Yesterday’s Sunday School class was on 1 Ne. 1–7. In the discussion, something occurred to me; a new way of looking at things that I hadn’t really thought about before.
Imagine that you are a Nephite living circa 33 to 32 b.c. You are a member of Moronihah’s army. You used to live with your family in the city of Zarahemla, but right now you are all holed up in the city of Bountiful, having been driven out of Zarahemla by bands of marauding Lamanites.
Now let’s say you run into an old friend, who moved North long ago and knows you used to live in Zarahemla. He asks, “What happened? How did you lose that great city Zarahemla to the Lamanites? What was the problem?”
Your first thought, naturally, is to blame the Lamanites. They are vicious, murderous, bloodthirsty people. They came and took your mighty city.
But your friend reminds you that Nephites have successfully stood against even more bloodthirsty Lamanites in the past. Not so many years ago, they beat the armies of Amalickiah and Ammoron.
Well, but this time, they had Nephite dissenters with them, who knew our strengths and weaknesses.
So did Amalickiah, your friend reminds you.
But there were so many of them, you retort. I saw them. They were like locusts covering the land.
But we have stood against them in more disproportionate circumstances, your friend reminds you. Helaman defied mighty armies with just two-thousan-and-sixty boys.
Well, you conclude, they must have learned some things about military strategy. They were just too clever this time.
But your captain is Moroni’s own son. Surely he is as clever as any Lamanite captain. So what’s the real problem. Why did you lose?
The real answer is way back, nearly 600 years ago, at the beginning of the record of Nephi. In 1 Ne. 2:23–24, the Lord makes a covenant with Nephi concerning his seed.
23 For behold, in that day that they [the Lamanites] shall rebel against me, I will curse them [the Lamanites] even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed [the Nephites] except they [the Nephites] shall rebel against me also.
24 And if it so be that they [the Nephites] rebel against me, they [the Lamanites] shall be a scourge unto thy seed [the Nephites], to stir them [the Nephites] up in the ways of remembrance.
So the answer is quite simple from this perspective. The Nephites had become wicked and rebelled against God. As long as they were righteous, they were entitled to the Lord’s protection. But when they rebelled, they were left to themselves, and the Lamanites had power over them. Mormon says as much in his abridgement:
11 Now this great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God.
12 And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression to the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions, and deserting away into the land of Nephi, among the Lamanites.
13 And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten, and driven before the Lamanites, until they had lost possession of almost all their lands.
Moronihah understood this principle. He did not focus on marshaling more men into the army. He did not search the ends of the Earth for a copy of Sun Tsu’s The Art of War. In fact, rather than focus his efforts on anything outside at all, he turned his attention to the inner vessel.
14 But behold, Moronihah did preach many things unto the people because of their iniquity, and also Nephi and Lehi, who were the sons of Helaman, did preach many things unto the people, yea, and did prophesy many things unto them concerning their iniquities, and what should come unto them if they did not repent of their sins.
15 And it came to pass that they did repent, and inasmuch as they did repent they did begin to prosper.
16 For when Moronihah saw that they did repent he did venture to lead them forth from place to place, and from city to city, even until they had regained the one-half of their property and the one-half of all their lands.
GID is my band of murderous Lamanites. Moronihah and the Nephites had no control over the invading Lamanites. They did not have power to make them into something other than what they were. Likewise, I did not have any control over whatever first caused my brain to get all cross-wired and start telling me I was supposed to be a girl. I do not have any control over it now. It simply is what it is. But like Moronihah, I can focus on cleansing the inward vessel. All my study of GID and its causes and implications has accomplished little. All of the conventional wisdom tells me that the only solution is SRS. The Spirit tells me that is no solution. My searches for concrete advice on how to cope with this without SRS have been in vain. Most people in my situation don’t even want to consider the possibility. But I finally realized that I was not addressing the real problem. I was trying to attack the band of marauding Lamanites, changing strategy, trying again (and failing) to defeat them, getting despondent, feeling suicidal, feeling worthless, feeling utterly hopeless. And that was because I was addressing the wrong problem. The real problem was not the GID. The real problem was that I needed a change of heart. Regardless of what challenge I face, I need to turn my heart to Christ and become more like He is. If I do that, then the GID can have no power over me, to drive me to act contrary to the will of God, regardless of whether the condition itself persists. And it does. It hasn’t gone away. I am starting to believe it never will (at least not in mortality). But I can still lay my burden upon Christ and let Him heal me by changing my heart.