Saturday, August 7

True Love

I talked with a friend a few days ago about the meaning of love, and I thought I'd share my thoughts here. Struggling with being attracted to guys has always filled me with the fear that I would never be able to really fall in love with someone... and have them fall in love with me. It doesn't help that I'm a hopeless romantic and movies and novels and Broadway musicals all talk about falling in love; in each love is portrayed, rightfully, as one of the guiding factors in changing lives and improving the world. It's the love that Christine has for the Phantom that finally heals his heart, love that sends Geppetto on a journey to save his wooden son, love that makes it possible to write "and they all lived happily ever after."

But what is love?

I don't mean this to be trite - but when I see a guy and feel physically attracted to him, that is a totally different feeling from when I am trying to show my love to my family or friends. The world today stirs them all together in the same pot and claims that anything motivated by love is good. But I know that can't be true. I think that understanding love, in all its facets, will give me a key in knowing the truth and creating loving relationships that can meet my needs.

In the last little while I've felt that love was something much more than just a feeling. In Moroni it teaches about the importance of having the right kind of love, and much of Christ's Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon at the Temple was encouraging the people to move forward in the extent of their love. Not to throw away the old law, but to build upon it and grow. I get the feeling that love is a spectrum that defines all of our relationships with others - sort of like faith defines our relationship with God and truth - where our actions are motivated by the type of love we currently have.

Finding the ends of the spectrum is actually pretty easy. God has a perfect love for us, and so we should try to emulate His love in every relationship we have with others. Satan has a completely inferior love (we could call it hate, but hate is just the absence of love) for us. I think that highlighting aspects of each relationship will help us to see what we really want when we want to love and be loved.

In the most inferior relationships, the determining factor is that you have no intention of helping the other person come closer to Christ. In that case, the relationship is purely selfish. Why? Because you believe that true joy comes from doing the most pleasurable things. Everything done in the relationship is to preserve or increase your ability to use the other person to achieve your desires. You may be willing to do absolutely anything and everything to achieve them. You may help them to feel temporary pleasure, try to meet their unmet needs, and dedicate an inordinate amount of time and money cultivating this type of relationship. Or you could use blackmail, coercion, seduction, and dishonesty. There are two ends to this relationship. On the one hand, they willingly meet your desires. Then you perpetuate the relationship for as long as they can continue to meet them - perhaps even until death. But once you know, for certain, that they are unable or unwilling to please you anymore, you discard them, the relationship ends, and you seek someone else.

The most superior relationships are strikingly different. The determining factor in these relationships is a desire for the other person to become the best person he or she can become, and a willingness to do everything in your power to make that happen. Why? Because you know that true joy comes from being the best person possible. Christ spoke about the importance of being kind to your enemies as well as your friends, praying for them that use you, being good to those that persecute you. Walking an extra mile with someone who stole your coat. Hence true love includes unconditional kindness. But at the same time, love does not mean that you condone the unrighteousness of others. Doing that would be essentially telling them, "It's okay if you put your hand on the stove. I know that it will burn you, but I think that letting you do what you want to do is more important than warning you about the consequences of your actions." On the contrary, God's perfect love for His children manifests itself in a completely opposite manner. He looks at their lives and helps them see the consequences of their actions. Does that mean that He discards those who don't follow His commandments? No - hence the next key - true love helps others rise from their mistakes. In fact, true love never stops acting, even when the person receiving it has completely turned away.

But I think the most telling factor in true love is the one mentioned first - desire for the other person to become the best they can be, and willingness to do everything in your power to make that happen. That is the greatest motivation, the greatest love, the greatest fulfillment we can find. We can see it in everything God does with us. He allows us to struggle because He knows that struggles give us the opportunity to grow stronger and happier in the end. He answers our prayers for help and support, enabling us to trust in Him and come closer to Him. He withdraws certain blessings when we sin, but continues to love us and be actively involved in our lives.

So how does sexually expressing love play into this? I think the key is in the motivation - and behind that motivation you can see whether sexual acts are acts of love, or of lust. Simply put, God gave us sexual feelings for the expression of love only between husband and wife. Everything else is lust. It has been like that since the beginning - and it makes sense. The ability to be a family - to be joined as parents - is the greatest stewardship that God has given us. He has given us the ability to be joined as husband and wife, father and mother - to learn to be like Him. Of all the relationships we have in life, marriage between husband and wife is the most important, the most exalting, the most eternal. You will spend all of eternity with this person. It makes sense that that relationship would be different, in some meaningful way, from the love you should feel for everyone else on the planet. Within marriage, sexual relations are righteous acts, drawing husband and wife together, emphasizing their ability to be one, helping them to realize the joint ability they have to raise a righteous posterity and change the world. Outside of marriage between husband and wife, sexual acts, while still pleasurable, don't elevate men and women to keep their covenants and look to God for guidance. Since they pull you down instead of lift you up, sexual acts outside of marriage end up just being a cheap substitute.

True love is what I want in my life. I know that only true love, in marriage and in my relationships with others, can bring me happiness in life and in eternity. Anything else will ultimately bring heartache. Looking at relationships around me, I can easily pinpoint where they fall on the spectrum of love. One-night-stands aren't very loving; they're not centered on principles of righteousness, and the participants use each other and then go their ways. Long-term sexual relationships between men (or even between unmarried men and women) place physical pleasure above God and the spiritual well-being of the other person involved.

