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- D&C 98:23-32. After outlining standards of personal righteousness and a political vision for the Saints, the Lord gives more explicit counsel on how to defend our families. The standards of personal defense outlined here would appear to differ from the legal standards of many modern societies, and offers perhaps a higher way of dealing with personal enemies and attacks. In these verses the Lord continues to offer his standard for dealing with personal attacks. Rather than justify revenge or retaliatory strikes, the Lord counsels the Saints to bear these attacks patiently, suggesting that it is even better for them to be killed than to seek violent retribution.
- D&C 98:23. Here the Lord give counsel on how to deal with attacks upon our families. Remembering that the purpose of this revelation is to show us how to maintain peace, and that this is dependent upon our being willing to do whatever we are commanded, even if it means that we have to experience some suffering, this counsel is not that we should heartily defend ourselves in all circumstances, but that we should follow a different approach when personally attacked. The Lord specifically says that if we are attacked, and we bear it, we will be rewarded. Earlier, the Lord reminded the Saints of the rewards awaiting us in the mansions he has prepared for us. We are to keep our mind on those rewards, rather than on retaliating if we are attacked.
- D&C 98:24. While some may read this verse to imply that if you don't patiently bear a personal attack, you are justified in fighting back or defending yourself, the Lord seems to be saying here that if you don't bear it patiently, then the attack may be seen as a "just measure" against you. The wording is a bit vague here, but in any case, within the context of the whole section, this verse does not seem to offer a clear justification for self defense.
- This counsel would appear to stand in sharp contrast to the legal standards of many modern societies, where violence is often justified in defending oneself or others from attack. One way of reading this verse might be that even if you are justified by law in defending yourself from attack, you will lose any blessings you might have recieved from bearing it patiently. You might be legally justified, but by not bearing it, you may fail to "follow every word" and risk being found unworthy by the Lord.
- D&C 98:25. After being attacked once, we are still told that we will be rewarded if we bear a second attack. We are not to "revile" against our enemy, but bear it patiently. If we do so, we will be blessed a "hundredfold". The Lord realizes that this is not easy to do. It isn't easy to be patient when attacked. That is why the rewards are so great if we do.
- D&C 98:26. Here the Lord counsels to patiently bear even a third attack by an enemy. Again, this standard may be higher than legal standards in many modern societies. However, with a higher standard comes a higher reward. After having our reward magnified "an hundredfold" after a second attack, patiently bearing a third attack has the effect of doubling that already magnified blessing four times.
- D&C 98:27. Here the Lord reminds the Saints that he has seen their suffering, and that if they bear these attacks, their attackers will bear an eternal punishment for their attacks. But even here, the Lord offers the possibility of attackers turning from their ways and repenting. The Lord seems to be more interested in helping attackers to repent, than in helping those attacked seek revenge upon their attackers.
- D&C 98:28. After being attacked three times, we are still counseled not to seek revenge. Instead, we are told to warn our attackers in the name of the Lord, to desist from attacking us or our posterity. By warning in the name of the Lord, we are making it as clear as possible what the stakes are for our attackers. The Lord wants them to have the chance to repent. By making it clear that the Lord is opposed to their actions, he gives them an additional opportunity to change their behavior.
- D&C 98:29. After suffering three attacks and warning our enemies not to attack us, we are still not commanded to seek revenge if we are attacked a fourth time. Instead, the Lord says that he places the enemy in our hands. While some may see this as a justification for defending oneself with violence or even seeking revenge, the Lord still suggests that there are other better options.
- D&C 98:30. While a fourth attack by an enemy after a warning in the name of the Lord to desist places the enemy into our hands, the Lord here suggests that it might still be better to forgive the attack.
- D&C 98:31. Here the Lord offers a final word on dealing with personal enemies. Rather than commanding us to seek revenge or retribution, he seems to indicate that he won't hold anything against a Latter-day Saint who attacks an enemy after patiently bearing four attacks and offering a warning to the enemy in the name of the Lord. However, as earlier suggested, the Lord also offers greater blessings for patiently enduring even a fourth attack. While retribution may be justified, and no divine punishment would be measured out for attacking an enemy under these conditions, one would still presumably miss out on additional promised blessings by seeking retribution rather than bearing a fourth attack patiently.
- Within the greater context of this revelation, it is better to suffer attack, even death, and recieve the blessings of the Lord, rather than to not follow the Lord's counsel, even in the face of personal and viscious, even violent, attack.
- D&C 98:32. Here the Lord reminds us that these standards have been given before, and would appear to be in force whenver the gospel is upon the earth. When the gospel is on the earth, the Saints are commanded to spend their time proclaiming it, rather than striving with their enemies, and to let the Lord fight their battles (verses 16-18).
- On the level of individuals, D&C 134 states: "We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded." (D&C 134:11).
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- D&C 98:23-24. Are Latter-day Saints justified in defending themselves and their families from attack?
- D&C 98:23, 25. How did the Lord personally provide an example of how to patiently bear attacks during his mortal life?
- D&C 98:23-24. Is it more important to defend yourself and your family from attack, or to make sure that you obey the Lord's counsel, including his counsel to bear attacks patiently?
- D&C 98:25. Why is the promised reward ("an hundredfold") so much higher after patiently bearing a second attack?
- D&C 98:24. What blessings do we lose if we don't patiently bear attacks, but "seek revenge" upon our enemies instead?
- D&C 98:23-26. Why would the Lord give us this counsel that seems so difficult to follow?
- D&C 98:23-32. How do the Lord's standards for dealing with personal attacks differ from legal standards in our society?
- D&C 98:22-28. Is there a difference between defending oneself and seeking retribution or revenge?
- D&C 98:30. Why would the Lord consider it "righteousness" to spare an enemy after being attacked four times?
- D&C 98:23-32. How do these standards for dealing with personal attacks differ from standards for defending a whole nation provided later in this section?
- D&C 98:23-32. Can we expect modern secular leaders to be able to follow these standards for going into battle? Are they entitled to revelation from the Lord if they follow these standards? If they do not follow these standards, are we justified in following them into battle?
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