In the second chapter of Helaman is introduced the notorious band of Kishkumen, known also as the Gadianton robbers because their leader was "one Gadianton, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery. . . ." (Hel. 2:4.)
The Nephites hesitated to go up against the Gadianton robbers, although Gadianton threatened war against them. When asked why they should not attack first, Gidgiddoni, the Nephites' military leader, replied: "The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands." (3 Ne. 3:20.)In A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, Daniel H. Ludlow noted that this counsel of the Lord not to wage offensive war has apparently been given to people of all dispensations. Doctrine and Covenants 98:33 states: "And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them."
Further in the same section, the Lord promised that if offerings of peace were not accepted, "Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle. . . . And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children's battles, and their children's children's until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation." (verses 37-38.)
Brother Ludlow quoted from President George Q. Cannon's conference address in April 1898: "We must proclaim peace; do all in our power to appease the wrath of our enemies; make any sacrifice that honorable people can to avert war. . . .
"Not only ought we to extend the offering of peace the first time to a nation that proclaims war against us, but again the second time; and if that should be rejected, again the third time; and if it be rejected the third time, then: `. . . they should bring these testimonies before the Lord.' (D&C 98:35.)
"Go to the Lord and say, `Here are our testimonies. We have offered peace the first time; we have offered it twice; we have offered it three times; but our offerings are rejected, and this nation is determined to have war with us. Now we bring these testimonies before thee, Lord. . . .'
"We as a people should use our influence for this purpose. Our prayers should ascend to God; our petitions should ascend to the government of our nation to do everything that honorable people can to avert war. . . .
"To us as Latter-day Saints these principles are of the utmost importance. I do not want to see our young men get filled with the spirit of war and be eager for the conflict. God forbid that such a spirit should prevail in our land, or that we should contribute in any manner to the propagation of a spirit of that kind! But one may say, `Is it not our duty to defend our country and our flag? Is it not our duty to maintain the institutions which the Lord has given to us?' Certainly it is. And it is no part of cowardice to take the plan that the Lord has pointed out. No man need be afraid that the Lord or any just man will look upon him as a coward."
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball; and A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, by Daniel H. Ludlow.