Thursday, November 12, 2009

Should A Mormon Join The Military?

With the arrival of Veteran’s Day yesterday, I was again bombarded with the usual claptrap about how deserving of honor our military personnel are for their “service”.

And yes, I did say claptrap.

Now, I realize I’m usually preaching non-judgment here, yet at the moment I confess I'm unable to suppress no small frustration with many of my fellow saints. It's clear I have a ways to go if I’m truly going to be filled with unconditional love for all mankind.

Yes, brothers and sisters, I too have sinned and come short. I have a raging blind spot when I see the strange way some of you have of worshiping those who do the will of Leviathan without question.

What gets my goat every time Memorial Day or Veteran’s day comes around, is seeing so many who should know better -namely my fellow Mormons- jump on the bandwagon with the rest of the country in cheering those who do evil works. You would think that the children of light would have better sense than to conflate service to the state with service to God, but there they were in force yesterday paying cloying tribute to those who have sold themselves to The Whore of Babylon. And many of these misguided souls are among my closest friends.

Well, I should be more understanding, because if truth be told, what annoys me most about this celebration of national slavery is the recognition that only a few years ago, I myself was deep into the habit of calling evil good, and good, evil.

An Insidious Doctrine

Ask most latter-day saints about reconciling war with the commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, and you’ll nearly always hear that war is an exception to that rule. They'll tell you that God doesn’t hold the soldier accountable for any killing done in battle. When a Mormon kills during wartime it doesn’t count against him. He gets a pass. Responsibility for any killing transfers to the politicians who sent him into war.

The problem with this widely held “doctrine” is that it’s a false one. It is not supported anywhere in the scriptures. In fact, the reverse holds true.

As legions of those returning soldiers unable to live with themselves will tell you, God will hold you personally accountable for every last person you killed regardless of whether or not you were wearing a government issued uniform at the time.

We latter-day saints are expected to have read D&C 98:33, which prohibits us from ever placing ourselves in a position where we may be “forced” to kill, and the Book of Mormon repeatedly demonstrates that even the good-guy Nephites could not escape the destruction to their souls once they determined to go after their enemies on the enemy's home soil.

To believe that God will allow our political leaders to atone for our sins while we walk away with our souls intact is foolish idolatry. An act so egregious as the taking of a human life cannot be transferred onto another person and simply wished away.

Attempts by some members to justify the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan fly in the face of official church pronouncements:

“The church is and must be against war, for war is of Satan and this church is the church of Christ...” (Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol 6, pg 170.)

Nowhere can one find support for the claim that God takes less seriously a killing committed in battle than at some more idyllic time and place. Does the massive scale of bloodshed on the battlefield make it less heinous than a premeditated murder back home? The church’s position is clear that God makes no qualifying distinction that killing in wartime is somehow excusable.

“The divine law on the taking of human life... embraces war.” (Statements of the LDS First Presidency, pg 481.)

Nowhere is the LDS soldier excused for defying God’s law. The Latter-day Saint may in fact be held to a higher expectation for he is in possession of further light and knowledge. According to the First Presidency,

“God will hold subject to the eternal punishments of His will those who wage [war] unrighteously.” (Ibid, pg 481.)

Perhaps the erroneous belief that individuals are not accountable for the murders they commit in battle stems from a misreading of a statement the First Presidency endorsed in 1976:

“Wars should be avoided whenever possible; however, men have the right to protect themselves from those who unjustly try to take away their freedom and property. (Principles of the Gospel, 1976.)


“Since those who battle for a righteous cause will not be held responsible for bloodshed, the responsibility rests upon those leaders who create contention and cause wars.” (Statements of the LDS First Presidency, pg 480.)

Politicians who start wars will of course be held responsible for their part, but this does not absolve the soldier who actually pulls the trigger or drops the bombs. As confirmed in the statement above, the only righteous cause in war is held by the side defending its own freedom and property. When a defender is forced to kill, the accountability rests with the aggressor for having created the situation that forced the defender to kill him.

Since colonial times, it’s been the rare American soldier who has found himself in such a position of innocence. Most young men -Mormons included- who enlisted after 9/11 admit to having done so out of an eagerness to retaliate. They are no more blameless than the vindictive Nephites who, through their desire to get even with the Lamanites, unwittingly set in motion the final destruction of their entire nation.

Any idealistic Latter-day Saint contemplating joining the United States military as it is presently constituted would do well to heed the warnings of Dr. Laurence Vance, author of Christianity And War. It goes without saying that his warning applies no matter what party is in office:

“You are responsible for the ‘enemy’ soldiers you kill as they defend their homeland against U.S. aggression. It may soothe your conscience if you attempt to justify your actions by maintaining it is self-defense, but it is hardly self-defense when you travel thousands of miles away to engage in an unnecessary and unjust war.”

“ You are responsible for the civilians you kill. Dismissing them as collateral damage doesn’t change the fact that you killed someone who was no threat to you or your country. You are responsible for every soldier and civilian you kill: not Bush, not Cheney, not Rumsfeld, not Gates, not your commanding officers, and not Wolfowitz, Feith, Hadley, Perle, Abrams, Tenet, Powell, Rice, and the other architects of the war.”

“Bush and company will not be firing a single shot. You will be expected to do their dirty work and live with it the rest of your life.”



Anonymous said...

Beautiful post! It always makes me sad to hear people rationalize warfare. I do think that we should be a little more supportive of veterans all across the world that were willing to sacrifice their lives for a higher cause. In a society where people are expected to fight, they bore a burden that someone may have been required by the state to bear. Moreover, aren't we all complicit in warfare through our taxes etc...?

I'd like to hear more about your specific views in regard to intervention in the case of active genocides ( for instance Darfur, rwanda or the holocaust) do we have an obligation to intervene and stop the massive deaths of our brothers and sisters. As the largest nation in the world are we responsible for the "self-defense" of other nations when there are clear cases of aggression ( Saddam invading kuwait in the 90's)? I would love to hear answers to these more nuanced questions.

Cap'n Moroni said...

This is a topic too long ignored in the church. Even when President Hinckley gave his conference talk just after the bombing began in 2003, his conclusion can pretty much be summed us as "Well, Jesus said to renounce war, but those in already in the military have an obligation to follow orders, so I dunno, I guess it's okay. Besides, in my opinion, this will all be over in a few weeks anyway."

That's a paraphrase, but go back and read it, that was essentially his big prophetic Truth To Power speech. He seemed completely oblivious to the fact that an undeclared war violated D&C 98:7, which should have struck him as a big fat "Hold everything!"

My famous namesake, Captain Moroni, recognized that the real threat to any nation comes from within, from a nation's corrupt governmental leaders who are all too willing to commit treason, and couldn't care less about the deaths of a few thousand soldiers if it helps them maintain their own power.

You know what this church could use? We could use a prophet who acts like a prophet. Where is anyone in church leadership today who is the equal of Captain Moroni, of Abinadi, of Nathan?

Prophets have historically challenged and rebuked corrupt government leaders. That was always their main function.

Until today. Today prophets exist to remind us to do our home teaching, magnify our callings, pay them our tithing, and for heaven's sake, don't double up on those earrings.

Seminary Stupid said...

When I read this piece, I realized that nearly everything I "know" about the church, I learned in Seminary.

I remember our Seminary teacher explaining to us how when we go to war, the soldiers aren't responsible, but it's all on the head of the men who sent them there.

I never really was comfortable with that, and now I know why. Like you said, there's more to the statement. For an American soldier to be held blameless, he must be protecting his own lands and freedoms. He can't just go over and attack somebody else's lands and expect to get a pass from God.

From now on I'm not going to assume that everything I presume about the church is true just because I heard it second hand. I want references. I want to see the scripture.

If there's one thing your blog has taught me, Rock, it's that I won't believe anything that doesn't purport to come from the mouth of God. No more "Faith Promoting Rumors for me, thank you very much.

Never again will I allow the mere words and opinions of any man to come before me and the Lord!!!

TruthSeeker said...

The picture you have posted there at the top with Jesus in battle gear really brought it home to me. He stood for non-violence even while he himself was being tortured and murdered, yet this implies he is willing to fight in our armies.

I believe that Jesus and the Father have turned their backs on this nation as surely as General Mormon abandoned the Nephite armies under his command when they began to celebrate their victories over the lives of others.

I have seen the YouTube videos of our "good" soldiers taunting iraqi children by pretending to offer them water, then wihholding it. I believe those foreign people have the right and the DUTY to protect themselves, even from the great and powerful United States Government.

"What Would Jesus Do?" should be on the lips of every person in this country when discussing foreign policy. Of course, we don't have to ask what Jesus would do. We has already told us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us.

Dustin Wills said...

