Collapse of Society

In the Book of Mormon there is a description of events that led to the failure and collapse of the Nephite society. There was a long prelude of decreasing faithfulness, loss of faith, and increased focus on material wealth. But the final collapse happened quickly. Here is the description from Helaman 3:1:

“seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gaddianton robbers filling the judgment seats, having usurped the power and authority of the land, laying aside the commandments of God and not in the least aright before him, doing no justice unto the children of men, condemning the righteous because of their righteousness, letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover, to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world; and moreover, that they might the more easy commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills — now this great iniquity had come upon the Nephites in the space of not many years —”

The judicial system and government positions were targeted by wicked office-holders. When they gained authority, they decided to uphold friends and suppress others. It did not matter that the wicked were allowed to go unpunished. What mattered more was to punish the righteous in order to prevent them from interfering with the goal of control.

They intended to impose their self-will as government policy. That way the government would not interfere with their indulgence, adultery, theft, killing and perversity.

Once they succeeded, the result was predictable destruction. The Book of Mormon tells an interesting tale, and ought to serve as a warning to us. In fact, it was intended specifically to be a warning to us. The Book of Mormon was written to inform us that once we inherited the land, we were to submit to God’s purpose for the land. As the text cautions us:

“And now we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God or they shall be swept off when the fullness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fullness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity. For behold, this is a land which is choice above all other lands. Wherefore, he that doth possess it shall serve God or shall be swept off, for it is the everlasting decree of God. And it is not until the fullness of iniquity among the children of the land that they are swept off. And this cometh unto you, O ye gentiles, that ye may know the decrees of God, that ye may repent and not continue in your iniquities until the fullness be come, that ye may not bring down the fullness of the wrath of God upon you as the inhabitants of the land hath hitherto done. Behold, this is a choice land; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under Heaven if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who has been manifested by the things which we have written.” NC Ether 1:7

There are always ambitious, wicked men and women who seek for positions in government so they can wield power over others. That sort of person has succeeded on this land (the Americas) before. When they have, the society they rule in wickedness has been destroyed. This lesson and warning has been given to us in a book claiming to be a “gift from God” in order to allow us to repent rather than remaining in our iniquities. The condition required is that we serve, or obey, Jesus Christ. It is His land we occupy. We are merely guests.

Because the United States elects its government, our votes matter. As the Proverbs remind us: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn.” Here, we collectively get the government we collectively deserve.

Reforming any government begins by reforming the people of the nation. The solution to almost all of society’s problems can be found through repentance and obedience to God. It is never too late to repent. Except, of course, once our society becomes ripe in iniquity.