Love: A Proclamation to the World

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Today’s Proclamation is courtesy of best-selling author Mette Ivie Harrison.

I proclaim to my family of Latter-day Saints today that love is the organizing principle of the universe and that it is the most important value of all previous generations, all future generations, and of this generation. The pure love of Christ is the foundation of all that we do as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is what teaches us to find the divine in ourselves. It is what allows us to see ourselves and others more clearly. It is the only thing that enables us to become better people: kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more expansive in our views, wiser, more learned, and more capable of serving others truly—without judgment or superiority.

All human beings are innately capable of love. Though it may feel in this modern age that hate has become far more commonplace and is more tempting, I call on all Latter-day Saints to resist the temptation to see others as evil, to learn to listen with a true attempt to understand and to see the light of Christ in the eyes of all those around us. I call on our community to do better at refusing to promote the rhetoric of “us” and “them,” to make our community bigger and more welcoming. I call on us to consider the ways in which we are complicit in hurting those within our community and those without, either by our social media posts, by our political votes, our economic choices, our assumptions about others, our words in person, our inaction and desire to look away from pain and pretend that it is not about us.

In the premortal realm, we covenanted with each other to bear one another’s burdens, to comfort those who stood in need of comfort, to mourn with those that mourn, and we all have an obligation to do our best to continue to uphold these covenants, which Latter-day Saints take upon themselves again at baptism, and each week as we partake of the holy Sacrament. I declare that we must do better than thinking of a certain number of hours of service as “enough,” because we’ve fulfilled some checklist that has been given to us by our leaders.

I ask that each of us spend time considering deeper ways to serve, and to think about the inequality of our current political system. I direct Latter-day Saint to reread the Book of Mormon and to ponder the scriptures about the cycle of pride and the evil way in which money divides the rich from the poor. Remember who Christ ministered to in both His earthly life and afterward. Christ was and is no respecter of persons. Are we living up to His name and His example? Are we able to see that money does not mark us as chosen of god, and that all members of our community are of the body of Christ? Do we understand that we have need of all of the parts of the body of Christ, eyes, noses, necks, hands, feet, and on and on? Not one of us is more important than another. Those who are rich have much to learn from those who are not.

Parents have a duty to raise their children with principles of love. We must teach them to see the light of Christ in all around them. Bullying can not be a part of our communities, either in school, at play, at church, online or in any other form. Parents will be held responsible for not teaching their children to see others as equal, and for their own actions in this same realm.

I call on men and women to consider the ways in which systemic sexism and racism prevent us from achieving the kingdom of heaven on earth. We must not diminish any who are bound to us by covenant. We must work harder to see the capacities of all who wish to serve. We must learn to be taught by the lowliest of heart and circumstance as we would be by any other. God is not pleased with us when we are distracted by the things of the world.

I call on other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reconsider their own prejudice against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual members of the community. Christ asked all to come unto Him, of every race and gender, every sexuality and identity. We are all His children. We must all join in a circle of love to become His people in truth as well as in name. We must reconsider the ways in which we ask our spiritual siblings to be less than themselves for our own comfort. We must instead raise our heads and be ready to face the rejection of the world in order to do what is right. This is the pioneer spirit that we are in danger of losing.

We are falling short of our purpose to build Zion here on earth. We are focused too much on building instead a great and spacious building and filling it with those who are like ourselves. We spend too much of our time running and being weary, filling our lives with the things of the world and not giving ourselves up to God. We must do better.

I call on all those reading this to commit to stand as a witness of the love of God in all times and all things and all places. This is what it means to be a Child of God. This is what it means to be Christian. Let us be better. Let us be filled with His love.

Comments

  1. Concerned Criticism says:

    The author to this has zero authority in writing this. The prophets on the other hand are mouthpieces to God. Kind of a big difference.

  2. Interesting word choice by Concerned. “Mouthpiece” doesn’t appear in the scriptures. It does appear in a good number of commentaries. Some indicate that a “mouthpiece to God” is one who speaks to God for or on behalf of someone else (a congregation, for example). Some indicate that a “mouthpiece for God” is one who speaks God’s will/words/whatever to others (a congregation, for example). Concerned’s usage suggests that the prophets speak to God on behalf of the people. Perhaps hidden here is a suggestion that the Proclamation on the Family was telling God the will of some people rather than the other way around. This may be an idea worth playing with.

