Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love and Law

The article this week is called "Love and Law" -- a talk given by the apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks in the most recent General Conference.

In his talk, Elder Oaks very clearly outlined the the relationship between God's love and His commandments. From Elder Oaks:

There is no greater evidence of the infinite power and perfection of God’s love than is declared by the Apostle John: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Another Apostle wrote that God “spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). Think how it must have grieved our Heavenly Father to send His Son to endure incomprehensible suffering for our sins. That is the greatest evidence of His love for each of us!

Indeed, God is our loving Heavenly Father. His is a perfect love for us and because He loves us, He gives us direction that we may know how to be eternally happy. That direction most often comes in the form of commandments which are more than just guidelines yet should not be looked upon as restrictions on our freedom and agency. He knows what's best for us, of course, and He lets us know through His apostles and prophets.

God gives us commandments and the freedom to choose for ourselves; hence the pain, sorrow, suffering, and fear in the world, which stem from wrong choices. However, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all that is wrong can be made right.

Elder Oaks carefully and clearly explains the line between God's love and natural consequences for our actions. While we do have our agency and God does love us, He will not support us in our actions that are contrary to His teachings. He said:

Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children. Mercy cannot rob justice, and those who obtain mercy are “they who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment” (D&C 54:6).

I offer my own testimony that living the commandments of God does bring the greatest happiness. Of course acting contrary to God's commands may bring temporary satisfaction and pleasure, but lasting happiness can only be obtained by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. God gives us commandments because He loves us, not for any other reason. And we show our love for Him by striving to live according to those commandments.