In Alma 52, the Nephites use the decoy method to lead the Lamanites away from the city of Mulek. The Lamanites chase Teancum’s army all the way to Bountiful, at which they are met by Lehi’s fresh army, who takes over the battle from there. Here’s a verse that has always seemed interesting to me:
And now behold, when the chief captains of the Lamanites had beheld Lehi with his army coming against them, they fled in much confusion, lest perhaps they should not obtain the city Mulek before Lehi should overtake them; for they were wearied because of their march, and the men of Lehi were fresh. (Alma 52:28)
I don’t think the phrase “in much confusion” denotes a state of mind; there is nothing confusing about the situation; it is obvious to the Lamanites that they have just been played for fools. What “in much confusion” describes is the manner in which the army traveled—men breaking ranks and lines in order to move as fast as they can to get to safety and leaving the slower ones to fend for themselves.

The Lamanites chased Teancum’s Nephite army up to Bountiful while keeping their lines and ranks according to their leaders’ command, but as soon as they saw they were in danger, they became as undisciplined as any panicked crowd and their leaders could do nothing about it.

Later in the battle there ARE confused states of mind when the Lamanites find the rear of their army is surrendering and the front of their army is still fighting.
And Lehi pressed upon their rear with such fury with his strong men, that the Lamanites in the rear delivered up their weapons of war; and the remainder of them, being much confused, knew not whither to go or to strike. (Alma 52:36)
Captain Moroni takes advantage of their confusion and gives them a clear option to end the fight.
37 Now Moroni seeing their confusion, he said unto them: If ye will bring forth your weapons of war and deliver them up, behold we will forbear shedding your blood.
38 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had heard these words, their chief captains, all those who were not slain, came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and also commanded their men that they should do the same. (Alma 52:37-38)
Now, please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. Captain Moroni is a powerful example of good leadership. However, this should not prevent us from recognizing the tactics Satan uses in our lives, which are very similar to what Captain Moroni just did. Captain Moroni saw the confusion of the Lamanites when they didn’t know what to do and he gave them an unambiguous solution—stop fighting and surrender. Satan goes one step further. He tries to induce confusion in us about our identities and roles and the purpose of our lives and when he sees we are confused, he tempts us to surrender, to forget about that exaltation stuff, and forget about ever becoming better, to forget about fighting evil anymore.

I guess what I am trying to say is that confusion makes us vulnerable. We see two different types of confusion in this story—organizational confusion and mental confusion. It looks to me like organizational confusion led to mental confusion.

In the church, if we suddenly stop listening to our leaders and start doing our own thing in spite of what they tell us, then it will result in a mass of confusion in the church organization. In that case, organizational confusion is a consequence of sin.

Mental confusion comes when we are faced with two or more compelling choices, which conflict with each other:
  • going along with the crowd versus being unpopular for following our conscience
  • giving in versus fighting temptation
  • doing what seems to be expedient in the moment versus doing the thing we have always been taught
  • pursuing short-term pleasures versus pursuing long-term goals
The opposite of confusion is certainty and order. Testimony gives us certainty that overcomes mental confusion, but even if we don’t have total certainty, we can use our faith to compensate. Then church organization brings order which overcomes social confusion. All of this is meant to help us keep fighting for what’s right instead of giving in to sin.

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