    In the meantime, no one has ownership of the words “proclamation” or “proclaim” and the author can proclaim her views to the world any time she likes. She is after all the final authority on what her views are.

    Cheers.

  3. Michael Austin says:

    Concerned,

    As it turned out, you don’t actually need any kind of authority at all to write a blog post. You just say what you think and then click post. Even girls can do it. And then, people read it and decide whether or not they agree with it. Another way to say this is that the authority that matters comes from making good arguments and saying compelling things, not from holding any kind of institutional position. In this particular case, Mette has said something very compelling that calls us to repentance and challenges us to improve the way that we enact the two great commandments of God.

    Also, this is how prophecy works in most of the scriptures.

  4. Deb Quantz says:

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much.

  5. I got really far into this shouting “Amen!” Then I got here: “We must reconsider the ways in which we ask our spiritual siblings to be less than themselves for our own comfort.” I would never ask someone to be “less than” themselves, but God does call on us to be more than what we are. To the extent that the author views asking people to live the commandments as asking them to be “less than themselves for our own comfort”, I would reply that yes, God asks us to be uncomfortable, and sometimes that means plucking out an eye.

    “We must instead raise our heads and be ready to face the rejection of the world in order to do what is right.” I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, but I suspect I disagree on the application. The following statement seems to be at much greater risk of facing “rejection of the world in order to do what is right” than anything in this proclamation:

    “THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.”

  6. Olde Skool says:

    Dsc, for the record, it’s *one’s own* eye that one is sometimes called upon to pluck out. Not someone else’s.

  7. Jonathan says:

    God:

    Wickedness never was happiness.

    OP:

    If only everyone could live the way they wanted to without people talking about sin or making others feel bad, then we could have Zion on Earth.

    Same sex behavior is a sin or it is not (hint: it is). This part of the post is not a proclamation on love, it is a surreptitious attempt to rewrite the doctrine of God to bring it into conformity with the social and political views in vogue in our ‘enlightened’ society. There is a lot to agree with in this post (including that we all need to be more loving) but there is nothing loving about abandoning our brothers and sisters to the consequences of sin. Doing that may make the person doing it feel loving, but it is hateful and wrong. How much must you hate someone to leave them languishing in sin — putting their immortal soul in jeopardy — just so you can feel good about yourself and brag to your similarly enlightened friends about how ‘loving’ you are?

  8. Olde Skool,

    I’m very aware of that. But I don’t think teaching, inviting and encouraging people to live the law of chastity is plucking out someone else’s eye. It does, however, invite people to make their own sacrifices.

  9. Jonathan: ” How much must you hate someone to leave them languishing in sin — putting their immortal soul in jeopardy — just so you can feel good about yourself and brag to your similarly enlightened friends about how ‘loving’ you are?”
    Is this what Lucifer said to God the Father when introducing his plan to deprive humans of moral agency so that he could bring them all back?

  10. Jonathan says:

    JR:

    There is an obvious difference between forcing someone to be obedient on the one hand and speaking the truth about sinful behavior being sinful on the other. No one (that I am aware of) is advocating the former, while the campaign against the latter advocated by many today in the name of ‘love’ is what is truly hateful. Though I cannot imagine you don’t recognize that distinction, raising the obvious question of why you posted what you posted.

  11. Jonathan:

    “God: Wickedness never was happiness.“
    So what happens when one observes that same-sex marriages and committed relationships (which you call “wickedness“) are actually filled with happiness, and are fulfilling and edifying in the same way that committed heterosexual relationships are? Maybe it’s time to stop attributing your definition of wickedness to God.

  12. Bryce,

    Been over this many times before, but there is ample evidence in scripture and the words of the living prophets that homosexual behavior is sinful. Meanwhile, I don’t think your reasoning works. I knew a man who cheated on his wife, engaged in shady business practices, and went in and out of a drug habit. Only one of those things ever led him to feel unhappy. He claims to be happy, and by all objective measures seems happy. On the other hand, we all know people who don’t ever manage to achieve happiness in this life despite their righteousness.

    When Alma says that wickedness never was happiness, it was to teach his wayward son that happiness is measured on an eternal scale (specifically in the resurrection), and good feelings do not evince righteousness.

