Monday, January 31, 2011

Book of Mormon war chapters help us defend against pornography

As I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon through again, I’ve been working my way through the war chapters, and as I generally do, I ask myself, “Why are these in here and how can they help us?” I’ve previously thought that it could correspond to the spiritual battles we have to face, and recently the idea struck me that there are some pretty good things in there that correspond to how we can and should defend ourselves against pornography. And let’s be real; pornography is a MAJOR threat to us today and it is invading in blatant, insidious, sneaky, and cunning ways. The prophets warn us again and again about it, so it is time to pull our heads out of the sand and acknowledge that we are AT WAR with pornography and learn what we can do about it.

I believe that Heavenly Father knew about the flood of pornographic filth that would sweep the world. He knew the tactics that would be used to spread it. To help us, He provided a crash course on tactics and defense in the Book of Mormon so that we could become aware of how we may unconsciously put ourselves and our families at risk of attack. Also, many parts of the war chapters give us a fabulous course on defense strategy.

FORTIFICATIONS

We see Captain Moroni pushing his men to build up barriers against invaders—walls of earth, pickets on those wall, towers overlooking those pickets. Clearly this can teach us that WE NEED BARRIERS between us and the enemy pornography! We need filters and firewalls and anti-virus software and so on. Do the city walls prevent Nephites from dissenting to the enemy? No. But for those Nephites who want to be protected, they are a big help. Do filters stop computer users who are determined to access pornography? No. But for those who want to be protected, they make a significant difference.

When Captain Moroni began his fortification program, he started with the cities that were most weak and vulnerable. These were places where the Lamanites had previously had success. He fortified them and made them as strong as he could. I think it is significant that he placed his strongest army in the weakest spot. I think this has great application for the fight against pornography. If someone has had troubles with pornography and is very weak, they need someone there to keep them safe. There is nothing wrong with setting a watch to guard them. They need support and encouragement.

The Nephites fortified their cities so that the only way anyone could get in was through the place of entrance (Alma 49:18). This tells us that we need to be aware of the different ways pornography can get into our homes and take steps to reduce the number of entrances and guard those entrances carefully. It used to be that the only entrances to the home were through printed media, the computer, and through the TV. Today many cell phones and video game consoles (and tablet computers) can get on the internet, so it is important to become acquainted with those capabilities, to use the parental controls, and to alter the management of affairs like Captain Moroni did among the Nephites (Alma 49:11) to provide for greater safety.

One of the things that Captain Moroni did when he was providing for Nephite defense was that he fortified the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites. (Alma 50:11) We can do the same by drawing a clear line between what is permitted in our homes and what is not. We can make use of ratings as long as we don’t rely completely on them because ratings tend to drift over time and they don’t usually compensate for unsavory themes. But everyone in the family needs to know where the line is and needs to be taught to stay in safe territory far away from the line.

Captain Moroni did a lot of city-building too. Alma 50:14 says, “they also began a foundation for a city…” To me this teaches that we can begin a foundation for strong marriages and families at the very beginning by teaching the Plan of Salvation, which can fortify us. Some important principles that can help us are the following:
  • Heavenly Father gave us the wonderful gift of a body so that we can grow and progress. It is part of His eternal plan.
  • The body that Heavenly Father has given us is a temple and we must keep it sacred by not taking into our mind or body anything that is harmful.
  • The power to create life is a sacred power that should only be used by man and woman who are married together.
  • Satan tries to tempt us to misuse our bodies because he doesn’t get to have one, because he wants us to be miserable, and because he wants to ruin Heavenly Father’s plan.
ARMOR

Even with fortifications, some Nephites were exposed to the arrows and stones of the Lamanites and were severely wounded. They were exposed through the pass at the entrance. Some stuff still got through. However, they were spared worse wounds because they were protected with their helmets, their breastplates, and their shields. In the same way, even with good filters and careful guarding, pornography can still get through and wound. But those who have put on the armor of God (shield of faith, breastplate of righteousness, helmet of salvation) can survive. Train your children to put on the armor of God, just like Captain Moroni caused his armies to obtain armor.

If we need it made obvious to us how important it is to have the armor of God and how much of a difference it can make, we need only look at the comparison in Alma 43:37:

37 And the work of death commenced on both sides, but it was more dreadful on the part of the Lamanites, for their nakedness was exposed to the heavy blows of the Nephites with their swords and their cimeters, which brought death almost at every stroke.
38 While on the other hand, there was now and then a man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by their breastplates, and their armshields, and their head-plates; and thus the Nephites did carry on the work of death among the Lamanites. (emphasis added)

There is hand-to-hand combat out in the world at work and school today. Nuff said.

One of the great things about Captain Moroni is that he never stops preparing his people and not only does he prepare tangible defenses for them, but he prepares their minds:
  • “Moroni…had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God” (Alma 48:7)
  • “he was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God” (Alma 48:10)
  • He rallied the people using the Title of Liberty, which said, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children” (Alma 46:12) These are also all reasons for defending ourselves against pornography.
  • “And he caused that all the people in that quarter of the land should gather themselves together to battle against the Lamanites, defend their lands and their country, their rights and their liberties; therefore they were prepared against the time of the coming of the Lamanites” (Alma 43:26).
What other things were the Nephites taught that prepared their minds?

“they were also taught never to give an offense” (Alma 48:14) I think this is a very important point. As we draw the lines in our families, each family will not all draw the lines in the same places. Yet we all want to share cool things we find with our friends and family. For the sake of this war against pornography, we can train ourselves to refrain from giving offense in our media recommendations.

