Love

“Love,” Eternal Marriage Student Manual (2003), 154–66


Selected Teachings

Related Scriptures

Matthew 6:24

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

Romans 8:35, 39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 13:10

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Ephesians 5:2, 25, 33

“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. …

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; …

“Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–23

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

“And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.”

What Is True Love?

President David O. McKay

“‘Well,’ you may ask, ‘how may I know when I am in love?’

“… George Q. Morris [who later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave this reply]: ‘My mother once said that if you meet a girl in whose presence you feel a desire to achieve, who inspires you to do your best, and to make the most of yourself, such a young woman is worthy of your love and is awakening love in your heart.’

“I submit that … as a true guide. In the presence of the girl you truly love you do not feel to grovel; in her presence you do not attempt to take advantage of her; in her presence you feel that you would like to be everything that a Master Man should become, for she will inspire you to that ideal. And I ask you young women to cherish that same guide” (“As Youth Contemplates an Eternal Partnership,” Improvement Era, Mar. 1938, 139).

President Ezra Taft Benson

“If we would truly seek to be more like our Savior and Master, learning to love as He loves should be our highest goal” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 275).

Elder John A. Widtsoe

“Love is the foundation of marriage, but love itself is a product of law and lives by law. True love is law-abiding, for the highest satisfactions come to a law-abiding life. …

“… Marriage that lasts only during earth life is a sad one, for the love established between man and woman, as they live together and rear their family, should not die, but live and grow richer with the eternal years. True love hopes and prays for an endless continuation of association with the loved one. To those who are sealed to each other for all existence, love is ever warm, more hopeful, believing, courageous, and fearless. Such people live the richer, more joyful life. To them happiness and the making of it have no end. …

“Above physical charm, love is begotten by qualities, often subtle, of mind and spirit. The beautiful face may hide an empty mind; the sweet voice may utter coarse words; the lovely form may be ill-mannered; the woman of radiant beauty and the man of kingly form may be intolerable bores on nearer acquaintanceship; or, the person who looks attractive may really have no faults, may excel us in knowledge and courtesy, yet he is not of our kind, his ways are not ours. Under either condition, love wilts in its first stage. ‘Falling in love’ is always from within, rather than from without. That is, physical attractiveness must be reinforced with mental and spiritual harmony if true love is to be born and have long life—from the Latter-day Saint point of view, to last throughout the eternities” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 297, 299, 302).

Elder Spencer W. Kimball

“What is love? Many people think of it as mere physical attraction and they casually speak of ‘falling in love’ and ‘love at first sight.’ This may be Hollywood’s version and the interpretation of those who write love songs and love fiction. True love is not wrapped in such flimsy material. One might become immediately attracted to another individual, but love is far more than physical attraction. It is deep, inclusive and comprehensive. Physical attraction is only one of the many elements, but there must be faith and confidence and understanding and partnership. There must be common ideals and standards. There must be a great devotion and companionship. Love is cleanliness and progress and sacrifice and selflessness. This kind of love never tires nor wanes, but lives through sickness and sorrow, poverty and privation, accomplishment and disappointment, time and eternity” (Love versus Lust, 18).

“If one really loves another, one would rather die for that person than to injure him” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 279).

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley

“May I quickly suggest four cornerstones upon which to build that house? There are others, but I choose to emphasize these. …

“The first of these I call Respect for One Another, the kind of respect that regards one’s companion as the most precious friend on earth and not as a possession or a chattel to be forced or compelled to suit one’s selfish whims.

“Pearl Buck has observed, ‘Love cannot be forced. … It comes out of heaven, unasked and unsought.’ (The Treasure Chest, p. 165.)

“This respect comes of recognition that each of us is a son or daughter of God, endowed with something of his divine nature, that each is an individual entitled to expression and cultivation of individual talents and deserving of forbearance, of patience, of understanding, of courtesy, of thoughtful consideration. True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well being of one’s companion” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 81–82; or Ensign, June 1971, 71).

Elder Boyd K. Packer

See quotation on page 142.

Elder Marvin J. Ashton

“The world is filled with too many of us who are inclined to indicate our love with an announcement or declaration.

