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You are here: Allan's TIME > Spirituality > All About Love

ALL ABOUT LOVE:
Finding, keeping, understanding, and enjoying true love in your life

by
David W. Allan
March 25, 2007; Updated Feb. 9, 2008

True love is pure and is the path to the greatest happiness in time and eternity. Additionally, it leads to the solution of all problems .  In Contrast, distorted love leads to most of the problems we have in society.  An aid for identifying and overcoming sexual addiction.

I.          PERSPECTIVE

This is written with the hope of helping in a fundamental area of societal needs of what love is and how to love and enjoy love as the Lord designed love to be.  Love is elusive for many, because they are often chasing after love in the wrong places.   True or pure love – as designed by a loving Heavenly Father with all of its enormous and most significant blessings – is all that the heart can desire.  It is not elusive, but is constantly ever there for us to partake of, if we will turn to Him to find it.  It is when we turn to the world’s ways of loving that distortions often enter in, and pain, misery, and unhappiness follow.

Here, we share how to enjoy love, how to partake of love, how to give love using the guidelines from inspired writings we have received from the Lord, and how to solve problems using love in the Lord’s way.  While the Lord’s love gives every hope, in opposition to it, distorted love is destroying our nation and the world.  It is destroying the fundamental unit of society, the family. 

As a serious sign of the devolution of true or pure love into a distorted form, consider the results of a ChristiaNet poll reported by Marketwire.com (August 7,2006): 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography.  They conclude: “Pornography is corrupting the church and destroying our nation; without action the problem will only get worse.”  http://blazinggrace.org/pornstatistics.htm  With easy Internet access, pornography is now epidemic and rapidly increasing its tentacles of seductive and titillating enticements.  Also, it is now the trend in America for couples to live together out of wedlock, and the commitment to marriage and family are on the decline.  Now, only 5% of marriages reach their 50th anniversary.  Physical and mental abuse and sexual molestation in the family setting are increasingly devastating families, which is one of the by products of pornographic indulgence.

Divine love lifts our hearts,  heals our spiritual and emotional ills, and wholesomely satisfies our inherent need for love.  With sufficient faith, the Lord can and will heal every wound of every kind, of every person, and of every nation who will turn to Him.  The Lord’s love, in His infinite capacity to heal and to change us (patterned after His Divine nature), is ever there for us.  Without Him, it is hopeless.  With Him, all things are possible, and we know that in Him we can overcome these enormous problems that face us.  His “arms are stretched out still,” and his invitation is, “¶ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Italics and bold added, Matthew 11:28-30) And, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14) If we turn from Him, we are doomed.  If we turn to Him, He will show us the way to true and pure love – even His love.  As explained in more detail below, His love also helps us overcome addictions in addition to finding pure or true love – herein is true freedom given only by Christ.

In the Garden of Eden Satan taught “partake.”  “Ye shall not surely die.”  We see that same deceitful spirit continuing.  Now, it is the enticements of the world, and Satan says, “partake; ye shall not surely die (spiritually), but have pleasure therein.”  This is one of the greatest deceits of the “great deceiver.”  Most of his enticements lead to addictions: drugs, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, sexual sins, which lead to abusive behavior and broken families.  Unfortunately, many of us imbibe to one degree or another in some of these deceitful strategies that take us away from true or pure love – the Lord’s love – and such behavior makes us miserable, discouraged, or depressed as Satan would have us be – the opposite of joy and peace.

How are we led into these distorted forms of love?  Satan uses the strong desires and needs with which we are born, and deceives us into believing he has a more desirable way than the Lord’s. Let us look at the main tool of deceit the Adversary uses; as defined in Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary:

DECE'IT, noun [Norm. deceut, contracted from Latin deceptio.]

1. Literally, a catching or ensnaring. Hence, the misleading of a person; the leading of another person to believe what is false, or not to believe what is true, and thus to ensnare him; fraud; fallacy; cheat; any declaration, artifice or practice, which misleads another, or causes him to believe what is false.  My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. Job 27.

2. Stratagem; artifice; device intended to mislead.  They imagine deceits all the day long. Psalm 38. 

3. In scripture, that which is obtained by guile, fraud or oppression. Their houses are full of deceit. Jeremiah 5. Zephaniah 1. 

4. In law, any trick, device, craft, collusion, shift, covin, or underhand practice, used to defraud another.

The Lord gives a sure way to not be deceived:

And whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived, for the Son of Man shall come, and he shall send his angels before him with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together the remainder of his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.  (Italics and bold added, JS-Matt.37)

Our key then is to “treasure up my word.”  Jesus is the Word (John 1:1), and his words give us the sure path, and His Spirit the sure witness that we are on the right path.  For He said most succinctly: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  (John 14:6) As we listen and hearken to His voice, He has promised, and His promises are sure:

And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.  For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.  And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.  For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver.  (D&C 45:56-59)

We are preparing for the great day of the Lord.   If we think not, we are deceived, and Satan will lead us down distorted paths of love, which will leave us as the five unwise virgins (unprepared and empty).  The Lord’s counsel is: “Wherefore, be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you, that you may be ready at the coming of the Bridegroom.”  (D&C  33:17).  We will discuss how we do that.  First, let us consider, “What is love?”

II.        WHAT IS LOVE?

Probably, more has been written about love – letters, books, plays, movies, dramas, poems, etc., and more has been sung, spoken, thought, taught about love, more emotions have been stirred about love, more souls have been touched and changed by love, than about any other topic, word, verb, or activity in human existence.  Rather than try to capture the essence of all of the above, we will go to the heart of the question (What is love?) on a scriptural basis for in the Lord we know we can trust.  Satan can and does lurk in avenues of love – subtly and deceitfully – to destroy true or pure love.  Often, in the philosophies of men he lurks to entice us and have us fulfill our appetites in distorted ways.

It is wonderful to think that love is the principal power by which Heavenly Father governs the universe.  He loves each of His children with an infinite love, which was the pure motivation for sending us His Son to work out the infinite and eternal atonement.  Through His Son He has opened the incredible door, which if we choose to enter, we may receive a fulness from the Father, of Eternal Joy, and be even as He is.

As we go to the scriptures, it seems significant that the first mention of love in the Bible is when the Lord commanded Abraham to take his son to Mt. Moriah to be sacrificed: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)  This act is symbolic to Arab, Jew, and Gentile of the Father offering His Beloved Son on that same mountain some 2,000 years later as the greatest act of love in the history of mankind – as an offering for all our sins – breaking the bands of death and hell.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)  We see that true love is purely unselfish and considers only the best interests of those who are the recipients of that act of love. 

The love that the Lord designed for us to enjoy we call true or pure love; any other kind we call distorted love.   In contrast to true or pure love, distorted love is selfish and does not consider the best interests of those influenced by that act of distorted love.  The traditions regarding love that have come down to us are often of the distorted form of love.  Consider, as an example, the rapidly increasing use of pornography, which science has shown acts like a drug addiction when the body chemistry is considered.  More and more are imbibing in this activity to satisfy their longing for love, but it leaves them empty after working its destructive course.  Being addictive, the pornographic path leads to a downward spiral.

