“Seek Not After Riches”

Brant Gardner

We have another specific command to Corianton. While this one does not have the immediate impact on our imaginations as does consorting with harlots, it is nevertheless perhaps the more serious crime Corianton has committed. In our understanding of the Nephite world, the mechanism for social segregation was economic. The prophets continue to decry the use of wealth to make class distinctions. We may see in this phrase, then, that Corianton has been seeking riches, and seeking them in the context of the world – of the “vain things of this world.” This is the commandment to return from his apostasy. His pursuit of riches is not simply a pursuit of wealth.

Once again, we must remember that the nature of the society, and the nature of economics, were quite different for the Nephite world. There were no stores, there were no banks. Wealth did not buy large houses and cars. Basic food was a common resource, and in the Nephite egalitarian ideal, should have been available to all. What we would have in this case is a chasing of riches for the trappings of power that are defined by those riches. Corianton apparently began this quest for wealth while on his mission to the Zoramites, and as we have seen, Zoramite society refined the art of public display of wealth for the purpose of social differentiation. When Corianton pursues wealth, it is literally a “vain thing” for the function of the wealth was not comfort, but public display and self aggrandizement.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon