Excerpts from: Moroni’s War on Addiction: A Scripture Hero’s Strategy to Win Today’s Battle for Souls

The following represents principle #1 from Moroni’s War on Addiction: A Scripture Hero’s Strategy to Win Today’s Battle for Souls.

I stumbled across a television program one night called Intervention. It follows addicts and their families through the horrifying details of their lives. One episode featured a heroin-addicted girl who ate cat food from a can while living in a garbage-strewn abandoned house. Her family lived only a few miles away and would have gladly taken her in, but she didn’t want to deal with their constant haranguing about her heroin use. So here she sat in piles of filth, supporting herself by prostitution. The camera (it’s shocking what people will let you film) followed her out onto a street where she met a regular “customer” who preyed on her for the $10 she needed for her next hit of drugs.

As the show continued the family joined together and vowed to cut off contact with her until she chose to enter rehab. That’s when I began to lean forward. Rather than bolt from the room she stared at her united family in confusion. She was uncertain how to deal with this uniform firmness. Finally, she sobbed and relented. She agreed to enter a program. There was hope.

A van picked her up and drove her hundreds of miles to the rehab facility. I prayed she would see it through. As I did, I realized I wasn’t just praying for them, I was praying for us. It was no longer just her story, it was mine.

Within twenty-four hours she fled the program. I turned off the television and sat in front of the black screen and cried. For them. For me. For everyone in this awful bondage. I felt hopeless. By this point I had been on this girl’s roller coaster more than once. I began to worry in the pit of my soul that the monster was too strong—or that my son was too weak. I imagined looking thirty years from now into the aged face of my boy as a human wreck. Perhaps he’d have an illegitimate child or two. He would have wasted his entire life. Or perhaps it would end with a late-night phone call about his fatal overdose. From my research, I knew that success rates for even the finest rehab programs were in the 5-10 percent range. By this time, I knew countless stories of relapse and death but very few successes. My deepest fear as I sobbed that night was that for my precious son the day of salvation might be past.[1] I felt hope slipping away that any power was capable of saving him from his past choices.

But that hopelessness turned to faith when I began to understand Captain Moroni’s promise.

You’re likely familiar with the promise Prophet Moroni makes in the final verses of the Book of Mormon. It’s an unequivocal promise that by complying with certain principles you can be assured of receiving a testimony of the Book of Mormon, “He will manifest the truth of it unto you . . .”[2]

For anyone who thinks they may never get free of addiction, or for anyone who worries there may be no way out for their dear one, Captain Moroni makes an equally unequivocal promise. He shows us how irrelevant the power of the enemy is when predicting success or failure in the epic battles of our lives. Think heroin is strong? Do you worry that meth will never let go? Is a toxic mix of pornography and masturbation too powerful? Do you fear that alcohol is embedded in your very cell structure and will never be gone? If so, Captain Moroni has a promise for you.

Chapters 46-62 of Alma refer to a total of nineteen battles. In every one of them the Nephites should have lost. And in fact, in a few they do. For example, in the second Lamanite invasion, the raging hordes of invaders slaughter tens of thousands of Nephites and conquer most of the Eastern cities—Moroni, Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek. And yet, at other times the overwhelming advantage of the Lamanites does not lead to Nephite loss.

The lesson here is that the predictor of success or failure has nothing to do with the strength of the enemy. It has everything to do with the condition of the Nephites. Moroni repeatedly assures his people that the overwhelming forces of the Lamanites were not the reason they were losing the war: “Had it not been for the war which broke out among ourselves . . . if we had united our strength as we hitherto have done . . . if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies . . .”[3]

Moroni ultimately succeeds in helping the Nephites regain their freedom because his primary attention is on the condition of the Nephites not the strength of the Lamanites.

Addiction Struggle

And that’s our challenge, too. We cannot protect our loved ones from a bondage they yearn for. We can’t fight the Lamanites when the Nephites are desperate to surrender to them. When we compel our kids into rehab, push away their drug dealers, or in other ways fight their battles for them we will always fail. But when we consider first how our actions affect the spiritual condition of our loved ones, we are assured of eventual success. The first consideration for helping is refusing to take responsibility from those you’re trying to help.

Hear Moroni’s promise: The strength of the enemy is irrelevant. If you fight in God’s way, victory is assured.

It is the condition of the Nephites, not the strength of the Lamanites, that determines the outcome. Even against an “enemy which is innumerable.”[4]

  • First Lamanite Invasion— “the Nephites had all power over their enemies . . . there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain.”[5]
  • Battle of Gid— “the Nephites had power over them; and in these circumstances, they found that it was not expedient that they should fight with the Nephites.”[6]
  • First Battle of Antiparah— “there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth.”[7]
  • Second Battle of Antiparah— “the [Lamanites] did leave the city . . . and thus the city of Antiparah fell into our hands.”[8]
  • Siege of Cumeni— “they yielded up the city unto our hands; and thus we had accomplished our designs in obtaining the city Cumeni.”[9]
  • Battle of Cumeni— “two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty . . . fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless . . . not one soul of them did perish.”[10]
  • Battle of Manti— “And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood.”[11]
  • Battle of Nephihah— “Thus had Moroni and Pahoran obtained the possession of the city of Nephihah without the loss of one soul.”[12]

Eight times Moroni shows us that when we fight the right way, we win. But be warned, the principles Moroni will teach are soul-stretching. They will demand faith, patience, courage and a kind of love few of us have when the war begins. As we begin to explore Moroni’s principles for battling addiction, keep this in mind. No matter how uncomfortable it makes you, your primary consideration must be the effect your actions will have on the spiritual condition of your loved one. If your actions serve to undermine their agency or increase their resistance to your well-intended efforts, you will lose. But if you refuse to fight battles for an unwilling captive—if you follow Moroni’s principles for honoring their agency—victory is not just possible, whether sooner or later, it is inevitable.

Moroni's War on Addiction

[1]. Helaman 13:38

[2]. Moroni 10:4

[3]. Alma 60:16

[4]. Alma 58:8

[5]. Alma 49:23

[6]. Alma 55:23

[7]. Alma 56:56

[8]. Alma 57:4

[9]. Alma 57:12

[10]. Alma 57:25

[11]. Alma 58:28

[12]. Alma 62:26