From the scriptures we learn that the first and the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our hearts, might, mind, and strength.  In Noah Webster’s definition of love, he succinctly says: “...and if our hearts are right, we love God above all things, as the sum of all excellence and all the attributes which can communicate happiness to intelligent beings.” 

The scriptures tell us that our next great opportunity then is to “love our neighbor as ourselves” – patterning our love after His divine attributes.  It has been said that, “We may not know what the future holds, but we do know who holds the future, and to be in step with him is the greatest opportunity of our existence.”  Moving forward with Him, we move with confidence and pure love and without fear, for “perfect love casteth out all fear.” (Moroni 8:16) And, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18) We know that  “...charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moroni 7:47)

In Henry Drummond’s monumental book, The Greatest Thing in the World, which is one of the most poignant discourses ever given on charity from 1 Corinthians 13, he says that “The Spectrum of Love has nine ingredients:

Patience................. ‘Love suffereth long.’

Kindness................ ‘And is kind.’

Generosity.............. ‘Love envieth not.’

Humility................. ‘Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.’

Courtesy................. ‘Doth not behave itself unseemly.’

Unselfishness......... ‘Seeketh not her own.’

Good Temper......... ‘Is not easily provoked.’

            Guilelessness.......... ‘Thinketh no evil.’

Sincerity................. ‘Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.’”

And from the life of the Savior, we know that love is unselfish service as He gave His all that we may inherit all things of God through Him.  Drummond goes on to say, “Where love is, God is.” 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God, and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]. (1 John 4:7, Amplified Bible) “He that loveth not (with a pure or true love), knoweth not God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:8, KJ, parenthetical is added)

After quoting this scripture from 1 John 4:8, Drummond proclaims, “Therefore love.  Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love.  Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all...  Give pleasure...  For that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit, ‘I shall pass through this world but once.  Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.  Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.’

“...there is no greatness in things.  Things cannot be great.  The only greatness is in unselfish love...  The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving...  And half the world is on the wrong scent in pursuit of happiness.  They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others.  It consists in giving and in serving others.”

Drummond has a particularly powerful discussion on the importance of Good Temper as a critical characteristic of pure love.  He says, “We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness...  the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature.”  He calls it, “...the vice of the virtuous.”  He relates to the story of the Prodigal son and points out how society brands the Prodigal as much worse than his brother, but then he asks the question, “But are we right?”  “...there are two great classes of sins – sins of the Body, and sins of the Disposition.  The Prodigal Son may be taken as a type of the first, the Elder Brother of the second...  the Elder Brother... ‘was angry,’ we read, ‘and would not go in.’  Look at the effect upon the father, upon the servants, upon the happiness of the guests.   Judge of the effect upon the Prodigal – and how many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who profess to be inside?  Analyze, as a study in Temper, the thunder-cloud as it gathers upon the Elder-Brother’s brow.  What is it made of? Jealousy, anger, pride, uncharity, cruelty, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness, – these are the ingredients of this dark and loveless soul.”

True love is gentle, is forgiving, is kind, “thinketh no evil,” brings perfect peace, casteth out all fear, lifts the hands that hang down, gladdens the heavy heart; strengthens the feeble knees, helps us to draw closer to the Father and the Son and to know them, helps bring out the best in each of us and we are better able to help bring out the best in others, helps us to know that we are loved and that each of us is a child of God – known personally by Him.  True love exposes not the weaknesses of others, finds no faults, encourages to the fullest degree, gives us a new heart and brings to us the “being born of God” experience.  As Drummond goes on to say, “To love abundantly is to live abundantly...  No worse fate can befall a man in this world than to live and grow old alone, unloving and unloved.”  Eternal life, the greatest of all the gifts of God, is to know God, and “God is love.”  Hence, to know true love is to know God.  So as you learn to love, you will learn to know God, and thus be on the road to the greatest of happiness in this life and to Eternal Life in the world to come, the greatest of all the gifts of God.

As mentioned above, love is the power by which God governs the universe.  The universe is organized to bring about His Eternal work.  Love is His work and His glory “to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life” of His children.  Love is not ethereal; it is a real force and of real substance.  God’s emanation of love is manifest in all directions as we see love manifest in the harmony and marvels of the heavens.  As well, we see His love manifest in the intricacies and the intimacies of life down to the minutest level.  From astronomic to microscopic we feel and see His love manifest.  For those who have eyes to see, His love is manifest in the challenges and oppositions that life brings – giving us growth opportunities and ever wafting us closer to Him if we will but come unto Him – who is willing and wanting to bear our burdens.  As we work with Him, he is able to turn every evil into good, and to overcome every sin and addiction.

As we learn to love as He loves, it becomes a real force in our lives, and those around us can feel that love.  It reflects in our countenances.  It moves us ever closer to Him, so that He becomes more and more a part of our lives.  The Savior says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  (John 14:15)   The Apostle John says, “...if we keep his commandments... hereby we know that we know Him.” (1 John 2:3)   And Jesus promises, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him...  If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:21, 23)  In other words, truly loving Him allows the Father and the Son to be an intimate part of our lives, What an incredible promise, and, again, His promises are sure.

III.       PRACTICALLY, HOW DO WE OPEN THE DOORS TO TRUE LOVE?

We may best address this vital question by first understanding the basic needs that a loving Heavenly Father placed in each of us for our mortal journey that we may enjoy true love and intimacy.  Guided by true or pure love, we can fully satisfy these basic needs, which lead to a fulness of joy and eternal family relationships.  Guided by distorted love in trying to satisfy these basic neede, we are led to momentary highs, but in the long-term distorted love leads to pain, emptiness, loneliness, and destructive human relationships.   The most harmful dimension of distorted love is that it can lead to the destruction of the family.  Because the family is the most important unit in time and eternity, the Adversary is working hardest to destroy the family.  Unfortunately, he is having great success.  Currently, one of his most effective tools is to get more and more people hooked on pornography, because, most often,  it eventually leads to the destruction of the family.

Mark Kastleman in his book Healing Hearts & Mending Minds, poignantly states that we crave intimacy.  “Whether we realize it or want to admit it, we crave human intimacy.  We have an innate need to love and to be loved.  We need to be close and connected to others, especially those in our immediate families.

“Many of the teenagers and adults I have interviewed who got involved with Internet porn, cybersex chat rooms and/or illicit sexual encounters, reported that they were “lonely.” that they felt ‘disconnected,’ that they lacked real intimacy in their lives.

“You don’t have to have sex to be “intimate.”  In fact, most human intimacy has nothing to do with sexual relations.  Rather, it’s about communication, understanding, appreciation, affection, mutual respect, friendship, quality time, sharing, and many more non-sexual actions and factors.  One of the great preventions and protections against pornography addiction is true human intimacy, the quality and quantity of time you spend together as husband and wife, parent and child.  This is what matters most.”