  13. This post made me feel like I was being whipped.

  14. Jonathan, Thanks for the clarification. There is still something missing from my understanding of what you mean to suggest. When, where, in what context, is it helpful or loving to speak what one believes to be the “truth about sinful behavior being sinful” to others whose experience leads them to think it is not the truth about what is sinful? To my perception there has been entirely too much attribution to others of hate or hatefulness both by some who take your position and by some who take a contrary position on what is sinful. That leads me to even greater appreciation for the “Mormon Creed” that once hung in the Logan Temple, attributed to Brigham Young, and in a slightly different and earlier form to William Smith: “Mind your own business.” I wonder how that creed might fit into your view of preaching the “truth about sinful behavior” to people who don’t believe what you preach or to those who may be harmed by such preaching itself.

  15. wreddyornot says:

    I wholly agree, Mette.

    Basically, paraphrasing an apostle, I must have hope in others and trust and protect them all of the time. I wholly need to learn to stick with those qualities as well as having patience with and showing kindness to everyone. I must manage my furies and make sure that my reasons for action aren’t selfish. I’m not supposed to ever swell up with pride, to be resentful or rude. If I keep track of others’ wrongs or show any delight whatsoever in evil, it’s me who’s doing what’s wrong. What brings me joy is the truth.

    The truth is that we need to show our love to everyone.

  16. Jonathan says:

    JB:

    Your comment is akin to the claims by some non-members that the Church cannot be true because no objection non-member archaeologists believe it. Of course, if they believed it they would be members, wouldn’t they? It is the same thing — to say that you cannot preach repentance to people who don’t believe they are sinning is absurd. After all, who else would you be preaching repentance to?

    As for the creed to mind your own business — your application in this context is inappropriate. After all, on the other side of the ledger we have “preach nothing save it be repentance” (Mosiah 18:20) and “thou shalt declare repentance and faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:29) and “we believe in preaching the doctrine of repentance in all the world.” (Joseph Smith). Go ye into all the world is incompatible with your application of mind your own business.

    In truth, Brigham Young spoke of the Mormon Creed, and described “mind your own business” in the way we today would say a person needs to see to his stewardship, or not speak evil of leaders or steady the ark. It has been used by other leaders to address the evils of gossip or in defense of plural marriage (or even on the slavery issue). But in no way that I am aware of has it ever been used in such a way that it terminates the obligations that we each have to call everyone (including ourselves) to repentance.

    People have agency, and they can choose to believe what they will. It is not my job to get those who are sinning to believe the truth, but it is my job to stand share the truth to the best of my limited ability. That is love — to remain silent or to enable sin is not loving. So, to answer your question: “When, where, in what context, is it helpful or loving to speak what one believes to be the ‘truth about sinful behavior being sinful’ to others whose experience leads them to think it is not the truth about what is sinful?”

    “[A]t all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.” Mosiah 18:9.

  17. GEOFF -AUS says:

    JR & Dsc. The author presented her understanding of the Gospel. That Christ taught love. My understanding is similar, I would add that we are here to learn to have joy, and we do that by loving our fellow man. That includes all sorts of issues like financial inequality, climate change, and any other way that helps prevent harm to our fellow man. Perhaps we are right in our understanding, perhaps you are in you placing obedience over love, and twisting love to mean enforcing obedience of others.
    Christ also said :
    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
    21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
    22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
    23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity
    If we get to the judgement bar and we have gained joy by loving our fellows, and also lived the law ourself, I think the chances of the Lord not knowing us are less. Reading some of the things he said about very obedient Pharisees, not sure you shouldn’t try re reading the post with a more open mind.
    Is the fathers will that we learn joy by loving fully, or is it that we refuse to love anyone until they obey our understanding of what he wants?

  18. Same sex behavior is a sin or it is not (hint: it is).

    Thanks for clearing that up. Now what about homicide? What if the killer is receptive to utilitarian arguments, goes on to save a nation from perishing in unbelief and eventually becomes a highly regarded prophet?

  19. there is ample evidence in scripture and the words of the living prophets that homosexual behavior is sinful.

    Indeed, the record speaks for itself. The real question, however, is whether the record speaks for God.

