I was stunned reading Nephi the other day where Jesus Christ destroyed entire towns, women and children. I asked my Mormon neighbor, who rhetorically asked about Sodom and Gomorrah. But I was shocked that the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the King of Forgiveness would do such a thing. I am bitterly confused.
As you imply, the Savior of the world is indeed the king of forgiveness. His love for the children of God is so infinitely vast that he has taken upon himself all their sins, and suffered beyond measure that they would not have to suffer if they would only listen to him, obey his word, and adopt those practices that were designed for their own happiness. Nevertheless, he is not a namby-pamby God, who winks at sins and demands no accountability. In the Mormon scripture the Doctrine and Covenants, He has said–
Therefore I command you to repent–repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not,yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (D&C 19:15-19).
Consider the above Mormon scripture–if we reject the Savior and his sacrifice, we cut ourselves off from its benefits and must suffer for our sins as if there had been no Savior. We must submit ourselves before the bar of justice, condemned by our own actions and our own admission, and pay “the uttermost farthing” for the wicked things that we have done.
Yet there is a purpose in suffering. Hopefully, we will learn from our afflictions that result from breaking the law, that it is far better to obey the word of God. Again, Jesus said–
Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance–
I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;
I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.
Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.
For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.
Behold, I say unto you, there were jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires among them; therefore by these things they polluted their inheritances.
They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.
In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my counsel; but, in the day of their trouble, of necessity they feel after me.
Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding their sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards them. I will not utterly cast them off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy.
I have sworn, and the decree hath gone forth by a former commandment which I have given unto you, that I would let fall the sword of mine indignation in behalf of my people; and even as I have said, it shall come to pass.
Mine indignation is soon to be poured out without measure upon all nations; and this will I do when the cup of their iniquity is full.
And in that day all who are found upon the watchtower, or in other words, all mine Israel, shall be saved.
And they that have been scattered shall be gathered.
And all they who have mourned shall be comforted.
all they who have given their lives for my name shall be crowned.
Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God (D&C 101:1-16).
The destruction of which you speak occurred just prior to the advent of the Savior among the Nephites following his resurrection. According to the Book of Mormon, the wickedness of the people at that time was without measure–
Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this–Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.
And thus Satan did lead away the hearts of the people to do all manner of iniquity; therefore they had enjoyed peace but a few years.
And thus, in the commencement of the thirtieth year–the people having been delivered up for the space of a long time to be carried about by the temptations of the devil whithersoever he desired to carry them, and to do whatsoever iniquity he desired they should–and thus in the commencement of this, the thirtieth year, they were in a state of awful wickedness.
Now they did not sin ignorantly, for they knew the will of God concerning them, for it had been taught unto them; therefore they did wilfully rebel against God (3 Nephi 6:15-18).
At the coming of the Resurrected Lord among the Nephites all those wicked were utterly destroyed because of their wickedness. But undoubtedly there were among them many innocent children who knew no sin, but were in the care of their wicked parents. They were destroyed also. Was that a careless or non-caring act? Not by any means! Supposing they had been left? They would have slowly died in agony. But on the other side of the veil, in the spirit world they were loved by the Savior and cared for by loving, kind spirits. Without doubt they would have received the blessings that the Savior gave to little children as recorded in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 17:21-24.
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
And when he had done this he wept again;
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.
And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
The scriptures are true. It would be well for us not to attempt to judge the Lord based on the narrow and limited perspective permitted to us in mortality, but to believe in him, in his mercy and in his justice, and in his revealed word; and do all that we can to not offend the Savior of the World, the Prince of Peace, the King of Forgiveness.