He makes the powerful point that our homes need to be a refuge from the storms of life.  We need to create a spirit of Zion in our homes (the pure in heart, where there are no poor (unloved or lonely) among us, where we are of one mind and of one heart), where Satan or his minions are held at bay, “because of the righteousness” of those abiding therein. (1 Nephi 22:26)

Dr. Victor L. Brown, Jr. in his book Human Intimacy – Illusion & Reality says that he has learned the “bedrock reality that at every stage of our life we seek intimacy as urgently as we seek food and drink.  We seek our parents’ love.  We seek friendship.  We seek emotional unity in marriage along with physical fulfillment.  Out of the love awakened by our children we find ourselves seeking their love even as we give love.

“This universal human need is so powerful that we are vulnerable to deception.  Loneliness brings a desperation that makes us willing to see almost anyone as desirable, almost any situation as endurable, if it holds out the promise of intimacy...”

Kastleman, in discussing the proper, wholesome, and heavenly designed sexual intimacy between committed husband and wife, says, “The Experience is More Than Just Physical: As husband and wife move... together, there is more to the experience than just chemicals released in the physical body – much more.  In addition to physical feelings, the emotions, the mind and the spirit are all joined together in the experience.  As natural chemicals are released, feelings of love, closeness and appreciation are brought to the forefront.  The joining or fitting together of physical bodies becomes a symbol of the joining together of minds and spirits.  God meant for this experience between husband and wife to be a union of their whole selves – body, mind and spirit.  He designed it that way from the beginning.  Such a union is only possible when there is total commitment to each other, when the couple shares all things, when they are bonded, welded, joined – married.

“Sexual intercourse is a sacred covenant between husband and wife, symbolizing oneness, fidelity and unity in all things.  Sexual climax is a culmination of everything they have sacrificed and shared together, a celebration of their complete and total commitment, a crowning symbol of their marriage...  This... experience is not possible outside of marriage.”

As declared by God in the beginning, “...and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)

Kastleman goes on to say that, “The key to raising sexually healthy children and teens is to engender an environment where physical intimacy is regarded as healthy, positive, beautiful and even sacred, something to anticipate and look forward to at the appropriate time and under the right circumstances.  Yes, we should teach our children about the dangers and darkness of pornography, premarital sex, self, indulgence, etc.  But of greater importance is to demonstrate appropriate love within the home, coupled with gentle teachings on the wonderful joys of intimacy.”  The sacredness in the husband-wife relationship is better appreciated when we realized that in this act we have the magnificent opportunity to be co-creators with God, as we provide bodies for His spirit children.  What an enormous responsibility and opportunity.

This is the most divine attribute of men and women as explained by Dallin H. Oaks, in his book, The Great Plan of Happiness  p. 74.  He says, “The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage...  Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women.”

In total contrast, Satan would take away all of the sacredness as he does with pornography and its associated sexual sins and activities (lusting, lewdness, licentious, fornicating, adulterous, petting, masturbating, etc).  In addition, as Kastleman points out pornography behaves exactly like an addictive drug on the body and is in fact addictive.  Coming in through the mind, the chemicals released within the body are like that which happens with a drug addict.  He says that parents need to teach their children “‘why’ pornography is harmful to their brain” – creating distorted unhealthy images that have to be rooted out before fully wholesome and healthy loving relationships can be enjoyed.  For the addicted person, repentance, confession, and total faith in the Lord’s atonement are critical for his recovery.  There are other extremely useful steps that a person can take – if addicted – as will be discussed later.

There are many studies that have shown that the most important time in a person’s life for learning proper sexual and intimate relationships is in the walls of a healthy, nurturing family setting, and surprisingly, the first three years of life are the most important.  Single parent families, or when both parents are employed, create significant challenges in bringing about these healthy-nurturing relationships during the first three years of a child’s life, that are so critical in providing a foundation and a basis for all human relationships throughout his or her life.

Dr. Brown quotes from Burton White of Harvard University,

I have devoted my whole professional career to pursuing the question of how competent people get that way.  On the basis of years of research, I am totally convinced that the first priority with respect to helping each child to reach his maximum level of competence is to do the best possible job in structuring his experience and opportunities during the first three years of life...  Therefore I do not think that any (other) job is more important in humanistic terms than the [proper role of parents.]

Then Dr. Brown goes on to say, “In short, the ability to love in whole-hearted intimacy as an adult begins in the experience of having been loved as a child.  In an environment of warm and familiar predictability, surrounded by people who celebrate his individuality without suppressing their own, a child begins to develop a strong sense of identity.  Thus fortified, he can move on to the next major prerequisite to intimacy – acquiring roles through which he can express his identity.”  These roles are based on healthy role-models learned as an infant in a fully-functional, healthy home, where love and trust abound.

Regardless of where we are in the spectrum of our loving, intimate relationships with others, the Savior can and will help us move forward, and help us overcome every obstacle and every addiction, if we will but “Come unto Him.”  In her inspired book, Come Away My Beloved, Francis J. Roberts pens the profound invitation under the heading THE CALL OF LOVE:

O My beloved, abide under the shelter of the lattice for I have betrothed you to Myself, and though you are sometimes indifferent toward Me, My love for you is at all times as a flame of fire.  My ardor never cools.  My longing for your love and affection is deep and constant. 

¶ Tarry not for an opportunity to have more time to be alone with Me.  Take it, though you leave the tasks at hand.  Nothing will suffer.  Things are of less importance than you think.  Our time together is like a garden full of flowers, whereas the time you give to things is as a field full of stubble.

¶ I love you, and if you can always, as it were, feel My pulse beat you will receive insight that will give you sustaining strength.  I bore your sins and I wish to carry your burdens.  You may take the gift of a light and merry heart, for My love dispels all fear and is a cure for every ill.  Lay your head upon My breast and lose yourself in Me.  You will experience resurrection, life and peace: the joy of the Lord will become your strength; and wells of salvation will be opened within you.

Ms. Roberts then goes on to share our DEPENDENCE ON GOD:

My people, heed My words; yes, do not walk carelessly, nor lay out your own paths on which to travel.  You cannot know what lies in the distance, nor what adversity you may encounter tomorrow.  So walk closely with Me, that you may be able to draw quickly upon My aid.  You need Me, and no matter how well developed your faith is or how mature is your growth in grace, never think for a moment that you need My support any less.  The truth is that you need it even more.  For I shelter the newborn from many of the trials and tests I permit to confront those who are growing up in spiritual stature.  You cannot grow unless I bring into your lives these proving and testing experiences.

¶ So hold more firmly to My hand as you journey on in your Christian walk.  Trust not in your own increasing strength, for truly, it is not your strength but rather My strength within you that you feel.  You are as vulnerable to the treachery of the enemy and as frail as ever; but your knowledge of Me has deepened, and because of this your trust in Me should come easier.

¶ Move forward with courage and confidence; but always allow Me to walk ahead, and choose the right path.

