The Myth of “Love = Love” on BYU Campus

Love. It seems like such a simple word, and yet it is being twisted and transformed on the campus of BYU-Provo. Some people are taking the idea of loving others and equating it with advocating for sinful behavior because it allegedly makes people happy. They say that people just want to love who they want to love, and nothing should get in their way. They want others to show love for them by supporting and affirming their choices. They carry signs that say “Love = Love” and “Discipleship = Allyship.”

After watching the recent events surrounding the BYU Honor Code changes (where nothing actually changed), it has become necessary to make one point clear: All love is not created equal.

The Savior taught the true order of love during his earthly ministry. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39). And how do we show our love of God? Jesus explained that as well. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The first and second commandments were put in this order for a reason. Our Father in Heaven comes first. When we practice the second commandment, it must be aligned with the first. If we express love for our neighbor in a way that violates our commitment to love God by obeying his commandments, we are off course and need to correct.

A Divided Campus

What is the end goal of the protesting students? It seems they had a moment where they believed the school (and by extension, the Church) was now approving of students engaging in same-sex romantic behavior like holding hands, kissing, and dating. When a statement was issued clarifying that same-sex romantic behavior is not compatible with Honor Code principles, many became upset.

Protesters began gathering and demanding gay rights on the campus of BYU. They don’t want to have to hide what they believe to be their true identity and seem to think that rallies and speeches will change the laws of God. I can’t help but wonder why this issue, in particular, has sparked such an outcry. There are no rallies held to repeal the Word of Wisdom. No one is protesting the tithing percentage. We accept those things as the mind and will of God and faithfully comply. Why is marriage between a man and a woman (and the act of dating which precedes marriage) not met with the same acceptance?

The Doctrine of the Family

A policy change like the one these students are seeking would mean a complete change in the Lord’s doctrine. His purpose is to bring about the eternal life of all of God’s children. He wants us all to return to the Father’s presence in the highest degree of glory, which can only happen with a celestial marriage. President Nelson has taught that our “exaltation is a family matter.” Sister Julie Beck helped us further understand this principle:

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a theology of the family that is based on the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement. The Creation of the earth provided a place where families could live. God created a man and a woman who were the two essential halves of a family. It was part of Heavenly Father’s plan that Adam and Eve be sealed and form an eternal family.

The Fall provided a way for the family to grow. Adam and Eve were family leaders who chose to have a mortal experience. The Fall made it possible for them to have sons and daughters.

The Atonement allows for the family to be sealed together eternally. It allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection. The plan of happiness, also called the plan of salvation, was a plan created for families. The rising generation need to understand that the main pillars of our theology are centered in the family.

The family means everything in the gospel! The Lord’s definition of family is a man and a woman lawfully married as husband and wife. They then create a home where the Father’s spirit children can come and fulfill their earthly purpose. We are commanded to multiply and replenish the earth, and we are promised joy in our posterity.

Wanting a relationship that cannot produce children and that cannot continue beyond this life and into eternity is to have a limited, finite view of our potential and purpose. Our Father in Heaven has an infinite and eternal view and wants so much more for us! He will not lower his standards at our request, and we should be forever grateful that He loves us enough to show us a better way. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “God’s love is so perfect that He lovingly requires us to obey His commandments because He knows that only through obedience to His laws can we become perfect, as He is.”

Avoiding Contention

Some students held signs with scripture references on them, such as 4 Nephi 1:15 which reads, “And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people.” Yes, we seek to eliminate contention and achieve a state of peace and harmony. Yes, we seek unity in the Church, but this unity must be based upon eternal truth. What good is unity if we’re unified against the Lord’s doctrine? Elder Oaks taught, “Even as we seek to be meek and to avoid contention, we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand. We must not surrender our positions or our values.”

There will always be a line between the commandments of God and the ways of the world, and in the last days, that line is more like a deep and ever-widening ravine. The only question is on which side of the line we will stand.

Love Does Not Equal Advocacy

Much has been taught by the Brethren about how to balance truth and tolerance. It is possible to love someone and care about them and their challenges without advocating for behavior inconsistent with gospel principles. We know people experience same-sex attraction. It is part of a long list of trials that the children of God face in mortality. We don’t enable other behavior that goes against God’s commandments, and we can’t do so here simply to align with the values of society and make everyone comfortable. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

Sadly enough, my young friends, it is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds. Talk about man creating God in his own image!…

Jesus clearly understood what many in our modern culture seem to forget: that there is a crucial difference between the commandment to forgive sin (which He had an infinite capacity to do) and the warning against condoning it (which He never ever did even once).

Choose to Be an Ally of Gospel Principles

A popular phrase we hear today is being an LGBT ally. Instead of being an ally for a particular group of people, should we not choose to be an ally of our Savior and all of his teachings? It is not bigotry to believe in the Lord’s doctrine of the family. We can love all people and respect their individual agency while holding firm to gospel teachings on gender, marriage, and relationships.

I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ and his doctrine. I choose to be an ally for eternal principles. That is what I advocate for. I stand with President Nelson and the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every day in my profession, I see how the adversary is trying with all his might to lead the faithful away from Jesus Christ, especially the rising generation. Our only safety comes in following the Savior and his prophet.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants we have made inevitably cast us as combatants in the eternal contest between truth and error. There is no middle ground in that contest.” –Dallin H. Oaks

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About Stephanie Gifford

I love having the opportunity to write for Latter-day Saint Women Stand! It is exciting to live at this time and be able to participate in the Gathering of Israel. There are many issues that need attention as we seek to bring people closer to the Savior. Two issues that I am particularly drawn to are defending religious freedom and protecting families and youth from the plague of pornography. I am married to my amazing husband, Jared, and we have a wonderful teenage daughter.

