But what ran through my mind was this (despite my own anti-war pre-disposition): by burying their weapons of rebellion, they also buried their weapons of self-defense, as they then almost immediately (in the account, anyway) demonstrated. The Lamanites soon fell upon them and slaughtered over 1,000 as the Anti-Nephi-Lehis bowed on the ground and called upon God. Whatever else they did, they did not create peace.
I thought how today we might not encourage such devoted behavior, opting instead for a more pragmatic approach, sort of a hate-the-sin-and-retain-your-weapon compromise. But the Anti-Nephi-Lehis were more committed than that. They were ready to give their lives as a token of the covenant they had made to repent of who they had been.
The real cost of that covenant became more clear in subsequent chapters as the Nephites welcomed them into the Land of Jershon, renamed them the people of Ammon, and then sent armies to defend them. What follows next is an account of a huge and bitter battle between the Nephites and Lamanites (more non-peace). Perhaps the battle would have come without the people of Ammon, but the Nephite armies did defend them. And losses on both sides were huge.
Two lessons for me:
1. What is the token of my covenants with God? How much am I really willing to bury the weapons of my rebellion? And what cost am I willing to incur?
2. Am I willing to support others who bury the weapons of their rebellion? At what cost am I willing to protect my brothers and sisters in the gospel who are choosing to honor the covenants that they have made?
For me the second lesson brings new meaning to the Savior’s injunction that I should not judge. It is not my place to determine whether another person has overestimated what he must do to honor a covenant. Indeed, it is my place to love and support him or her as part of my faith community (and perhaps to learn faith from him or her, as well).