It has been interesting watching the Book of Mormon videos on the weeks they are released, as they run just ahead of what we are studying in Come, Follow Me. Reading the story of Alma the Elder alongside the curriculum while watching what happens with Alma the Younger in the videos has powerfully driven home the fact that the testimonies of each of these prophets are based in their personal experience, and their words are tailored to the needs of each person they speak with.
In the final video of season 3, we watch as Alma the Younger gives counsel to each of his three sons: Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton.
I have heard these three conversations described many times, often with the emphasis on how short Shiblon’s chapter is and how long Corianton’s chapters are because of their differing righteousness. But my perspective on Alma’s fatherly conversation with his “sinful son” changed a bit as I watched the latest video. Here are a few things that came to my attention.
- 1. Corianton is the only son who asks questions. There were two things that struck me about this. The first was that Alma was in tune enough with the Spirit and his son that he was able to understand what was really troubling Corianton and answer his questions about resurrection. Second, he answered Corianton’s questions even as he taught and encouraged him to focus more on the core principles of the gospel that could strengthen Corianton’s testimony—specifically repentance and the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a powerful example of how we can treat those in our lives who might have questions or things that trouble them about the gospel.
- 2. Alma specifically states that Corianton is “in his youth.” Though we do not know for certain, it is possible that Alma saw the poor decisions of his younger days in some of his son’s decisions, which would explain some of the things he chooses to teach Corianton in his responses. For example, “wickedness never was happiness” is not just a scripture-ism Alma is reciting to his youngest son. It is a lesson Alma personally learned after living wickedly himself, when he believed for a time that wickedness was happiness. This plea for Corianton to repent was not a conversation of disgust with his son’s actions or a conversation meant to compare Corianton with his father and brothers. It was a plea of love and faith that comes from a place of experience.
- 3. That leads to the third thing that stood out to me in this video. Alma begins the conversation with Corianton by listing some of the ways his son has sinned. He explains to Corianton, however, that the reason he does this is because he loves Corianton. He then goes on to talk about other doctrines Corianton is worried about. While it might not be surprising that as their conversation comes to a close, Alma again reminds his son of his need to repent, I was touched by the final words he spoke to Corianton. “Ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people . . . Declare the word with truth and soberness.” This was a beautiful reminder to me that our eternal identities are not lost simply because we have sinned. It is possible to show love to others and keep sight of their potential while helping them become better when poor decisions have been made.
There are so many incredible lessons about Christlike relationships in the scriptures that have come to life in these videos. Lessons on parenting, friendships, marriages, and families—if we only take the time to look. That is one of the reasons I look forward to going back and watching these videos again during their related Come, Follow Me chapters while I wait with great anticipation for season 4! Watch the final video of season 3 below: