Now there is a curious thing that transpires in these verses. In returning to the affairs of his own kingdom, Lamoni subsequently establishes the rule of a free people through his land. It is an interesting sequence of events:
- The king Lamoni and his household is converted to the gospel of Christ. (chapters 18-19)
- Ammon and Lamoni are confronted by Lamoni's father, king over all the land, which results in Lamoni obtaining full freedom and autonomy to govern over his own kingdom as he pleased. (chapter 20)
- Lamoni subsequently (in these verses) returns to his own land, and declares freedom for all in his kingdom.
We believe that no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life...
We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others; but we do not believe that human law has a right to interfere in prescribing rules of worship to bind the consciences of men, nor dictate forms for public or private devotion; that the civil magistrate should restrain crime, but never control conscience; should punish guilt, but never suppress the freedom of the soul.Finding this set of verses from Doctrine and Covenants validates the importance of religious freedom and its place as a core tenant of free society.
Surrounding the establishment of freedom in the land of Ishmael, the question of what the role of Ammon would be is brought to consideration. King Lamoni would not permit that Ammon remain a servant. So we read in the end of the chapter about his modified duties.
Verse 23 reads in part:
And Ammon did preach unto the people of king Lamoni; and it came to pass that he did teach them all things concerning things pertaining to righteousness. And he did exhort them daily, with all diligence;We talk a lot about the miraculous conversion of the Lamanites pointing to Ammon's labors at the beginnings: chopping off arms, converting the king, etc. We also like to reference the evidences of their profound conversion pointing to the army of Helaman, the 2000 stripling warriors, and their amazing mothers. Yet between point A and point B, we get a glimpse here of how this mighty conversion was maintained and how it was that a nation was built to produce such an unified conversion to the Gospel of Christ among the people of Lamoni.
Daily, Ammon was found teaching the people concerning the things pertaining to righteousness, with all diligence. There is nothing glamorous about this type of consistent dedication, but the results are almost guaranteed to produce the desired outcomes of deep and abiding conversion to the truth. This is where the bulk of Ammon's missionary labors were spent, in establishing and then maintaining the Church among the people of Lamoni for 14 years!