Let us recall that the purpose of life is to gain a body, to partake of life’s experiences, and to learn to “do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command” – the greatest of which is to love God and to love His children (all of them).  As we learn to love as God loves, we become like Him and we come to know Him.  Knowing Him and His Beloved Son brings to us the greatest of all the gifts of God – Eternal Life.

In the face of  life’s challenges, trials, temptations,  tests, and offenses, which are intrinsic to life’s experiences, we often find it difficult to love.  People (even loved ones) offend or hurt us.  Often, our enemies would harm us greatly. The more we can view life from God’s perspective, the more it helps to learn to love all and to forgive all that we may be forgiven of all – that the Lord may present us spotless to the Father, being perfected in Him. (Moroni 10:32-34)

There are those that teach that life is a test.  One may say, that this teaching is substantiated, because the Lord said, “We will prove them herewith...”  But in so quoting, we best read the rest of the scripture, “...to see if they will do ALL things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.”  Keeping the commandments is too often viewed as a drudgery, a duty, “ya gotta do it, or else attitude.”  This attitude is a false tradition.  We fail to realize that God said His way offers a fullness of joy and the greatest peace and happiness in this life.  The greatest commandment is to love, which brings about the greatest fulfillment. (Matt. 22:36-40)

Those who let “Life is a test!”be their ‘modem-operandi’ – and it is a common belief – carry a heavy, dark spirit about them.  Interestingly, this can be proven scientifically using Kirlian photography, which later evolved into aura photography.  Such a photo of a person’s aura who feels this burden: “Life is a test.” is dark.  In contrast, one who believes and feels that life is an opportunity to glorify God and to feel gratitude in our hearts for both the good and bad that come – giving us growth opportunities – has a light and bright aura.  A friend of mine related to me that a police officer told him that the reason Utah has the worst drivers is: “In Utah everything is a TEST, driving is a test, school is a test, church is a test and life is a test and the TEST is in every part of our lives.”  Satan’s purposes are to tempt and to try (TEST) us.  The Savior came to glorify His Father (John 17:4); this is our greatest opportunity as well.  As we develop a pure faith in the Father and His Beloved Son (come to Know them), Satan’s testing has no power in our lives (1 Nephi 22:25-26).  We become truly “Born of God,” with “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (Mosiah 5:2) We rejoice in glorifying our loving Father; gladness fills our hearts.  His love enters our hearts (Moroni 7:48), fills our lives and influences all our actions.  We no longer need motivation from without to do good; we are motivated from within.  We become the best drivers in the state – filled with charity – in spite of other’s actions – even towards those filled with “road rage!”.

Indeed, LIFE is an opportunity to learn how to  LOVE as He loves, and to glorify Him who has given us the greatest of all the gifts of love – the gift of His Beloved Son.  How grateful we should continually be for this most important gift.  Through faith in Him, we learn how to love as He loves as we come to know Him.  In so doing, we see the manifestations of His love in every direction in the marvels of His creations.  The gift of  His Only Begotten Son opened the door of faith and repentance, and the path whereby we may overcome all because He overcame all.  As we internalize His love, we are changed by Him into “new creatures” in Christ, and feel to sing the songs of Redeeming Love.  We receive a new birth in Him, and being born of God, we are brought to exclaim as the people of King Benjamin:

And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.  And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.  And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.  (Mosiah 5:2-4)

The Atonement of our Savior gives every person a reason for hope.  He will personally help us overcome every problem as we come unto Him.  He has made that promise, and His promises are sure.  Respecting our agency, He awaits for our invitation to come into our lives, for our sincere faith in Him, and for our total, heart-felt repentance.  In every thought turn to Him.  Let your prayers be full drawn out to the Father through Him continually.  The peace and the joy that come through their cleansing power and the grace extended by the atonement place us on that path to overcoming the world and to receive eternal life in the world to come, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God (a fullness of joy).  The Apostle Paul summarized it well, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,” (Galatians 4:19)

IV.       HOW TO BUILD LOVING FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS:

A Christ-centered home is a home filled with His love, and Satan may come, but he has no power there.  This comes into being with Christ-centered parents, who teach their children to understand (by word and deed) that having Christ in their lives makes all the difference in the amount of true or pure love that is in the home.  The home becomes a true refuge from the storms of the world.  Here hearts are welded together in one, and the joys and eternal bonds of love that build in such a loving environment are the best that can be had in this mortal journey.  This environment not only brings the greatest of joys in this life, but also in the life to come. 

This may seem too idealistic, but the Lord has asked us to do it, and He never asks that which we cannot do.  As we set our goals with the Lord’s help we will move ever closer to Him and to this ideal.  It is worth every effort.  The degree to which we partake of this ideal is the degree to which we apply the principles that the Lord has given to us.  Let us review the basics:

                     We truly love the Lord and desire to show Him our love by having our hearts in the right place – turning to Him in every thought and desiring to keep His commandments that we may reflect His love into the lives of others.  Jesus prayed that we may be one as He and the Father are one and that His Kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.  It is about harmony in the home, with Him,  with each other, and with the heavens.  The attributes of those who truly love the Lord are:

            -           Prayer is continually our guard, our guide, and our stay. (D&C 10:5)

            -           The inspired writings of the prophets are the road map for our lives; we daily feast upon these sacred writings individually and as a family. (2 Nephi 31:20-21)

            -           Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all His loving kindness in all the bounteous blessings of life, and we are most grateful for the gift of His Beloved Son, as well as each other.

            -           We are grateful for the trials, challenges, and the vicissitudes of life as well – knowing that they give us growth opportunities.

            -           We love to serve Him, His children, and to help build His kingdom.  We pray, as Jesus did, for His Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven and for the reestablishment of Zion (a society made of pure people) to prepare for the glorious return of His Son;

            -           We keep the commandments as opportunities for exaltation and not as constraints that keep us from doing our thing;

            -           We keep the commandments because we love Him;

            -           We serve in the Church and the community as we have opportunity – not as a duty, but as is our sacred privilege to let the love of the Savior flow through us to others;

                     We truly love our neighbor – especially those of our own household.

            -           in pure love, we seek to know and to unselfishly fulfill the needs of our spouse, that they may feel and bask in our pure and unfeigned love; male and female needs are very different by heavenly design.  Learning those differences, and then learning to be sensitive to them is the process of becoming, as the Lord designed, “one flesh.”

            -           We seek to serve the other members of our family – praying to know how we can best help them enjoy the Savior’s love in their lives – helping them to feel part of the loving family team, and that their part is enormously important.  We seek to see that their needs are fulfilled in harmony with the Father’s Plan of Happiness.

            -           We love, from deep within our hearts, all of Father’s children, and seek for ways to help them to come to know the Lord’s love and to help them feel ever closer to Him, that they may partake of the full measure of the redemptive powers of the atonement freely offered to them.

 

IV-A    IN MARRIAGE

As a loving husband seeks to fulfill the needs of his wife, he needs to know those needs.  Similarly, as a loving wife seeks to fulfill the needs of her husband, she needs to know those needs as well.  Because of fundamental differences between the male and female – designed by a loving Father-in-heaven – we often have misunderstandings about those needs.  But properly understood and fulfilled brings the greatest of joys in the husband-wife relationship. 