“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 through the processes of feeding and keeping.

“Love of God takes time. Love of family takes time. Love of country takes time. Love of neighbor takes time. Love of companion takes time. Love in courtship takes time. Love of self takes time” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1975, 160, 163; or Ensign, Nov. 1975, 108, 110).

“One who loves has and feels responsibility. Paul in 1 Corinthians says love thinketh no evil, is not self-seeking, is long-suffering, and is kind. (see 1 Cor. 13:4–5.) If we look at love between two who are preparing for temple marriage, we see the elements of sacrifice and of serving each other’s best interests, not a shortsighted ‘me’ interest. True love and happiness in courtship and marriage are based upon honesty, self-respect, sacrifice, consideration, courtesy, kindness, and placing ‘we’ ahead of ‘me.’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1981, 30; or Ensign, May 1981, 23).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“Perfect love is perfectly patient” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 69).

“Unlike our love, Jesus’ love consists of active restraint as well as pressing encouragement. His perfect love of each and all spares Him the need to accept us as we now are, for He knows perfectly what we have the possibility to become” (Even As I Am, 18).

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Love, as defined by the Lord, elevates, protects, respects, and enriches another. It motivates one to make sacrifices for another” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 43; or Ensign, May 1991, 35).

Elder Joe J. Christensen

“Be quick to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ As hard as it is to form the words, be swift to say, ‘I apologize, and please forgive me,’ even though you are not the one who is totally at fault. True love is developed by those who are willing to readily admit personal mistakes and offenses” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 86; or Ensign, May 1995, 65).

What Are Some of the Counterfeits of True Love?

Elder Spencer W. Kimball

“At the hour of sin, pure love is pushed out of one door while lust sneaks in the other. Affection has then been replaced with desire of the flesh and uncontrolled passion. Accepted has been the doctrine which the devil is so eager to establish, that illicit sex relations are justified” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 279).

“If anyone feels that petting or other deviations are demonstrations of love, let him ask himself: ‘If this beautiful body which I have misused suddenly became deformed, or paralyzed, would my reactions be the same? If this lovely face were scarred by flames, or this body which I have used suddenly became rigid, or this keen mind which I have enjoyed were suddenly to become blank, would I be such an ardent lover? If senility or any of its approaches suddenly fell upon my sweetheart, what would my attitudes be?’ Answers to these questions might test one to see if he really is in love or if it is only physical attraction which encouraged the improper physical contacts. The young man who protects his sweetheart against all use or abuse, against insult and infamy from himself or others, could be expressing true love.

“But the young man who uses his companion as a biological toy to give himself temporary satisfaction—that is lust, and is at the other end of the spectrum from love. A young woman conducts herself to be attractive spiritually, mentally and physically but will not by word nor dress nor act stir nor stimulate to physical reactions the companion beside her. That could be true love. That young woman who must touch and stir and fondle and tempt and use knows not love. That is lust and exploitation” (Love versus Lust, 18–19).

Elder Boyd K. Packer

“The greatest deception foisted upon the human race in our day is that overemphasis of physical gratification as it is related to romantic love. It is merely a repetition of the same delusion that has been impressed on every generation in ages past. When we learn that physical gratification is only incident to, and not the compelling force of love itself, we have made a supreme discovery. If only physical gratification should interest you, you need not be selective at all. This power is possessed by almost everyone. Alone, without attendant love, this relationship becomes nothing—indeed, less and worse than nothing” (Eternal Love, 15).

Elder Richard G. Scott

“Satan promotes counterfeit love, which is lust. It is driven by a hunger to appease personal appetite. One who practices this deception cares little for the pain and destruction caused another. While often camouflaged by flattering words, its motivation is self-gratification. You know how to be clean and live a righteous life. We trust you to do it. The Lord will bless you richly and will help you keep clean and pure” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 43–44; or Ensign, May 1991, 35).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“May I suggest that human intimacy, that sacred, physical union ordained of God for a married couple, deals with a symbol that demands special sanctity. Such an act of love between a man and a woman is—or certainly was ordained to be—a symbol of total union: union of their hearts, their hopes, their lives, their love, their family, their future, their everything. It is a symbol that we try to suggest in the temple with a word like seal. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps ought to render such a sacred bond as ‘welding’—that those united in matrimony and eternal families are ‘welded’ together, inseparable, if you will, to withstand the temptations of the adversary and the afflictions of mortality (see D&C 128:18).

