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The story of the 2000 stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon has been my favorite since I read it as a teenager. The story is about a group of young men who chose to go to war to protect their families. Their fathers had made a covenant with God not to take up arms again after their conversion to Christianity. The young men went to war so that their fathers would not have to break their covenant.

I’ll admit I have often wondered why it was so important for these men to keep their promise. Surely, the Lord would have understood that circumstances had changed. In fact, in other places in the scriptures, God commands fathers to protect their wives and children.

Recently, one of our Twelve Apostles, Richard G. Scott, explained why it was so important for these men to not go to war. He said, “It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit. . . [The Ammonite fathers] needed taller and wider fortifications between their faithful lives and the unrighteous behavior of their past.”

When I read his comments, I thought about some of the people I had met through the Addiction Recovery Program meetings I attended. I have seen a number of people relapse into their addictions because they refused to give up their associations with people who practiced their addiction. These people failed to build fortifications between their new lives and the behaviors of the past. They wanted to be strong enough not to drink or smoke even though they are around people who were drinking and smoking. They became discouraged when they failed to live up to their expectations, and eventually some of them gave up entirely.

I thought about how his advice related to my own addictions. In the past I had felt a little guilty about my tendency to end relationships if I started to recognize symptoms of codependency. Now, I see that I was building “wider fortifications.” I’m just not strong enough to be friends with someone who is also codependent without relapsing into unhealthy behavior. I have also felt bad about my inability to resist sugar when it is readily available in my house. I thought it was unfair to ask my family to do without because of my addiction. After reading Elder Scott’s talk, I am reconsidering the items I have in my home.

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