In August 1833, when section 98 was revealed, the Saints were suffering great injustices at the hands of Missouri mobs. “The Lord’s people are peacemakers and their message is one of peace. However, our ability to live in peace depends upon our retention of our freedom under the law. Sometimes our freedoms are threatened and we are required to defend our country, homes, families and God-given rights of free agency. When it becomes necessary to defend ourselves in times of war, the Lord has given us His law pertaining to such action. (See D&C 98:32–38)” (Leaun G. Otten and C. Max Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine and Covenants, 2 vols. , 2:168).
Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For
The Lord can make our afflictions work for our good. By patiently enduring them, we prove our faithfulness and qualify for eternal life (see D&C 98:1–3, 11–15, 21–22; see also Romans 8:28; 1 Peter 2:20; D&C 122:7–9).
Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 130–34.
Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 230–34.
Suggestions for Teaching
Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–3, 11–15, 21–22. The Lord can make our afflictions work for our good. By patiently enduring them, we prove our faithfulness and qualify for eternal life.
Ask students to think of examples from history or their own lives when a trial turned into a blessing. Examples from history might include the following:
After several years of crop failure in New England, Joseph Smith Sr. lost his farm and was forced to move his family west to New York. This brought his family close to the Hill Cumorah, where the gold plates were buried. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 24–26.)
The Saints fled persecution in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois and endured hardship in the Salt Lake Valley. Not many years later, the United States experienced a civil war, the bloodiest war in its history. Brigham Young said, “Had we not been persecuted, we would now be in the midst of the wars and bloodshed that are desolating the nation, instead of where we are, comfortably located in our peaceful dwellings in these silent, far off mountains and valleys” (in Journal of Discourses, 10:38–39).
Invite a student to read some of the accounts of what was happening to the Saints when section 98 was given (see Church History in the Fulness of Times, pp. 130–34). Ask students: How do you think you would feel if you experienced this kind of suffering? Write on the board the headings How We Should Respond to Trials and Some Blessings of Enduring Trials Well. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 98:1–3, 11–15, 21–22 to find what these verses teach about trials, and list their findings under the appropriate headings. Their lists might include the following:
Discuss the following question: Why do you think the Lord allows trials to come to His children? President Spencer W. Kimball, then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:
“Is there not wisdom in his giving us trials that we might rise above them, responsibilities that we might achieve, work to harden our muscles, sorrows to try our souls? Are we not exposed to temptations to test our strength, sickness that we might learn patience, death that we might be immortalized and glorified? …
“[Orson F. Whitney said:] ‘No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, … builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.’ …
“We knew before we were born that we were coming to the earth for bodies and experience and that we would have joys and sorrows, ease and pain, comforts and hardships, health and sickness, successes and disappointments, and we knew also that after a period of life we would die. We accepted all these eventualities with a glad heart, eager to accept both the favorable and unfavorable. We eagerly accepted the chance to come earthward even though it might be for only a day or a year” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 97–98, 106).
Invite students to write on a piece of paper how they can more appropriately bear the trials that come to them.
Doctrine and Covenants 98:4–10. Latter-day Saints should support laws that promote freedom and government leaders who are honest and good.
List on the board ways people frequently break the law (for example, exceeding the speed limit, shoplifting, cheating at school, writing graffiti on public property, sneaking into places without paying). Ask students:
Why do you think people break the law in these ways?
How do you think the Lord feels about our breaking the laws of the land?
Read Doctrine and Covenants 98:4–10 and look for what the Lord taught about the laws of the land. Ask: What kind of people should we support as leaders in government? Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:21–23; Articles of Faith 1:12 and consider how these verses relate to this subject.
Doctrine and Covenants 98:16–18, 23–48. The Saints are to renounce war and proclaim peace. However, under certain circumstances, war is justified.
Tell students: Imagine you have received a call from your government to report for military duty. You know that wars cause death, injury, and destruction and that in the event of a war or conflict you may be called on to fight. You want to know what the Church teaches about war.
Under what circumstances does the Lord approve of our going to war?
To what lengths would the Lord like us to go to avoid war?
Read the following statement issued by the First Presidency:
“The Church is and must be against war. The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands. It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.
“But the Church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the Church has no control. The Lord Himself has told us to ‘befriend that law which is the constitutional law of the land’ [see D&C 98:4–7]. …
“… When, therefore, constitutional law, obedient to these principles, calls the manhood of the Church into the armed service of any country to which they owe allegiance, their highest civic duty requires that they meet that call. If, harkening to that call and obeying those in command over them, they shall take the lives of those who fight against them, that will not make of them murderers, nor subject them to the penalty that God has prescribed for those who kill” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 94).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 98:16 and ask: What can we do to promote peace? Share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
“What can one person do to promote world peace? The answer is simple: keep God’s commandments and serve his children. …
“Young men and women contribute to peace when they forgo the temporary pleasure of self-gratifying activities and involve themselves in service projects and other acts of kindness. …
“Persons who seek to reduce human suffering and persons who work to promote understanding among different peoples are also important workers for peace. …
“… Our missionaries have no political agenda and no specific program for disarmament or reduction of forces. They circulate no petitions, advocate no legislation, support no candidates. They are the Lord’s servants, and his program for world peace depends on righteousness, not rhetoric. His methods involve repentance and reformation, not placards and picketing” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 1990, 93–94; or Ensign, May 1990, 73).
Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 98 was given at a time when members of the Church were suffering great persecutions. Invite students to imagine they are living in Missouri in July 1833. Discuss how they might react to the following:
A committee of armed citizens meets with Church leaders and tells them that all Mormons must close their businesses, abandon their farms, and leave the county.
The mob advances to the Church printing office, destroys the press, and tears the building to the ground.
Mobs ride through the countryside burning crops, slaughtering animals, harassing and beating members of the Church, and even killing one member. By winter the Saints are forced to abandon their homes and leave.
Have half the class read Doctrine and Covenants 98:23–32 and the other half verses 39–48. Ask:
How did the Lord encourage the Saints to respond to these situations?
How difficult do you think it would have been to act as the Lord directs?
Share the following account of how some in Jackson County, Missouri, responded to persecution:
“The mob caught Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen, and dragged them through the maddened crowd, which insulted and abused them along the road to the public square. Here two alternatives were presented them; either they must renounce their faith in the Book of Mormon or leave the county. The Book of Mormon they would not deny, nor consent to leave the county. Bishop Partridge, being permitted to speak, said that the saints had to suffer persecution in all ages of the world, and that he was willing to suffer for the sake of Christ, as the saints in former ages had done; that he had done nothing which ought to offend anyone, and that if they abused him, they would injure an innocent man. Here his voice was drowned by the tumult of the crowd, many of whom were shouting: ‘Call upon your God to deliver you … !’ The two brethren, Partridge and Allen, were stripped of their clothing, and bedaubed with tar, mixed with lime, or pearl-ash, or some other flesh-eating acid, and a quantity of feathers scattered over them. They bore this cruel indignity and abuse with so much resignation and meekness that the crowd grew still, and appeared astonished at what they witnessed. The brethren were permitted to retire in silence” (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:333).
Discuss how the example of Bishop Partridge and Brother Allen is in harmony with the teachings in section 98.