The Virtue of Captain Moroni

Perhaps like me, you read the Book of Mormon as a youngster and wondered at the greatness of Captain Moroni, the indefatigable defender of Liberty and Christianity. How could we not wonder at such a man? The historian Mormon, a linguist, a scholar, a general, and a prophet himself once said of Moroni, “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.” (Alma 48:17) Mormon painstakingly engraved several versus to preserve forever the rationale behind this statement. He even named his son after the great Nephite captain. Who wouldn’t want to be like unto Moroni?

What pains me most is that the gentile LDS culture at large is guilty of misinterpreting why this man was so great. I personally fell victim to the misunderstanding. But I have felt prompted to repent. I sincerely hope that you will prayerfully study Captain Moroni with an open mind in the true context that Mormon intended to place him. Moroni was a man of “perfect understanding.” Mormon included his story because we, the readers of the Book of Mormon, would need it in our day, not to justify war, but to preserve ourselves, body and spirit, from the blood and sins of our generation. Read on. [My comments are in brackets.]

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. D&C 130:20–21

Alma 48: 10–20

10 And thus he [Captain Moroni] was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians.

11 And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery;

12 Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.

13 Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.

[Verses 14-16 encapsulate his perfect understanding of the principle found in D&C 130:20–21]

14 Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives.

15 And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger;

16 And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity.

[By following this law of non-aggression, Moroni and his brethren were worthy of the blessings the Lord promised to those who would follow. They gloried in this. The Lord would warn them to flee or to prepare for war and where to go to defend themselves. He would deliver them. What great faith they had in our Savior. The Nephites had ample rational to start a preemptive war at this point. But they knew that reasoning to be flawed. Amalickiah had just failed in his usurpation of the Nephite nation and was propagandizing the Lamanites to war. Moroni won the information war by raising the Title of Liberty. The truth prevailed. Peace ensued for four years.]

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.

[War is ultimately for dominion. The adversary seeks complete and total dominion over the souls of men. When we undertake…to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man… We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. (D&C 121:37–40) This warning applies to us individually and collectively. This was part of the perfect understanding of Moroni.]

18 Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.

19 Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words.

20 And thus they went forth, and the people did humble themselves because of their words, insomuch that they were highly favored of the Lord, and thus they were free from wars and contentions among themselves, yea, even for the space of four years.

The war chapters of the book of Alma cannot be used as rational support for offensive or preemptive war. They cannot be used as rational for unrighteous force. The Nephites acted in a purely defensive manner. They didn’t even pursue the prisoners that were carried off into the land of Nephi. Moroni compelled the king-men to fight because they had violated their covenants. He had been given authority over the “armies.” (Alma 46:34) Imagine a modern day court-martial. Had Amalickiah not attempted to leave with his “armies” there would have been no compulsion initially. (Alma 46:29–33) The Nephites voluntarily flocked to the title of Liberty. Those who covenanted for liberty were given great responsibility. Moroni’s compulsion was a just consequence of the covenant. In the end the king-men usurped the government by force, further justifying their punishment. (Alma 62:4–5,10)

We truly have been raised in “enemy territory” (Elder Packer Oct 2011). If we continue to trust in the arm of the flesh and abandon our principles in the face of the fear generated by the propaganda media, then we are no better off than the Lamanites under Amalickiah. He usurped their government by treachery, conspiracy and false flag tactics. He put men on the towers to induce a war weary population into another hateful war. He was a model of our modern scheming leaders.

If we desire to achieve the outcomes accomplished by Captain Moroni, we must exemplify his perfect understanding. If we desire that the Lord prosper us in the land, warn us to flee or tell us whither to go to defend ourselves and to ultimately deliver us from our enemies, then we must have the faith of captain Moroni. (Alma 48:14–16) We must exercise dominion righteously. We must renounce war and proclaim peace and liberty. We must not act precipitously and preemptively. We must root out evil conspirators in our own lands and fortify our defense. Above all, we must raise the Title of Liberty and win the war of ideas that grips our society at its core. If we do not all is lost. My brethren who hold the priesthood of God, I implore you to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider your support for wars, policies, laws, restrictions and activities that affect the rights, liberties, and lives of others in this land and abroad.

The Lord’s Perfect Law of Liberty: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:37–40

In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children

The Title of Liberty

We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.D&C 134:2

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. – The Declaration of Independence 1776

Image: LDS Media Library


  1. This is an interesting post Daniel. In the second paragraph you mention “gentile LDS culture,” can you explain what you meant by that term?

    I have a chapter in the upcoming book, Mormon Perspectives on War, that discusses pre-emptive war and the BoM. I hope to see your comments when it comes out.