For me, it's obvious what types of relationships I need to cultivate. I need to do everything in my power to help all people to become better and grow closer to Christ, and allow them to do the same for me. That's true love. The gospel promises that true love will bring me happiness and joy, and so true love, guided by righteous principles, is what I am going to seek. I won't settle for a substitute.


  1. I could not agree more with your analysis of love, and find it fits perfectly with Elder Holland's talk in last April's General Conference. Simply Beautiful!

  2. I've been thinking a lot about the love principle lately. I truly enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject, and I think you're spot-on. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I am impressed with your blog, and have a very similar background to yourself. When I think of love, I remember the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" where Tevye is talking (singing) to Golde about love. "The first time I met you was on our wedding day. I was scared." "I was shy." "I was nervous." "So was I." "But my father and my mother said we'd learn to love each other. So now I'm asking, Golde. Do you love me?" Then Golde remembers all the sacrifices she has made on behalf of her husband and all the service she has given and all they have shared and realizes that she does love him.

    To me, this brings out important ideas about love and attraction. Back in the day of arranged marriages, people didn't get married based on attraction, but they could still develop and nurture love for one another. It was based on principles of charity. They sacrificed for each other; gave service to each other. They suffered together and triumphed together, and so developed a much greater love than those who base their love solely on attraction. It's so sad that our society has forgotten so much about love.

    1. Yes, yes, yes! I have been planning for several years to write a book on attraction vs. love. I use the "Fiddler on the Roof" example quite often when I explain this to people. I started coming out and boldly declaring that attraction is a choice. I do not mean that in the sense that we can just get down to the root of it and easily choose who we are attracted to. When I say that, I mean that it is a choice to be willing to get to know someone, to love someone, and to find that a special, eternal attraction can develop. Why do we think we need attraction before love? That is a lie that Satan perpetuates through our society -- through Hollywood and all its stories. The truth is that love is so much stronger, so much purer, and so much more joyful -- and once we experience it, attraction becomes easier.

      I got married last year to a man who, at first, completely disagreed with me. We met online, and I mentioned in my profile my views on love and attraction. Having experienced physical attraction to members of both sexes, I really felt that I wanted to find an eternal companion who could not only relate, but could really see that we are more than just our carnal desires. We are so much more! After I explained to him what I meant by my rather bold statement, he agreed -- and once we met, everything just fell into place. We were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on July 30, 2011. I was 35 years old.

  4. This blog stood out for me. Wow. I'm obsess with reading your posts. Most of it I can relate to myself. And every word you say it's like powerful. This love that your talking abou is so hard to find. I thought i was in love (i have) I had the sense of caring for this person and it can't be real because this person doesn't feel the same. I know it's a bummer. What a life.

  5. I love this. That's all I have to say! And thank you!

  6. I love reading your posts. I'm not good with words, or really expressing my sometimes I don't understand what you're saying in a sentence, but I can feel it. Does that make sense?

    I was raised in the church. My Great Grandfather helped translate the Bible to our native tongue. At 13 yrs old, I left home, got in to some trouble and ended up in juvi prison. I never had a personal relationship with God, or His Son Jesus Christ. All I knew...was that I loved my family, relatives and friends. They were my life and I would do anything for them and NO ONE ELSE mattered to me.

    It wasn't until I got locked up, I really KNEW who God was. I never thought about what it meant to be a MORMON and it bothered me that we believed in a book--outside the Bible. So..I stopped going to the Mormon church all together and went to every Christian faith the juvi system had to offer. (I never felt the spirit there, and 6 yrs later realized we had the "completeness" of the gospel, not to mention..I always felt the Spirit attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)

    I promise there's a point to this :)

    The 2 year experience I had being locked up, allowed me to look at my life and where I was headed. It also allowed me to turn to God. I never had to then. And when I gave me a feeling inside that changed the way I felt about...people in general. When I say nobody mattered to me but my family & friends, I meant that. Attending the different faiths was a blessing for me, because no matter what..I was learning about God and His Son, and it gave me a warm feeling inside. I learned the true meaning of Love. Love IS God IS Love. Period.

    I left the system loving everyone in there NO DIFFERENT than the love I had for my own blood. When I'm walking down the street, or riding the subway..I look at people, and wonder what pain they are going through, and I'll smile or say Good Morning in hopes it will take that pain away. Even if it's just for a second.

    It kills me to hear people say, "Love just isn't enough.." because LOVE is GOD. God gave his only begotten Son, to die for our sins. Jesus loved God so much, that he was willing to die..for our sins. Understanding this and living by His examples is all we need. It's limitless. It doesn't see color, or care how smart you are, or how much money you have, and it doesn't care about how attractive someone is. It's patient, kind and understanding. It's the greatest gift of all.

    I love you Mormon Guy =') And I will pray you find the love of your life and have a family some day soon. Thank you for being so open and sharing your life with the world! God Bless!


Comment Rules:

(G)MG is how I write to you. Commenting is one way to write to me.

If you want your comment published: No swearing, graphic content, name-calling of any kind, or outbound links to anything but official Church sites.

In addition, comments must be 100% relevant, funny, uplifting, helpful, friendly... well-written, concise, and true. Disparaging comments often don't meet those standards. Comments on (G)MG are personal notes to me, not part of a comment war. You are not entitled to have your ideas hosted on my personal blog. There are a zillion places for that, and only one (G)MG.

And I'd suggest writing your comment in Word and pasting it. That way Blogger won't eat it if it's over the word limit.