Three years ago, I related how Caitlyn, our second daughter, imposed a new ending upon the story of “The Ten Young Women,” in which, after the foolish women who’d left to refill their lamps returned to find the door to the wedding feast closed, the Bridegroom returned, opened the door again, admitted everyone, and everything ended happily. She is seven years old now, and less innocent, but her longings remain the same.
Last night, as I was reading a story to Caitlyn’s younger sister Alison on the bottom bunk, we were interrupted by declarations from the top. “That’s not fair!” Caitlyn cried. “That’s terrible! That’s so sad!” And then she started to cry.
I hurriedly finished the story I was reading to Alison, and turned my attention to the top bunk. Caitlyn was holding her copy of an illustrated Book of Mormon reader which she is working her way through. I asked what was bothering her, and she told me: she’d just read the story of Korihor, about how he’d led many Nephites into doubt and wickedness, how he’d challenged Alma and disputed the prophet’s testimony, how after denying all the evidence and warnings Alma gave him he demanded a sign, and received one, being struck deaf and dumb. And then how he’d piteously admitted that he’d always known there was a God, but had been misled by the devil, and asked to have the curse removed from him, but was refused, and so left Alma to go wandering throughout the land.
And?, I asked.
“And then they trampled him!” Caitlyn cried. “Why did they do that?”
Well, the Zoramites were wicked people, and I guess they didn’t care much about the beggars in their part of the land.
“Why did God let that happen?” she asked tearfully. “Why is something so sad in the Book of Mormon?”
Well, Korihor had turned away from God, and so the story shows that if you turn away from God and choose to follow the devil instead, the devil will not protect you.
“But he was sorry!” she insisted. “He had repented! He shouldn’t have been trampled!”
But repenting takes more than just saying you’re sorry for what you’ve done, and Korihor had done some bad things.
“He still shouldn’t have been trampled. No one should be trampled. People shouldn’t have been mean to him.”
No, they shouldn’t have, I agreed.
“I don’t think there should be sad things in the Book of Mormon,” she concluded, still sniffling. “I don’t like people being trampled.”
I don’t either, I said.
She will, of course, finish the Book of Mormon, and realize that everybody dies at the end. Growing up with the scriptures all around her, she will also realize that sometimes God uses sad stories and ugly tragedies to teach important principles. I hope she accepts those principles. But I also hope she never stops being saddened by the terrible stories behind them.