The Fog of Possessions

1 Nephi 17 has an interlude in which the family of Lehi is able to enjoy a rest from the rigors of the wilderness. They live in an oasis of sorts, lush with food. But Nephi is commanded to prepare for the next leg of their journey and that is where the complaints come from Laman and Lemuel, who would rather not keep moving. In their criticism of Nephi’s plans, they then reach back to their original status back in Jerusalem:

Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance: yeah, and we might have been happy.

The objection isn’t truly against whether or not Nephi is guided by God, but that Nephi is not guided by the god of Laman and Lemuel’s creation, their possessions. Being with the things of the world is happiness in their view. And as for the wickedness associated with the love of the fine things, they say:

And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his word; yea, and our brother is like unto him.

The brothers consider only outward, social aspects of belief as sufficient for righteousness, as such a view affords them ample room in their hearts to love and worship their possessions. It’s very easy to say “I truly love God!” while clinging tightly to one’s luxuries. The possessions create a fog, where one cannot see what is happening in the heart. The fog also blinds the eyes from seeing the wickedness done in denying aid to the poor, the widows, and the orphans.

Clearing the fog would give them eyes to see that it is their responsibility to work for a more equitable world, even if it means they have less possessions as a result of that equality.

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