“Is Divine Love “unconditional”?: Grappling with a 20-year-old LDS doctrinal conundrum”

Ever since LDS Apostle (not-yet-President) Russell M. Nelson’s “Divine Love” talk appeared in the Ensign magazine way back in 2003, the question of whether God “unconditionally loves” his children has been a “hot topic” in LDS doctrinal conversation. This is deeply unfortunate, for the subject shouldn’t be controversial. Alas, the way the topic of “divine love” is portrayed in that talk has caused immense confusion, primarily among two groups of people — those who feel deeply perplexed, even damaged by it, and those who engage in (usually) knee-jerk defenses of it. I recognize the desire of many LDS to locate the source of the confusion outside the talk, rather than within it. Unfortunately, this desire, while well-meaning, is misplaced. The fault lies primarily in the talk itself, I will argue, not in the interpreters who are misinterpreting it (though I grant that many are indeed misinterpreting its intended meaning).

I have seen a lot of people — primarily LDS bloggers and denizens of social media — attempt to pinpoint or describe the nature of the talk’s problem over the years, but I think most of them get it wrong. Here is my take on what “getting it right” looks like:

In modern English, the word “love” refers to a type of emotion.

“I love my wife”.
“I love my children.”
“I love my dog.”
“I love my car.”
“I love God.”

In each of these sentences, the word “love” refers to a deeply-felt emotional state, a posture of care, concern, attachment or regard directed toward another person or thing. To be sure, the precise meaning of the word “love” is not identical in each sentence (or at least it hopefully isn’t). But each of the meanings of “love” here is a species of deeply-felt emotion.

In ancient scripture that has been translated into English, however, the word “love” doesn’t typically refer to an emotion. When it talks about “love,” especially “divine love,” ancient scripture is usually talking about something else, something that would be better translated into modern English as “covenantal loyalty” (to use Ben Spackman’s preferred term), or in other words, “the duty to respond to others in a particular way pursuant to the covenant one has entered into with them.” And yes, scripture absolutely does talk about this “love” as if it’s conditional. (If you don’t believe me, look at the scriptures Elder Nelson cited in his talk. Some of them are quite explicit on this point).

Virtually all modern English speakers — secular or religious, Christian or non-Christian, LDS or non-LDS, LDS rank-and-file or LDS leadership — tend to use the word in the former “emotion” sense, regardless of the object of their “love” (again, whether they’re talking about their spouse, their children, their dog, their car, or God). But the scriptures — in particular the scriptures President Nelson cites in his divine love talk — are using it in the latter “covenantal loyalty” sense. Unfortunately, President Nelson didn’t seem to realize this. So he cited scriptures that were talking about “love” (and its conditionality) in the latter sense, and then tried to argue that we need to modify our modern discourse about “love” accordingly, even though nowadays we only really use that word in the former sense.

You can’t take a scripture about one concept and apply it to a completely different concept, just because the two concepts happen to go by the same word in English. If they’re different concepts, they’re different concepts.

Because the problem President Nelson was trying to address — that too many modern believers think that God “loving” them means He’s indifferent to their behavior — relates to confusion about the meaning of the noun/verb “love,” President Nelson’s focus on the adjective “unconditional” seems misplaced. Who cares that the word “unconditional” doesn’t appear in the scriptures? That may be true, but so what? To harp on that is to misdiagnose the problem President Nelson was trying to solve, the problem of thinking that God doesn’t care how his children behave. In fact, in some ways he made the problem worse, because rather than getting people to recognize that “love” doesn’t necessarily mean “approval” of bad behavior, he implicitly suggests that it does mean “approval,” since he talks about “love” being “conditional” …. on avoiding bad behavior.

Here is what President Nelson should have said: “Yes, God unconditionally loves you. But he doesn’t unconditionally approve of your behavior, or unconditionally bless you.”

See how easy that was? See how clear it is? It’s completely accurate doctrinally, and it is unlikely to confuse anyone. Problem solved.

Anyway, this is the fundamental crux of the problem with Elder Nelson’s talk, I think. And the source of virtually all the confusion that has arisen from it over the past 20 years. If President Nelson had just asked one question while reading certain scriptural passages — “What does the word “love” mean in these passages, and how does that meaning relate to the meaning of the word “love” as used in modern English?” — he likely would’ve approached his talk differently, and the LDS membership, especially its “chattering class,” would be having very different conversations today. And many devout, believing LDS wouldn’t be wondering if God really “loves” them, even when they misbehave.


