In Alma 43, war breaks out again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. In this chapter, we are introduced to a young man named Moroni — only 25 years of age — who is selected to lead the Nephite army.
In the description of this particular battle, it is mentioned several times that the motivation of the two armies is completely different. The Lamanites have been taught for generations to hate the Nephites. They are in this battle purely to act on that hatred and destroy the Nephite nation. On the other hand:
“The Nephites were inspired by a better cause … they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church” (Alma 43:45)
With the strength of the Lord on their side, the Nephite army is victorious in this battle in spite of facing a Lamanite army that is more than double their size. Since the Nephites are not motivated by hatred, Moroni calls an end to the battle as soon as it is clear that their defense of their homes and families has been successful. They have no desire to kill and destroy; they are just protecting what God has given them.
Today, we are in a battle of our own, trying to protect what God has given us — the gospel of Jesus Christ. The stakes in our battle are the souls of mankind. The weapons being used by the enemy are sinful lifestyles that are being made to look attractive. An extremely effective strategy has been to equate the acceptance of such lifestyles to being a loving person. The choice is spun to look like this:
- Accept/Support sinful lifestyles = You’re a loving person who loves and respects everyone
- Reject sinful lifestyles = You’re an intolerant, hateful person (a “hater”)
It’s easy to see why this strategy is so effective. After all, most people want to feel that they are loving people. Who wants to be referred to as a hater?
Our challenge is to make sure the above perception is not the reality. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to be exposed to certain types of sinful lifestyles. Yes, it may grate on you when “in your face” tactics are used to get a reaction from you. Yes, when we realize that those who oppose us include many people who actually are hateful and intolerant (toward people like us), it may be tempting to respond in kind. However, as the people of God, our calling is not to hate people — it’s to love people.
We could say that its “not nice” to hate, but it’s more than that. We could say that we shouldn’t be that type of people, but it’s even more than that. As the Lamanites experienced in the battle referenced above, a battle strategy motivated by hate is just not a winning strategy.
If our goal is to build the kingdom of God, then hate will not do it. Hate seeks to hurt and destroy — even if successful, it doesn’t bring us any closer to building the kingdom of God. On the other hand, love seeks to make connections, draw people, and show them a better way — a more joyful way.
So, while we stand firm on defending the precepts of God, let’s not allow ourselves to slip into the mode of doing so in an unloving manner. If people want to call us haters for not accepting every possible lifestyle, then that’s their business — let’s not live up to the name, though. If we want to defeat the enemy, we can’t play his game.
I like the scripture that encourages us to win the battle against an enemy by showing him kindness — “for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.