“But such a total, virtually unbreakable union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with the union of all that they possess—their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams. …

“Can you see then the moral schizophrenia that comes from pretending we are one, sharing the physical symbols and physical intimacy of our union, but then fleeing, retreating, severing all such other aspects—and symbols—of what was meant to be a total obligation, only to unite again furtively some other night or, worse yet, furtively unite (and you can tell how cynically I use that word) with some other partner who is no more bound to us, no more one with us than the last was or than the one that will come next week or next month or next year or anytime before the binding commitments of marriage?” (Speaking Out on Moral Issues, 158–59; see also Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 100).

How Does Our Love for God Influence Our Ability to Love Others?

Elder Orson Pratt

“The more righteous a people become the more they are qualified for loving others and rendering them happy. A wicked man can have but little love for his wife; while a righteous man, being filled with the love of God, is sure to manifest this heavenly attribute in every thought and feeling of his heart, and in every word and deed. Love, joy, and innocence will radiate from his very countenance, and be expressed in every look. This will beget confidence in the wife of his bosom, and she will love him in return; for love begets love; happiness imparts happiness; and these heaven born emotions will continue to increase more and more, until they are perfected and glorified in all the fulness of eternal love itself” (“Celestial Marriage,” The Seer, Oct. 1853, 156).

Elder John A. Widtsoe

“True love of man for woman always includes love of God from whom all good things issue” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 297).

Elder Russell M. Nelson

“Without a strong commitment to the Lord, an individual is more prone to have a low level of commitment to a spouse. Weak commitments to eternal covenants lead to losses of eternal consequence” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 98; or Ensign, May 1997, 72).

What Types of Conduct Help Develop True Love in Relationships?

President Joseph Fielding Smith

“If a man and his wife were earnestly and faithfully observing all the ordinances and principles of the gospel, there could not arise any cause for divorce. The joy and happiness pertaining to the marriage relationship would grow sweeter, and husband and wife would become more and more attached to each other as the days go by. Not only would the husband love the wife and the wife the husband, but children born to them would live in an atmosphere of love and harmony. The love of each for the others would not be impaired, and moreover the love of all towards our Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ would be more firmly rooted in their souls” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1965, 11).

President Ezra Taft Benson

The Lord “said, ‘Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else’ (D&C 42:22). …

“This kind of love can be shown for your wives in so many ways. First and foremost, nothing except God Himself takes priority over your wife in your life—not work, not recreation, not hobbies. …

“What does it mean to love someone with all your heart? It means to love with all your emotional feelings and with all your devotion. … You cannot demean her, criticize her, find fault with her. …

“What does it mean to ‘cleave unto her’? It means to stay close to her, to be loyal and faithful to her, to communicate with her, and to express your love for her.

“Love means being sensitive to her feelings and needs. …

“Husbands, recognize your wife’s intelligence and her ability to counsel with you. …

“Give her the opportunity to grow intellectually, emotionally, and socially as well as spiritually.

“Remember, brethren, love can be nurtured and nourished by little tokens. Flowers on special occasions are wonderful, but so is your willingness to help with the dishes, change diapers, get up with a crying child in the night, and leave the television or the newspaper to help with the dinner. Those are the quiet ways we say ‘I love you’ with our actions. They bring rich dividends for such little effort” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 61–62; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 50).

Elder Spencer W. Kimball

“If two people love the Lord more than their own lives and then love each other more than their own lives, working together in total harmony with the gospel program as their basic structure, they are sure to have this great happiness. When a husband and wife go together frequently to the holy temple, kneel in prayer together in their home with their family, go hand in hand to their religious meetings, keep their lives wholly chaste—mentally and physically—so that their whole thoughts and desires and loves are all centered in the one being, their companion, and both work together for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God, then happiness is at its pinnacle” (“Oneness in Marriage,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 5).