How can Latter-day Saints balance the competing demands of love and law by following gospel law in their personal lives and simultaneously showing love for those who do not?
“To balance our commitments to love and law we must continually show love even as we continually honor and keep the commandments,” said President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a devotional Tuesday at Brigham Young University–Idaho. “We must strive to preserve precious relationships and at the same time not compromise our responsibilities to be obedient to and supportive of gospel law. Parents should follow the gospel command to teach their children ‘to walk uprightly before the Lord’ (Doctrine and Covenants 68:28) and also teach them to continue to love those who don’t do this.”
Speaking Tuesday to some 15,000 students in the BYU–Idaho Center, President Oaks reiterated many points he made in a 2009 general conference talk called “Love and Law.” He encouraged students (most of whom would have been too young to remember his 2009 talk) to not sever family relationships or avoid contact with those who live differently than they do.
“We must not only keep the commandments but also be examples of civility in our own circles of love and beyond,” President Oaks said. “We should reach out in approval and love to recognize the good in all people. … As followers of Christ, we should seek to live peaceably and lovingly with other children of God who do not share our values and do not have the covenant obligations we have assumed. In a democratic government we should seek ‘fairness for all.’ That is how we follow the teaching to be in the world but not of the world.”
Because this balance will look a little different for everyone, President Oaks said personal inspiration is a must — especially for parents. “The best principle is to seek the inspiration of the Lord,” he said. “There is no part of parental action that is more needful of heavenly guidance or more likely to receive it than the decisions of parents in raising their children and governing their families. That is the work of eternity.”
President Oaks reminded students that all men and women are spiritual brothers and sisters created by God. He said a correct understanding of our relationship with God can help us improve our relationships with each other and make the world a much better place.
“What a powerful idea!” President Oaks said. “No wonder God’s Only Begotten Son commanded us to love one another. If only we would do so! What a different world it would be if brotherly and sisterly love and unselfish assistance could transcend all boundaries of nation, creed, and color. Such love would not erase all differences of opinion and action, but it would encourage each of us to focus our opposition on inappropriate actions rather than on actors. By doing so we can follow Jesus Christ’s example of loving all people while also teaching and upholding the commandments of God.”
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