Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The covenant of peace realigned Lamanite loyalties

In Alma 44:11 when Captain Moroni and the Nephites have Zerahemnah and the Lamanites at their mercy, Captain Moroni requires a covenant of peace to let them go. The covenant of peace will actually require the Lamanites to align themselves with the Nephites; it has that practical effect. To keep this oath, when they go home, they will have to stay disengaged from any popular Lamanite movements of aggression, and this will put them in opposition to any Lamanite royal command to muster for battle. If they wanted to keep their oath, they would have been much better off getting their families and going to live with the Nephites because if they continued to live with the Lamanites, people would look askance at their pacifism and even try to force them to arms.

When Amalickiah defected to the Lamanites and first started his rabble-rousing, it may have been those very people who had taken the peace oath at Zerahemnah’s battle who reacted with fear to the prospect of fighting the Nephites, rebelled against the Lamanite king’s call to arms, fled to the place Onidah to the hill Antipus led by Lehoni, and were “fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites” (Alma 47:6). The sad thing is, Amalickiah, through his treachery and trickery, snookered these people into doing what they were bound by oath not to do.

I think this has an important lesson. If we make covenants, it isn’t very smart to stay around people who we know will want us to break those covenants, especially if we have a choice of who we can be with. If we’re smart, we will align with and join those who share the values that we covenanted to uphold because that close association makes us stronger and helps us keep our covenants.