  1. A Non-E Mous says:

    This type of confusion – common definition of a word versus a specific, technical definition – is common.

    The more prominent example I can think of is the word “racist” or “racism.” The common meaning of that term for decades had been essentially “feelings of superiority or inferiority based on an individual’s race”. Social science academics began re-defining the term to encompass a far broader swath of behavior and outcomes. So over and over again you see people on Facebook cross-wise over whether something is racist because people have begun invoking the social science usage of the term to say something or someone is racist; the reader hears a far more pointed accusation then what the writer intends.

    That’s why I’ve found it’s generally good to just drop labels and talk substance.

  2. Yes, and, may we now turn our attention to the weightier matters? Such as whether modern LDS thinkers have missed something important in turning the whole gospel transactional? If we turn the infamous couplet into Love the sinner but don’t approve or bless them, have we lost something of the essential Christian message?

    Answering for myself, God and God’s love is bigger than that. Increasingly I feel that understanding divides me from 21st century Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint-ism.

  3. lastlemming says:

    In Elders Quorum yesterday, we covered Elder Christofferson’s October talk “The Love of God.” After trying to defend the “conditional love” concept in a previous talk, he was more careful this time, following an approach pretty close to what you suggest:

    Because God’s love is all-embracing, some speak of it as “unconditional,” and in their minds they may project that thought to mean that God’s blessings are “unconditional” and that salvation is “unconditional.” They are not. Some are wont to say, “The Savior loves me just as I am,” and that is certainly true. But He cannot take any of us into His kingdom just as we are, “for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence.” Our sins must first be resolved.

  4. Interesting topic but can it be reviewed on here without “we’ll actually” tone and audacity to direct what the Prophet should say?

  5. Daniel Ortner says:

    As I explore in this blog post, I think that President Nelson was responding to a notion of “unconditional love” which rose in popularity in the 1980’s and 1990’s and describes an approach of complete and affirmation without challenging one’s choices or decisions. God’s love is clearly not unconditinal in this sense. I think that is why President Nelson emphasizes that God’s love is “infinite,” “enduring,” and “universal” but not “unconditional.”


  6. “that too many modern believers think that God “loving” them means He’s indifferent to their behavior ”

    Does any modern believer think this? Who is Nelson trying to correct?

    it seems to me that the problem is that Nelson confuses “X isn’t a sin” with “X is a sin but God doesn’t care if I do it because He loves me”–where X is being gay.

  7. I read God’s unconditional love as the big picture of the Abrahamic covenant, and God’s intention to bring the human family home. When he “cuts the covenant” with Abraham, it is only God’s presence that goes down the aisle, between the halved animal carcasses. To me (and I could be wrong or simplistic), when I read that this time, it was like God was saying “if you are interested in this at all, I will make it happen. Just give me your hand in some way in your life.” I think of God’s love as unconditional in both emotion and covenant. it brings forth better results in me and it has improved relationships when I have approached family and friends in the same way. And I really liked this piece – thanks.

  8. Loyd, I think there *are* modern Christians (LDS or otherwise) who do seem to believe this, judging by how they talk. Certainly there is a lazy, flippant way of bringing up God’s love in the wider culture that seems to conflate “love” and “approval.” So President Nelson isn’t inventing an imaginary problem, I don’t think.

    But I’m not sure how widespread this problem is, and more importantly, I’m not convinced that the genesis of the confusion lies in the use of phrases like “unconditional love”. I can certainly see the argument for how that phrase *might* generate confusion, but I’m not persuaded that it’s all that big an issue. If I think God’s “unconditional love” means that God doesn’t care if I sin, I’m misunderstanding what “love” means. Whether or not I use the adjective “unconditional” to describe that love seems largely beside the point.

    Aaron B

  9. A non e mouse,

    I agree with much of what you say. I often dislike “racism” debates for this same reason, and would prefer that everyone specify what they mean rather than falling back on vague terms with disputed meanings. However, in this case we aren’t really talking about common vs technical definitions. We’re talking about old vs. new concepts.

    If biblical translators had used a different word than “love” for a certain concept in certain verses when they translated the Bible into English, we wouldn’t be having any of these conversations.

    Aaron B

  10. Kristine says:

    Loyd, that makes sense as a reading *now*–I’m less certain it makes sense in the context of that talk in 2003. It’s not clear to me that that talk is aimed at the queer community, it certainly isn’t explicitly so, though it’s easy in hindsight to see how it can be weaponized in that way.

