The complete outrageousness of Giddianhi (the leader of the Gadianton robbers) rings a familiar tune to those of us trying to live the Gospel today:
And it seemeth a pity unto me, most noble Lachoneus, that yet should be so foolish and vain as to suppose that ye can stand against as many brave men who are at my command who do now at this time stand in their arms, and do await with great anxiety for the word-Go down upon the Nephites and destroy them. (3 Nephi 3:3)
No wonder Lachoneous, the faithful Nephite leader was “exceedingly astonished” at receiving this bold missive! It was full of lies from the beginning to the end. And not just lies, but shaming lies. Calling him “foolish” and “vain” was done specifically to make him feel small, powerless, and ashamed.
This applies to us in many ways today.
Does not the prevailing political wind aim to make Latter-day Saints feel vain (in the sense of “in vain” or “hopeless”) and foolish to choose to live according to the “Proclamation on the Family”? The Law of Chastity is the target of nearly every TV show, movie, book, and even the law of the land.
This is something that I have felt personally. I am an author in search of those non-LDS readers out there who share our standards. I know there are many, because when non-members read The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War, one of the themes of which is marital fidelity, I hear from them. They cling to it. hey read it over and over. They find personal validation in it for their own beliefs.
However, when I write, I am very aware of that “great and spacious building” full of mockers, trying to make me feel ashamed and nave. It seems to be lurking right over my shoulder. I counter it by reading the classics, and by prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance.
I have to continually remind myself who is behind this. If the mockers have not completely overridden the Light of Christ in themselves, they must know that fidelity in marriage is the way of the Lord. Therefore, their mocking is only an attempt to validate their behavior. Mocking (as we see in the account of Lehi’s dream as expounded upon by Nephi) is particularly insidious. Much more so than a simple declaration. Mocking targets our deepest insecurities, our own desire for validation.
If we are to build Zion, we must stand together. We must not be ashamed to follow the Prophet. We must find our validation, not in the world, but in our individual relationship with our Savior. For me, this is most enhanced by the above activities together with gathering with the Saints on the Sabbath, and not giving up in my efforts to do the Lord’s will. I must remember that I am not one individual, but part of a vast “army,” if you will who shall not be undone by the words or actions of Satan’s “terrorists,” who are fighting for our minds, our hearts, and our wills.
First Nephi tells me: “blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion” (1 Nephi 13:37) and “all that fight against Zion shall be destroyed.” (1 Nephi 22:14.) If we crave validation for following this path, all we have to do is to go to the Topical Guide and look up “Zion” to read all the prophesies concerning this state of the “pure in heart” which we seek to build.
What was Lachoneous’s response to this former-day terrorist? He was not frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber. His sense of right and wrong, truth and error was solid. He appointed the best man he could find to head up the forces of the Nephites against the robbers. This man was not only wise, he was a prophet, and the chief judge of the land. His name was Gidgiddoni. Under his leadership practical measures were undertaken to insure Nephite success. And they did succeed. Righteousness will, by its very nature, eventually conquer wickedness, as light dispels darkness.
We must not slacken. We must strengthen ourselves in this battle for our souls. We must not be ashamed or apologetic about our beliefs. We must not let shame destroy us. Those of us who have taken upon us holy covenants in the temple must not abandon them because they are not politically correct or fashionable. Would we throw away eternal life and the love of God for so paltry a reason?
Lachoneous was victorious against the robbers and their taunts. The downfall of his people came later, when pride caused them to adopt the ways of the people in the great and spacious building. Pride and ease did what threats and battles could not. This collapse occurred only a handful of years before the visitation of Christ to their continent. This is indeed a type and a warning to the Saints of the Latter-days.
G.G. Vandagriff is the award-winning author of twelve books. You can read about her and her writings at http://ggvandagriff.com