“Insomuch That They Could Not Be Governed by the Law nor Justice”

Brant Gardner

Social: Mormon’s statement is somewhat convoluted. He states that the Nephites “could not be governed by the law nor justice.” This makes it sound like they were refusing to be governed by law. This would not be the correct reading. Mormon’s final clause tells us why. They could not be governed by law “save it were to their destruction.” In other words, they were governed by law, but it was to their destruction. Mormon’s reference here is to the reversal of popular opinion that has removed Nephi from the judgment seat and turned the government over to the faction that has been advocating departing from the traditional Nephite ideals. As Mormon has been saying, this departure from God will lead to their destruction.

In this latest development in Nephite political structure, we should therefore expect that the government continued as before, but with a change in political parties, to use a modern analogy. For Mormon, this completely legal shift in political emphasis is nevertheless an error because it moves away from the Nephite religious ideals, and this departure into wickedness (defined as that departure) will cause their destruction because of the condition in the Nephite foundational promise.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon