We Do Not Desire to Be Men of Blood – Alma 44:1

1 And it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah: Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you.
(Alma 44:1)

A defining characteristic of Captain Moroni was his aversion to harming other people. As leader of the Nephite armies, he had to fight and to command other people to fight, but even in the heat of a battle, his desire was to limit the damage as much as possible.

Zerahemnah led a Lamanite army which had attacked the Nephites. His goal was to bring the Nephites into bondage. Moroni and his army wanted only to defend themselves, their families, and their freedom. His objectives were noble, but he was still circumspect about the way he accomplished those objectives. In the prior chapter, we find him worrying about whether it was ethical to trick Zerahemnah’s army to gain the advantage over them. Now, near the end of a hard-fought battle which his army nearly lost, just as victory becomes certain, Moroni stops the fighting and tries to reach an agreement with Zarahemnah to end the battle. As Mormon records in the passage above, Moroni’s first words to his opponent are, “Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood.”

Mormon tells us on two other occasions that Captain Moroni did not delight in bloodshed. (See Alma 48:11, Alma 55:19.) On one of those occasions, Moroni had the opportunity to destroy a group of drunken Lamanite soldiers. He chose not to do so, but to take them prisoners instead, because his goal was not to destroy as many Lamanite soldiers as possible; it was to defend his people with as little bloodshed as possible.

This story occurs in a time of war, but we can apply Moroni’s approach to our lives. Our efforts to defend what is good and right must never result in enmity toward others. Like Moroni, we can be courageous in defending what is right without losing sight of the fact that those who oppose us are children of God and are also entitled to dignity and respect.

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