#LDSConf – Alma 60: Moroni Demands Home & Visiting Teachers Step It Up

CLICK HERE to read Alma 60.

Moroni now addresses the problems directly, writing to the governor to ask why help hasn’t been sent as promised (verses 1-2).  He explains the suffering of the people, “even hunger, thirst, and fatigue, and all manner of afflictions” (verse 3).

This happens to us spiritually, when those who agree to send us support – our home teachers and visiting teachers – do not visit in the home or do not teach.  We become spiritually hungry, thirsty, and tired, and experience things we would not have to battle so hard on our own if we had the support they are assigned to offer.  Whether we think we need it or not, it is a calling from God, a spiritual assignment, monthly nourishment we are commanded to give and to receive.  Hallway check-ins, socializing, and blowing it off all together is unacceptable.  We are specifically commanded to ask for help, and to give service (beyond just home visits and teaching).  We have a lot to learn.

Regardless, Moroni says, even with such alone times and such difficult challenges, “we would not murmur or complain” (verse 4).

But the consequences are real:  people fall away, people fall into sin, people struggle more than they should because they are alone in ways they shouldn’t be.  When we fail to show up, fail to be kind, fail to teach, fail to visit in the home, we are leaving families – and their children and relatives – isolated, waiting for the provisions and support their Heavenly Father promised them.

But behold, great has been the slaughter among our people; yea, thousands have fallen by the sword, while it might have otherwise been if ye had rendered unto our armies sufficient strength and succor for them. Yea, great has been your neglect towards us (verse 5).

Great is the neglect, and Moroni wants to know why.

“We desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state” (verse 6).

He confronts the problem directly and firmly.

“We desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state” (verse 6).

Moroni knows they are not acting, just as our Bishops or Relief Society presidents know when we are not visiting and teaching in the home.  They know we neglect the people we are called to care for because we are “in a state of thoughtless stupor”, while Satan spreads “the work of death around” (verse 7).  People don’t just slip through the cracks – they have to be un-noticed first, before they can slip away.

And Moroni calls it murder (verse 7).

So do the Jews.  In Hebrew culture, even rolling your eyes at someone or about something is considered spiritual murder.  Read this, from the National Jewish Outreach Program update in 2008:

Rolling one’s eyes is often meant to demean others, to hold them in contempt for their inability to understand, and to embarrass them. Jewish law, however, considers embarrassing another person as a form of murder! Rather extreme, wouldn’t you say? Actually, no. The sages of the Talmud teach that there is a physiological comparison to murder since when a person is embarrassed, blood rushes to his cheeks in a blush and then drains away, leaving a pale white face, not unlike the appearance of a murder victim.

More important, however, is the fact that one’s self-esteem is integral to one’s emotional welfare. Let’s face it, we all want to feel that others like us, respect us and want to be our friends. That’s human nature.

Rolling one’s eyes when someone else is speaking, or when speaking about someone else, can often say more than words. Body language is a unique and highly effective means of communication. Nodding or shaking one’s head head during a speech reveals as much, if not more, than a person’s direct comments.

Such actions are included in what is known in Jewish legal literature as “avak lashon ha’rah,” the dust of evil speech. Even if one is not gossiping directly about someone or slandering them, one’s body language, or other form of innuendo, can lead to lashon ha’rah and result in demeaning or embarrassing that person.

If rolling our eyes about something or someone counts as spiritual “murder”, then direct spiritual neglect is a serious offense with serious consequences – both for those we neglect and for our own well-being before God.  We cannot be at-one with God if we are not caring for His people.

Yea, even they who have looked up to you for protection, yea, have placed you in a situation that ye might have succored them, yea, ye might… have strengthened them, and have saved thousands of them… (but) ye have withheld your provisions from them, insomuch that many fought and bled out their lives… because of your exceedingly great neglect towards them. (verses 8-9).

