“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

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I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Family Law: Fight or Famine (Helaman 11:1-17)

Disclaimer (I do not intend to minimize the seriousness nor the misfortune of others by comparing famine to the discipline of a child. The scriptures are meant to be likened to our lives. I have never known the pain or anguish of a true famine, (and hope I never will) but I do understand it as a principle of discipline in the form of the removal of privilege. )Famines come from many reasons. This set of verse describes the famine as a means of discipline to help us remember our God, the creator of the earth and bestower of earthly and spiritual blessings.

In our home we have a rather opinionated teen-age boy. He likes to speak his mind and often finds that this brings him into conflict with family rules and parental wishes. When he ventures off path and finds that he has spoken disrespectfully, harshly, or has refused to accept the consequences of his choices, his father and I have discovered that the best method to help him understand our love, is to remove from him that which he most cherishes. (IPod, computer, television etc.) Why does this method work? Because it causes him to reflect upon his behavior (what he did wrong and why others are upset with his behavior) and how he can best turn the situation around (how he can change). It takes the power struggle away from the parents and puts the power to choose back into his hands. He will be given back his possessions after he has pondered the problem, considered an appropriate solution, and waited a determined amount of time.

Just like Nephi learned as he tried to teach the people of God’s love, we have learned that showing our son great "signs" of our love (buying him things that entertain) or performing "miracles" (doing something that astonishes him), or showing forth our great "knowledge" (by knowing of his whereabouts and behavior through networking), or speaking to him with our words (tends to bring on arguing) just does not work. It tends to make him act more insecure and seemingly feel less loved.

Finally I learned the law of famine. When our son breaks a house rule, when he speaks with disdain, or acts impulsively, we don’t preach, we don’t argue, we don’t fight, we merely remove a privilege(our chosen famine). The removal of privileges is based on known family law. We do not listen to his excuses. We do not allow him to manipulate himself between the two of us.

This alone helps to slow him down and consider his actions. This alone causes him to consider his parent’s position and feelings, and the inappropriateness of his behavior. At first glance, famine seems like a harsh way to discipline, but it is a way that causes God’s children to seriously reflect upon the why’s, the how’s, and the what went wrongs? This method helps to change the paths of those who are headed in the wrong direction.

Let’s Look at Nephi’s history as he tried to teach the people


1. He went and he taught

2. He failed at this so he went home and prayed in his garden

3. He passionately poured out his heart so that he touched the hearts of those that heard. (He was pleading for help from God)

4. He shows them a sign

5. He shows them a miracle

6. He removed himself

7. He removed their blessings

Thinking of a problem in my home.

1. I teach my young children

2. A problem arises so I withdraw within myself and to prayer (I don’t know how to help my family)

3. I plead with God in prayer for help. I might be overheard but if I am not, my countenance would be readable.

4. My Family wants to understand what has me so uptight that I can’t allow them to have a little fun… watch an R rated movie, etc..

5. I try to explain by showing them a sign of God’s love

6. They think I am power hungry and an argument ensues. The conflict increases

7. I withdraw even more and leave them to their fighting.

8. Finally I become a parent and assume my leadership role and stand up to your children by removing a privilege from them.

9. They respect my role as parent and acknowledge their mistakes.. they change their paths and find happiness. We hug and make up. :)

What brings happiness? Obedience to God’s laws. What brings us back to God’s laws? A dearth of food, of love, of association with what we hold dear?

In the many years of raising our children, I have noted that indulgence brings fighting and famine brings repentance. I could list several examples. If you will take time to observe it, this is widespread phenomenon of human nature. As soon as someone gets a new toy, they tend to believe that the old rules no longer apply. I know of several teens who lose their driving privileges on the first day they get their license.


What is it about our body and soul that causes us to be able to remember God when we face famine, but forget him when we face fighting?

What are the patterns of discipline within this chapter for helping us know how to teach our children?

How did God and Nephi approach the problem of trying to teach God’s children?

When the people were indulged and not required to give anything back, what were the results?

Why does fighting lead us to forget about survival and concentrate solely upon destruction of our enemy(an ultimately our soul)?

Why does famine lead us to concentrate on our survival (an ultimately our soul)?

As parents we can learn from this example. Indulgence brings on conflict and selfishness. Responsibility brings on the blessings of learning how to use the power God has given us.

Words and Phrases

vs 1 contentions did increase: why? b/c of the inability to hear the word of God. The people saw it, they witnessed the miracles, but they did not hear it. We often don't listen when we have other things to entertain us.

vs 4 do not let ... be destroyed by the sword. - why? because by the sword you die in anger. If you die by famine, at least you have pondered and had time to repent. Nephi wants to buy them time. He has figured out that a famine will kill many but not in the same state of mind that a war does.

vs 5 became sore by famine - I was shocked at the photos that I found as I searched for a photo for my post. It made me sick and made me realize that this is not to be taken lightly. Famine is a serious calamity that weather it is brought on by natural circumstances or a loving God who wants us to turn again unto him, it is not to be mocked or made fun of. I even shrink that I have compared it to the circumstances of my son. Famine is a most hideous way to die. We all need food to survive. But we need God's spiritual guidance to live life eternal.

vs 6 in the more wicked parts of the land - at first this statement seems prejudice, but if you consider that the wicked would not have prepared for this day by having food stored away, they would not have cherished food that would nurture but food that was rich and fattening, they would have lived from day to day and not planned wisely, they would have found the lusts of their eyes more desirable than the sharing of food or giving selfless aid to others. The wicked would be found alone in their struggles, while the more righteous would band together to help one another. They would be organized and prepared. Hence the death of the more wicked in a time of famine would be a natural consequence of circumstance.

vs 7 remember the words of Nephi - they have been given a second chance to remember God's love and the words of prophet who spoke truth to them.

vs 8 lest all thy words be fulfilled.... - It is possible to turn things around. Repentance puts us back on the right path. Repentance changes things. Repentance causes us to have a change of heart that helps us to see, feel, and believe differently.

vs 9 when he saw the people had repented - he again petitioned God. He asked for blessings from heaven. He asks that the people recognize God's love and this third sign they understand.

vs 10 swept away the band of Gadianton - so great was their repentance that they eradicate the evil and bring on the good. They understand God's spirit of love and how the selfish band of robbers has no place if the famine is to be turned around. The famine was really in their hearts. Until the Robbers were gone, the famine of their hearts could not be repaired.

vs 15 If this people repent - When I have problems, I consider how I have gone astray... I consider how I have not done what the Lord has asked of me. I repent before I ask for blessings. I give thanks. Sometimes I am blind to what I need to repent of. Sometimes I need God to gently remind me by the consequences of my actions.

vs 17 rain should fall upon the earth - why do people not like rain. I love rain.. I love the blessings of rain. I love the sound of rain, and the wind that accompanies it. I love to be part of the life that ensues after the rain. Rain is needed for life. Rain nurtures, cleanses, replenishes, washes, etc... Rain brings us so much. I believe it is most appreciated by those who do not have it.

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