Not Even at Our Best Are We Near Perfection

Each time I read through the ‘War Chapters’ of the Book of Mormon I am astounded by the letters exchanged between Moroni and Pahoran – both righteous Nephites. Moroni, who valiantly led the Nephite armies in defense of their faith, families, and liberty and Pahoran, the Chief Judge over all the land, entrusted with the responsibility to righteously manage the affairs of government and to oversee the works of Moroni ensuring adequate provisions and manpower were provided.

Both had the same end-goal: to preserve liberty so that the people could worship according to God’s will and live out their lives in peace. Both were challenged in different ways as they strived to fulfill their missions. Interestingly, what provoked the passionate exchange between these two saints was the adversity both were experiencing simultaneously, unknown to the other.

In these dire circumstances, Moroni sent a scathing letter to Pahoran chastising him for not sending adequate support; a sign that he’d turned away from the Lord. Because of this, the Lamanite army had gained significant ground and many God-fearing Nephites had been slaughtered in the process. Moroni felt that no other logical reason made sense than to believe that Pahoran was no longer his brother in Christ and had submitted to desiring power unto himself.

Because this account has a happy ending -- as we find out that Pahoran himself was fending off those trying to overtake the government and not ignoring Moroni at all – it leaves one to wonder why Mormon shared this account in the Book of Mormon? Because, honestly, the story initially doesn’t reflect well on Moroni – the guy so highly esteemed by Mormon. Throughout the ‘War Chapters,’ it mentions multiple times Moroni’s anger toward those who opposed God’s will and, this time, it was directed towards Pahoran’s presumed rebellion. And whether or not Pahoran actions were acceptable or not, I’ve struggled with Moroni’s 'righteous' anger -- was it? It leaves one to wonder if Mormon struggled to share this account because of that fact? I suppose we will never know, but perhaps this key verse about the importance of cleansing the “inner vessel” and its personal application to each of us has something to do with it.

"Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first, and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also.” (Alma 60:23)

The reality is that not one of us, even at our best, is near perfect – nor our wonderful leaders. We all need to continually look within, repent and recommit our devotion to God. Constant preparation to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary is an ongoing experience of every disciple of Jesus Christ – Moroni surely understood this in what he witnessed of the saints throughout his life. I am grateful for inspired reminders that God will see each of us through a perfect lens, though not yet perfect, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as we strive daily to do what is right.

Kathryn Skaggs 


  1. I think Mormon, growing up with war and having the records of the people, perhaps idolized Captain Moroni. He even named one of his sons Moroni. But I also think that as Moroni grew and read more of the histories, he gradually saw that Captain Moroni wasn't the best role model, turning instead to better examples, like Helaman and the stripling warriors then leaving off almost all but the barest descriptions of war.

    1. Total speculation, as is this post; not necessarily meant to judge Moroni only to share a personal observation and insight. I hope the main point people take away is in the title of this post: even at our best none are near perfection. I'd like to think I will someday be known as a valiant disciple of Christ but I can assure you that if everyone knew everything about me I doubt that would be the case -- if they only looked at the negative. I think the best each of us can hope for is that those who come after us, knowing the good and the not so good about us, will know the ultimate desire of our hearts -- to do good. ;)