Rock: Nice article. The blind faith in the military organization and it's dealings led me to think on a similar, yet different concept. I started to post it here, but blogged it myself instead on my own blog.

symphonyofdissent: I'm not Rock, but personally I think the problem is that we involve ourselves to much in the first place. Saddam may never have invaded Kuwait if he didn't think we might still support him, or if we hadn't have backed him so much prior to that. Similarly, any 'problems' we might face with Iran would be a direct consequence of our meddling with their affairs in the past.
Our responsibility ought to be to govern ourselves first. We may be the 'Largest nation in the world' (although that may need to be redefined before stated) but we aren't a whole world nation. If we meddle with smaller nations, then what sovereignty to we really allow them?
I'm not trying to claim any high moral ground though. I wouldn't know what to say about genocide other than the fact that it's a terrible thing. But I guess I'm saying that I'm not sure that our inflated nation has such a high moral ground to dictate to others either.

Dustin Wills said...

Seminary Stupid: That's what I love about Rock. I haven't personally been to a sacrament meeting in years... but I would love to hear Rock give one... I think I could stay awake for that.
Much of these last few years I've reflected quite a bit on the things I learned that were in fact false or rumored doctrine, or even just a strange cultural nuance. Once I separate those things out, I see that things are much more agreeable.

Anonymous said...

I have a son and son-in-law who are in the military. My son has gone to Iraq once and is now in Korea. My son-in-law has left his little family twice to go to Iraq and will leave next year for yet another 14 months so you can write what you think. Has anyone gone to and looked to see what the "official" statement of the Church is regarding those in the military. How many of our church leaders have served our country? I am proud of my son and son-in-law and, yes Rock, your father! There is a DVD that the church has put out for those in the service. You might want to check it out of the church library and listen to it. From "If, harkening to that call and obeying those in command over them, they shall take the lives of those who fight against them, that will not make of them murderers, nor subject them to the penalty that God has prescribed for those who kill," there is more try reading it.

Rock Waterman said...


I would certainly hope you are proud of your son and your son-in-law. I am also proud of my dad, but my admiration for him has nothing to do with his 22 years of military service.

His long career as a sargeant in the Marine Corp certainly did not make him a better husband or father. It was only after decades of distance from that life that his heart began to change and he became, in the eyes of his children, a real man.

I've not been able to find the quote you offered above, but the part you include seems to contradict former statements of the First Presidency and all the standard works. In the past we were told that war is of Satan and that it is justified only in direct defense of our own lands and freedoms.

The quote above seems to indicate that the church now follows in the tradition of the catholic Pope, granting absolution to the sinner so long as he is obedient to governmental authority

This flip-flop should not surprise us, given the institutional church's recent propensity for jettisoning many of its cherished doctrines in exchange for favor in the eyes of the world.

So it looks like today's latter-day saint soldier seeking for the truth on this topic has a bit of a dilemma: either follow the long-established word of God as revealed through the prophets, or accept an ambiguous new policy that seems to have been cobbled together to keep the government mollified.

In a case like this, I find it's safest to turn to scripture.

Having scoured the bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, I'm satisfied that we have a duty to vigorously defend our homes, families, friends, and country; and all other nations have the same duty. If there is any question about whether we should go adventuring overseas, D&C 98 commands against it.

That chapter also instructs us that any deviation our government makes from the Constitution is sourced in evil.

Sending our troops away from home without a congressonal declaration of war is a deviation from the Constitution, and therefore rooted in evil on two counts: First, it violates the constitution, and secondly, it defies God's commandment not to engage against foreign lands.

So, when faced with the decision of being controlled by an unsupported policy statement or the revealed word of God, I'd have to throw my vote with God.

And I'd encourage my sons to do the same.

Rick said...

Nice Jesus picture. I can just picture it: "This is Jesus, I need a napalm drop now!!"

Good article. I understand if someone has to go to war because they are drafted or because they are defending their country's borders. However, if that's not the case, the church needs to remain silent on the issue at the very least.

Dave P. said...

I always refer back to D&C 98:5 wherein the Lord states that the laws of the land which are constitutional are justifiable before him. Take the reverse of that and openly say to yourself that the (overly numerous) unconstitutional laws on the books are NOT justifiable before God.

This leads to a question that I've been pondering over for a long time: Are we justified before God in not obeying unconstitutional laws? Of course I work to maintain a clean record since I'd never be able to support my future family while in jail. So the question leads me to think that those people who write, support, and/or vote yes to unconstitutional legislation will be held accountable moreso than the people who are forced to obey it.

Most members of Congress, including those who are also members of the church, really have no idea what the true burden of leadership really is: If you cause people to be led astray, it's on your head just as much as it is theirs. Jacob the brother of Nephi talks about it from a spiritual leader aspect in Jacob 1 and King Benjamin from a temporal leader aspect in his farewell sermon.

Dave P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave P. said...

Accidentally posted that last one under my blogger alias when I didn't mean to.

Cap'n Moroni: Something just hit me when I re-read your post. Remember that a lot of the general authorities, including members of the Quorom of the Twelve, were in the active military during World War II (another unnecessary war that the US didn't need to be involved with and a little research will show why). It's impossible to get through a Conference session without one of them telling a war story.

Is it pride of having been a soldier during the "good" war that keeps them from openly renouncing it over the pulpit? Or is it wanting to look good in the eyes of the world who embraces war and looks to soldiers as heroes (courtesy of John Wayne)? Thankfully there are several good examples of soldiers who remembered that they're Christians and treat people like their brothers and sisters, but the events that led up to those heart-warming stories are what need to be renounced.

I say this: If they were to openly take the Lord's position of war and start renouncing war over the pulpit, they would also have to renounce all of the previous "scripture" they opinionated over the pulpit in support of their being involved in war. This would of course throw the church into chaos, turn it into a traitor in the eyes of the world, and cause a lot of people to leave, but it would be just another modern-day Bread of Life sermon that separates the true disciples from those seeking an easy meal (John 16).

S.Faux said...


Think what you want about military service, but consider this: LDS combat soldiers are granted temple recommends based upon the same moral requirements as everyone else. Good thing, otherwise Elder Neal Maxwell, who served in combat in Okinawa, would have never made it to the Council of Twelve. Oh, yes, our beloved President Thomas S. Monson served in the Navy. Oh, yes, and at least seven living Apostles served in the U.S. military.

Everyone of them has spoken proudly of their military service.

Mormons have never been pacificists, ever since the earliest beginnings of the Mormon-Missouri war in the 1830s. In fact, Brigham Young actively recruited to build the Mormon Battalion in 1846, supporting the Mexican-American war.

Further, I am pretty sure (in a historical sense) that your freedom of speech would not be what it is today, if it were not for the sacrifices of the many U.S. soldiers who have gone before you.

So, speak away. Hating war is like hating dirty water and smog. No one loves war. But, as for me, on my blog site I am going to continue to support the American soldier.

War is hell, but somethings are worth defending and fighting for.

Dave P. said...


So your argument boils down to, "If a member of the church, especially someone in 'authority' does it, it isn't illegal/sinful."

Just like anyone else, the apostles who were in active service will be meeting those whose lives they took face-to-face. I sincerely hope they spent a great deal of time before the Lord in the spirit of repentance so they could be forgiven, and even to forgive themselves. Remember this, the first thing they do to you in the military is to destroy your humanity and get you to become a hollow shell and killing machine by rationalizing TAKING THE LIVES of our fellow brothers and sisters. The "enemy" is just called a "nazi," "jap," "gook," "extremist," "terrorist," and so forth- literally brainwashing people into forgetting that they're children of God.

As for American wars, the only one that comes close to being a just war is the Revolutionary War, and we know from the scriptures that that was justified to create a free nation where the gospel could be restored. Also, Brigham Young established the Mormon Battalion in order to gain favor in the eyes of the government so it would leave the Saints alone. He promised that they would never have to enter actual combat, and that came true. As for the other wars in our history:

War of 1812: The USA's attempt to invade and annex Canada - War of aggression
Mexican-American War: The USA's attempt to invade and annex Mexico - War of aggression
Civil War: Lincoln's armed response to the South wanting to exit the Union as freely as it had entered it - War of aggression
Phillipine War: Stifle a "rebellion" on annexed territory - War of aggression and propaganda
World War I: The US had no business entering it - Lies and propaganda
World War II: FDR tried to get the US into the war long before Pearl Harbor, which he goaded Japan into attacking - Lies and propaganda
Korean War: Unconstitutional conflict, especially since they never attacked us - Lies, propaganda, and entangling alliances
Vietnam: Same as above plus a false flag attack.
Gulf War: Same as above, especially with our meddling in Middle Eastern affairs since WWII.
Afghanistan: Supposedly in retaliation for 9/11 (which has more holes in its official story than Swiss cheese), yet we're still there - Anger and drive for revenge
Iraq: "They're gonna nuke us!" - Lies, propaganda, war of aggression

The Navy recently made its slogan "A Global Force for Good." If that isn't part of calling evil good and good evil these days, I don't know what is.