  11. Aaron B, are there really LDSaints talking like this? And significantly enough to warrant a public talk against it? That just seems more like strawmen and windmills to be fighting up against.

    Kristine, you are probably right–thought 2003 was just a year before Utah had its Amendment 3 on the ballot, and so this was definitely a significant part of the public discourse at the time.

  12. Aaron B.’s argument comes close to working, but it falls a little short over the definition of love. As we commonly use the word today, love can’t be reduced to an emotional state, no matter how deeply felt. The question about unconditional love is more difficult than that.

    It’s possible to speak of love as a feeling, and the emotion is, I think, always an essential part of what we mean. But most of the time when we talk about love we mean something more than that. Love necessarily entails commitment, persistence and long-suffering that go beyond emotion. One way to think about this is that love, if considered exclusively as emotion, is entirely focused on the experience of the one who has the emotion. That concept does not go very far for the person who is, allegedly, “loved.” To be meaningful, love must include a bond that only comes from sacrifice. To feel loved, I must understand that something is legitimately at stake in my connection to another person.

    The willingness to suffer with another person is an essential element of love. When we love each other, we accept that we will make mistakes; as humans that is who we are, and we cannot love without accepting the fullness of the other person’s being, taking the bad with the good. Anyone who has loved understands this. By experience, we also learn that we fail to love perfectly when we can’t understand the other person or we can’t withstand the demands of suffering together. What makes God’s love divine is God’s willingness to go all the way, to keep seeing us as we are and suffering with us no matter how desperate we may be, no matter how much we may mess things up, no matter how badly others may misperceive us. That is unconditional love.

    Please note that this long-suffering has nothing to do with letting people off the hook for bad choices. It’s a mistake to talk about it in those terms, even if you’re trying to debunk the idea of permissive love. Any discussion that touches on the idea that “God loves us, but . . .” is already bound to fail. The only discussion that ever works omits the “but.”

    And with that last thought, let me say how much I appreciate christiankimball’s comment. “God loves us, but . . .” reeks of transactional assumptions about God that lead nowhere good.

  13. Mother of a gay child says:

    I think Loyd Ericson has it right. President Nelson is thinking that “of course everyone KNOWS that homosexual behavior is a sin.” And therefore those who are getting gay married and thinking God still loves them are thinking that God is perfectly alright that they go ahead and sin. He then thinks they need a lecture that God’s love is not unconditional. He is missing that they feel #1 that being Gay is alright with God. They know that they were born as gay people, therefore God made them gay. This is where gay people take a different turn in their thinking than He does.

    So, to trace his thinking. he mentally rejects that God is fine that they are gay people and thinks (maybe unconsciously) they should struggle to be straight, or just wait until they are resurrected as straight people. Then he goes a step further to think that they know, like he does, that gay behavior is a sin. And a third step to assume that they think that because God doesn’t condemn them for living their life as God made them, that they are attributing this to God’s love for them being unconditional.

    But he takes a different turn in his thinking than what Gay people take, way back at “born this way.” They do not want to wait until the next life to live. They want to live and find happiness now, in this life, and they believe that since God made them gay, that Gods going to be alright with them finding love and happiness, now, in this life, rather than living a life of loneliness now, in the hope that God will resurrect them straight, make them so they love the opposite sex, and reward them plentifully for them sacrificing their happiness during the mortal probation. To them, God is not going to ask them to make that big of a sacrifice on the off chance that the church is correct, why take that huge of a risk. As Boyd K Packer said and then had deleted out of the published version of his talk, “why would God do that to anybody?” Even Boyd K Packer could see how incredibly unbelievable that is. So, since God made them that way, God is fine with them having the same opportunities at love and happiness in this life as straights, therefore Gay behavior is not a sin. Therefore, they are not expecting God to accept sinful behavior and still bless and approve of them.

    I am sorry if people feel like I have spelled this out like I think some people are idiots, but I guess they are correct that I think some people are idiots, or at least not willing to look at their underlying assumptions.

  14. Mother of a gay child: Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

  15. @kristine maybe he wasn’t aiming his 2003 talk at gay people but he expressed the same concept in 2019 in a talk that *was* definitely about that issue (as he was explaining the reasoning being the POX and reversal). The Love and Laws of God BYU devotional.

