In the Book of Mormon, a group of converted Lamanites made a covenant with God to never take up their weapons again. Even as their enemies descended down to slaughter them, they refused to shed another drop of blood. However, in the midst of their possible destruction, their sons volunteered to fight in their behalf. They had not made the same promise to God. Helaman was their chosen leader and the 2,000 young men would become known as the Stripling Warriors.
One of the most prominent aspects of their story is how they were imbued with faith from their mothers. Helaman relates in Alma 56:47-48:
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
Over and over again, we learn lessons about motherhood and women from these great examples. They deserve every bit of attention and focus given to them.
Still, it is important not to forget the fathers of the Stripling Warriors. They are mentioned only once, but it stands as a testament to their love and appreciation.
Alma 56:27 says:
And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions from the fathers of those my two thousand sons.
These faithful fathers, who were willing to give up their lives than break their covenants, truly followed the gospel admonition to provide for their family. This was no small thing, Helaman tells us they were prepared with ten thousand men, with provision for all of them AND their wives and children. It was because of this added strength that the Lamanites “began to be fearful, and began to sally forth if it were possible to put an end to our receiving provisions and strength.”
We often forget to talk about these great men who did all they could to make sure their sons were taken care of. How hard must it have been for them to watch their beloved children march off to fight a war they had promised to forsake.
In today’s modern world, fathers (and men in general) are degraded and looked down upon. Elder D. Todd Christofferson said in Brethren, We Have Work to Do:
In too many Hollywood films, TV and cable shows, and even commercials, men are portrayed as incompetent, immature, or self-absorbed. This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect.
Elder Christofferson also gave this quote from David Blankenhorn about fathers in today’s society:
“Today, American society is fundamentally divided and ambivalent about the fatherhood idea. Some people do not even remember it. Others are offended by it. Others, including more than a few family scholars, neglect it or disdain it. Many others are not especially opposed to it, nor are they especially committed to it. Many people wish we could act on it, but believe that our society simply no longer can or will.”
We know that “far from being superfluous, fathers are unique and irreplaceable” as Elder Christofferson said. To the Stripling Warriors, their fathers truly were unique men of unshakable determination and faith, irreplaceable in their efforts for liberty, and loved. In our own lives, may we not forget fathers and seek out opportunities to celebrate the men in our lives who are men of valor, influence, and faith.