(September 30, 2014)
King Lamoni was a great example of the appropriate way we should look to government. On the one hand, he clearly respects his political leader – he fears offending him and seeks to follow him. On the other hand, when government comes into direct conflict with religion (being told to kill Ammon), then it is the government that needs to bend.
In our modern society, I think that we (or, at least, I) have too much distrust for government. I believe that government, like science, is not in conflict with religion but rather is a complement to religion. When government and religion conflict, like with science, then it is government that needs to bend. But our first instinct should not be to look for tehe conflict but rather to find ways for the two to complement each other without sacrificing religion in any way.
My second thought was on Lamoni, and being placed in a position of choosing. Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said (and I am paraphrasing) that if we choose the path of discipleship, eventually we will be called upon to give up that which is most difficult for us to sacrifice. I have seen that in my life, as I have struggled to turn my will over to the Lord and walk the path – I have found myself being called upon to give up those things I most desired to keep (and things that I never thought I would have to give up). There seems to come a point on our road to
Damascus when each of us
will be placed in a moment of choosing, where we will decided to choose God or
choose something else. In Lamoni’s case,
he was given that choice – to choose to follow his father, or his Father. He chose to protect Ammon, and so we should
be prepared to choose the Lord when our day of choosing arises.
One thing that seemed odd to me was the lack of supporting characters in this narrative. Why was each king travelling alone (or nearly alone)? I don’t look at that as somehow evidence or counterevidence of the Book of Mormon (on the one hand, the absence of supporting characters seems odd as if something was missed, but on the other hand if Joseph Smith had authored the book it would have been likewise odd and thus corrected – so it cuts equally both ways in my mind), but rather as interesting in trying to understand the nature of “kings” in the time period. It doesn’t make sense to me quite yet, which I take to mean that I am bringing assumptions to the table that are not correct.
Finally, we look to Aaron and the others who languished in a prison while Ammon was blessed with many converts. Aaron was not less righteous than Ammon (as far as we can tell), nor were his skills less than Ammon’s (although, humorously, we see him imitate Ammon’s approach with the king a little later on – as though he asked Ammon what he had done that worked so well). It was that it was Aaron’s lot to fall in with a harder people than Ammon.
Sometimes we judge people based upon their circumstances, without understanding them. When I see someone, and I choose to judge them, then I am making a large number of assumptions that I simply cannot make. Maybe, perhaps, their failures that I see were just the result of falling in with a harder group of people, or their successes were their lot of falling in with a better group of people.