    1. The Book of Mormon was written to those who will read it. The warnings are specific to us, not empty comments to those who will not read it. What I intended by adding the word gentile to that phrase was to bring the reader back to the idea that we, the readers of the Book of Mormon, are the gentiles that the prophets were warning. In Mormon 8:35–41 Moroni is very clear about to whom he is writing. He said “Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.” … he talks about “your churches yea even every one” and “the holy church of God.” So this was to reinforce that we are the people who are being warned. The prophets often refer to the gentiles. “O ye gentiles … ” That’s us. That’s me. It’s as if they are saying, “Listen up. We only put in the 100th part because you’re going to need it. Liken the scriptures to yourself.”

      Gentile also infers people who are not of the house of Israel. So it kind of has a negative connotation because we want to be included in God’s family, not categorized as apart. So in general hopefully that terminology will get someone to pause and think.

  2. Daniel, I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say in this article. However, while recently reading these same chapters with my own family, I was troubled by something that I read, and I’d like to hear your take on it. Before Moroni is able to defeat the foreign enemies, the Nephites must perform a bit on internal house cleaning. In Alma 62:8–11, we read about the fate of those who “were not true to the cause of freedom” and how they were speedily killed. While I can understand that the guilty were openly trying to usurp the rights of mankind through the use of violence, some sections of that verse make it seem like they are being put to death primarily for political reasons. It does say that the men were given a trial before they were put to death, but it appears that in the near future, those who had a difference of political opinion were being put to death “for the safety of their country.” I’d like to hear your take on those verses and how we might distinguish between treason and political dissonance, as well as a justification for punishing traitors by death, even if the extent of their crime is that they simple are not willing to fight to defend the rights of others.

  3. Thomas,

    You raise great questions. If you have a chance take some time and go through my extended research paper on Captain Moroni. Appendix B covers this. (I recommend reading the whole thing to get it in context.)

    To address your comments (and a lot of this comes from the paper I referenced), first off I don’t think it’s a crime to simply not be willing to fight. I don’t think it ever was. These king-men were not conscientious objectors. To shed further light on the situation, ask yourself why Captain Moroni didn’t compel the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s to fight? There is never mention of a draft either. This is not a double standard. This is about men keeping commitments. All the language of these episodes describes men rallying to the standard of liberty of their own free will. Upon taking the oath to support the cause of freedom, they were bound by it.

    You referenced Alma 68:8–11. I’ll talk directly about that. First make note of Pahoran’s comment in the previous chapter. Alma 67:11 “We would not shed the blood of our brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us.” He is talking about the Nephites.

    Let’s go through Alma 68:8–11. Pachus and his men are taken prisoners. Verse 9 is a big run on sentence. There were two problems with the king men and Pachus’s men. They fought against the liberty of the people and wouldn’t defend it. This is not saying their crime was that they wouldn’t fight for freedom. If you denied freedom you were executed. (verse 10) Death was inflicted if you were not true to the cause of freedom. (verse 11) What about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis? Why were they not put to death? I think this means they actively fought against the Nephite cause or treacherously refused to keep their agreements at critical times.

    Quoting myself from the lengthier paper (link above):
    “A careful reading of this episode in the context of the 10 year war validates Moroni’s actions. The king-men controlled entire cities. (Alma 51:20) These men were part of the Nephite armies. They had previously entered into a covenant to support the cause of freedom. (Alma 46:35) They were derelict in their duties in refusing to honor their covenants. In fact Alma 51:13–14 indicates that the king-men stood idly by, fully cognizant of the Lamanites entering the borders of the land killing many of their countrymen. Several cities starting with the city of Moroni by the seashore were lost to the Lamanites due to their desertion. (Alma 51:22–23 etc.)”

    In my opinion, the actions of the Nephites in Alma 62 are the culmination of several episodes of dereliction of duty among their military and factions of their government. These men had made covenants and then changed sides at the most inopportune times. Their actions were a direct attack on the life, liberty and property of the Nephites. They had taken the capital city by flattery and in the end by force when they had received enough strength. The drove the legitimate government out.

    So ultimately my take is that the men who were put to death were committing treason boldly and openly and by force of arms. Think of this as a big court martial. Here’s some info on the previous use of force in Alma 51. Everywhere Moroni uses compulsion I think you need to look back at this note in Alma 46:34. “Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them.” Due to the gravity of his anticipated actions, Captain Moroni took his quest for righteous dominion a step further and obtained the consent of the people and the Chief Judge. Alma 51:15 “And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.” (Four thousand were killed in Alma 51.)

    I think these actions were confined to the military agreements they had made. In the very first episode of force, Moroni headed off the “armies” of Amalickiah. It’s not like Amalickiah was just taking a walk down to the land Nephi to see if he wanted to build a summer home there. He was a clear and present danger and was working against the voice of the people. Imagine that he was headed down to the Lamanites with the 2nd Infantry division. He was taking part of the regular army with him. That doesn’t fly.

    Read my longer paper and let me know what you think if you feel so inclined. I think this is important in closing: Alma 30:11 “For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.” I don’t think we see much retribution for political differences until the bad guys get control of the government. (Helaman, 3 Nephi)


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