  20. GEOFF -AUS says:

    This article is on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation web page, that seems apropriate, it compares motivations. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-05-16/psychopaths-narcissm-the-dark-triad-fascinate-us-the-light-triad/11093104

  21. Jonathan, Thanks for the further clarification of your position that we all have an obligation to call everyone to repentance at all times and at all places. That seems to stand in contrast to the concept of stewardship as I have understood it. E.g., in Mosiah 18:20 Alma instructs the priests called and ordained to preach to preach repentance (maybe only to a group of 50 — that is not clear). Alma gave no such instruction to all who had been baptized. In context, your quotation from Mosiah 18:9 has to do with standing as witnesses of God. I understand you believe preaching to everyone on what is sinful to be acting as a witness of God. Of course, that verse also acknowledges the people’s willingness to “mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” That’s an interesting juxtaposition in this context. Similarly, D&C 19 was directed explicitly to Martin Harris, not to everyone. It directed him (not me) to declare glad tidings, in humility, not to “revile against revilers,” and to “declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.” My calling, whatever it is, does not come from D&C 19 even though it might be instructive by analogy.

    Some people are less sure than you that preaching repentance to those not perceived as within their stewardships is an obligatory way to stand as a witness of God. Even if it were, I wonder if preaching repentance as a turning away from prior thinking or action and toward God to discover his will for them might be undertaken without assuming authority to tell them what his will for them is. You seem quite confident that you have that authority and understanding. Some of us less so.

    I have been concerned with judgmental allegations of hate and hatefulness leveled against both those who preach sinfulness of homosexual behaviors and against those who preach non-sinfulness of homosexual behaviors in the context of a committed, monogamous marriage relationship. It has seemed to me that such allegations are not helpful and possibly sinful, maybe they constitute “reviling against revilers.” They do not seem to foster understanding or civility. As I don’t understand any of those who have leveled such allegations to be within my stewardship, perhaps I should turn my attention elsewhere.

    Thanks again for the clarification.

  22. I agree.

    I remember an RS lesson when I said that our job is to love. That the greatest commandments were about loving and not judging. This made many sisters uncomfortable and someone in the RS presidency said she can love but not accept. I had a stupor of thought with that one. Who wants to be a part of a group who approaches Jesus’s teachings this way? I can love you but reject you and exclude you?

    My kids have special needs. I’ve received love but not acceptance from church peeps as a result. It doesn’t feel like love. It feels lonely, isolating, judgmental, and frustrating.

    Love feels like love because love is love.

  23. OId Man says:

    I wonder if those who so enthusiastically endorse this post can just as enthusiastically endorse the Proclamation on the Family?

  24. Chadwick says:

    I’m sympathetic to the notion that we have an obligation to stand for something. I have yet to find an acceptable, effective way to call others to repentance that doesn’t lead to incredible hurt and betrayal on the side being called to repentance, and that doesn’t come off sounding hypocritical and self righteous on the side calling others to repentance. So that leaves me with the next best model, which is to just love others and let the Holy Ghost and the prophets do the work of calling others to repentance. And within that model is the understanding that the Holy Ghost works in mysterious and extremely personal ways, and that not everyone will agree on who is a prophet.

    The comments above seems to prove this point. If anyone has a superior model, please share.

  25. Carolyn says:

    One problem in this entire discussion is what does “repentance” even mean?

    In its purest form, “to repent” means to turn your heart towards God.

    So if we’re “calling others to repentance,” perhaps a better phrase would be “inviting others to turn their hearts to God and seek out the pure love of Christ”

    But somehow we’ve shifted “calling others to repentance” as “screaming into the void that others are horrifically sinful and that they will be condemned to eternal damnation, hellfire, and ashes unless they grovel before you, the superior person in obedience to strict rules, in acknowledgement of all of their failings that clearly you do not share.”

    Maybe if we did at the OP suggests and focused more on “repenting” (i.e. learning to love like God) ourselves, we’d be humbled into realizing that God “calls others to repentance” through love, not condemnation.

  26. The question we have to ask ourselves, in my view, is whether we want, Jonah-like, to be seen to call people to repentance, or whether we want, Alma-like, to actually persuade people to repent.

    Someone said above that it is not loving to leave someone “languishing in sin.” I think there’s truth to that; but I also think it’s not loving to berate and condemn someone who is languishing in sin instead of helping them out of it. Sometimes the best thing will be a call to repentance. Much more often, the best thing will be to become a friend and help bring the spirit into a person’s life. Then the holy ghost will lead the person to all truth, and we can offer guidance, counsel, etc., as moved upon by the spirit. There’s no one-size fits all answer, but my experience is that we’re probably too quick to follow our natural tendency to judge and condemn and then justify it by calling it preaching repentance, instead of actually preaching repentance as the hopeful, liberating message that is should properly be consistent with the messianic spirit of the gospel.

