Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wicked government: King Noah vs. Modern America


In the Book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, we read about a group of Nephites who separated themselves and went to inherit the land of Nephi Lehi. Though they were righteous for some time, after a few generations, a wicked king named Noah inherits the throne and reins very oppressively. His reign has some striking parallels with modern America. Mosiah chapter 11 talks about this king:

For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his won heart. And he had many wives and concubines. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abomnible in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness.” (Mosiah 11:2)

That is to say that a political leader often sets the stage for the moral character of a people, and while it is possible to stay righteous when surrounded by such wickedness, (and it is definitely certain that our moral compass should not be the government) staying righteous is very difficult. But after that verse, it gets interesting:

And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain. And all this did he take to support himself, and his wives and his concubines; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom.” (Mosiah 11:3-4)

Interesting to note that the tax rate for this wicked and oppressive king was only a 20% income tax.

Yea and thus they were supported in their laziness, and their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.”(Mosiah 11:6)

We surely don't have anything like that in our current political structure. Our income tax doesn't go to support the laziness of politically well connected corporations and fat-cats *cough GM, Goldman Sachs, ethanol industry, GE, Solyndra, cough*.

The sad thing about this people is that they didn't repudiate what King Noah did. In fact, it seems that they celebrated it!

Yea and they (the people) also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering words to them.”

We surely aren't sucked in by vain and flattering words uttered by our politicians, no sir!

And it came to pass that King Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper; And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, and all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and precious things. And he also caused that his workmen should work all manner of fine work within the walls of the temple, of fine wood, and of copper, and of brass. And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words unto his people.” (Mosiah 11:8-11)

Anybody else picturing Washington DC when they read this?

The next verse almost seems like it comes out of a manual on being a congressperson:

And it came to pass that he placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines; and so did also his priests spend their time with harlots.” (Mosiah 11:14)

Even the verses on their military have some interesting parallels:

And it came to pass that the Lamanites began to come in upon his people, upon small numbers, and to slay them in their fields and while they were tending their flocks. And king Noah sent guards round about the land to keep them off; but he did not send a sufficient number, and the Lamanites came upon them and killed them, and drove many of their flocks out of the land; thus the Lamanites began to destroy them, and to exercise their hatred upon them.” (Mosiah 11:16-17)

They only began to be attacked as they increased in wickedness. Finally, the military issue comes full circle:

And it came to pass that king Noah sent his armies against them, and they were driven back, or they drove them back for a time; therefore, they returned rejoicing in their spoil. And now because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites; and thus they did boast, and did delight in blood and the shedding of blood of their brethren, and this because of the wickedness of their king and priests.” (Mosian 11:18-19)

It is implied in verse 19 that even though the Lamanites did attack, and even though self defense is a justifiable use of military force, delighting in shedding the blood, even of our enemies, is a sign of a wicked nation. Sadly, this chapter could just as easily be talking about present affairs in the United States. Our national pride is in our militarism; in our ability to conquer small, backward nations that pose us no threat. We are taxed highly in order to support the laziness and idolatry of our supposed leaaders and their well-connected friends. I will leave you on your own to read the next several chapters of Mosiah, but if history repeats itself as I believe it does, they should serve as a sobering look at where we could be headed.

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