Moroni has very specific counsel about this:

“… ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people… for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings…. could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you?  if ye have supposed this, ye have supposed in vain.  Do you suppose so many… have been killed… because of their wickedness?  I say unto you, if ye have supposed this, ye have supposed in vain; for I say unto you, there are many who have fallen… and it is to your condemnation” (verses 11-12).

Those who are righteous but are lost because they are slain enter the rest of God, Moroni says, but the wicked face judgment (verse 13).  And these, who think they are righteous, really are wicked “because of their exceeding slothfulness… and great neglect towards their brethren” (verse 14).

Everyone has agency, and makes choices to follow the Savior or not.  Moroni understands this.  But he also understands that to follow the Savior means to serve others, and it is through our service that others are strengthened.  If they do not receive this service, they are not strengthened by us, and that is our failure – not theirs.  We are the ones held accountable for their failing, for their falling, for what sins unfold from weakness caused by our neglect.  For if they had received our service, they “could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us” (verse 15).

Moroni takes the pattern and applies it to their history, noting that it was contention that started the downfall of the people (verse 16).  If the people had been united (even through service and obedience to their callings), they would not have been weak and vulnerable to attack.  “If we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word” (verse 16).

But once the people are neglected, they become weak.  And once they become weak, they are vulnerable for attack.   When they are attacked, they are carried off – even the women and the children.  When they are carried off, they are taken captive, “causing that they should suffer all manner of afflictions” (verse 17), all because they were neglected in the first place.

Moroni says that us neglecting our people like that makes us traitors (verse 18), even traitors to God.

Moroni asks why they have been neglected (verse 19), and tries reminding them of the commandments of the Lord (verse 20).  He reminds them that the Lord uses us to care for each other, and that we must make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us (verse 21).  We can’t just sit around, he says, assuming it’s all taken care of, if we don’t do the simple things to accomplish what He has commanded.

We cannot be idle while thousands are dying, falling away, wounded, and alone (verse 22).

Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? (verse 23).

We must repent, he says, “and begin to be up and doing”, and go and nourish those we have covenanted to care for and serve (verse 24).

Then Moroni says something both fascinating and powerful: to show a “true spirit”, we must really go and do; to really go and do, we must “strive to strengthen and fortify… grant unto them… their support… and leave the strength and the blessings of God upon them, that none other power can operate against them” (verse 25).

This is what we give them, even though it also depends on “their exceeding faith, and their patience in their tribulations” (endurance) (verse 26).

If we do not heed his counsel, our “power and authority shall become extinct” (verse 27).

Moroni’s letter is about the physical, temporal battle they are fighting, and the literal losses they have suffered while trying to defend their country (verse 28).  But we know all things are both temporal and spiritual, and the spiritual application here is about the “country” we are defending, which is the celestial land of our Father.  We “defend” His “country” by the safe-keeping of His people.   This is our war we have been fighting since premortality, and it is not finished yet – and, even though we know the end of the story, there is no time, reason, or permission for us to be idle in the battle, for us to neglect our brothers and sisters for whom we have promised to care.

“The time is not at hand, that except ye do bestir yourselves in the defense of your country and your little ones”… that destruction is near (verse 29).

Moroni pleads for the help that was promised, and states clearly that he waits for our assistance; “and, except ye do administer unto our relief, behold, I come unto you, and smite you with the sword, insomuch that ye can have no more power to impede the progress of this people” (verse 30).

For behold, the Lord will not suffer that ye shall live and wax strong in your iniquities to destroy his righteous people (verse 31).

We cannot neglect our duties, whether it is our callings or our marriages or our children, because of the vain things of the world (verse 32).

We are called to be people of holiness, not people of iniquity or slothfulness.

If we do not repent, he says, we will be destroyed (verse 33).  We have been given commandments, and covenanted to keep them; “therefore I would that ye should adhere to the word of God, and send speedily unto me of your provisions and of your men… God will not suffer that we should perish… therefore, he will give unto us of your food… now see that ye fulfill the word of God” (verses 34-35).

Go and do.

The food we must give is true nourishment, the bread of life, that they may feast on the words of Christ.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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