  27. wreddyornot says:

    I do not endorse parts of the “Proclamation.”

  28. Jonathan says:

    JR:

    It is within the stewardship of all of us called to the office of Teacher.

    “53 The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;

    54 And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:53-54)

    Note that it talks about more than just stopping iniquity — a worthy topic for another post. I have always found it curious that one side seems to focus on rooting out iniquity and preventing evil speaking and another side seems to focus on avoiding hardness (both seem to agree on preventing lying and unfortunately neither seem to care that much about backbiting) but the truth is that we all need all of it — both sides should be working against iniquity AND working against hardness. But it does clearly put the stewardship for standing against iniquity in the Church on the shoulders of anyone ordained as a Teacher.

    As for the other comments (my apologies for not having the time this morning to address them individually) I agree that we should pursue repentance as opposed to pursuing being seen to be pursuing repentance. This is the same as how we should be loving, not acting in a way to seem to be loving. We should be seeking the substance of the thing rather than its appearance. But if you redefine sin to convince someone that sinful behavior isn’t sinful — and if they are convinced to the point they stop trying to repent — you have, in essence, contributed to their damnation. And I see of no way that is loving.

    I am open to a conversation that says (x) is a sin, and how can we best help those enmeshed in (x) to repent. I do my best, but I am certainly far from perfect and at best I muddle through most of the time. But saying (x) isn’t a sin because you are perfect just the way you are — that repenting would make someone “less than themselves” — that is what I am arguing against (with a solid doctrinal foundation, as I understand it).

  29. Carolyn, I love your point a couple of comments up about what calling to repentance has come to mean. Rather than an invitation to turn to God, it’s just an excuse to vent spleen at people you don’t like.

  30. Having once been ordained to the office of Teacher seems to entail duties that 14-15 year olds cannot fulfill (“see that there is no iniquity in the church”) — and probably no one can. However, it is unclear to me whether the broad stewardship implied by such a duty continues when that person is ordained to a different office. I see evidence, e.g., that the authorization of a Teacher to prepare the sacrament table is included in the authorization of a Priest in the Aaronic priesthood, but not that it is the Priest’s duty to do so if not asked by relevant authority. If there is such a stewardship distinction between rights/authorization and duties, it would be similar to the concept that, while a Bishop who is released is “always a bishop,” following his release he has no such stewardship with respect to the ward of which he had been bishop. I wonder about the scope of that duty to “see that there is no iniquity in the church.” For a Teacher, does it extend to the entire world-wide church? (as in “screaming into the void” — thanks, Carolyn :) ) or only to those to whom he’s assigned as a ministering brother? If the latter, that’s a fairly limited stewardship and there may be ways to attempt it that could be more effective than preaching sinfulness. Jared Cook’s suggestion resonates with me. Maybe there’s a possible scope of stewardship between the world-wide duty and the ministering brother limitation, but I don’t know what it is.

  31. Blake Ostler has done a lot of great work on the centrality of learning to love as God does in the plan of salvation.

  32. “But somehow we’ve shifted ‘calling others to repentance’ as ‘screaming into the void that others are horrifically sinful and that they will be condemned to eternal damnation, hellfire, and ashes unless they grovel before you, the superior person in obedience to strict rules, in acknowledgement of all of their failings that clearly you do not share.'”

    I sometimes wonder if Carolyn and I belong to different churches. That sentiment does not reflect my experience at all. Not generally, anyway.

    The discussion seems to have branched into whether we are each individually required to call specific people to repentance for specific things. I don’t see it that way. The Church as an institution has a responsibility to call the world generally to repentance. Bishops have a responsibility to help individuals through the repentance process. Contrary to Geoff-Aus’s suggestion, I don’t see loving, teaching, and obedience to be in tension, much less conflict, and I certainly don’t “enforcing obedience of others” as part of our responsibility. It’s not a matter of which is more important; it’s a matter of making all of these things work together. I liked Jared Cook’s take.

  33. Love is already written within the Proclamation to the Family. It does not need to be added.

  34. Sorry, I should have written The Family: A Proclamation to the World

  35. I am always grateful for reminders to love.

    I fall so short of the mark so often.

    When I say “I love my brother,” and he says, “I don’t feel loved,” my default reaction is to think I have a really troubled, unreasonable brother who just doesn’t understand what loving must look like.

    But I don’t think that’s how Jesus would suggest I approach the situation. And it took me an embarrassingly long time to arrive at that epiphany.