S.Faux said...

Dave P:

My argument is that if involvement in the U.S. military is a sin, then one would have to use standards NOT established by modern LDS General Authorities. In other words, your pacifist arguments do NOT reflect LDS culture.

U.S. military involvement does not hinder getting a temple recommend; it does not hinder progress in the Church.

Fine. Believe in peace. Who can fault you for that? But, I do believe the tenor of your arguments degrades the military that preserves your freedom to write and speak. Such degradation is itself a form of war, and is not the peace you seek.

Rock Waterman said...

I'm almost willing to offer a reward to anyone who can explain how the military as presently constituted preserves anyone's freedom to write and speak. I hear this parroted again and again, but it doesn't appear that those parroting it have ever thought it through.

Ask any active duty serviceman, and he'll tell you that even HE doesn't feel he has the freedom to speak his mind. What then can he do to preserve mine?

So Please, someone. Tell me how the warmaking powers have EVER guaranteed my freedom to speak and write. Give me an example of how that has occurred any time since 1789. Spell it out for me, because I'm just not getting it.

Dave P. said...

Let's not forget that active duty servicemen no longer have the right to seek another job. If they try, they're hunted down and either forcefully brought back, imprisoned, or killed.

Doesn't that sound a lot like slavery?

Jared said...

I don't have time to go into detail, but having served in the military in combat I know by experience that the Lord is with those who put their faith in Him.

Yes, we should renounce war, but then there are those who would take by force your liberty, family, and your life. In those situation it is evil not to defend those things the Lord has given you.

The Book of Mormon testifies of this. Do you accept the Book of Mormon as the word of God?

Rock Waterman said...

Jared, I agree completely with you that "there are those who would take by force your liberty, family, and your life", and that "the Book of Mormon Testifies of this".

The question then is where do we look to find these Secret Combinations that would set us against one another to take away our liberties?

The Book of Mormon tells us to look within to the corruption of our own government leaders.

We are being propagandized that there is an army of scary brown people out there somewhere that want to take over our country and force us all to wear burqas. The only solution is to get behind those leaders and obey them without question, even if it means dying for a lie.

Long ago, in the midst of a similar propaganda campaign, Captain Moroni stood fast and spoke the truth. The danger was coming from within.

If destruction be our lot, we ourselves will be its authors and finishers.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dave P., I've tried to PM you, but have been unable to make contact with you. please email me at

Jared said...


I think your point about secret combinations is accurate. But it is only part of the equation. And it appears you may have misapplied it.

I don't see Captain Moroni dealing with members of a secret combinaiton. He was dealing with a group who were open about what they wanted, They wanted a king, thus were called, "kingman". The term "secret combination" isn't used for this group.

I could only find two instances of this term in the Book of Alma. The source of wars in the book of Alma don't appear to be the result of secret combinations.

One other point I would like to understand your view on has to do with Ammon. He was one of the sons of Mosiah who went among the Lamanites to teach about Christ. As a missionary he used his sword to protect the king's flock. He killed and wounded many of those who attempted to oppose him when he was in the service of the king. The Book of Mormon is clear about the source of his incredible fighting abilty. Alma 17:29

I have more discuss with you on this topic once you've responded to this comment.

IamASuperNerd said...

"Remember this, the first thing they do to you in the military is to destroy your humanity and get you to become a hollow shell and killing machine by rationalizing TAKING THE LIVES of our fellow brothers and sisters"

I am rather confussed by this statement. I'm an LDS Convert of 3 years who has served in the Army for 11 years. My humanity has never been taken away, in fact I have more respect for life then most civilians, because of my military service.

When I served in Iraq, I never shot my weapon, BUT my unit found and defussed a bomb in an elementary school. Also when I went to New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina, I was shot at twice, but I never shot my weapon. Also my brother in law, who never shot his weapon in Iraq, was killed passing out bread and candy to Iraqi children.

Is war forced upon the good by the evil of men, I can say yes. But even you and I stood shoulder to shoulder in battle during the War in Heaven, of our pre-mortal existence.

I never want to kill anyone. I can tell you that I strive day in and day out to Love God, Love Jesus Christ and Love our neighbors. We don't know all things now, nor can we understand all things during this life, but I know through the Holy Ghost we will at some point. With that understanding, we will come to achieve a level of love and forgiveness that will surpass all wrongs committed unto us. Those whom we have called our enemies, the love we work to give them now, will manifest its self in it's purest form when we achieve that understanding through the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which only brings love, forgiveness and long suffering, not condemnation of our enemies. Proof of such is when Jesus on the Cross said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do".

The gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ was made for our agency, our freedom to choose Jesus Christ or to not choose. The atonement was about freedom. Veteran's Day isn't a celebration of death but of love, the love neighbors have for one another, who have had to drink from their own bitter cup of experiences, to sustain freedom.

I know Jesus Christ loves those of us in the military. I have seen that love work more clearly in the military, then outside of the military. I am grateful for the love Christ has shown me, and I will not use that love and freedom given to me, to put my work and time in bringing about the spirit of contention and the judgements of others, but to encourage others to love all people.

To conclude I will say this, I was taught the following when I joined the Army: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. And because I was taught those values in the Army, when I recognized those same values in the Church, my heart became soft, because my heart was prepared.

I love Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

I guess much would be different if the US had a national draft. You'd have fewer mothers and fathers voting for people who practice aggressive sabre rattling; the chances of their own children going to die for it would be too great.

As it is, I pray for every soldier that has to go; I wish there weren't so many willing executioners, though.

But it is getting harder to find them....

OTOH, as a European, I don't see how I would have freedom of religion without US involvement in WWII. In essence, US soldiers defended my freedom of conscience. I am truly grateful for that.

The sum of it is, that since there will always be disagreement about the necessity of a particular war, unless we're living in a purely tribal society -- perhaps even in such -- we should be reconciled to the fact that the leaders will have to bear great burdens for us.

I don't envy them....

Russ said...

As a retired military officer and a 5th generation member of the LDS Church, I cannot let your blog post pass unchallenged. Your contention that those who heed the call for help in defense of our country do so out of a desire for revenge is largely unfounded.
My long experience with the military and those who serve in all ranks is that almost to a man, and at all levels and all ranks, there are few who seek war. Indeed, my contact with senior officers over the years indicates that they would avoid war and make peace if there were any way to do so. I can tell you that they agonize over sending men into battle to fight and die for their country. Sleep often is elusive for those who must make life and death decisions.

In the ranks, there is not a man who would not gladly stop fighting and return to their loved ones. They continue to serve because they know and understand that they are placing themselves in harm’s way to help ensure continued freedom for all the citizens of our great country, whether they appreciate it or not. They don’t fight for your approval, they fight for freedom. Your rejection of that notion doesn’t sway them.

May I respectfully offer a quote by John Stuart Mill:
“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Freedom is always won with the blood of patriots. It was so in Book of Mormon times. It was so as witnessed in the birth of our country, it was so in World War I and World War II, in Korea, and wars that continue across the globe.

I do not accept your contention that the fine men and women of our armed forces who selflessly fight and die for your continued freedom do so with revenge in their hearts. My experience is that they enter into battle with fear and trepidation, but with a deep conviction of the fact that they fight for right and truth and freedom for you and people across the world. The forces which we oppose today are controlled by the adversary. He would use a twisted ideology to make war on freedom wherever it is found The war we fight today began in the pre-existence and will continue until the Savior of the world restrains the adversary and casts him into his eternal hell.

"We love peace," said President David O. McKay, "but not peace at any price. There is a peace more destructive of the manhood of living man than war is destructive of the body; `Chains are worse than bayonets.'" (The Improvement Era, June 1955, p. 395.)

Lastly, I would commend to you Elder Boyd K. Packer’s talk on the subject of war, Conference Report, April 1968, Afternoon Meeting 33.)

Russ said...

May I suggest that you read and comment on my blog post in response to your post? I don't have any hope of persuading you of the wrongness of your position, but i cannot help but respond. I welcome you comments.

IamASuperNerd said...

Russ, where did you find Elder Boyd K. Packer's talk from 1968? I would love to read it, and I see you are also a fan of my Dad's blog Mormon Insights.


Rock Waterman said...


Thanks for your comments. I must have been unclear in my response to you regarding Secret Combinations. I was referring to the propaganda used by the secret combinations that Moroni warned us (in Ether 8) would be among us in our day.

