battle began, thousands of Lamanites bodies were heaped just outside the city in their failed attempt to breach the wall.
No Nephites died.
It was a miracle!
After the battle, however, Moroni learned that 50 of his soldiers were injured. Some of those injuries were quite severe. How could this happen? After all the time and effort they had expended in protecting the soldiers, how could any of them have been hurt?
When he queried the injured, he learned that these unwise soldiers were so curious about the din of battle going on below them, they purposely stepped out from behind the shields designed to protect them.
Once they left the protection painstakingly provided them, they were vulnerable to the weapons of their adversary. Had they stayed behind their shields they would have been spared the pain of their injury. All they had to do was use the protective tools given them.
Like these fifty soldiers, the ward members who succumbed to temptations and suffered the consequences of their poor choices each had shields. They had all the protection they needed. But when the lure of activity on the other side of their protective walls piqued their curiosity, these stalwart young adults purposely stepped out from behind their protection to see what they thought to be more exciting. Once exposed, they were vulnerable to the weapons of the adversary.
Yes, the atonement healed the wounds and removed their scars, but why set aside the surety of protection to risk injury when each of them had all the protection they needed?