As we’ve studied about Alma’s words to Corianton this week, I’ve wondered about Corianton’s subsequent activities. Alma is clearly concerned about him, not only because of his behavior but because of misunderstandings which have thus far held him back from repenting. Were Alma’s words effective in helping Corianton to change?
We don’t hear much more about Corianton in subsequent chapters, but we hear enough to know that he did repent, and that he did accept his father’s charge to “declare the word with truth and soberness” (Alma 42:31). For example, a little over a year after Alma’s talk with Corianton, we read about him preaching the gospel with his brothers:
Yea, and there was continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God, which was declared unto them by Helaman, and Shiblon, and Corianton… (Alma 49:30).
At about this time, Mormon tells us what a remarkable spiritual leader Captain Moroni was. He tells us that, if everyone were like Moroni, “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever” (Alma 48:17). But Mormon goes on to clarify that there were other spiritual leaders of a similar caliber at this time:
Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words (Alma 48:19).
Twenty years later, we hear about Corianton one more time. His brother Shiblon is nearing the end of his life, and he entrusts the sacred records to their nephew Helaman. Mormon clarifies that “Corianton had gone forth to the land northward in a ship, to carry forth provisions unto the people who had gone forth into that land” (Alma 63:10). The implication is that Corianton was still faithful and would have been a natural choice to care for the records if he hadn’t traveled to the north.
So Corianton repented. He turned his life around and became a great teacher. His misbehavior during the Zoramite mission could have sent him down a different path. He could have become defensive and rebellious and turned away from God. But, to his credit, he listened to the words of his father and became a great spiritual teacher.
A few years ago, President Thomas S. Monson shared an anecdote about Clinton Truman Duffy, who served as warden San Quentin State Prison in California from 1940 to 1952. Duffy implemented many programs to help rehabilitate the prisoners, including providing vocational training and establishing an Alcoholics Anonymous program at the prison. When a critic of his methods said to him, “Don’t you know that leopards can’t change their spots?” Warden Duffy reportedly responded, “I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day” (“To the Rescue,” General Conference, April 2001).
Today, I will remember Alma’s investment in the spiritual health of his son Corianton. I will remember that the people I love and serve can and will change. I will make the effort to help them change for the better.