Who were the Mothers of the Stripling Warriors? | Alma 53-63 | Come Follow Me

The following is a chapter taken from the book Walking with the Women of the Book of Mormonby Heather Farrell and Mandy Jane Williams.


A friend shared with me a beautiful insight about the mothers of the stripling warriors and how they had faith in the promise of God. She wrote,


When I was a young woman, teaching the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors in Relief Society, an older woman raised her hand and in a tearful voice said, “Why was my son not saved?” He was killed in the Second World War. She asked me in words similar to this: “Why did my son die? He was righteous. I put my faith in God and taught him as the 2,000 warriors’ mothers taught their sons that he would be blessed and protected.” I was young. I don’t remember my answer, but I know it was not sufficient for her, simply saying that God had a plan for each child and some are taken early. That didn’t really answer her question or console her. As I thought about this for a number of years and prayed about what I should have said, the answer finally came.


After the sons of Mosiah taught and converted the king and queen of the Lamanites, many of the Lamanite people covenanted to lay “down their weapons of rebellion” and promised that they would not “fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren” (Alma 23:7). The Amalekites, who were apostate Nephites, were not happy with the Lamanites’ conversion and began to stir up the Lamanites who hadn’t joined the Anti- Nephi-Lehis to go to war against them.


When the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi realized that the Lamanites, led by the Amalekites, were going to come against them, they decided to bury their weapons “deep in the earth” (Alma 24: 17). They had worked hard to repent and be forgiven for their sins and did not want to even be tempted to pick up their weapons again. They pledged that “rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives” (vs. 18), which they did.


When the Lamanites attacked, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi “prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord” (vs. 21). They refused to fight. The Lamanites killed 1005 men, who “praised God even in the very act of perishing” (vs. 23). I have always envisioned this scene looking like Gandhi’s non-violent march against the salt works in India. Row by row Indian men marched toward the British guard defending the salt works, only to be beaten down. One reporter described the scene:


“Not one of the marchers even raised an arm to fend off the blows . . . Those struck down fell sprawling, unconscious or writhing in pain with fractured skulls or broken shoulders. In two or three minutes, the ground was quilted with bodies. Great patches of blood widened on their white clothes . . . Group after group walked forward, sat down and submitted to being beaten into insensibility without raising an arm to fend off the blows.”



In the movie rendition of Gandhi’s life, the Indian women, who were waiting on the sidelines, silently removed the bodies after they had been beaten. Perhaps the Anti-Nephi-Lehi women were also on the sidelines of their non-violent protest, silently giving their assent to the sacrifice their men were making for their beliefs. They too would have rather died, believing “if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved” (vs. 16).



These women’s faith in Christ’s Atonement was so great that they did not fear death, only sin. Mormon wrote, “They never did look upon death with any degree of terror. For their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it“ (Alma 27:28).


Their sons did not fear death, because their mothers did not fear death. By their own example of being willing to die rather than break their covenants, these women taught their sons the power of Christ’s Atonement and the reality of the Resurrection. Their sons went forth with an understanding that physical death is temporary, and if they were faithful and observed “to perform every word with exactness” (Alma 57:21), they would live again. They had their eyes on an eternal—not an earthly—reward.



When the time came for the sons of Helaman to go into the battle for the first time, they were not afraid to die. They told Helaman, “Our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall” (Alma 56:46). How did they know that? Helaman gives us the answer: “They had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (vs. 47).



Not only had these women taught their sons to have faith in Christ’s Atonement and the Resurrection, but they had also given them a divine promise. They blessed them that if they did not doubt, they would not be killed. We don’t have many examples of women giving promises and blessings in the scriptures, though we know that the ability to bless is a gift of the Spirit and therefore a privilege available to righteous women.153 These mothers seem to have done just that—they promised their sons, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that they would not die if they were obedient and had faith in Christ. These sons had faith in what their mothers promised them. They “rehearsed unto [Helaman] the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mother’s knew it” (vs. 48).



** The following was taken from Walking With the Women of the Book of Mormon. The opinions and views expressed herein belong solely to Heather Farrell and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of Cedar Fort, Inc.