The United States came very close to war with Iran this week. Such a war would result in hundreds of thousands of God’s children — and potentially millions — killed.
Scoffers will claim that it would not have been a war. They are wrong.
The United States sent a drone, intended for spying, into or near Iranian air space. Iran responded by shooting it down. U.S. military leaders planned a retaliatory strike. This would have been an act of war. Retaliation could have led to further retaliation with an escalation into a full-blown conflict similar to the Iraq invasion.
To understand the feelings of Iranians, who are also God’s children, let’s imagine that China or Russia sent an unmanned spy drone into or near American airspace. I would hope the U.S. military, which is charged with protecting the United States, would shoot it down. Then if China or Russia responded by bombing targets in the United States, wouldn’t that have been an act of war? Was it an act of war when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (at a time, by the way, when Hawaii was not yet a state)?
What do modern-day prophets say about war?
We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan’s counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior’s teaching:(Spencer W. Kimball, “The False Gods We Worship.”)
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44–45.)
We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us—and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas (see 2 Ne. 1:7)—or he will fight our battles for us (Ex. 14:14; D&C 98:37, to name only two references of many). This he is able to do, for as he said at the time of his betrayal, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53.) We can imagine what fearsome soldiers they would be. King Jehoshaphat and his people were delivered by such a troop (see 2 Chr. 20), and when Elisha’s life was threatened, he comforted his servant by saying, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kgs. 6:16). The Lord then opened the eyes of the servant, “And he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:17.)
Our job as Latter-day Saints is to prepare the world for the Second Coming. We are followers of the Prince of Peace. We should always and at all times proclaim peace and avoid war unless and until we are attacked and are forced to defend ourselves, our homes and our families. But until then, we should never be a “warlike people.”
Must I remind readers that the U.S. Constitution clearly says that the U.S. Congress is responsible for declaring war? The last time that happened was at the beginning of World War II. Since then, the United States has been involved in many military actions that are clearly unconstitutional. Most latter-day Saints rightly defend the First Amendment and Second Amendment at a time when the left wants to destroy American rights to free speech and the right to bear arms. But we should not pick and choose what portions of the Constitution we like and dislike: the Constitution says Congress must declare war, not the president and not his military advisers.
Must I also remind readers that the United States has a $23 trillion debt and a yearly deficit approaching $1 trillion? A war with Iran would be a massive undertaking, much bigger than the war in Iraq, which cost the United States at least $2 trillion and perhaps $3 trillion. Where exactly are we supposed to get the money to fight Iran when we are already $1 trillion in debt on a yearly basis? There is only one way: money printing, which creates inflation and hurts the poor and the middle class most of all.
The Book of Mormon is an anti-war book. It describes two great conflicts that destroyed entire civilizations. It is a warning to our time. The warning is: avoid wars, but especially avoid wars of choice. The only righteous wars in the Book of Mormon are defensive wars in which leaders sued for peace again and again and reluctantly were forced to take up arms to defend themselves. There are no examples in the Book of Mormon of righteous armies marching hundreds or thousands of miles away from home to attack another people. This would be an offense to God.
How can we possibly be justified sending our troops to the other side of the world to fight a people who are not attacking the United States? Latter-day Saints should speak out for peace at all times and in all places.