Alma 56-58 The Stripling Warriors
Posted by cherylem on November 21, 2007
Recently there’s been quite a lot of buzz about a document posted on the web: What Women Know. One of the items in this document that has caused the most comment is the following paragraph.
“We claim the life-affirming powers of spirit and wisdom, and reject the glorification of violence in all its forms. We are filled with unutterable sadness by the Book of Mormon story of more than 2,000 young soldiers whose mothers teach them that faith in God will preserve them in battles in which they kill other mothers’ children. This is not a success story. It is a story of the failure of human relationships and the horrors of war. In a world that has grown increasingly violent, we believe that one of the most important passages in LDS scripture is D&C 98:16: “Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace. . . .”
This morning a FAQ was posted on the site which further explained why this paragraph was included:
“2 – Some readers are concerned about your treatment of the Stripling Warriors story. Why did you include that statement?
We wanted to remind ourselves that this is, first and foremost, an account about teen soldiers who have to go to war because there are few grown men left to do so, and because their fathers have taken a vow of nonviolence. It is a story of horrible necessity and of brutal experience.
War hardens and maims its participants both physically and emotionally; survivors are often changed for life. Even though the young fighters prevailed and gave their mothers credit for instilling in them their exceptional faith, we do not pretend their wartime experience did not come at a terrible cost.
Many of the contributors to this document have family and loved ones serving in the military. We are grateful when they return alive. But we cannot forget that others die daily in violent conflicts.”
What do you think of this re-reading of the Stripling Warrior Story? Is this story primarily one of mothers and sons? Or, as my own son wrote me yesterday:
“As I pointed out on my one mailing list where this came up, just because the story of the Stripling Warriors is the only real narrative in which we have the explicit praise of women in the Book of Mormon isn’t a reasonable basis to make it the preferred story to praise women. We shouldn’t use these narratives that glorify violence as stories to teach simple moralistic notions (the text isn’t simple) even though within the church we seem to have this over-riding need to reduce all of these narratives (both scriptural and even those from our real lives) to simple moralistic stories.”