    Also, I don’t really think church leaders are taking their cues from scripture. They have a belief / dogma about God and God’s love, with a lot of their own religious and familial trauma and biases baked in, and then they proof text it with verses. See, eg, the entire CFM curriculum, much of which has lessons that totally twist the meaning of the scriptures they claim to be based on.

  16. stephenchardy says:

    “But [God] doesn’t unconditionally approve of your behavior, or unconditionally bless you.”

    Really? God doesn’t unconditionally bless me? Can you review with me with nature of the resurrection? Can we discuss the atonement in some detail here? God has provided the atonement because God is good, not because we are. We don’t deserve it; didn’t earn it; you didn’t earn it and I didn’t either. It is provided to us in a universal way.

    Please don’t claim that God doesn’t unconditionally bless us. If President Nelson taught or meant this he doesn’t have faith in the Savior.

    You’re right. That was easy!

  17. Loyd–it’s for sure part of his thinking then; not only was it not long before Utah’s DOMA, but it was almost 10 years after Hawaii and 3 years after California’s Prop 22. So he’s not NOT thinking about it; I’m just not sure that’s the primary motivation. I think lots of people have made that application of it, though, so this is mostly just nitpicky.

  18. This analysis is very beneficial as I try to expand my understanding of scripture and rectify it with teachings from the Q15.

    It seems to me that the lack of understanding of the original phrase highlights one of the downsides of Latter Day Saint clergy coming from fields other than ancient languages or theology. Similar to the “Let God prevail” rhetoric. Perhaps we’d be better suited in the age we’re in now with the abundance of translation and technology, to rely more on researched analysis from academic, linguistic experts when making sweeping claims about scripture especially those dealing with God’s love.

  19. Mother of a gay child says:

    Kristine, Gay has been around and the GAs have been aware of it LONG before 2003. Let’s go back to the 1960-70s when BYU was doing electroshock therapy to “cure” the gay (add the right touch of horror, because the “disease” just had to be worse than the “cure” they were trying to use to fix it) I know because I was in high school just across the street from the old field house and we had a lesson in our psychology class where we talked about how the cure could not work with in born behavior. Then my very close friend and I ditched our normal lunch crowd because he needed to talk to someone less Molly Mormon than most of our crew. We talked about how if the behavior is inborn (because all the scientific evidence said it was) that not only will applying electrodes to a man’s genitals and shocking him if he gets aroused by dirty pictures of men not fix the feelings of attraction, how can the church say inborn feelings are a sin. I figured out during that conversation that my friend was gay, but he never admitted it.

    President Oaks claims now that electroshock therapy was not going on during his time as president of BYU, but he is mistaken because it had not ended by then.

  20. I like the formulation of what President Nelson should have said, in part because it tracks with John 3:16, the most famous articulation of God’s love in scripture. God loves the world, all of us, and His son, Jesus Christ, is the most profound manifestation of that love. But God’s plan to save the world contemplates, that a smaller subset, those who believe in Him (the Son) will be saved. This is not a limit on God’s love, nor does it render that love conditional.

  21. tannerdurant says:

    Hey Daniel, great find with the Nauvoo Neighbor. I’ve been studying a little a blog called Uncommon Devotion, by Sean Langdon, a Reorganized Seventy. Nate Givens’ blog looks great too. Happy Purim, coming up. :)

  22. @MDS, how is not conditional love to say, “I love you because you’re my kid, but I will only let you back into my presence if you do x, y, and z. Oh and you can also only be with your loved ones if you do a, b, and c, no matter how well you treat them.”

    Perhaps God still *feels* love for us and in that sense it is not conditional, but if I told my kid that I feel love for them but will only want to see them if they do the right things, or predicated something of great value on their checking some boxes, I would consider that pretty conditional.

    Like @Christian commented, we’ve created a God of Requirements when the whole message of Jesus was that God is not a God of Requirements.

  23. Kristine says:

    Mother of a gay child,

    Yes, I’m well aware of this history.

  24. Respectfully, you are completely missing the key ‘love’ debate in the church today (or at least between my wife and daughters), which is whether Clayton can be in love with Gabby, Rachel and Susie at the same time.

  25. M.o.G.C. says:

    Kristine, I misread what you said above. My brain somehow skipped over that second “not”. And after you tried to emphasize it. I get you now. And I agree with you that he may well be applying it to other things *also*.