Pure love seeks to serve without the thought of receiving in return.  A husband – filled with pure love – will not get upset with his wife if all of his needs are not met, and, again, similarly, a wife – filled with pure love – will not get upset with her husband if all of her needs are not met.

Let’s look at those needs and some of the differences between the needs of the male and female.  According to one of the most successful books on building healthy marriage relationships, His Needs, Her Needs by Dr. Willard F Harley, Jr., we can construct the following matrix-need hierarchy:

 

 

SHE NEEDS

HE NEEDS

 

1.

Affection

Sexual Fulfillment

 

2.

Conversation

Recreational Companionship

 

3.

Honesty and Openness

An Attractive Spouse

 

4.

Enough money to live comfortably – financial support

Peace and Quiet –

domestic support

5.

Him to be a Good Father –

family commitment

Her to be Proud of Him –

admiration

 

This is not to say that a man’s needs do not also fall in the column with those of women, nor does it say that a woman’s needs do not also fall in the column with those of men.  Dr. Harley has found the needs shown in this matrix to be the most important needs for men and women across many people with whom he has counseled and over many years of experience.  His book is one of the most successful in terms of saving marriages as well as making good ones be stronger.  Let us consider this matrix in more detail, that we may benefit from his experiences and success.  We will see that pragmatically this matrix works very well for satisfying the physical and emotional needs in a husband-wife relationship.  Later we will augment this with guidelines for becoming spiritually united as well.

Dr. Harley lays the foundation for this set of needs matrix by a model that each of us has a “Love Bank,” that never closes.  It has an account for each person we know, and each person either adds to or subtracts from their account in our bank according to what transpires during that interaction with that person.  The amount added or subtracted varies according to the degree of positive or negative love feelings generated during that interaction.  Though not intended to be mathematical, this model gives one a good feel for the importance of living the second great commandment in all of our interactions – to love our neighbor as ourselves – and especially those of our own family.

There is a great saying: Let us live so that those who know us but don’t know God, will want to know God because they know us.  Dr. Harley poses the question several times in his book as he addresses in detail the various need categories, saying essentially, “Why would a spouse want to diminish their love bank account with their companion.”  As they both unselfishly work to build their love bank account with their companion in each of the need areas, then their relationship grows stronger and stronger and more and more fulfilling for both – bringing about the oneness designed by our loving Heavenly Father for this most important of all mortal relationships.

In his concluding chapter, From Incompatible to Irresistible, Dr. Harley uses the American Heritage Dictionary for the definition of the above two words:

Incompatible = inharmonious, antagonistic; and the definition for

Irresistible = having an overpowering appeal. 

Dr. Harley’s counseling experience has shown him that marriages that are near divorce due to an affair or other serious problem can be moved from incompatible to irresistible if both spouses will address all aspects of the needs matrix outlined above.  And even good marriages can be moved toward the ideal by also addressing these needs that will help fill the love bank account with their companion.

Specifically, he says that, “Any husband can make himself irresistible to his wife by learning to meet her five most important emotional needs.

1.         Affection.  Her husband tells her that he loves her with words, cards, flowers, gifts, and common courtesies.  He hugs and kisses her many times each day, creating an environment of affection that clearly and repeatedly expresses his love for her.

2.         Conversation.  He sets aside time every day to talk to her.  They may talk about events in their lives, their children, their feelings or their plans.  But whatever the topic, she enjoys the conversation because it is never judgmental, always informative and constructive.  She talks to him as much as she would like, and he responds with interest.  He is never too busy “to just talk.” (Dr. Harley suggests from his experience that 15 hours a week is good.  “Pillow-talk time” can be an important part of this time.)

3.         Honesty and openness.  He tells her everything about himself, leaving nothing out that might later surprise her.  He describes his positive and negative feelings, events of his past, his daily schedule, and his plans for the future.  He never leaves her with a false impression and is truthful about his thoughts, feelings, intentions, and behavior.

4.         Financial support.  He assumes the responsibility to house, feed, and clothe the family.  If his income is insufficient to provide essential support, he resolves the problem by upgrading his skills to increase his salary.  He does not work long hours, keeping himself from his wife and family, but is able to provide necessary support by working a forty- to forty-five-hour week...

5.         Family commitment.  He commits sufficient time and energy to the moral, (physical, spiritual), and educational development of the children.  He reads to them, engages in sports with them, and takes them on frequent outings.  He reads books and attends lectures with his wife...  He and she discuss training methods and objectives until they agree...  He recognizes that his care of the children is critically important to her.  (Parentheticals are the author’s)

If any one of these needs is not met, a void is left in her love-bank account for him, as all these needs are real for her.  This void will keep them from enjoying the “full oneness” that the Lord designed for this most important of all mortal relationships.

Correspondingly, for the wife he says that, “A wife makes herself irresistible to her husband by learning to meet his five most important emotional needs.

1.         Sexual fulfillment.  His wife meets this need by becoming a terrific sexual partner.  She studies her own sexual response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in her; then she shares this information with him, and together they learn to have a sexual relationship that both find repeatedly satisfying and enjoyable.

2.         Recreational companionship.  She develops an interest in the recreational activities he enjoys most and tries to become proficient at them.  If she finds she cannot enjoy them, she encourages him to consider other activities that they can enjoy together.  She becomes his favorite recreational companion, and he associates her with his most enjoyable moments of relaxation.

3.         Physical attractiveness.  She keeps herself physically fit with diet and exercise, and she wears her hair, makeup, and clothes in a way that he finds attractive and tasteful.  He is attracted to her in private and proud of her in public.

4.         Domestic support.  She creates a home that offers him a refuge from the stresses of life.  She manages the household responsibilities in a way that encourages him to spend time at home enjoying his family.

5.         Admiration.  She understands and appreciates him more than anyone else.  She reminds him of his value and achievements and helps him maintain self-confidence.  She avoids criticizing him.  She is proud of him, not out of duty, but from a profound respect for the man she chose to marry.

If any one of these needs is not met, a void is left in his love-bank account for her, as all these needs are real for him.  This void will keep them from enjoying the “full oneness” that the Lord designed for this most important of all mortal relationships.

Unconditional love on the part of the husband and/or the wife, allows them to deal with these voids.   But until these voids are filled, the fullness and richness they both desire will be lacking.  The beautiful aspect of living is that if both have the desire, then progress will be made and their relationship will continue to blossom and improve.   The Lord can help us work through any problem.  If they will seek his help, then progress is guaranteed.  In some cases the Spirit may guide them to a professional or ecclesiastical counselor or leader. 

As Dr. Harley’s above needs matrix fits couples on average, specifically each persons needs may vary some from the average.  This makes loving communication an extremely important ingredient in building or rebuilding a marriage relationship.  As he says, “Few experiences match falling in love.  But many couples fail to realize that love needs constant nurture and care.  I’ve [given] you some guidelines for providing that care and for building a marriage that can become better and better.  It takes hard work and a willingness to learn new skills, but when you’ve done this, you will have mastered one of life’s most valuable lessons.”

