(Read it Here.)
SUMMARY: The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites. Between 588 and 559 B.C.
This is a wonderful chapter, and Alicia must have been inspired in writing her post about the Temple, because this chapter is the one where the Nephites build a temple! Those were great thoughts, Alicia.
One thing that stood out to me in this chapter was the nature of Laman and Lemuel. I think they exhibit quite clearly our human nature--or the natural man--at its basest. There are many examples, but three were especially apparent to me in the first verses of this chapter:
1) THEY BLAMED OTHERS FOR THEIR PROBLEMS. When things got hard, the first thing they started doing was pointing fingers. I think they missed out on a lot of happiness because they were too concerned with who did what.
2) THEY ONLY CONSIDERED THE "NOW" (ie, if we kill Nephi, our problems will be solved!), or, they lose Eternal Perspective.
3) THEY WERE QUICK TO ANGER. Nephi experienced tremendous anguish because of their anger, and eventually the Lord told him to take his family and leave (vs. 5).
Number three was especially meaningful to me. I had an experience a few weeks ago when I was angry with my husband. The thought came into my mind "Charity [...] is not easily provoked" (Moroni 7:45). And I thought--wait! You mean, it is MY fault I'm upset? But this is so true. When I'm feeling the most charitable, I am feeling the least able to become angry.
Another thing that is notable about this chapter, and I think is also the basis for a lot of false doctrine, is the verses that talk about the curse.
"And behold, [the Lamanites] were cut off from His presence." (vs. 20)
"And [the Lord] caused a sore cursing to come upon [the Lamanites], yea, even a sore cursing because of their iniquities [. . .] Wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come up on them." (vs. 21)
I think some of the language is interesting. "white", "fair", and "delightsome" are used elsewhere in the scriptures when talking about faithful people. Consider this verse by Mormon (chapter 9), who was talking to those who did not believe in Christ:
"6 O then ye aunbelieving, bturn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, cpure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the dLamb, at that great and last day."
We can all think of these kinds of examples--"though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." Nephi described Mary the mother of Jesus as being white and fair. I think these words signify much more than the physical appearance. So I think, in order to signify the curse of the Lamanites, which was to be cut off from Heavenly Father's presence, He created a way to very easily tell the difference between the two groups of people during a very hostile time. Nephi was fearing for his life, the life of his family, and maybe even the lives of his descendants.
I think the greatest evidence that the skin color was not the main curse is that the Lamanites who became righteous--even the Lamanites who were more righteous than the Nephites--still had darker skin.
AND, one last thought, because you all know how long-winded I am. The last thing that really stood out to me in this chapter was the way the Nephites responded to Lamanites, and how we can apply this to our response to Satan's influence:
1) LEAVE (vs. 6-7). Get out. Be like Joseph of Egypt and remove yourself from the situation. Sometimes for me this means I leave the room my kids are in before I do something I will regret.
2) BUILD A DEFENSE (vs. 14). Nephi began to make swords. They didn't just run; they prepared for the next attack.
3) FILL TIME WITH GOOD THINGS (vs. 10-11, 15). It is much harder to be tempted when you're busy doing good.
4) SACRIFICE TO GO TO THE TEMPLE (vs. 16). The Nephites didn't have a lot of finery, but the workmanship on the temple was "exceedingly fine". We may not have a lot of time, but we have enough, and the Lord will bless us with more.
5) REMEMBER (vs. 19-22). The Nephites remembered (for a time) why they had to leave and what happened to Laman and Lemuel. We need to remember our experiences and how we manage to commit the sins we are most easily tempted to commit.
1) What do you think of the cursing of the Lamanites and the blackness of their skin? Do you have any thoughts about this, or have you read any talks about this?
2) What do you do in your lives to remember to be like Nephi rather than like Laman and Lemuel? What are some of your stumbling blocks? How do you avoid being tempted?
3) What do you do to avoid being angry instead of keeping eternal perspective and charity?