Three paragraphs later I state that Captain Moroni stood fast "in the midst of a similar campaign", by which I meant methods similar to those being used to propagandize us today.

Those in the shadows of power are currently using guile and deception in an attempt to convert our republic into an oligarchy much as Amalickiah attempted to subvert the Nephite republic into a monarchy.

As for your question about Ammon, he was defending the flocks of the king against rustlers who had come to steal them. Why would I object to that?

Rock Waterman said...

Son #1,

Thanks for your testimony. You were blessed not to have been put into a situation where you had to shoot anybody.

You appear to be under the impression that I disdain the military. Not so. You will note I expressed the belief that anyone contemplating enlisting in our military AS PRESENTLY CONSTITUTED ought to beware that he may be called upon to act contrary to the teachings of Christ.

I agree that you and I were undoubtedly on the same side in the war in heaven, which was an ideological one, but not necessarily a "battle" as you describe it. The outcome allowed us the choice to follow our consciences here on earth, choices that are not always easy to maintain once we have committed ourselves to an institution that often divides our loyalties.

As you say, you were taught loyalty, but you are surely aware that the military as presently constituted requires the soldier in its employ to be loyal to that institution above all else. As Dave touched on above, it's the only job where, once you're hired, you're not allowed to quit. And if you think the company returns your loyalty... well, ask a crippled vet.

Surely you have noticed a difference in the military since you were part of it. It has been converted from America's line of defense into an instrument of aggression. My warning was to those young latter-day saints who may not be aware of that transition and the demands that may require them to compromise their convictions. My article was a reminder that the commandments of Christ are not necessarily appreciated by a government bent on empire.

Of course I agree with you that Jesus loves those in the military. I hope you didn't have the impression I believed otherwise. Your final sentence, that you love Jesus, is much appreciated. I would remind you that Jesus said those who love him will keep his commandments. That includes the rules of engagement he laid out in D&C 98.

Rock Waterman said...


I appreciate your input here, but it would please me if you didn't misrepresent my words.

I didn't say that all those who heed the call for help in defense of our country do so out of a desire for revenge.

What I said was "most young men -Mormons included- who enlisted after 9/11 admit to having done so out of an eagerness to retaliate." This is a true statement. You can find the testimonies of hundreds of these disillusioned souls all over YouTube. If you don't recall the national zeitgeist on the days following 9/11, ask your friends. They'll remember.

Nevertheless, I said nothing to imply that such an angry reaction was the case at all times or with all people. Your lengthy attempt to convince me that most military people don't seek war was unnecessary. I know this.

I appreciate and agree with the excerpt you quoted from John Stuart Mill's dissertation. Mill was a major influence in the formation of my own political philosophy. But you truncated his statement, leaving out the clause in the middle that makes my case:

"When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish
purposes of a master, such war degrades a people."

You haven't convinced me that our current incursions overseas represent, as Mill continues, "[the people's]own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice"
-John Stuart Mill, "The Contest in America".

I have also long been guided by the words of President Mckay which you share. So where do you feel we differ here? Do you assume that I reject all wars at all times?

I certainly don't reject the Lord's Rules of Engagement as defined in D&C 98 or the clear evidence throughout the Book of Mormon that we have a sacred duty to defend our lands and freedoms from those who would do us harm. How did you fail to grasp my position?

I refer you to the initial entry from March of this year which I linked to in my article, and would have assumed you had investigated before calling me out for what you see as my naivete on the subject.

I would hope you understand the difference between a just war and an unnecessary war. Your twenty years' experience as an officer should enable you to recognize political machinations that may not be obvious to the raw recruit. As the Savior reminds us, where much is given, much is expected.

Likewise, your service as a bishop, gospel doctrine instructor, and seminary teacher ought to make you sensitive to encroachments by those secret combinations that Moroni warned us will be attempting to influence our government.

I've studied political responsibility as it pertains to latter-day saints for more than three decades. You'll find that I don't disagree with God's word on the subject whatsoever, but it appears you do.

If you're interested, You can read that original piece here:

I'm curious about the way you closed your letter to me, Russ. I had already shared the Lord's clear commandments regarding war as given in scripture and through the First Presidency, yet you felt compelled to instruct me with a talk on the subject by Boyd K.Packer given back when he was a junior apostle.

Why? Did you think Elder Packer would offer a retort to God?

Russ said...

For Son #1:

Below is a link to Elder Packer's talk.


Russ said...

Perhaps it would be best to agree to disagree on this particular subject. I don't wish to create any dissention or hard feelings with you -- your are obviously a person who loves the Lord and seeks to serve Him in every way. I will enjoy reading other posts on your blog in the future.

Rock Waterman said...


Fair enough, my friend. I don't wish to create hard feelings between us either.

In re-reading my response to you, I realize I may have come off a bit harsh. But as you yourself wrote, I felt I could not let your blog post go unchallenged. So please know I meant no offense.

I've been reading your blog, and we probably have as many beliefs in common as not. The important thing is that we maintain our brotherhood in Christ.

I'm glad you intend to return here. The considerable flak I received for my recent entry has made me consider doing a follow-up piece, so if I can find the time to sit down in the next few days I may churn out something else we can disagree about.

Oddly, our disagreements appear to be a difference in the way we each interpret the same church teachings, but that happens sometimes. Engaging in discourse like this is how we come to understand one another on this planet, so thank you for your contribution to my little blog.


For those interested in reading Russ's thoughts, his blog is "Russell's Ruminations".and it's located here:

You may be interested in more of his views on war and Mormons posted there.

Jared said...


Thanks for your reply. I understand a little better what you're trying to say. And I might add, I agree with some of what your said.

Recently, I saw a program that interviewed various LDS men about their experiences in WWII. Several of these men described how they conducted themselves in war. One man told about a time he was required to shoot a Germany soldier and attempted to twice. He said it was an easy shot, but he missed twice. He was an excellent marksman and wondered how he missed. Later the Germany soldier was captured. It turned out he was LDS too. The American solder felt the Lord interved to save the Germany soldier.

The point I want to make is that men who serve their country, no matter how corrupt the movtives of the leadership, are not held accountable to God for what they do in war unless He makes His will known to them.

The fact you feel otherwise appears to me to show a lack of understanding of the scriptures. The Lord judges us by our desires, as well as our actions. To condemn those who are currently serving our country is unwise. The apostles and prophets don't agree with your position. When they condemn war they are not comdeming those who serve their respective countries.

If you can find where LDS leaders have condemned soldiers for fighting in war please make it available so we can all read it.

Dave P. said...


I recall a story related during a sacrament meeting talk about an LDS soldier who was ordered to kill a German POW, but the man turned out to be a man he had baptized and he thus refused, so his C.O. had them both shot.

As I said earlier, these stories are heartwarming and both of those men will receive their rewards according to their works, but I will still call it a waste of two good lives for the sake of war and would rather have the situations leading up to those stories not have happened in the first place.

Rock Waterman said...


It is not the place of the general authorities to condemn a soldier for his mistakes, so I would hope I never see an example of church leaders condemning someone.

My warning is the same as the Lord's, that those who disobey his commandments will some day find themselves accountable for their actions.

There is a difference between condemnation and accountability. We will all end up facing accountability for our actions, which is why God warns us in scripture to be very careful about the situations we allow ourselves to get into. I concur with Dave above, in that I would rather have the situations leading up to those incidents not to have happened in the first place.

If you don't like the word "accountable", try substituting "haunted". And then go here

for just one of many examples of men facing their accountability.

Russ said...

Hello Rock:
One last thought about accountability. I am forever glad that it is the Lord who must determine accountability for our actions while we are here on this earth. He knows our names and our thoughts and intentions. Blessedly, these will all be considered at the bar of judgement.
You are right that the world is full of corruption and evil -- your blog is not, and I have the same hope for mine.
I do respect your opinion, and I continue to welcome your thoughts and ideas.

Cap'n Moroni said...

Jared, A couple of points you made in your response to Rock above have me confused.

You say, "The fact you feel otherwise appears to me to show a lack of understanding of the scriptures...The apostles and prophets don't agree with your position."

Here's what I'm trying to figure out. Rock quoted scriptures PROVING that God does not want us going to battle on foreign soil, and he showed how the Book of Mormon demonstrates that those who disobey that commandment do so at their peril.

And then he proceeds to quote the First Presidency repeatedly as to what does and does not justify war.

So how can you say the apostles and prophets don't agree with him when all he's doing is quoting the First Presidency?

Or were you not aware that the First Presidency is made up of apostles and prophets?

Jared said...


Would you let me know your email address so I can send you a comment that I prepared in Words. If you would post it in your blog, and then respond, I'd appreciate it.

I can't paste it into your blog--as you're aware.

