It has been noted by author Stephen Mannsfield that the deepest yearning of the American soldier both in this war and wars past has been to know if their cause is just, or in other words, how they stand before God in their duty as soldiers. In past wars the Chaplains were allowed to follow the soldiers into battle, encourage them and, if so moved, confirm that their battles were just and approved of by God.
In our more recent wars, politics or cultural correctness has removed the Chaplain both from accompanying the soldiers into clashes and also from offering any consoling phrases as to whether their cause is just before God. This has left a serious gap the soldier is left to fill through his own spiritual determination or self-formed groups. Fortunately for those soldiers of the LDS faith (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), the leaders of their church have come out with a DvD for both the soldier and their families addressing this very concern called “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled,” made specifically with the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq in mind.
There is an introduction by Elder Boyd K. Packer, experiences, counsel, and wisdom from two General Authorities; Elders Robert Oaks and Lance Wickman, both of the 70 and both of whom served in Vietnam, and some final words by President Gordon B. Hinckley. I’ve decided to post some key quotes here to extend the influence of the powerful, comforting, and guiding testimonies available on the DvD. This will be an uncommonly lengthy post for me, but I think you will find it worth it.
Boyd K. Packer:
Boyd K Packer started out by promising soldiers “Great blessings come to those who serve and their families.” Referring to scriptural Book of Mormon soldiers he said, “They were not fighting for monarchy nor for power, but for their homes, liberties, and their wives and children, and their rights of worship and their church, just as you are.” He said further that we honor our countries by responding to our leaders in times of great difficulty.
Concerning a soldier’s career, Elder Packer said “It is a difficult life but it is a good life and there is a power of inspiration that goes with it.” Concluding “Many nations of the earth, particularly Asia, have been opened to missionary work by the service men and women who went there.”
Elder Robert C. Oaks:
Opens his remarks in answer to a soldier in the war on terror who asked him, “Elder Oaks, how do I stand with God?”
The War in Heaven, he says, was fought over agency or freedom. So was the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, 2 World Wars as well as Vietnam and the Gulf War. Noting the difference in tactics in this war, he says, “The enemy is filled with an irrational and passionate hatred for American and other freedom-loving troops there to free them from a tyrannical government, but the enemy is very difficult to identify.” This war against terrorism “like all other wars we have mentioned, it is being fought for freedom, and that alone makes it worth fighting for.”
Elder Oaks then shares two video clips from President Hinckley in April 2003 General Conference:
President Hinckley: “This places us in a position of those that long for peace, teach peace, who work for peace, but….we are a freedom loving people committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy. I believe God will not hold men and women in uniform responsible as agents of their government in carrying forward that which they are legally obligated to do.” Furthermore,
“We know that you are not in that land of blowing sand and brutal heat because you enjoy the games of war. The strength of your commitment is measured by your willingness to give your very lives for that in which you believe”
Elder Oaks finishes his own words by saying, “The military is a noble profession. We recognize that freedom is not free. There is always someone who is striving to enslave the uncommitted. We cannot always leave the difficult work of defense to someone else. The military needs and deserves courageous men and women of noble character.”
Elder Robert D Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve is then quoted in a video clip from a speech at the United States Air Force Academy:
“You are the defenders of the Constitution, defenders of freedom….because of you and others like you, who are willing to spend part of your life to defend freedoms around the world, the world will be a better place.”
Lance B. Wickman of the Quorum of the Seventy:
“There is a soldier’s peace, even the Peace of God” but, he reminds them, it can be very difficult to obtain. “Be grateful if you are repelled by what you have seen in the combat zone. Revulsion is how righteous and spiritually sensitive people react to the horrors of warfare.” (See Alma 48:11)
Referring to Mormon and Moroni, Wickman said “They were soldiers because they had to be, because their people needed them, because it was the right thing to do. Is that not also the case with you , my beloved friends?”
And he warned, “Do not allow yourselves to get caught up in the politics that swirl around almost every war as you strive to measure the worth of the great sacrifice that you and your loved ones are called upon to make. Do not despair because there are some who question the rightness of the cause in which you are enlisted to fight and for which you may sacrifice so much. Most wars are controversial with their countrymen.”
Finally Elder Wickman closes his words with this: “Who can say what will come from the venture in Iraq as it relates to the work of the Lord?" Noting that “One thing we can say for sure at this time; the Lord will find a way eventually to turn the course of political events to His purposes.”
President Hinckley closes with more words of wisdom and counsel and mentions a talk he gave called “The Silver Thread in the Dark Tapestry of War” noting also that the strong example of LDS servicemen helps greatly strengthen conversion to the gospel in foreign lands.
I highly recommend obtaining a copy or a careful consideration of the words of these great and inspired men. In a time of doubt, evil, and misinformation, their clarion voices are welcome and needed. I know it fortified and confirmed my feelings from direct experience with these great souls that are the American soldiers here in Iraq. God bless cause of liberty and those involved in it!