Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and in those words we have no reason to doubt its broadest possible meaning. When He champions peacemakers He champions every attempt we make to be our better selves in the face of an increasingly uncivil and often vile world.
After several years of contentious debate, Utahns of the Mormon variety have been encouraged by their Church leaders to be peacemakers in the Culture War. In fact, they have been told that the term Culture War is a bit too aggressive itself. Instead, perhaps we simply lack love and understanding and with more of those ingredients perhaps we can peaceably heal many of society’s wounds.
I’m not going to argue with my faith. I’m certainly not going to argue with Jesus. I agree: Everyone should be a peacemaker – though, I will add, everyone also should vigilantly contend in behalf of true freedom. The two are not mutually exclusive for the peaceable followers of Christ.
Curiously, those two characteristics are mutually exclusive for many progressives in and out of the Church in Utah. When even the Mormon progressive ideal image of freedom is a same-sex prostitute watching porn while stoned and then taking the sacrament in full fellowship on Sunday, there’s bound to be some distance between rhetoric a little long on being a peacemaker and a little short on explaining the meaning of true freedom.
I get it: The world has too much contention. We are a war-like people. It’s much more difficult to be your better self. But this dichotomy doesn’t explain the lore of Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon. According to that narrative, Captain Moroni was the model of a righteous man – “a strong and a mighty man…a man of perfect understanding…a man that did not delight in bloodshed…a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and freedom of his country…a man who did labor for the welfare and safety of his people…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.”
And, Moroni was a warrior, a man of war. This mighty man of God would rather kill all enemies of his people than allow even a feigned submission from a defeated enemy. And the enemies of God existed inside the Church, according to Moroni. When he felt his troops weren’t being supported as they should, he turned his sword on his own people who had betrayed freedom. Opponents of freedom were to be put to death, plain and simple.
Yet, Moroni was Christ-like.
Of course, circumstances are much different today. Nobody outside of ISIS these days is encouraging anybody to kill anyone. Certainly our tolerance for dissent and even craziness in opposition to freedom is at the highest levels humanly possible. But the problems for freedom remain the same. We have people today who hate – I mean hate – people of faith. Tradition-minded people are accused of stealing the birthrights of progressive people, violating their civil rights, and many of these progressives are not at all as tolerant in response. The rest of us are “micro-aggressors” who attack the sensitive psyches of progressives. We are the aggressors and they are the victims – so why shouldn’t the aggressors be appropriately punished for their crimes?
My point is that I refuse to roll over and let these emotional juveniles hurt me, my family or my faith. I will contend. We are in a Culture War of the worst kind. True freedom is in jeopardy. Yes, I want to be a peacemaker but I’m thinking first I need to explain A) enemies really do exist, B) they can be our neighbor as much as a stranger, C) true freedom is under massive attack and D), for me anyway, my love of neighbor will not confuse my love of truth and freedom. Sometimes peacemakers, like Moroni, must wield the sword – metaphorically speaking.
If you believe in true freedom, understand it, protect it and fight for it. You’re not a bad person for standing up for something even if, without options, another person must step off and lose the fight.
Previously broadcast on KVNU for the people. Reposted with permission.