Rock Waterman said...

Jared, my email is

Jared said...

Thanks Rock--

Anonymous said...

What man can truly see into the heart of another man? I believe it is each man's responsibility (LDS or ortherwise) to reconcile their love of god and their neighbors with the actions they take. Joining the military would be one of those actions. Can we call the military and government actions justified and good?
With the anount of power that the military organization would have over your person should you hand it to them, it is even more important that one reflects very deeply on how this would effect their life and the lives of others.
Should one find themselves in a situation in which they havve trusted their lives to such an organization. They ought to strive to do good and reconcile their actions with god constantly. It think it can be an opportunity for some to do much good in otherwise ugly environment.
"Give unto caesar that which is caesars and give unto God that which is God" (Paraphrased). I know those words were spoken on a different subject, but it can be related to any service one must render to the government.
I personally do not have much faith in our current government establishment, but I strive to serve it to the best of my ability as a member of the people whose government is supposed to be "For the people, by the people". I put my faith a god of love, and that he has touched the lives of more people than I can see in this darkened world of ours.
I personally beleive our current financial system is an evil system which enslaves every one of us. I still participate in that system because I have not yet found a resonable alternative without ending my own life. I beleive I can do more good in this world by keeping myself here than the amount of evil produced by my personal contribution to an unjust financial system.
There are sacrifices the individual must take in reconciling their government with their god. Those sacrifices are generally manditory until the day that a new enlightenment comes within a majority of those that serve it make a change within it for the better.
I'm in no position to judge those in the service, and I don't believe anyone here would wish to claim such a position either. I sincerely hope that every individual seeks to do good in the lives of those around them. I realize however, that each of our little voices speaking against the injustices we see in the world around us a growing defense against those injustices in the future, that we can ideally do much more good in the future.

Jared said...

I sent Rock and email with a response to this post. He doesn't allow his readers to cut and paste in his blog.

He said he would post it yesterday. I guess he got busy doing something else.

Jared said...

Rock et al--

Rock said: "Ask most latter-day saints about reconciling war with the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill', and you'll nearly always hear that war is an exception to that rule. They'll tell you that God doesn't hold the soldier accountable for any killing done in battle. When a Mormon kills during wartime it doesn't count against him. He get a free pass. Responsibility for any killing transfers to the politicians who sent him into war.

The problem with this widely held 'doctrine' is that it's a false one. It is not supported anywhere in the scriptures. In fact, the reverse holds true."

It appears Rock is telling our LDS service men and women that if they kill in war, be it Iraq, Afghanistan, Viet Nam, Korea, WWI, and WWII, and etc--they are murderers in the eyes of the Lord. [Note: please correct me if this statement needs to be refined.]

Rock said the scriptures supported his position. OK, let's put that claim to the test.

Over 1/3 of the Book of Mormon (177 pages) is about war. There are 54 chapters of wars. (Information Pages, by Bruce Barton, p. IP-26).

I request that you use the Book Mormon to support your position. With 177 pages about war it should be easy to cite scriptures to prove your point.

Rock Waterman said...

Jared, you're right, I did get busy. Sorry I didn't take care of that immediately. I told you I'd post it this morning and I couldn't sit down until tonight, so my apologies for not being my word about that.

And you're wrong, I do allow people to cut and paste into my blog. But in this case you were asking me to do the cutting and pasting for you and I just didn't have the time to do it as fast as you wished me to.

I resolved when I started out not to censor anyone's opinion, so all contributions are welcome. I'll either respond to a comment or simply let it stand for others to respond to if they wish, but I won't delete.

Regarding the email you sent me in Word format: I find your arguments intriguing enough to be worthy of a full response in my blog proper rather than to just paste it into the comments section here where I might have to end up giving it short shrift.

But I have a piece on accountability in mind for next week so I won't get around to answering you until next month.

Be patient, my friend. You won't be ignored.

Jared said...


I'll look forward to next month.

There are a few other points I might add in your blog before then.

Your topic is one I've haven't given much thought to. So I am new to this subject.

I agree with, or am undecided with many of your conclusions--with one exception: I believe a righteous man or women can be involved in their countries "unrighteous" wars and not be unrighteous themselves. Having said that, that doesn't mean a soldier is required to execute orders that violate their conscience.

Ken said...

To personally oppose war and feel it is unjustified for yourself spiritually is your God given right but to profess to speak for the Church and other members is way beyond your right to personal revelation. I would call you to repentance and counsel you to humble yourself towards the Lord before you fall into apostasy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Geez, Ken, where did I ever profess to speak for the church? Or for other members?

The First Presidency has declared that only that body has authority to speak for the church, and I relied heavily on their positions, i.e. “The church is and must be against war, for war is of Satan and this church is the church of Christ.”

If you ever see me advocating for any positions of Satan, I hope you'll be the first to let me know, Ken.

As for speaking for other members, I think I'll let all those good folks speak for themselves.

And in the matter of your calling me to repentance, I do appreciate it, and have properly thanked you in the comments section under "When Mormons Take The Lord's Name In Vain, Part Two".

Dave P. said...

I don't think I'll be able to finish re-reading everything today, but one of the comments in here struck my attention in regards to the war chapters in Alma referring to Captain Moroni dealing with traitors and a corrupt government rather than secret combinations, but just because Captain Moroni didn't deal with them doesn't mean that the chapters wherein Lachoneus and Gidgidonni implement a strategy to defeat the Gadiantons in 3 Nephi 3-4 aren't just as important for us in our day.

One time in sacrament meeting, one of the speakers couldn't make it that day and so the conductor invited someone to come up and speak. I volunteered and, being full of the spirit of inspiration, gave at least a 10-minute talk on the Book of Mormon, specifically from the time of King Noah all the way to the birth of the Savior wherein I outlined Satan's tool of deceit and destruction used against each generation and how the Lord prepared a prophet, righteous chief judge, and/or righteous military leader to guide the people in what to do to counter Satan at that point, and how each generation of the righteous had to be more righteous than the previous because Satan was also stepping up his tactics- remember that Nephi the son of Nephi conversed with angels on a regular basis.

I ended the talk with the reminder that the Book of Mormon is for our day and Satan would use those same tactics. Only this time George W. Bush was in the seat instead of Gidgidonni.

Dave P. said...

Oh yeah, and it was rather ironic that I was assigned to speak in the following week's sacrament meeting, but I remember the impromptu talk far better than the one I actually wrote down for the next week, but that topic was "What it means to become a true latter-day saint" and the gist of it was to have the necessary change of heart that would help us to forsake the desire to do evil and learn as the Savior loves.

Dave P. said...

My mother still watches Music and the Spoken Word on a regular basis every Sunday morning, both reruns and the latest broadcast. This morning I happened to catch a glimpse of a montage that served as a "tribute" for Veterans Day. However it was quite disturbing to hear an otherwise-beautiful song sun against photos of soldiers raising their guns or firing off mortars.

Cam Boehme said...

This was an extremely offensive post. Maybe you will think of the thousands of young men and women that are dead before you disgrace them and their service with a post like this. You are extremely naive if you believe our Heavenly Father would not distroy the wicked to protect the faithful.

Cam Boehme said...

This was an extremely offensive post. Maybe you will think of the thousands of young men and women that are dead before you disgrace them and their service with a post like this. You are extremely naive if you believe our Heavenly Father would not distroy the wicked to protect the faithful.

Cap'n Moroni said...

Cam Boehme,

This was an extremely offensive comment. Maybe you will think of the thousands of young men and women that are dead before you disgrace them and their service by cheering them on to their needless deaths. Start living the gospel, and join those who are waking up.

Sara G said...

I think this reference applies:

Members of the Church should endeavor to be involved in activities and employment upon which they can in good conscience ask the blessings of the Lord and which are consistent with the principles of the gospel and the teachings of the Savior.

Handbook 2:21.1.25

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Good counsel, Sara. Too bad the Handbook isn't available to the membership; maybe some kids might have read that section before joining up.

But then again, had they read their scriptures, they wouldn't need to.

Anonymous said...

First of all just because you are a LDS member does not mean you can escape the judgment of God. With that being said please do not hide behind the fact that you are LDS or whatever to proclaim your very ignorant opinions on matters you know extremely little about. First off I would like to say Jesus did what he did because it was Gods will for Him and Him alone, to atone for our sins. Secondly I'd like to give you some advice. Please read this from Doctrine and Covenants

And now, verily I say unto you concerning the alaws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them.