  36. It’s an interesting discussion here, debating what is love vs counterfeit love (or hate), and also what causes happiness. The discussion makes total sense as OP makes a claim of what it thinks is loving. But is it love?

    It just so happens recently started a multi-part series on just this, discussing the keys of detecting true love versus what claims to be love but actually comes from a place of selfishness: https://lovehavejoy.com/what-is-love/ . It is something I have thought about for many years, and I think the information there is a very valuable addition to this discussion.

  37. The Catholics have a term for this: fraternal correction. If someone is in danger of a mortal sin, it is apparently the duty to point that out to them. That is not scripturally based. Christ pointed this out when he said take the 2×4 out of your own eye before fraternally correcting the guy with the dust speck.

    We make covenants with God. We do NOT make covenants to make sure everyone else keeps theirs.

    I’m a bishop and have learned that those most likely to judge harshly are the ones who really need to take a step back and reflect on their own problems.

  38. GEOFF -AUS says:

    Dsc, I have been refused a TR by a bishop because I would not agree with him that “obedience is the first law of heaven”. I asked for a scripture for that and told him my scriptures said loving God was the first commandment, and the second, loving our fellow man. So I see a totally different understanding of the gospel from people who are obedient first, with a bit of love.
    When you say on this blog “there is ample evidence in scriptures …. that homosexuality is sin” I see this as coming from an obedience mentality, and then you have to try and make it sound like love. Someone above said you are shouting into a void not teaching, or helping. By saying this on a blog, as you do, you are not teaching or helping you are broadcasting your lack of love. Especially on a blog about love. The author of the blog was presenting the view of the gospel which is about love, and where you live the life you think God wants, which is to learn joy by loving, our fellow man, as God does. Can you even understand? Discriminating against gays is not love, any more than discriminating on the basis of race is.
    Sorry I sound like I’m preachy, but you refused to understand when you read the gentle original blog.

  39. GEOFF -AUS says:
  40. Geoff,

    The first law is to love God. If we love God, we keep His commandments. Love and obedience are not in conflict, so it’s not a question of one being above the other.

    I can believe and teach that certain behaviors are sinful without engaging in discrimination.

  41. I listened yesterday to the Sunday morning session of this April’s conference. Our Church leaders are counseling us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ and to focus on gathering Israel. I feel the Latter Day Saints have been given a great work, both as missionaries bringing people to Christ and as worker bees performing needed temple ordinances for the dead.
    While I understand the need to love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, I do not believe gender identity and sexuality can become the centerpiece of our doctrine and focus. I do not think this is mentally and emotionally healthy for LGBTQ people within the Church. Or for that matter for straight people to make their sexuality the focus of their lives. I feel the entire discussion is warping people’s values as everyone hardens their stances, refusing to compromise.
    To me the OP has an edge of ordering people to love, as the author defines love, without considering that God might define it differently. God’s definition of loving His children includes a Judgement Day where many will be brought back into His presence then removed forever. He enforces boundaries because the Celestial world can contain only people who have learned to live within rules. Perhaps we need to remember that and not transform God’s love into a standardless desire for His children to be left to their own devices, choose whatever behavior they wish.

  42. Billy Possum says:

    Jared Cook: Under the theory you articulate above, is the process of assisting others toward repentance a directed one, or do we just love “in all directions” equally? It seems to me that Alma (like all good missionaries) sought out those who needed his message, rather than indiscriminately sharing it with random people. But in order to determine what to say to whom (and unless you’re saying the same thing to everybody), you have to make a judgement of some kind. The OP is proclaiming against judgement, even a little.

    So to me, the question is: How can one be as expansively accepting as the OP suggests while retaining a sense of right and wrong that is not completely relativistic? Try as I might to avoid judgement, I simply cannot bring myself round to relativism.

  43. Freckles says:

    Kate,
    Your response is soulless and horrifying on multiple levels. You say you “understand the need to love our LGBTQ brothers and sisters” – as if this is a burden to love another human being. You frame the OP’s courageous and heartening post as solely a discussion regarding someone’s sexuality. So interesting that you focused only on this.

    Perhaps you missed reading the OP’s other language (among other things):
    About the need to be kinder, more compassionate, more understanding;
    About the importance of raising children with love;
    And about sexism and racism.