Preparing our minds by learning to follow the Spirit also helps us.
15And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;
16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them… (Alma 48:15-16)
The Holy Spirit is an extremely important defense. He’s a spiritual early warning system. He can warn us to flee or to prepare for war according to our danger. He can make it known where we should defend ourselves and by obeying that guidance, the Lord will deliver us.

KNOW THE ENEMY

This is about motive. The Lamanites wanted to subject the Nephites and bring them into bondage (Alma 43:29). And that is the motive of people who produce and sell and advertise and push pornography. They mean to enslave and exploit. They exploit those who they depict, and they enslave those who view it. And all for money.

TACTICS

Now we’ll get into some of the tactics that are used in the war chapters.

The Lamanites thought they would be able to overwhelm the Nephites with their sheer numbers. (Alma 49:6) Similarly, the amount of pornography out there is truly huge. And we’ve all heard stories about how someone who stumbles onto a pornographic site on the internet is subjected to a large number of pop-up windows that open one after another. There are also so many different kinds of electronic communication devices now, and while they can all be of great benefit when used wisely, they can also be used as a vehicle for pornography. The Book of Mormon tells us that when the cities were fortified and guarded with armored men, the number of attackers became less consequential.

On account of some intrigue, some Nephite cities were captured by the Lamanites. (Alma 53:8-9) I don’t think there could be a statement that could correspond better with how people get pulled into pornography addiction. They get intrigued into it. Curiosity leads to interest, which leads very quickly to addiction, and then it is very very hard to get rid of it. We can guard against that intrigue.

Amalickiah conquered a number of fortified cities because the people in them were not sufficiently strong (Alma 51:23). I used to wonder why the text in that place doesn’t seem to say much about what Amalickiah did that contributed to his victory. All it says is that he came into the borders “by the seashore” (Alma 51:22) and “he kept [his armies] down by the seashore” (Alma 51:25). I can only conclude that the Nephites did not expect an attack from the direction of the seashore, so Amalickiah’s attack completely blindsided them. This tells us that we must expect unexpected attacks.

Alma 55:29-32 has a number of different strategies that the Lamanites used and which are important to note:
  • The Lamanites tried to encircle the Nephites many times by night. (Alma 55:29) This tells us that we need to be aware of our surroundings and who we are with at night. This has all kinds of implications about peer pressure and the tendency to let our guard down at night when we are tired. (Remember the mention of sleepovers in conference?)
  • The Lamanites tried many times to administer wine to the Nephites so that they could destroy them with poison or drunkenness. (Alma 55:30) Yet another reason to avoid alcohol and drugs. Mind-altering substances will getcha in trouble in more ways than one. Since the Lamanites seemed to use wine to relax and strengthen themselves, we can also compare this with entertainment and fun, which can relax and strengthen us. But don't forget, if it will poison a Lamanite, it will poison a Nephite. If the entertainment will corrupt a child, it will corrupt an adult.

It is helpful to note that there are times when the Nephite tactics can give us just as much insight into what we have to guard against as the Lamanite tactics.

The Nephites frequently trick the Lamanites out of the captured cities with decoy tactics. It would always start with luring army that are designed to appear to be no threat at all, but which was only part of a larger plan to get the Lamanites out of the safe zone and into a vulnerable position. Satan uses this tactic too. There are distractions and decoys everywhere and not just on the internet. Some (like swimsuit issue magazines and lingerie catalogues or romance novels) look like no threat at all, but can quickly lead outside the safe zone.

Another tactic we frequently see in the war chapters is that the cities get retaken at the same time that the Lamanites get decoyed away from them because the Lamanites take no thought for the city and don’t leave sufficient guard. When parents are away, the children will play, so defensive measures and guards must be set. Unlike the thoughtless Lamanites, Captain Moroni is a great example; when he goes to save Manti from the Lamanites, he leaves part of his army in Jershon just in case Jershon gets attacked while he is away (Alma 43:25).

I suggest that we can learn a lot about how to fight pornography by studying the war chapters. We can learn about the enemy’s strategy and we can learn about where our weaknesses are. We can learn a lot about effective measures to take.

Finally, if we consider Captain Moroni’s frustrated letter to Pahoran, even though it turned out that Pahoran was faithful, it leads to some very important questions for us to ask ourselves:
  • Are we sitting on our thrones in a state of “thoughtless stupor” (Alma 60:7) while pornography’s work of spiritual death is going on around us?
  • Have we stirred ourselves diligently enough for the welfare and freedom of our families? (Alma 60:10)
  • Do we think that we can sit on our thrones and because of the goodness of God we don’t need to do anything to be delivered from this plague? (Alma 60:11)
  • Do we think that we will escape judgment for neglect and slothfulness toward our families? (Alma 60:14)
Since I have studied the war chapters on this topic, I have talked to my husband about filtering our internet. We’re finding a filter to use.

If you are interested in taking the first steps to fortify your family with internet filters, you need information. The LDS Tech Wiki website has a good article “Internet filtering (Family Safety)” explaining different types of filters and it even recommends some free filters.

Here is a site that reviews and rates internet filtering software:
http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/

3 comments:

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Amazing and valuable insights...as always! Thanks so much for sharing this!

Kimberly said...

Excellent post! You put a lot of work into this, thanks for sharing.

Michelle said...

Awesome post. I love the war chapters, and this is a great application of them.