5 And that alaw of the land which is bconstitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

6 Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the aconstitutional law of the land;

7 And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

For posting this site you are not just blind spotted in one way as you describe which matters not at all to me but you are doing more and probably less than you should be. For one, How can we do what the Lord says unless we are in a position to do so? the military is one nation under God and joining the military is not a sin if your doing it to protect freedom. Further more how can we renounce war and proclaim peace if we are not in a position to do so? Do you realize that if we just renounce our military and proclaim peace in the sense that you seem to be trying to display, we would cease to be america, we would cease to be free, and the church of jesus christ would cease to be as well? Man I don't know why I even bother. I may be a fool and I may be an idiot, but I will never be as stupid as you.

One last thing I will remind you kid, cause I really assume your a kid for this stupid post of yours that is 100 percent ridiculous and everyone who agrees with it didn't put much thought into it as did you they are simply displaying their ignorance in both the land they live in and in the gospel so let me say this so i can be on my marry way... Nephie from the book of mormon was commanded to kill Laban by an angel of God and he did so because the angel said it is better for one to perish than for a nation to dwindle and perish in unbelief, God slays the wicked to bring to pass his righteous purposes. If killing was nessesary at that one point in time and God himself justified it, why would you think serving in the military to protect our religion and freedom is wrong? and just one more thing i'd like to point out. that whole thing about the nephites not being able to go to battle against their enemy with Gods blessing, is not the same thing as the military of the usa going to war to prevent a nation from dwindling and perishing in unbelief, to slay the wicked to bring to pass his righteous purposes. Yes we go to battle against Iraq and Afghanistan but do you see us going to war against north Korea? believe us kid we have more enemies than you'd like to know.

Anonymous said...

we should not dispute concerning the points of the doctrine of our Savior but instead these things should be done away. We should hearken to the holy ghost, pray, seek Gods counseling, and seek not to counsel God, because when you do, you get a guy like me who will have something to say about it but never really say everything that he wants because when he tries he never gets everything out there is always going to be something not said and anything that is said is always going to have errors in it because lets just face it we have a hard time as humans to explain ourselves, but we try, we are all just bruce lee's, speaking of a philosophy to be like water, but i will end by saying this to all of those who want to serve in the military and support this great country which the LDS church was established in, which could not have happened anywhere else in the world or could it? think about it and think about why if so, this is what I have to say to you.... When the wicked rule the people mourn, forsake all evil and cleave unto all good, for the Lord says "Therefore, be not aafraid of your enemies, for I have decreed in my heart, saith the Lord, that I will bprove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, ceven unto death, that you may be found worthy"

Anonymous said...

Therefore, be worthy to serve your country in the military, do not like at this as throw down your weapons of war and allow all those who oopose and hate you to rush in and cut your head off because if you give them the chance that is exactly what they will do, unless u want to be in a land where you goto jail for having your beard too short or get physically beaten because someone saw your wife or daughters face in a shopping market, be happy military men are making sacrifices for you, its called the rules of engagement, do not shoot until fired upon. yet was laban being fired upon when nephie assassinated him by Gods approval? if you join the navy seals believe me the rules of engagement will change, however, I like to think of a LDS joining the military as a man who is willing to make this kind of sacrifice not as a man who will hide behind thou shalt not kill. Didn't the Lord specifically say to remember not to kill because if you do you will be delivered up to the law of the land? now ask yourself are we delivered up to prison when we kill justly in military? wow now your starting to be a man

Mahonri Morrie said...

Anonymous, you have some real balls trying to school Rock Waterman in the meaning of The Law of the Land. Perhaps before labeling as "ignorant" someone who actually knows what he's talking about, you might want to make certain you are not coming from a place of incredible ignorance yourself. Before you make a further fool of yourself by continuing to misapply that scripture, I suggest you have a look at this:

You seem to have overlooked the key point the Lord was trying to get across in that long section you quoted, which is in the first verse: "it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever *I* command them."

Not all things the President commands. Not all things the military commands, but all things GOD commands.

You cite the spirit telling Nephi to kill Laban as though the government enticing American soldiers to kill Iraqi and Afghani civilians has prevented America from "dwindling in unbelief." Would you mind explaining how that works, please? Do you really believe that if we had not invaded these countries, the gospel of Christ would disappear from our land?

If you're interested in seeing someone whose belief system is in serious jeopardy, I suggest you look in the mirror.

In your entire disjointed, seventh grade level rant, I found only one sentence that made any sense. That was when you said "I may be a fool and I may be an idiot."

Zo-ma-rah said...

Mahonri Morie, You know I actually think all humans should take that as their catch phrase, "I may be a fool and I may be an idiot." That should be the Motto of humanity.

I'm wondering if Anonymous is a native English speaker. The was his/her thoughts are put together seem a bit odd.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Maybe it was Weston Krogstadt surfacing again.

Anonymous said...

Listen up you worthless waste of flesh. I am an apprentice in military history. Warfare is a natural human thing. I just barely wrote the military history of the nephites today. One thing you will notice in every story is that there is a good guy and a bad guy. Sometimes the good guy has to knock off the bad guy or he will knock him off. The lord helps us in our endeavors even if it is war.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

And sometimes the Lord allows the bad guys to knock off the "good guys" when the good guys reject his commandments, as Mormon told us the Nephites were guilty of.

Perhaps once you've left your apprenticeship in military you'll figure out why the Nephite civilization is no longer with us.

Anonymous said...

Simply put - the US military has done more to preserve human rights, dignity and life than any church ever. Not perfectly for sure, but I am convinced we don't speak German or Russian because of good Christians, to include Latter-day Saints, being willing to fight for just causes.

Gary Hunt said...


I think you have used about every pro-war propaganda cliche' in the book. As the old saying goes, "the first casualty of war is the truth." You have also used numerous ad hominem attacks against Rock Waterman. You claim to be an apprentice in military history and have just written the military history of Nephites. By what I have gathered from your comments you have not done a thorough study, or gain a good understanding of these things as of yet.

Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution spells out what the Federal government can raise a military for. The first is to put down rebellions from within the country. The second is to repel invasions. With your military knowledge, tell us which wars have met the limits of the Constitution?

The Book of Mormon clearly teaches the principle of nonaggression. The prophets told the people to stay on their own property and not go out to battle against their enemies in their enemy's territory. They did instructed them to prepare for the defense of their own lands by making weapons and building fortifications. However, the prophets warned them that the Lord would not be with them if they sent their armies into enemy territory.

You quoted from the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 98. It would be good for you to read it in it's entirety, because in it the Lord gives His requirement for going to war.

Doctrine and Covenants 98:

16. Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children;

32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.

33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.

34 And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;

35 And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;

36 Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people.

37 And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.

38 Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me.

Almost all the wars the U.S. has been in haven't even come close to meeting the Lord's requirements for going to war. In fact in many of these wars the U.S. has been the aggressor and has used deception to try to get the people of this country to support immoral and unconstitutional wars of aggression. If you disagree with me make a logical argument to the contrary.

1 said...

Well said. As I see it the church leaders are afraid of the state(maybe with good reason) and refuse to challenge it.

1 said...

I don't think it is possible to be a follower of Christ and a supporter of the state. The two are antithetical and it is a shame so few Mormons understand that. I hate sitting in church listening to Mormons glorifying war and praying for our evil state to be successful in its many murders, thefts and destruction.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Greg, I'm convinced that our dismissal of the Book of Mormon's warnings against taking the battle into other people's lands is a primary reason the Lord tells us the church is under condemnation for ignoring that book.

I like your blog, thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

As a Mormon serving in the military this blew my mind, while I always try to live by you are entitled to your opinion, I initially got angry by this whole post. I amend that initial feeling to one of simple disagreement. In response to the is no doctrinal support of military service I would add voice to a previous posters pointing out that nearly if third of the Book of Mormon details and accounts serving in the "army". Also would again point out that one of the most frequently referred to figures in the scriptures, Moroni, was a military commander. Since I read referral after referral of D&C proposing opposition to serving, let me point out and remind you of the story of the stripling soldiers, and would have you read Alma chapter 53. The stripling soldiers, in my humble opinion embody why individuals choose to serve, so that others may know peace AND to protect.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

There is a reason so much of the Book of Mormon deals with war and warfare: it's meant as a serious warning.

Yes, Captain Moroni was a military commander, and the stripling warriors did indeed go to battle. George Washington was also a great military commander, and I admire him as much as I do Captain Moroni.

But Washington and Moroni and the sons of the Ammonites were repelling invaders from their lands, which is justified by God. They were defending themselves from invasion.

You may have missed my assertion that latter-day Saints have no business being involved in the military AS PRESENTLY CONSTITUTED. That's because today's military forces a decent, moral latter-day Saint to violate his or her moral principles (often without realizing it, as evidenced by your own lack of awareness in this matter).

It's easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys in any war. The bad guys are the ones taking the battle across the other people's borders. When you repel invaders from your lands, you are not in danger of killing innocents. When your military crosses the borders, innocents get killed.

