President Boyd K. Packer gave a talk in our most recent General Conference called The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ – Plain and Precious Things. In it he told of how he used the Book of Mormon to understand whether or not it was OK for him to serve in the Second World War:
“I mention another plain and precious insight that did not come with the first reading in the Book of Mormon. When I was 18 years old, I was inducted into the military. While I had no reason to wonder about it before, I became very concerned if it was right for me to go to war. In time, I found my answer in the Book of Mormon:they [the Nephites] were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.
‘And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.
‘And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion’ (Alma 43:45-47).
Knowing this, I could serve willingly and with honor.”
Yesterday while reading blogs, I ran across some disgruntled saint who was complaining about President Packer’s most recent conference talk because he felt that the talk was telling us to oppose the war in Iraq. I didn’t recall any such thing in his talk, so I went back and reread it this morning. Is he talking about Iraq? He doesn’t mention the Iraq War by name. He is talking about general principles for conducting a righteous war as explained in the Book of Mormon.
How do those principles apply to the current war? Are we fighting to defend our homes, wives, children, and freedom of religion? Were we guilty of the first or second offense? Was the only alternative to war being slain by the Iraqis? Is this war purely defensive?
I don’t speak for the Church or anyone but myself, but I think that the war in Iraq is an immoral war. In my opinion, it isn’t justifiable according to the principles outlined by the Lord in the Book of Mormon. I believe that the Lord will judge this nation for attacking Iraq and slaying tens of thousands of innocent civilians, not to mention the thousands of wounded and slain of our own military people. They are God’s children too. And their lives should not be wasted in fighting unnecessary and immoral wars. We might need them to defend our nation here at home if present trends continue. Can anyone state with certainty that we won’t?
So what do prophets teach us about the Iraq War? Well, they haven’t come out for or against it by name, but they have given us appropriate true principles so that we can govern ourselves. Are we keeping those true principles? I hope so, but I doubt it.