The Book of Mormon, A Latter-day Corrective – #9
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of articles that will focus on the Book of Mormon in response to President Hinckley’s challenge for church members to read that holy book before the end of the year. Click here to read the introductory article.
Bertrand Russell made the terse observation that “few people can be happy unless they hate some other person, nation, or creed.” We may vary in what we hate, but most of us have an enemy. It may be the government, a certain political party, a narrow-minded neighbor, an annoyingly successful football team in another city, or an arch-nemesis on the high council. We humans seem to be energized by our adversarial thinking.
Even research by psychologists shows that humans have a tendency to vilify enemies while whitewashing their own behavior (See Baumeister’s insightful book, Evil). This bias does not bode well for peace in the world.
Teaching Hatred to Children
The Book of Mormon records the same tendency in that ancient people:
Teaching hatred has always been the work of the wicked. Notice the irony shown in the Book of Mormon: No matter how wicked the enemy is, the righteous do not teach hatred.
The Better Impulse
The Book of Mormon records that one of the first impulses of the redeemed is to work for the redemption of others. It does not matter whether the recipients of this good will are mild or hardened impenitents, the holy impulse is the same: to redeem.
As we are filled with holiness, we look on others ? even the wicked ? with compassion.
A Permissible Hatred
As far as I can tell, there is only one hatred that is endorsed in the Book of Mormon:
It is wickedness itself that we hate. We even hate it in those who are guilty of it. But we do not hate those who have fallen under its spell. Rather, we seek to redeem them.
In a time of unprecedented polarization, this Book of Mormon message is sorely needed. We should be latter-day peacemakers. We should “love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them who despitefully use [us] and persecute [us]” (3 Ne. 12:44).
Jesus teaches us that “blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (3 Ne. 12: 9).
2005 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.