The gospel of Jesus Christ brings to marriage a three-way relationship: between husband and wife and between each of them and the Lord.  Each of them being “Born of God” is the most important part of their preparation for marriage as the Lord designed it.  This “Born Again” experience can, of course, occur after marriage as well and will open doors to marital oneness not possible without the Lord. 

Entering into covenants with each other and with the Lord for time and eternity is (can be, should be, ought to be) the most exciting, most joyous, and provides for the most fulfilling of all human relationships and experiences during our mortal journey, as well as in eternity.  Being deeply in love with each other, they gladly, willingly, and with great joy in their hearts enter into these sacred covenants.  She willingly and gladly gives herself to him – knowing that she can totally trust him – having had a witness that he is the right one for her eternal companion in this most important union.  Similarly for him, he willingly and gladly receives her to himself and promises to provide for her needs, for her protection, and to live up to that trust she has placed in him.  As Paul so profoundly states, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Ephesians 5:25) In other words, a husband should cherish and love his wife so much that he is willing to do all things necessary to provide for her needs, and he would be willing to lay down his life for her to protect her if need be.

Lloyd Newell shares:

Those who have been happily married rejoice in the depth of that spiritual identity they share. One man, who lived in the nineteenth century, wrote this prayer for his wife: "Oh God . . . wilt Thou bless her with peace and with a long life; and when Thou shalt see fit to take her, let [me] go with her; and dwell with each other throughout eternity; that no power shall ever separate us from each other; for Thou . . . knowest we love each other with pure hearts. . . . Now, . . . hear Thy servant, and let us have the desires of our hearts; for we want to live together, and die, and be buried, and rise and reign together in Thy kingdom with our dear children." [1]

When we hear this depth of feeling, we almost wonder if such emotion is possible in our world today. All around us we see examples of love that are fleeting—commitment that is temporary. We see emotions that are stirred and then die again, vanished like yesterday's styles. Perhaps it is because we have forgotten what marriage is. We become distracted by the first flurries of romantic attachment—and call that love. We find someone physically attractive—and call that love.

The love that becomes a joyful marriage has rich spiritual dimensions and forgiveness of one another.  It says, "If it matters to you, then it matters to me." It says, "I can count on you under all circumstances." It says, "I am safe in your love. When I stumble on my weaknesses, you are not critical. I am a soul in the process of unfolding, and you accept me where I am. Because you love me, I am free to grow."

Is this kind of love really possible today? Yes, it is. But we must remember that it is the Lord who makes it possible. "Beloved," said John, "let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." [2] The kind of love that transforms two into one is a gift from God; and, if we want it enough, He is the one who can show us the way. We have to be willing to be transformed by Him into people far more capable of love and of loving than we could ever do on our own. We have to learn the fine lessons of forgiveness, patience, courage in the face of trials.  As our hearts are changed through His love, we can, in turn, learn to love. Then, and only then, can  we put our days of loneliness behind us to move into days of joy and being “one flesh” as He designed us to be.

1. Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1945), p. 335.

2. 1 John 4:7.

 (Lloyd D. Newell, May Peace Be with You [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 126.)

 

IV-B    IN PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS

There is a book, Arming Your Children with the Gospel: Creating Opportunities for Spiritual Experiences by R. Wayne Boss and Leslee S. Boss, that is an excellent resource in this regard.  It is available from Deseret Book in paper back for $14.95, and is a very worth while investment:

http://deseretbook.com/store/product?sku=4634502  It is a how to book with great, inspiring stories.  I know the authors well, and they and their children have been tried by fire and have weathered the storms.  All of them are great examples of true disciples of Christ filled with love.

 

IV-C    THE VALUE OF “TOUCHING” IN HEALTHY HUMAN INTERACTIONS

A book that every parent should read is the classic Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin by Ashley Montagu.  Montagu taught and lectured at Harvard, Princeton (where he chaired the Department of Anthropology), University of California, and New York University. He has written over 60 books.

The following is a readers comment on this book taken from Amazon books:

An amazing book on parenting and the touching humans need!, If you only get one book on parenting and how to raise a child get this one. This is a thick book with lots of research to support the ideas presented by Dr. Montague. However scholastic this book might be it is very readable...  This is one amazing book full of data that instructs us to hold our children close as long as possible and why this is so critical to their development in every aspect. Read it!!!

From a February 2007 Reader’s Digest article on improving marriage, we read (p. 170):

Human touch aids the release of feel-good endorphins, for giver and receiver.  So link arms as you walk into the grocery store.  Brush her check with your fingertips when you smooch good morning.  Revive the ways you touched in the early days – a kiss on the back of the ear, a hand through her hair.  Touch is a complex language.  It pays to improve your vocabulary.

Your touch, as motivated by pure or true love, always enhances human relations (with husband and wife, in the family, and in general) as long as the recipient knows where you are coming from.  Touch is a very important coupling technique as loving energy flows from giver to receiver.  It can come in many forms: a warm hand shake, a touch on the arm or check, a hug, etc.

As Montagu discusses in his book, touching of a mother with her infant is critical in its development in all aspect of its being.  Without touch, the infant will literally and most likely die.

Touch, as motivated by distorted love, leads down paths that are soul destroying and have the opposite effect as that motivated by pure or true love.  Satan, knowing the importance of healthy human interactions, has turned the “touch” thing upside down with all kinds of distortions from what could be and should be appropriate in healthy human interactions both sexually and non-sexually.  Satan must be happy that now our society is litigious about it.  A teacher who touches a student may get sued!

The Lord gave us these beautiful tactile sensitivities.  Properly used and appreciated, they bring so much of that which is beautiful, lovely, and very enjoyable in human relationships.  Interestingly, touching is also so much a beautiful part of our lives in all relationships with animals as well.   They know, feel, and enjoy the pure and tender touch coming from a loving human being.

Though not tactile, loving thoughts are like spiritual touch.  Humans, animals, and plants respond to these in a beautiful way as well.  As we think on Christ, His love and spirit will reflect from our countenances and bless the lives of all that interact with us.  Keeping the second great commandment not only includes our neighbors, but all of His marvelous creations.  Being one with God includes being one with them.

V.        HAVE YOU BEEN BORN OF GOD SO THAT YOU MAY ENJOY PURE LOVE?

Alma asks this most poignant of questions: “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14) If we have not, we cannot enjoy the full blessings of true or pure love in our lives.

V-A     HOW ARE WE BORN OF GOD?

King Lamoni’s father asked this question of Aaron in the Book of Mormon:

And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.  But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest. (Alma 22:15-16)

Upon the King following Aaron’s counsel, he received this most important desire and was born of God.