  26. Theology 101 says:

    God’s love, blessing, and covenant loyalty are all unconditional. To say any of them are conditional is to place limits upon God and to make God dependent upon humans.

  27. Edward Whitley says:

    43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    In Matthew 5 Jesus presents a radical vision of a generous and loving God who continues to give the gifts of light and water to those who curse, hate, and despitefully use him–to those who are evil and unjust. Jesus invites us not only to be the children of this God, but to become like him. This God is not content to only love those who love him, or to salute those who salute him. The new covenant that Jesus introduces in the Sermon on the Mount is a God who is absurdly and ridiculously generous with his love.

    But shouldn’t I keep the commandments? Shouldn’t I honor my covenants? Sure. There are lots of great reasons to keep commandments and honor covenants. But first, accept Jesus’s invitation to dwell in a space of God’s generous love as the sun and rain bless your life regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. Then you can go keep the commandments and honor your covenants.

  28. Kristine says:

    MoGC, it was a clunky phrasing–sorry! I think we are in agreement on the substance.

  29. Theology 101, I don’t know where you are coming from, but at its core, LDS theology does posit a finite God, and that humanity is not contingent, but necessary, due to our eternal nature. But that’s not a part of the conversation in this post, so I will just leave it there for now.

  30. Thank you, Edward Whitley.

  31. Connected at the margin and up for discussion with regard to unconditional love.
    Gospel topic on Hell:

    Those who choose not to repent but who are not sons of perdition will remain in spirit prison until the end of the Millennium, when they will be freed from hell and punishment and be resurrected to a telestial glory (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:81–85).

    Those who are not redeemed by the Atonement are in outer darkness, which is the dwelling place of the devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–38; 76:28–33). Sons of perdition are those who receive “no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:34–35; see also Doctrine and Covenants 76:31–33, 36–37). Such individuals will not inherit a place in any kingdom of glory; for them the conditions of hell remain

    Those who refuse to repent, but aren’t perdition will be resurrected, but it’s interesting the gospel topic dances around the issue of whether they will be resurrected or not. I’m surprised it doesn’t clearly say that all will be resurrected at some point even the sons of perdition.

    There are many quotes stating they will be resurrected, but just reading this Hell topic alone you’d assume they aren’t. As the last resurrection at the end of the millennium is said to exclude them based on the topic entry.

    So, I suppose, someone could make a case that the atonement is the ultimate expression of the love of God the fact that all will be resurrected reveals his love for all. But *if* sons of perdition aren’t resurrected, it might suggest that love is conditional on not being a son of perdition.

    That being said, the resurrection is said to be a free gift, given in the same spirit of love all the same. If a son of perdition choses to deny that gift, and remain in outer darkness, that’s on them.

    But the scriptures say of them, “They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity;”

    I’m not sure that comport with “unconditional love” but your mileage my vary.

  32. ” Let’s go back to the 1960-70s when BYU was doing electroshock therapy”

    This might be pedantic, but there is a difference between a grad-student doing research to test a question on a small group of willing volunteer participants (which was very much being researched at the time) and “BYU doing therapy”.

    It’s definitely not pedantic if the person making that quote seems to be using to to tar the BYU itself as actively engaging in try to “convert” gay people with paintful therapy — which by the way was not attached to genitals, but the bicep. There is a world of difference in the imagery connoted with your misrepresentations — a shock to the arm by a grade student with 14 willing volunteers and “BYU doing shock therapy on gay people’s genitals”.

    One is accurate, the other sounds like the kind of stuff an anti Mormon would write about Danites and blood atonement, but only on a new topic.

    All that said, at the time, I’m sure this aversion psycho-therapy was an “interesting” field, but it seems reprehensible to me. You make people stronger by making them stronger with true principles and consistent behavior not by feeding them cigarettes until they vomit or gay porn until they cry, or straight porn until they smile. This is the problem in general with a lot of cutting edge psychology, it’s not a question of “BYU doing therapy”, but scientific study and manipulation of human behavior is very questionable, especially if not done with absolute humility and respect for the individual. Which is often not the case. I’m not at all surprised a BYU student, and a professor or two would make a mistake on this question.

    There are likely similar mistakes happening now in other areas. That’s not “BYU doing therapy” though.

