Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bloodlust, Computer Games, Addiction, and the downfall of the Nephites - Mormon 4: 5-12

5 But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.
6 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did make preparations to come against the city Teancum.
7 And it came to pass in the three hundred and sixty and fourth year the Lamanites did come against the city Teancum, that they might take possession of the city Teancum also.
8 And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation.
9 And now all these things had been done, and there had been thousands slain on both sides, both the Nephites and the Lamanites.
10 And it came to pass that the three hundred and sixty and sixth year had passed away, and the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle; and yet the Nephites repented not of the evil they had done, but persisted in their wickedness continually.
11 And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.
12 And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.

(Book of Mormon | Mormon 4:5 - 12)

The Nephites and Lamanites are bent on destroying each other. They are consumed, or rather addicted, to bloodlust. They “delighted in the shedding of blood continually.”

I have frequently wondered why the Anti-Nephi-Lehis felt the need to bury their weapons, see Alma 24:15-19. The church has never taught that we are not allowed to defend ourselves (with this being the sole exception to that rule). In fact, the opposite has been taught, see Alma 43:29-30. So why then did the Anti-Nephi-Lehis feel compelled to bury, and then never touch again, their weapons? How does that answer correlate to the verses above, and what does that have to do with addiction? Finally, what is the relevance to society today?

Were the Anti-Nephi-Lehis overzealous when they buried their weapons of war? They too had delighted in shedding the blood of others. They were not in the same situation as someone that hasn’t taken the life of another and felt pleasure in the act. They were addicted to bloodlust and they could no longer live their lives the way that others did in this regard.

For example, not being an alcoholic, I can walk through a smoke filled bar (though why I would want to, I don’t know, but stay with me on this), and feel disgusted by the scene. However, if I walked through the same bar with another good and upstanding member of my Elders’ Quorum who is a recovering alcoholic, he might start to salivate and feel cravings to indulge in his addiction. However, though I might not be weak in regards to alcoholism, I do have my weaknesses, just like everyone else.

One of my weaknesses I have learned is violent computer games. My kids used to love to play a game called Warcraft III – DOTA. The game is played on-line in real time against other people. The game rewards you for the ability to annihilate your opponents. They introduced me to the game and I loved it. For me, it was an incredible rush of adrenalin and endorphins. Pleasure inducing chemicals were released in my brain as I played. I could spend hours on the game and not realize that much time at all had passed. I only played the game for a short while as I quickly learned the consequences of indulging this behavior. As mentioned, the game encourages and rewards violent and aggressive behavior. After quitting the game the endorphins and adrenalin stopped. I would come down off of the “high” of playing and it made me irritable. I noticed that I snapped at my wife and children when I shouldn’t. For me, and I would guess for most others as well, the game would quickly have become addictive. My only choice, as I saw it, was to bury my game of war for peace. Peace in my home, and peace in my heart and soul.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, and if you are I thank you, you will remember that I broke both of my elbows a few months ago. I spent a week in the hospital recovering and was administered some very powerful pain killers. I took pain meds for a few weeks and slowly tried to wean myself off of them. The last step to get off proved difficult for me. When I stopped taking the pain meds I started experiencing panic attacks and I had great difficulty sleeping. It would have been very easy to just continue taking the pain meds and develop an addiction to them.

Point being, addictions are very real. In the verses above the addiction is bloodlust. The Nephites and Lamanites probably had the same adrenalin rush and endorphins release that I experienced while playing computer games. Addictions come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, e.g. alcohol, drugs, pain killers, pornography, gambling, overeating, computer games, anger, violence, and bloodlust just to name a few.

Those that suffer from addiction, whatever its nature, can no longer live their lives like those that are not suffering from the same addiction. An alcoholic can not go near a bar because of the effect it will have on him/her. He/She needs to be attending recovery meetings, and should have a sponsor to whom they are accountable. A person addicted to pornography needs to create safety nets to ensure accountability. A person addicted to violence, whether it be in the real world or virtual world needs to bury their weapons of war for peace.

At this point in the Book of Mormon the Nephites are addicted to bloodlust. They did not reach out for the help they needed. They probably didn’t even perceive that they were suffering from an addiction. Eventually their addiction literally destroyed them.

Are you facing any personal demons that seem overwhelming? If so, there is hope. Since the creation of Adam and Eve there has never been a better time to be an addict and a Mormon. The church has tremendous resources available to those suffering from addiction and to the family members of those that are affected by the addiction of another. This,11677,2872-1,00.html would be a good place to start.


Stephanie Abney said...

Hi Dan ~

Interesting post. I found you via Tristi Pinkston's blog. And in reviewing her blogs from March, I guess you were at the ANWA conference on March 1st? I'm the Vice President of ANWA. Sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you.

But... back to the addictions you allude to: I'm beginning to think that perusing blogs is fast becoming an addiction with me!! So, is overeating, which is a very tough one because you can't just bury food forever and walk away, never to eat again. Can we learn to "bury" certain foods? I hope so. I've managed it now and then, but backsliding is so easy.

Anyway, interesting post and now I've gone and added you to my favorites in my blog folder and so the blogging addiction goes!!! Oh well. Thanks.

Stephanie Abney
Mesa, AZ

Dan and Wendy said...

Hi Stephanie,

Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I could've spoken about my food addiction as well...

Tristi Pinkston said...

Yeah, those computer games really do change personalities. I've seen it happen with my husband quite a bit.

Dan and Wendy said...

Hi Tristi,

They do affect behavior and usually not for the better. They certainly didn't benefit me. My son that is on his mission in Brazil wrote us recently that when he came home he didn't want to play those types of computer games anymore.