When people say, "love is divine", they usually mean that love is completely blissful and you feel as though you spend every waking moment until death with your lover. It reaches deep into your soul and creates a sense of wanting to sacrifice for the other person, and binds you to them in emotional, mental, and physical ways. While all of this is true, and it tends to be how we think of love, I recently heard a statement by Elder Holland that summarizes the central and most significant part of true love. When I was attending the Ogden temple open house, he said in the film preceding the tour, "There is something eternal in the statement, 'Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in the Lord'. That is more than good sociology; it is theology, and it is doctrine." The scriptures speak of the love of God being the highest and purest of all the forms of love we experience as mortals, such as when Paul wrote his famous discourse on charity in 1st Corinthians. As such, since we seek to exemplify Jesus in all things, we ought to reflect that same love in the love we profess to possess in our relationships. Love is divine, meaning that true love comes from God and can only exist in pure, wholesome circumstances.
Elder Holland has also written other things on love. In the BYU talk, "How Do I Love Thee?", he stated that it is not the when, why, why not, where, but the how that matters in true love. As I contemplate this, it becomes clear to me that Elder Holland was most definitely listening to the Spirit when he told us this, because the Savior so often condemned the Pharisees and the Sadducees for doing good works for the wrong reasons. He once even went as far to tell them that they "omit the weightier matters of the law", clarifying that they were leaving out charity from their works. Without pure and undefiled love, the things we do and the people we engage in relationships with do not matter and often become detrimental. Thus, the "how" also matters in love because not only must our intentions remain pure, but our feelings as well while expressing that love. When we speak of same-sex attraction, sometimes we refer to same-sex couples (whether romantic or married, it can be either) as "being in love". I would firmly state that because all love is divine, this is impossible. We cannot feel something divine and holy in impure circumstances, regardless of how strictly we may observe the Law of Chastity, if we desire to spend all our time with someone, or if we make countless sacrifices for the same-sex individual whom we profess "true love" for. Generally speaking, all arguments against my convictions of truth here center around thoughts and emotions. However, some may feel that actions in contradiction to the Law of Chastity are also justifiable.
Brothers and sisters, Christ made the Law of Chastity very, very plain since ancient times and has since. Sexual relations, unless otherwise revealed by practices of polygamy, are strictly for one man and one woman. Since the days of Adam, prophets, apostles, and priesthood leaders of every kind have warned against violating this law. We are bought with a price, and our bodies are the temples of God. As Paul said, if we are sanctified by the Spirit and are dwelling in Christ by that same Spirit, our bodies are then temples. If we defile ourselves as temples of God, then the Lord will destroy us if we do not repent. There is no gray area when it comes to this law. Either we are living it or we aren't. Either we are abstaining from same-sex relations outside of heterosexual marriage or we are not. Sensuality and sex are not part of God's plan before marriage, period. The scriptures are plain as word can be on this matter, and I believe that most, if not all, reading this, are wise enough to believe and follow after them. Enough said on that matter, then.
Moving forward, why else is love divine? The example of our first parents, Adam and Eve, demonstrates a beautiful, sacred love story. If we step back and look at that part of the scriptures, where everything began, it would make sense for God to follow the natural order of things. Before He married them in the garden of Eden and commanded them to bring forth children, surely He must have allowed them to pass through the natural order of mortal romance. It would not make sense for God to merely marry them, then command them to have children. That would be contrary to God's nature of love, because such a scenario would bypass the feelings that lead to sex, the necessary gateway for childbearing. Where is the scriptural evidence, then? A wonderful quote from a BYU speech entitled, "Love and Marriage" by Theodore M. Burton states this:
"When Adam saw Eve, that glorious being who had been sealed to him as his wife, he was filled with love for her, for she had been taken symbolically from his rib next to his heart. She was not taken from his head to stand over him, nor from his breast to go before him, nor from his back to walk three paces behind him, nor from his foot to be trodden upon. She was taken symbolically from his side—close to his heart to stand by him as a noble companion.
As his heart filled with love for her, he said: 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man' (Genesis 2:23). What Adam meant by these words can be paraphrased thusly: 'I love her with all my heart. She is as important to me as life itself. She is as vital to me as my own flesh and bone. I treasure her as I do my own body—as much as my own life. Without her life would be meaningless. I love her!' " If our first parents experience true, romantic love as God designed it, why then should anything have changed? It has not- for celestial marriage is not merely the pronouncement of an eternal sealing between a man and a woman. It is the entire process to get there and stay on that path to exaltation, being central to the Plan of Salvation, and is therefore "ordained of God" (see The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
That leads me to my final point of why love is divine, summarized perfectly by Marvin J. Ashton when he declared:
"True love is a process. True love requires personal action. Love must be continuing to be real. Love takes time. Too often expediency, infatuation, stimulation, persuasion, or lust are mistaken for love. How hollow, how empty if our love is no deeper than the arousal of momentary feeling or the expression in words of what is no more lasting than the time it takes to speak them!
We must at regular and appropriate intervals speak and reassure others of our love and the long time it takes to prove it by our actions. Real love does take time. The Great Shepherd had the same thoughts in mind when he taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15; italics added) and “If ye love me feed my sheep” (John 21:16; italics added). Love demands action if it is to be continuing. Love is a process. Love is not a declaration. Love is not an announcement. Love is not a passing fancy. Love is not an expediency. Love is not a convenience. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” and “If ye love me feed my sheep” are God-given proclamations that should remind us we can often best show our love..."
I testify that true love is divine, and that because of this, we must be wise to discern between what is love, and what is merely infatuation, chemical romance (which is merely that rush of feelings when you romantically get to know someone amazing), close friendship, and so forth. Since true love is divine, it also includes the purity of the Spirit at all times, and cannot include violations of God's commandments throughout its process. What I mean, to clarify, is that we cannot claim to be "in love" with someone while violating the Law of Chastity, or when we are acting in ways that contradict the counsel of the General Authorities. What they speak is more than just good advice- it is the will of God for us (D&C 68:5-6). There are so many reasons why true love is always pure and wholesome, but it is up to us to stay within those bounds of purity and wholesomeness. If we do not, I can testify that it will lead to spiritual destruction and misery. I have been there and I know that justifying things contrary to God's commandments to fulfill personal passions and/or desires ultimately leads to spiritual despair. Joy comes from pursuing a close relationship to Jesus Christ, and being true to the ultimate divine love- His love. I testify of the truth of this, with all my heart and soul. Until next time, brothers and sisters...