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Nephi Slaying Laban

Obviously, I believe the story is just a fairy tale invented by Joseph and/or his cohorts.  But even when I was a believing member, it bothered me immensely.

For the sake of this discussion, I’ll assume a few things:

  1. God exists and views us as His children
  2. God had previously given a commandment not to kill, which was in effect during Nephi’s time
  3. God is unchanging, including in His counsel (James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, Hebrews 6:17)

So the situation with Nephi and Laban leads to an interesting theological predicament.  Nephi was not defending his life, as Laban was unconscious.  Would God really command Nephi to commit cold-blooded murder?  Is that the perfect, loving Heavenly Father that people imagine?

The argument that Laban may have later stopped Nephi holds no weight in my mind.  The Book of Mormon in particular is full of stories about prophets shrugging off mortal danger.  Anyone arguing that God couldn’t have protected Nephi if Laban was alive would be on shaky ground indeed.

Mormons have a few scriptures where God supposedly told someone to break His own commandments.  But if you ask another Christian, they would think it’s preposterous.  In the case of murder, it’s completely unbelievable; Joseph Smith fabricated it.  And it’s a terrible story to tell anyone, especially children.  “That supposedly loving Heavenly Father we teach you about? He told Nephi to murder someone in their sleep.”

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