12 thoughts on “The Myth of “Love = Love” on BYU Campus

  1. Glen Danielsen

    Sisters of faithful flame! Thanks so much for this important article. Another excellent article of same theme is Ralph Hancock’s ‘Love Wins, Charity Loses.’ God bless you! 😊💛

    Reply
  2. Tim

    My social media feed has been filled with calls to “mourn with those who morn” about this change. They say that even if I am not personally impacted by their grief at what they saw as a sudden acceptance of their desired lifestyle and then reversal, that I should feel their pain.

    And they are right, I do feel their pain and morn for them. But I can not mourn with them in all honesty for two reasons.

    First, because their sorrow is not to repentance. Mormon 2:11-14 reads:
    “Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi. And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people. But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die.”

    The sorrow we see is “because the Lord would not…suffer them to take happiness in sin.”

    The second reason I cannot feel sorrow for this decision is because this policy has blessed my life personally. When I was a little boy I was molested by a gay teenagers living next door. He told me because of what he did to me that I must be gay too. For years I kept that inside and felt intense shame. And, weather as a result of this abuse or from other factors, I did experience same sex attraction that waxed and waned over time. At one particular time when I was at BYU-Idaho I had just broken up with a girlfriend, and was feeling really low. I had a friend who confessed to me that he was gay, and I told him that I too felt attracted to guys. He tried to talk me into “doing stuff with him, but not anything I wouldn’t do with a girl and still keep my temple recommend”. He said that the only way to resolve my same sex attraction was to experiment and see if I was gay, bi or straight. He said that is why my relationships with girls had never worked out, because I had this thought hanging over my head. And on and on. He had me almost convinced, except for one thing – the Honor Code rule against homosexual behavior. So I turned him down eventually. Later I got professional counseling for the abuse that I had suffered years before, met and married a wonderful woman, and permanently gave up using pornography, and now I rarely ever feel any attraction towards men. To the world I am probably just a repressed bisexual, but I know that I am a beloved son of God, and I am grateful for the attraction he has given me for my wife and for the eternal family we are creating.

    So, I have been directly blessed by this policy. I have a hard won testimony of the sacred nature of marriage according to God’s laws, and I really believe that I wouldn’t have these blessings if I had gone down the different path my friend suggested, and I may have followed him out of the church if nothing else.

    And I want to add, what about my pain? And the pain of others who see sacred doctrines and holy covenants and tender testimonies mocked, derided and held up for scorn. I too am mourning, but I wonder who will mourn with me?

    Reply
    1. Rebecca

      This article and your response are both beautifully stated. I have often thought about people like you who have faced this trial and are working so hard to follow our Savior and keep his commandments. Bless you for your faith and courage!

      Reply
    2. Jenny

      Thank You for describing a common theme in the gay community. Your valiant testimony stands as truth Brother .

      Reply
    3. Pat Vassilaros

      Thank you Tim! You have taught me the truth of how to respond. I love them, but I cannot mourn with them because they have not mourned unto repentance.

      Reply
    4. Jennifer Alvey

      Thank you for sharing your path and perspective! Your words were a beautiful reminder of “why” safeguards such as the Honor Code exist, how our identity as children of God supersedes earthly identities, and the beauty of the Atonement to enable us to heal and have hope to overcome (including my own challenges in my life). Thank you for strengthening me this morning by your words.

      Reply
  3. Laura

    Thank you for being a voice of sanity! “It is not bigotry to believe in the Lord’s doctrine of the family” Yes! Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Shelley

    Excellent article! You eloquently and accurately expressed the feelings in my own heart.. I stand with eternal doctrine and true principles as I love my neighbor.

    Reply
  5. A.

    This is a must-read for all members! Standing ovation for your clear and thoughtful post. Everything you said here is backed up by prophets and apostles–everything. They have been extremely bold in declaring truth on matters of sexuality, and yet for some reason the rising generation have not been taught this in their homes, at church or even on their missions. The LGBT drumbeat of the world is so great and we need to be louder and stronger than the world in standing for eternal standards. Thank you for taking the time to write this post–I know how hard it can be to get it “just right” and you nailed it.

    Final thoughts from President Nelson (Teach Us Tolerance and Love):

    “In latter days, devoted disciples of the Lord are just as firm. Real love for the sinner may compel courageous confrontation—not acquiescence! Real love does not support self-destructing behavior.”

    Reply
  6. Mark

    Good article. What I find most interesting is that there was no “change” in policy, doctrine, or rules at all. The language in the Honor Code was modified to be more consistent with the recent changes to the Handbook.

    Before the language was updated, same sex romantic behavior was not in keeping with the Honor Code. After the language was updated, same sex romantic behavior was not in keeping with the Honor Code.

    The only issue seems to be some people believed that the change in language was tantamount to a change in church doctrine. Some BYU employees got on board and encouraged this misunderstanding.

    Sad that this revealed the animosity and rebellion of so many on the BYU campus. If the desire to engage in same sex romantic behavior is an essential element of their “authentic” self, and they are unwilling to live by the unchanging standard set forth in the Honor Code, then they should be honest with themselves and others and have enough integrity to leave BYU.

    Reply

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