We often associate being born again with being baptized of water and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and indeed, these are essential ordinances, but are of no avail if our hearts are not right before God so that we can receive the baptism of fire, which is administered by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and which can and does give us complete freedom from sin.  The ordinances are administered by those holding the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood, but only the Godhead truly knows our hearts.  And as the Savior said, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)   We must be born again of water, fire, and the Spirit to see the Kingdom of Heaven (John 3:3-5; 2 Nephi 31:)

The importance of being born of God and its relationship with the pure love of God is beautifully taught by John:

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat [the Father] loveth him also that is begotten of him.  By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:..  For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  (1 John 5:1-4)

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  (1 John 4:7-11)

Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him; and he cannot continue in sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise. (JST 1 John 3:9)

Alma tells his profound and powerful conversion story to his son Helaman in Alma 36.  The finger print of the Lord is evidenced as this whole chapter forms and inspired chiasmus with the focal point being his coming to Christ and feeling the depths of the atonement.  Even more depth can be found as one reads A with A’ and B with B’, etc. – arriving at the focal point – forgiveness through the atonement of Christ, which should be the same for each of us.


A   My son give ear to my words (v 1)

  B    Keep the commandments and ye shall prosper in the land (v 1 )

    C   Captivity of our fathers--bondage (v 2) [symbolic of our captivity when we sin]

      D   He surely did deliver them (v 2) [as he will deliver us]

        E   Trust in God (v 3)

          F   Support in trials, troubles and afflictions (v 3)

            G   I know this not of myself but of God (v 4)

              H   Born of God  (v 5 )

                I    Limbs paralyzed (v 10)

                  J   Angel spake: If though wilt be destroyed, seek not to destroy the church of God (v 11 )

                    K   I was racked with eternal torment (v 12)

                      L    Racked with my sins... tormented with the pains of hell... pains of a damned soul (v 12-16)

                        M   Harrowed by memory of my many sins...then remembered coming of Jesus Christ (v17)

Alma’s conversion, v 18-19 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.  And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

                         M’ Oh what joy, my soul filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain (v 20)

                       L’  nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy (v 21)

                     K’ Nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains (v 21)

                   J’ Angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God (v 22)

                 I’  Use of limbs returns (v 23)

              H’  Born of God (v 26)

            G’  Therefore my knowledge is of God (v 26)

          F’  Supported under trials and troubles and afflictions (v 27)

        E’  Trust in him (v 27)

      D’  He will deliver me (v 27)

    C’   Egypt--captivity (v 28-29)

  B’   Keep the commandments and ye shall prosper in the land (v 30)

A’  This according to his word (v 30)

 

Adapted from Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon by John W. Welch, BYU Studies, vol. 10 No. 1 - Autumn 1969.


Robert L. Millet says in his book,  Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth:

The good news is that through the atoning blood of Christ, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, we can be born again, born from above, "born of God, changed from [our] carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters." What a joyous message: We may become "new creatures" in Christ (Mosiah 27:25-26).   As President David O. McKay explained: "What the sun in the heavenly blue is to the earth struggling to get free from winter's grip, so the gospel is to sorrowing souls yearning for something higher and better than mankind has yet found" (Gospel Ideals, 3).

That something is a rebirth, a renewal. The Fall brought death, and Christ brought life, not only in the form of resurrection but also in the form of spiritual regeneration. Those who are born again have come alive to God and to godliness, have broken forth from the tomb of spiritual death, from complacency and inertia. They no longer walk "in darkness at noon-day" (D&C 95:6). The dawning of a new day dispels darkness and disbelief. President Ezra Taft Benson spoke of an experience that President David O. McKay had in the 1920s. After falling asleep, President McKay "'beheld in vision something infinitely sublime.' He saw a beautiful city, a great concourse of people dressed in white, and the Savior. 'The city, I understood, was his. It was the City Eternal; and the people following him were to abide there in peace and eternal happiness. But who were they? As if the Savior read my thoughts, he answered by pointing to a semicircle that then appeared above them, and on which were written in gold the words: These Are They Who Have Overcome the WorldWho Have Truly Been Born Again! When I awoke, it was breaking day.'" President Benson added: "When we awake and are born of God, a new day will break and Zion will be redeemed" (A Witness and A Warning, 65-66).

(Robert L. Millet, Alive in Christ: The Miracle of Spiritual Rebirth [Deseret Book Co., 1997], 15 - 16.)  Prof. Millet’s book is an excellent resource for helping us to appreciate the power of the atonement to cleanse us.

 

V-B.    HOW BEING BORN OF GOD HELPS IN RELATIONSHIPS

Alma offers insight into integrity of values and behavior in testifying of his own change:

For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:24-26)

Dr. Victor L. Brown, Jr. reports of a study in which seven of eight clients were helped in a major way to heal from sexual intimacy problems:

Seven of the eight people of this study experienced intense, cleansing desires to "revenge," through their own efforts, the damage caused to themselves by themselves. They approximated Alma and Paul in their efforts to embrace the gospel of Christ and become new creatures. Their reaction was not just guilt. It was also "vehement" desire to rid themselves of lifelong pain due to severe disparity of belief and behavior. As Erikson eloquently states, "There is a limit to a child's and an adult's endurance in the face of demands to consider himself, his body, and his wishes as evil and dirty, and to his belief in the infallibility of those who pass such judgment." [Erik H. Erikson, Childhood and Society, 2d ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1963), 267.]  It would distort the picture to allow professional disinterest to obscure the depth of the emotions or the passion of the struggle these people underwent. Seven of them sought and achieved a mighty change.

The tasks undertaken by the eight to bring about an integration of values and role behaviors included the selection of models, development of relationship skills, and achievement of gender security and sexual clarification.

Healing Problems of Intimacy by Clients' Use of Gospel-Based Values and Role Definitions by Victor L. Brown, Jr., BYU Studies, vol. 26 (1986), Number 1 - Winter 1986 19

Elder Henry B. Erying asks this question, “Have you thought very much about that great, mighty change that the scriptures talk about?”  Then he amplifies the answer:

Alma the Younger described it this way: "The Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, , changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God." (Mosiah 27:25-26)

Have you ever thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have that experience?" Well, the scriptures don't suggest that it would be nice; they say that it's necessary in order for you and me to have what it is we want, which is eternal life. Now, so that you don't get too discouraged, consider what President Ezra Taft Benson said: "When we have undergone this mighty change, which is brought about only through faith in Jesus Christ and through the operation of the Spirit upon us, it is as though we have become a new person. Thus, the change is likened to a new birth. Thousands of you have experienced this change. You have forsaken lives of sin, sometimes deep and offensive sin, and through applying the blood of Christ in your lives have become clean. You have no more disposition to return to your old ways. You are in reality a new person. This is what is meant by a change of heart." ("A Mighty Change of Heart," Ensign, October 1989, p. 4) 

I want you to know that what we're talking about is real. This is not just "Wouldn't it be nice?" but something that can be done. Let me tell you how. The key is found in one word, and the word is surrender. Now, some people are used to being tough and strong, and they feel that surrendering is not something you should do very often. But we're not talking about surrendering to a human being. President David O. McKay said that "human nature can be changed, here and now." He then quoted this statement from Beverly Nichols: "You do change human nature, your own human nature, if you surrender it to Christ. Human nature has been changed in the past. Human nature must be changed on an enormous scale in the future, unless the world is to be drowned in its own blood. And only Christ can change it." (David O. McKay, Stepping Stones to an Abundant Life [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1971], p. 23; as quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, "Born of God," Ensign, July 1989, p. 4)

Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Deseret Book Co., 1997], 105.

