Renounce War, Proclaim the Gospel of Peace Lesson 39: Sections 98-99, 106, 108

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 77–78


Theme

As peaceful, law-abiding citizens, Latter-day Saints renounce war and proclaim the gospel of peace but will stand unto death in defense of their God-given liberties.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    As a church, Latter-day Saints renounce war and violence as a means of settling disputes.

    1. 1.

      To those who would violate their peace and freedom, Latter-day Saints first lift the standard of peace.

    2. 2.

      They bear repeated offences with patience while exploring peaceful alternatives to war.

  • B.

    True followers of God engage in war only when it is the last remaining way to preserve life and liberties, and they are directed to do so by the Lord.

    1. 1.

      War is justified when life, liberty, and other God-given rights are threatened with extinction by an implacable enemy.

    2. 2.

      Faithful Church members respond to their country’s call for military service not because they love war, but because defense of one’s freedoms and liberties is a paramount obligation.

    3. 3.

      Latter-day Saints are loyal citizens of the countries in which they reside and as such are subject to the governments of those countries (see Article of Faith 12). Saints are not conscientious objectors, but stand ready to serve in the armed forces of their governments and obey the laws of the land in which they live.

  • C.

    One of the most effective methods of eliminating war is to proclaim the gospel to the nations of the world.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 98-99, 106, 108

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 98-99,106, 108. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 98:5-7. What is the responsibility of the Latter-day Saints pertaining to the laws of the land? See also Doctrine and Covenants 58:21-22; Article of Faith 12.

  • D&C 98:8. What blessing does the Lord want his children to always have?

  • D&C 134:1-7. What is the doctrine of the Church concerning the role and powers of government?

  • D&C 98:9-10. What characteristics should those whom we select for public office have?

  • D&C 98:23-31. How many times should one bear personal abuse patiently before retaliating? What is the law of retaliation as set forth by the Lord?

  • D&C 98:32-38. What should be our initial reaction when war is proclaimed against us? What should be our reaction if our initial offering of peace is refused? What further action should we take?

  • Alma 43:45-47. Under what circumstances did the Lord say the Nephites were justified in shedding blood? See also Alma 48:14, 23-25; 44:1-6; 46:19-20.

  • D&C 134:11. To what source should men look first for redress when wronged? What are all men justified in doing?

  • D&C 105:38-40. What special efforts should we make before retaliating against an enemy?

  • D&C 99:1-2, 8; 106:2; 108:6. What were John Murdock, Warren A. Cowdery, and Lyman Sherman called to do?

Basic Library

  • Teachings, p. 252. It will take the wisdom of God to establish universal peace.

  • Teachings, p. 391. The duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of their household is an eternal principle.

  • Discourses, pp. 366-67. God never institutes war; men do. Latter-day Saints stand for “peace, plenty and happiness to all the human family.”

  • Gos. Doc, pp. 411-12. True patriots are loyal citizens who defend their country’s honor and promote the public interest. Patriotism is more than expressing willingness to fight in the country’s defense.

  • Gos. Doc, pp. 417-18. Latter-day Saints disdain war and seek for peace. Real peace will come when the truths of God are universally understood and lived.

  • Gos. Doc, p. 419. War is wrong, but self-defense is right. Men are justified by God in defending their lives, their homes, and their liberties unto death.

Additional Sources

  • First Presidency [Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay], in CR, Apr. 1942, pp. 88-97. One of the finest statements ever given on the Church’s attitude toward war and involvement in it.

  • David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 280. “Peace will come and be maintained only through the triumph of the principles of peace.”

  • David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 285, 287-89. “War is basically selfish.” What are the principal justifications for going to war?

  • Boyd K. Packer, in CR, Apr. 1968, pp. 33-36. We have a citizenship responsibility. Faithful Latter-day Saints do not refuse to serve their country because of conscientious objections.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

“Why Should I Be Willing to Go to War If Called by My Government?” (Case Study)

John was in a real quandry. He had received a call from his government to report for military induction, but he didn’t want to go. He felt that war is immoral and illogical; it solves nothing. Thousands of young men have been killed or have returned home physically maimed or emotionally disturbed. Why should he take such risks? How should he respond to his country’s call? John, a faithful member of the Church, wondered if the Church took any position on the matter.

Invite students to briefly discuss John’s problem, and then point out that the Church does have a, very solid stand on the issues John raised. Read the following statement of the First Presidency to the class:

“Christ’s Church should not make war, for the Lord is a Lord of peace. He has said to us in this dispensation:

“Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace …” (D. & C. 98:16)

“Thus 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.” (Grant, Clark, and McKay, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 94.)

The Church of Jesus Christ cannot and does not favor the initiation of war in any form. Point out that two principles guide Latter-day Saints in the presence of a threat of war or violence. These principles are given by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 98:23-37. Read the scriptures with the class and write the principles on the chalkboard. (1) A standard of peace is always lifted to those of warlike or violent disposition. (2) Repeated offences are borne patiently while peaceful alternatives are explored.

Share with the class the statement by the First Presidency from Transparency 18, “The Proper Attitude.”

What If War Is Forced upon Us? (Discussion)

A class discussion could be held on the subject of the justifications for war. Questions could include the following:

  1. 1.

    How did the righteous people of the Book of Mormon justify their wars? (see Alma 43:45-47).

  2. 2.

    For what reasons would we be justified today in war preparations and maneuvers?

  3. 3.

    Does God condone war? Under what conditions does he consider it justified? (see D&C 98:35-36).

You might wish to conclude by reading the following statement by President David O. McKay.

“There are, however, two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter—mind you, I say enter, not begin—a war: (1) An attempt to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and, (2) Loyalty to his country. Possibly there is a third, viz., Defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one …

“Paramount among these reasons, of course, is the defense of man’s freedom. An attempt to rob man of his free agency caused dissension even in heaven …

“To deprive an intelligent human being of his free agency is to commit the crime of the ages …

“So fundamental in man’s eternal progress is his inherent right to choose, that the Lord would defend it even at the price of war. Without freedom of thought, freedom of choice, freedom of action within lawful bounds, man cannot progress …

“The greatest responsibility of the state is to guard the lives, and to protect the property and rights of its citizens; and if the state is obligated to protect its citizens from lawlessness within its boundaries, it is equally obligated to protect them from lawless encroachments from without-whether the attacking criminals be individuals or nations.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1942, pp. 72-73.)

Note: If the question of a Latter-day Saint’s being a conscientious objector comes up, you might wish to refer the student to Elder Boyd K. Packer’s talk in general conference, Apr. 1968, pp. 33-36. This talk gives an excellent treatment of the principles which should govern our attitude about war and participation in it.