There is no place in God's teachings to justify collateral damage. If we truly believe the worth of ONE life is precious, we should stop defending and excusing ourselves when innocent lives are taken unnecessarily.

I have written a half dozen or so posts about war. Why don't you read them, then if you feel my position is unscriptural, please point out where you feel I am in error. I will gladly make corrections.

Anonymous said...

So since this is about L.D.S. what do you do with all the war in the Book of Mormon and with the following which is talking about a seasoned warrior: Alma 48:17 17 Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Captain Moroni had that kind of praise heaped upon him not because he took his armies into foreign lands, but because he had the courage to stand against those in his own government who were usurping the sovereignty of the nation.

He steadfastly refused to take the battle over the borders of the Lamanite lands, but resigned rather than do so.

Like the later hero George Washington, Captain Moroni understood that defense meant repelling invasions, not taking part in them.

Unknown said...

I can understand multiple sides of everyone's views and beliefs on this matter. I am currently joining the Army. Ever since I have received my patriarchal blessing I have felt a calling to defend in this nature. I feel I have a calling to learn how to prepare for battle as the Nephites did. Just because war is unjustifiable in many respects doesn't mean you should not be trained in the aspect of it. That is my goal to be trained and ready to defend. I'm sure we'll need those skills very soon if the last days are upon us. In no way do I justify killing of innocent people and if I am ordered to kill a person who I know is innocent, then they can shoot me where I stand. But I feel as if I have a right to learn how to take up arms and defend myself, my family, and my nation. Learning in the arts of war. I do not seek blood shed, but if I would ever need those skills in order to defend our homeland, I would regret not knowing how to fight and defend. So not everyone joins the military seeking to kill or make revenge upon others. I certainly hope I am not placed in the position to do so. But again, I think it would be wrong not to prepare and learn how to defend. I was reading somewhere in the Index today in the Standard Works. And I saw something a long the lines of preparing for war and basically learning the art of war. Summarized. I wish I had them with me I could quote it better.

Unknown said...

One other thing I don't agree with are some of the comments posted on this. Much contention and belittling of others because of what they believe. If anyone is trying to persuade others of their beliefs then do so in a neutral way. But putting down and belittling our brethren is far from what Christ would want.

Unknown said... . A great talk by Pres. Hinckley sums up a lot of it.

Zach Hill said...

The opinion of this blog post goes against what is taught in the Book of Mormon and by modern prophets. The Book of Mormon shows that its justified to fight for your life, family and liberty. Nephi killed Laban and fought for his people his whole life. Mormon and in fact, most prophets in the book were soldiers. You're free to believe what you want but you can't say the entire church is at fault and you're right. We call that Apostosy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

You must have read some other blog, Zach. You won't find an argument from me that the Book of Mormon shows we're justified to fight for life, family and liberty.

I'm in complete agreement with you.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Zach Hill,

I'm very much interested in your view that what I wrote about "goes against what is taught in the Book of Mormon." Can you elaborate, please?

It's my view that the opinions I expressed were consistent with scripture and revelation, but if I am in error I would appreciate specifics so that I can make the necessary corrections.

You also accuse me of saying the entire church is at fault, but I don't think I said that.

You also accuse me of apostasy, but "Apostasy" is defined as rejecting or abandoning one's previously held beliefs. I have always believed in and embraced the word of God and have never apostatized from it.

Your comment above, and my initial response, were written just a day before I posted my latest piece, which addresses our religion's doctrine regarding war. If you hold views to the contrary, I would very much appreciate your response on that forum.

keymas said...

During the VietNam war when there was a military draft I took my draft card and burned it and did not go. The church at the time said they were proud no returned missionary shirked their duty to go to Viet Nam when called to do so. Guess they did not want to count my brother and I. We were prepared to go to Canada but the lottery came up and saved my brother from the draft and I was saved due to a bad eye. The current church position on the military and going off overseas to foreign wars is contrary to everything I believe in. My great grandfather, a pioneer to Utah from Wales in 1855 told Heber J. Grant when he was asked if he had a testimony in the church answered that he has a testimony in the Gospel but the church has a bunch of damn fools in it. I concur. I make a separation between the "Gospel" and the "Church." I'm trying to figure out how to use a name other than anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mormon, and quite frankly this discussion is an embarassment. We as a people should be known for our great courage in the face of conflict and standing up for truth and justice, even to our graves. There are bad men in the world who would kill us for practicing our religion. We must stand as men who fight to protect this freedom.

Dale B said...

I found this article which addresses this issue from a christian viewpoint which I thought was insightful.

Anonymous said...

I am a woman, I am a mother and a wife. I am also a member of the United States Air Force. I am so proud to defend our freedom, this great nation, oh and your liberty to make the statements that you make. In the Book of Mormon, when Nephi was commanded by God to kill Laban because it is better that one man should perish than a whole nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief. You guys remember that? Well, I do what I do because I believe there is great wickedness in the world that needs to be defeated. There are peoples in the world that are currently dwindling and perishing in unbelief due to their leaders, pure wickedness, and evil. Please say what you want, I would not want to take away any freedoms from you that thousands and thousands of great men and women have fought and died so that you can speak your mind.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Dear Anonymous,
I would very much like the names of some of these men and women who have fought and died so that I can speak my mind. As far as I can tell, the last American soldier who had anything to do with guaranteeing that right gave his life at Yorktown in 1781, and I don't even know his name.

You seem to be saying that if it were not for U.S. soldiers giving their lives in America's current overseas adventures, I might have been somehow prohibited from blogging. Could you please explain to me how that works? I honestly don't understand the connection.

Anonymous said...

I have a question...
Is it justifiable for a righteous Saint to kill/murder another righteous Saint if he is ordered to by his ranking military officer ???

Anonymous said...

DEFINITELY NO...........

Therefore ANY religion that allows OR supports its members in joining any type of work that involves killing another person is essentially saying we support you when you murder another human. Look up what Blood guilty means. Now lets get a better picture of this...

In our Lord Jesus' own words at Matthew 26:51,52
But, look! one of those with Jesus reached out his hand and drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest and took off his ear. Then Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.
What can we take from His words ?
If we choose to join the any organisation where we may have to evidently kill another human we are disobeying a direct order from our Lord and King. Jesus also Stated a command at Mathew 5:43-45 “YOU heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to YOU: Continue to love YOUR enemies and to pray for those persecuting YOU; that YOU may prove yourselves sons of YOUR Father who is in the heavens.
Which fathers son are we proving ourselves to be if we fight and kill our enemy ?
Now a much more disgusting picture I am going to have to paint for all those who profess to being a Christian (Christ like one).
Would God or His son permit the idea of the teaching, that going to war is justifiable ? If so then Jesus is a HYPOCRITE, because He taught the people at Matthew 12:25 "Every kingdom divided against itself comes to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand". So if any (LDS) Religious organisation allows its members to go to war and then a Priest/Pastor ect. prays over its soldiers and asks God to protect and give them victory against another country, all the while a Priest/Pastor ect. of the same Religious organisation in the other opposing country is supposedly praying to the same God to protect and give victory to its Christian soldiers. Would that not make Gods house divided ??? And to top it off Jesus explained to His disciples on how to recognise His true worshippers during the end times with a new COMMAND at John 13:34,35 "I am giving YOU a new commandment, that YOU love one another; just as I have loved YOU, that YOU also love one another. BY THIS ALL WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YOU HAVE LOVE AMONG YOURSELVES".
In conclusion: If you don't love and treat your enemy with love you are directly disobeying Jesus, and if you choose to go to war and MURDER your own brother from the same Religion as yourself, you are Showing the world that your father is the Devil and you are Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit to which that sin has no forgiveness (Matthew 12:31,32)

Does that answer your question of weather it is OK for a Christian to kill another ???

Anonymous said...

I'm really disappointed in my fellow members on some of their thoughts on our military and I want to say that you understand nothing about war and nothing about our Heavenly Father. You know there is a difference between killing somebody and murdering somebody. So if somebody kills somebody else in self defense then they are evil too? That's what you are comparing killing during military service to. How dare you even pass judgement on those men and women and not understand that only God can do so,, but don't be like those evil people at westboro chuch,,
All of you who posted comments on shaming our military should be ashamed of themselves and realize how much of a sinner you are first!
And don't be such a prick!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I have to wonder why you would bother to comment without having read the post in question. No one questions the right of our soldiers to defend themselves when defending themselves or their country, and indeed only God can pass judgement on them. The thing is, he has told us in no uncertain terms that he WILL pass judgment on those who defy his rules of war.