    And finally: your point that the Celestial kingdom is only for folks who have “learned to live within rules”. How ugly, and small, and constricted. It is not lost on me that folks who are in the Celestial kingdom have followed the commandments. But it’s also been my understanding that the Celestial kingdom will be filled with people who are the most most loving, caring, and the most forgiving and least judgemental. People who have the greatest charity. In other words, people who are just like the Father and his Son.

  44. Freckles,
    You say “It is not lost on me that folks who are in the Celestial kingdom have followed the commandments.” while simultaneously having a problem with “learned to live within the rules” being “ugly, small, and constricted”.

    In what way do you think those two ideas are different?

    Just because someone uses the word love or compassion, does not mean what they are purporting is truly loving or compassionate. It’s very common to use the word love as a smoke-screen for selfish motives, which means that simply using the words love or compassionate behind whatever principle a person is espousing does not make the proposed principle beyond question.

    For example the principle of tolerance is often abused to hide from the fact that someone doesn’t want to deal with the inherent anxiety of the hard questions. You do you, and I’ll do me, and then I can simply pretend the problem is gone, and bonus because I can now call myself “loving” in the name of tolerance. But in reality it’s just about reducing personal anxiety, and avoiding the personal responsibility that comes with the hard questions. The tough reality that you are your brother’s keeper and have a greater duty than just turning a blind eye and claiming you possess love.

  45. This was a pretty good post. I laud the author for the patience to hold off until the 7th paragraph before finally sharing what was really on their mind…

    I call on other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reconsider their own prejudice…

    …thus contradicting their earlier call to not “promote the rhetoric of ‘us’ and ‘them'”

  46. Freckles, I can only assume you are an immature young person to think it permissible to label Kate’s response as soulless. It is frequently a great burden to love another. If you live long enough, you will encounter many you will need to love and forgive who will require that God personally endow you with charity for you at accomplish that. Try being asked to love the person who kidnapped, raped and murdered your child, then you will understand what a burden loving another can be.
    And I am also rather tired of being lectured about my duties toward those who have suffered a special subset of suffering currently trendy with the political progressives within the Church. Where is your blog post on the sufferings of unemployed coal miners and their families? Are you currently praying daily for your brothers and sisters suffering in North Korea, their children suffering permanent mental retardation when famine strikes? Why no blog post for them? No, all that appears here are posts that match the speeches of Democratic politicians. You have done your duty calling out sin as you see it, never seeing yourself as the uncharitable one.

  47. A few years ago I worked for a woman who for her first wedding anniversary gathered some friends together and visited various churches that were open to the public and without seeking permission, grabbed a side altar or chapel and reenacted her wedding vows. One of the friends acted the part of the minister. When I suggested to her that using the property that belonged to another for her own religious ceremony was inappropriate, she dismissed my objection. She had no patience for those who did not place love as the highest value. Their right to control what ceremony took place within their Church was unimportant when compared to love and its display.
    I, too, have no patience, only mine is with those who want to justify sin, whether adultery or homosexual marriage or ignoring the property rights of another, using love as the excuse. Sexual relations outside a heterosexual marriage constitutes sin, as defined by God. If God chooses to change this commandment, He will notify the prophet, not a blog author. You can label any behavior love, as those who abuse their spouses and children have amply demonstrated while calling violence “loving discipline”.
    And I would never label God’s commandments to each of us to curb our passions and control our behavior as asking our spiritual siblings to be less than themselves. Instead, we are asking them to be their best selves. If they do not wish to do so, they are free, but not to ask us to change our rules so they will not be uncomfortable.

  48. I agree God is not pleased with our failing to build Zion because we are distracted by the things of this world. Which is why our leaders have asked us to focus our energies on redeeming Israel, both here and on the other side of the veil. Last year we added less than two names per Church member to familysearch. Unless a person’s name is entered into the database, their temple work cannot be done and they cannot be redeemed and enter God’s kingdom. Less than two per member, when literally millions of new source records were added, making it almost impossible to not find a new relative to add and for whom we can perform temple service. If you are having trouble finding names, have someone teach you how to use the descendency chart.
    Now the programmers have added Ordinance Ready to literally feed us family names needing our work in the temple. And if we truly have no names of our own, there are currently millions of names on the shared temple list. Are we truly willing to practice charity and learn love? Are we willing to devote time and means to accomplish this great work of love? Do we really believe that we have a great work to perform in order to build Zion prior to the Second Coming? Do we really believe that service for the dead has the ability to save souls? Do we honor the sacrifice our Saviour made by making His work our work?

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