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.”
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