God has made it very clear on this. We are justified in repelling an invasion of our lands, but when we take the battle into other people's lands, they are justified in defending themselves every bit as much as we are. LDS doctrine is very clear that we are prohibited from taking the battle into the borders of another people, and when we do, we lose God's protection.

In the words of Laurence Vance, quoted in the post above,

“You are responsible for the ‘enemy’ soldiers you kill as they defend their homeland against U.S. aggression. It may soothe your conscience if you attempt to justify your actions by maintaining it is self-defense, but it is hardly self-defense when you travel thousands of miles away to engage in an unnecessary and unjust war.”

Please go back and read the entire post before you decide I "understand nothing about war and nothing about our Heavenly Father". I understand the need some people have to remain in deliberate ignorance of God's word, but in the future you might want to make yourself familiar with what God says on the subject of war before scolding others for wishing to follow His commands.

I. Willet deVale said...

I find it interesting that someone who comes on here and calls the author a prick did so anonymously.

Where I come from, that's called cowardice.

Grizzly Whisperer said...

I love this thread! It seems appropriate in this day and age, as warfare become increasingly de-personalized & with remote chains of command, drones, high tech weaponry, and civilian "collateral damage" increasingly accepted by our gov't, that the Church should promote "conscientious objection" to war. And to encourage member to register as conscientious objectors in time of draft, as the Quakers have always done.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon, Grizzly. The leadership of the Church is totally gung-ho on sacrificing our children to Moloch, as witness this shameful intereview the LA times did with Thomas Monson:

Joseph Call said...

Hey guys,
I suppose the real argument is whether or not the US military is doing good or doing evil. I should start this off by saying that I am not a veteran. In my eyes %95 percent of the work that our military does it accomplishes by just being there as a deterrent. There hasn't been a war in the US because it would be laughably one sided. Ours is the strongest military in the world, and it is a peacekeeping force. Take South Korea. The South Korean military by itself might be able to take on the North Koreans. But, with US soldiers there, as well as support from the Japanese, etc. the North Koreans will not start a battle they know they will lose. I should add that I think that this could be accomplished without so much involvement from the US and more international involvement.
This is just one example. I do not pretend that everything the military has done is justified. I think that the recent two wars in iraq and afghanistan were started with good intentions. The government in both of those areas was tyrannical. I don't think the war was prudent in hindsight.
I think that we should drastically reduce the size of the active duty component of the military and have a large Reserve/National Guard Force. I also kind of wish citizen militias were back in style but that carries with it a host of problems too. Our military does not need to be nearly as big as it is. In peacetime, with no clear and present danger, they should let the people leave that want to leave instead of forcing them to be there. That would solve a lot of personnel problems.
I know that you are just citing scriptural examples of how no war outside of our own borders is justified. It's true, the doctrine and covenants does say that. But, the book of mormon also gives an example of the Anit-Nephi Lehis, who were being attacked by their own people, and the Nephite armies intervened that they might live. I know that it is not exactly what is going on today, but Rock, do you think that a boots on the ground US war against ISIS today is justified? I'm not asking to trap you, I want to know what you think. Personally I think that scripture is true but it won't spell out the wisest course of action in all situations. I would also add that Mormons have an uncommon religious problem in that our Canon is so huge we can make the scriptures tap dance with examples if we want to.
Hey Rock, I respect you and I'm sorry to hear about your excommunication. Sorry about the rambling.

Whackjob 264859r9w5w-2500HD said...


Way to jump on "Anonymous" for quoting a reference that you couldn't find. At least they reference somewhat of a source rather than paraphrasing, or possibly in this case interpreting, scripture. You're an effective writer, but in my personal opinion, anyone with a GED can identify an effective writer blowing smoke out of their rear. Here, I'll give ya' a bit of an example that may expose some holes in your argument, and maybe even help these poor folks reading your article think outside the box a little. In your response to "Anonymous", you made a few remarks regarding the leniency in or deviance from "doctrine" in this modern era, and even extended the accusation to our General Authorities; your use of the term "flip-flop" may allude to that (sounds like a testimony issue if ya' ask me). You then state--and I quote, for the sake of consistency in my argument--"So it looks like today's latter-day saint soldier seeking for the truth on this topic has a bit of a dilemma: either follow the long-established word of God as revealed through the prophets, or accept an ambiguous new policy that seems to have been cobbled together to keep the government mollified.

In a case like this, I find it's safest to turn to scripture.",

Rock, if you find it "safest" to turn to scripure, then why did you earlier qoute an uncanonized work by Dr. Laurence Vance titled "Christianity and War" in your original article? Ya' know, Jesus didn't appreciate hypocrites very much. Hah! But hey, don't take that personally, we're all hypocrites. There's really just no winning, is there?

Anyways, feel free to pick my post apart if you like. But cut me some slack, eh? I wrote it from my phone and I only have half inch × one inch box for editing. May the force be with you. Hope ya'll get this whole war thing figured out. As for me and my house, we're starting a colony on the moon. I hear there are quakers up there.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


I'm afraid I don't know which comment by "Anonymous" you are referring to. There are a lot of people commenting by that name. If you are referencing my post from February 15, at 3:41, I don't find mention of "a reference you could not find." However, I did quote one or two lines from Laurence Vance in that one, so is that the one you're referring to?

You called me a hypocrite because I quoted Vance after chiding the Brethren for making up their own doctrine on war instead of relying on scripture. Why then, you wonder, did I quote Laurence Vance instead of scripture?

Simple. Because Vance's argument, of which I quoted only a snippet, was well grounded in scripture. And though Vance is a biblical scholar and not LDS, his statement was not only biblically sound, but also very consistent with the long-established word of God as revealed through the prophets in our Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.

I'm inclined to give you the same counsel I gave to "Anonymous": in the future you might want to make yourself familiar with what God says on the subject of war before scolding others.

P.S. The Quakers have moved on to Mars. That's where the water is.

Amy said...

Once again, Rock is far off target, this is part of the reason he is struggling so much these days!

Unknown said...

How gross these posts are . you all enjoy freedom and everyone else serves in the military because you're effing cowards. Really disgusting.

Unknown said...

None if the LDS leaders past or present gave served. Cowards all of them

JP99 said...

Agreed. No country maintains the freedom to worship in what manner they choose without men willing to fight and die to protect that freedom.

JP99 said...

Agreed. No country maintains the freedom to worship in what manner they choose without men willing to fight and die to protect that freedom.

Cody said...

Amen. Thank you! I was dumbfounded to read some of these replies and this post. Truly don't get how so many can be ignorant of Gods blessing on this country and the men who've protected it. We must fight to protect what God has given us: this beautiful land! I think some history lessons are due for some...

Unknown said...

What about when God told the Israelites to destroy every man, woman, child, animal, and destroy every building of the Caananites. That was by no means a defensive war. God used the righteous to punish the wicked. To take it even further, God chastises the Israelites when they spare some of them alive.

What about the Civil war, the Union invaded the south (a sovereign nation)? What about protecting our allies in Korea, or Vietnam. What about protecting Israel our ally. How about when we had to stop the Japanese or the Germans. What about invading Iceland to protect ourselves, Iceland, and our allies from the Germans. What about When Moroni drove the Lamanites from the East wilderness, and then annexing it into the Nephite nation. That sounds pretty aggressive to me. In fact, it sounds like they are attacking another nation in a preemptive strike. How about when Moroni puts to death unarmed prisoners if they fail to take an oath of peace, or using prisoners as manual labor. What about when the Nephites attacked the Gadianton robbers who had holed up in the wilderness. How about when Teancum assassinated TWO Lamanite kings? What about When Alma must head off the Amlicites before they fled to join the Lamanites?

You act like God has had some universal 'defensive war' for all of eternity. Just like other commandments, they change due to the circumstances. Sacrifice animals, don't sacrifice animals. Lets institute polygamy to produce seed, This must be done away. Destroy every living thing in Caanan, Don't fight egypt. Don't attack the Lamanites, lets clear them out of the wilderness. You can consume alcohol, not anymore. Circumcise your children, that's not needed anymore. Kosher only, no longer kosher. They shall beat their swords into plowshares, sell your cloak and buy a sword.

When was the last time any of you read the Book of Alma, Helaman, or Mormon? The Book of Mormon is replete with examples of aggressive war pursued by the righteous and wicked. Wo unto those who say all is well in Zion, can't forget that the saints have many sins and struggles yet to overcome (Nephi 28:21.) Yet as Joseph smith said the first fruits of apostasy are criticizing priesthood leaders (Teachings...Joseph Smith, Chap 27, pg 318.)

Unknown said...

Oh, the irony of a Mormon believer criticising military supporters for their "blind faith." Self awareness isn't your strong suit is it buddy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Would you mind expounding, Jared Lee? I'm not quite seeing your point.