  33. Jesse Stricklan says:

    Might I make an addendum? Ironically, there is a scripture directly on this issue, which, to my mind, renders the whole discussion a little moot. Matthew 5 (and Luke 6 and 3 Ne. 16) has Jesus teaching us that (A) God DOES bless indiscriminately, and (B) that we are to do the same:

    43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

    48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

    While we should not expect joy out of sin — wickedness never was happiness — God does, in fact love us unconditionally, both by desiring us to be happy and by sending us blessings. The question is not whether God loves us, but whether we will love ourselves and others by imitating God and bringing more goodness into the world. This is the core teaching of Alma the Younger, in fact, in his several meditations on the subject of sin, hell, repentance, and joy, along with (of course) Paul, particularly in Romans.

    The whole question of whether God’s love is conditional, whatever the definition, seems to me to be looking beyond the mark — or, more accurately, we the lawyers (of the religious rules) willing to justify ourselves by defining neighbors more narrowly that Jesus himself would warrant.

  34. @sute, I imagine that the gay folks who endured electroshock and other conversion therapy at BYU during Oaks’ tenure would indeed find that distinction “pedantic” and irrelevant.

    DHO seems to be channeling Bill Clinton (“depends on what you mean by ‘is'”) if that’s how he’s justifying the claim that electroshock therapy wasn’t happening at BYU while he was president.


  35. Kristine says:

    sute–for a while the Honor Code Office did actually recommend that “therapy” to people. They stopped a little while before Oaks became University President, although the “experiment” continued off campus with faculty and students. In a very technical sense, it is correct both to say that BYU did it and that BYU wasn’t doing it while Oaks was President. As Elisa points out, it’s a distinction without a difference (except, probably, to lawyers).

  36. Mother of gay child says:

    If the honor code people catch you holding hands with someone of the same gender and “recommend” you go to treatment at an off campus place that has BYU professors overseeing “experiments” and if you fail to comply with the honor code “recommendation” you got expelled from BYU. That pretty much translates to BYU doing it.

    Second point, when I was in high school in the 1960s my text book said that such treatment had been proven ineffective. So, in the 1970s, BYU was “experimenting” with a therapy that had already been proven ineffective enough times to make it into the textbooks for high school. So, if I learned that in high school, what the heck was BYU doing still experimenting with it. Their accreditation should have been pulled for allowing such experiments, even if it was students doing them. And no way were the students doing this without some credit given by BYU and supervised by the professors. So, No matter where the electrodes were placed, it was an improper experiment. They were experimenting in an already failed treatment. It had failed multiple times, been peer reviewed, and out in scientific journals, then finally into textbooks. Yeah, my high school teacher probably zeroed in on it because he was upset that BYU was doing it, across the street. Which is why I remember it so clearly 50 years later.

  37. Is there a good source to read about on conversion therapy at BYU? I know it happened….but I was just wondering about the history/length of time/church involvement.

  38. Aussie Mormon says:

    Marc, you can look at a summary of where the McBride research (which is the main one that is generally talked about) sits in the field at https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Aversion-Version-1.1.pdf (BYU specific stuff starts on page 38)

  39. Interesting semantic points. It’s unclear if they are based on actual translation or speculative meaning. In either case they reinforce the flaws of Elder/President Nelson’s fundamental and scripturally refuted belief salvation depends on low quality, but high visibility rule-following. President Nelson’s Covenant Path™ is also a phrase absent from Christ’s ministry.

    Nelson’s talk conflates salvation with his view of divine love. Those sufficiently rule following will be saved and blessed, and everyone else is punished. It’s a familiar message in the Bible. The clerics of Christ’s time used that message to justify crucifying Him.

    Christ habitually broke the religious law to both demonstrate it’s lack of worth and complete unimportance to conversion and devotion. As religious leaders in his time focused of public signals and boundary maintenance against adherents to reinforce the institutions of faith Christ showed neither actually matter.

    President Nelson has seemingly always been focused on the institutions of Mormonism. One of his other boundary maintenance initiatives made that last statement one that carves me out from “the faithful” despite having no bearing at all on salvation.

    While that type of boundary maintenance does recommit and invigorate ultra-orthodox people it does so through exclusion. Claiming that all blessings or punishment in life and after are the result of our devotion to rules also renews the gospel of plenty christianity scriptures from Job to Matthew contradict.

  40. ushallbcot says:

    YS, so you do expect to be taken as a Looney Toons extremely aggressive gunslinging outlaw, or a cowboy with a hair-trigger temper and an intense hatred of rabbits who does like to read?

  41. Omg. You people are soooo obsessed with the gays. Just leave us alone and get over with your darn selves!

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