The Savior, after His resurrection, offered a most poignant prayer for those who would surrender themselves to Him.  These are they whom the Father gives to the Son because of their faith: “Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.” (3 Nephi 19:29) He prayed similarly just before His passion: “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me... which shall believe on me through their [the Apostles] word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:9, 20, 21)

He is the one who can change us as we surrender to Him.  As Paul said, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19) As we surrender and invite Him into our lives, He will come in and perfect us – helping us to overcome all things.  We cannot do it without Him.  King Benjamin taught this principle profoundly:

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.  (Mosiah 3:19)

Let us therefore surrender to Christ, so that we may truly be “Born of God” and be filled with His perfect love.  As we do so we will then love our eternal companions and our offspring with that same perfect love.  By this example and feeling the door is opened for them to respond in kind more readily than otherwise.  So let us be wise.

 

VI.       OVERCOMING ADDICTIONS THAT MAY DESTROY A MARRIAGE OR FAMILY

Addictions may come in a variety of forms: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food (overweight issues, e.g.), pornography, etc.  We are so blessed to have the Savior ever willing to help us work through any of these.  He has the solution to every problem – having overcome all things – and will help us overcome if we will come unto Him.

In addition to the scriptures, the following books are outstanding in helping to overcoming addictions:

1)         He did Deliver me from Bondage by Colleen C. Harrison.  It is available from Deseret Book.  The source may be found at Colleen’s web site: http://www.windhavenpublishing.com/

It is a work book based on Book of Mormon Scriptures that when applied will bring a person to Christ, who will then deliver them from bondage.  There are “Heart t' Heart” meetings being held weekly at various places across the country that are based on this book.  There are also ‘on-line’ meetings: http://www.heart-t-heart.org/meetings.html

2)         Colleen’s book evolved into a social services workbook of the same title, and was used from 1995 to 2005.  A Church committee, which included Colleen, has updated and replaced it with a book entitled: Addiction Recovery Guide.  This guide is available from Church Distribution (#36764000) for $5, or in case lots of 50 for $3 a piece with no shipping charges.

3)         Healing Hearts and Mending Minds by Mark B. Kastleman has been reference before in this article.  It also is outstanding, and is written by a person who has overcome a serious pornography addiction that threatened to destroy his family.  He is now free of this enormous burden of guilt.  His book has also helped several others.  Unfortunately, it is out of print and hard to find even used copies.

4)         Clean Hands, Pure Heart: Overcoming Addiction to Pornography through the Redeeming Power of Jesus Christ, by Philip A. Harrison, who is Colleen’s husband and a cured addict from pornography.  It is also available from http://www.windhavenpublishing.com/ and comes highly recommended.  Colleen told me that bishops are buying this book by the case.  It is a Christ centered book – helping to open the door of mercy to those with addictions – giving them hope.  It is also designed for those who are working with those with addictions or who have family members with addictions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Love is premièrement.  No opportunity or commandment is more important than to love.  We see that as we come to understand and internalize true or pure love, this brings harmony, joy, and a oneness in our relationships both with God and with each other – especially with those who are near and dear.  The message of gladness that the gospel brings into our lives is fundamentally a message of love.  Learning to love is learning to live the gospel.  As we live it, we receive and share the Lord’s love, which fills our hearts, permeates our lives, and radiates to all within our influence.  (Moroni 7:47-48)

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance are our path to receive this pure love, which entails coming to Christ so that He can change us and prepare us to receive His fullness of love, of light, and of truth.  Doing so allows us to overcome all things because He overcame all things and has the solution to every problem and addiction.  Coming unto Him brings the perfect peace from the Spirit that enlightens our lives and which is so critically needed in this world of wickedness.

Harmony and order exist in the ideal society filled with God’s love.  The confusion, addictions, hate, envy, immorality, etc. that we see in the world come from the dark side.  Harmony of body, mind, and spirit come when we are one with the Lord.  In contrast to the world, he helps us overcome the world. 

1) In our bodies, we are buried with Him by baptism – taking His name upon us, which baptism is symbolic of His death and glorious resurrection.  2)  In our minds, we can choose to give Him the only thing that is really ours to give – our agency (we surrender our wills).  When we truly do that, then, ironically, He can lead us to perfect and ultimate freedom.  As He chose to totally submit to the Father’s will, as our perfect exemplar, He was able to subdue all enemies under His feet and open the door to Eternal Life.  3) In our spirits we can – through full repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ – receive the baptism of fire, which communicates to us the glorious truth that we are totally forgiven of our sins.  Without this, we cannot enjoy that oneness and harmony with God that is essential to the greatest happiness here and in the world to come.   http://www.allanstime.com/Spiritual/born_again_body_mind_spirit.htm 

In the arithmetic of the Lord, seven is basic.  It takes seven thousand years to celestialize the earth.  There are seven days in the week to bring us to the Holy Sabbath, where we can better come to know the Lord and renew our covenants with Him (Ezek. 20:20).  There are seven dispensations of the gospel to bring the inhabitants of the earth to a restoration of all things.  There are seven dimensions to the Lord’s atonement to bring us to perfection.  There are seven learning centers in the brain, which when fully utilized, we optimize our ability to love, to serve, and to best use our talents for personal growth. http://www.allanstime.com/Spiritual/BookReports/magic_trees.htm

As we dig deeper, we find there are seven electron shells surrounding the nucleus of all atoms – making up all the elements in the universe.  In a new unified field theory (UFT) being researched by the author, there are seven spectral regions that the Lord uses to bring about the incredible harmony that  we see throughout the universe.  This is done via diallel-field-lines that connect everything to everything.  We have been able to prove the existence of these diallel-lines and that they have quantum states.   Everyone has a direct diallel-field-line connection to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Prayer uses these lines and is instantaneous, and is our greatest opportunity to ever be in touch with those who love us most.  Time is a mortal limitation as we move along our eternal journey.  We are limited by the four-dimensions of space and time; the Lord is not.  Love allows us to sense and move into the eternity-domain – the fifth dimension.  Love is the power by which Father governs the universe and which motivates His great plan of happiness. Love is the power by which we may return to the Father and fully partake of a fullness of joy with Him, with the Lord, and with our loved ones.  May we learn to love as Jesus and the Father love is my prayer.  In so doing, we come to know them, which is eternal life – the greatest of all the gifts of God.  My purpose and hope in writing this is to help us all obtain that gift.

http://www.allanstime.com/Spiritual/In_Touch_with_Eternity.htm

See also

Other Spiritual Writings by David W. Allan
 

Page posted March 25, 2007
Page last updated February 09, 2008

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