Thursday, February 21, 2013

Love and Law

People like to say that Jesus was all about love. This is true, but not in the sense people usually mean it. Jesus was not all about just being neighborly and loyal to one another. He wasn't about heedless, selfish love, about winking at all sorts of wickedness in order to maintain the status quo and be popular and avoid offending anybody. No, he was about pure charity, selfless love, about doing the right thing and saying the right thing and wanting the right thing for everybody, come what may. Perhaps the closest modern vernacular is "tough love," the kind that points us to goodness, health, holiness, and heaven.

The gospel is full of hard doctrines that are somehow being conveniently swept under the rug as the cunning, wicked world around us gains our approval and warps our understanding. The pure love of Christ is founded on truth and righteousness, and not just keeping the commandments outwardly but inwardly as well. How important is this thing called law, or in other words right and wrong, righteousness, justice, reality, God's rules?

2 Nephi 2:13 "And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness or happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore all things must have vanished away."

Apparently law is all important! But we are now afraid to stand for goodness and condemn sin, because that shows we aren't loving, right? Wrong. First, while we never condemn people (only God can do that), we are obligated to condemn bad opinions, false ideas, and all manner of wickedness, generally, in ourselves, and in those we have stewardship over. It is possible to love the sinner and condemn the sin because the person and the sin are two different entities. (Don't we continue to love ourselves even though we fall short?) People who are defending sin have embraced the ridiculous notion of combining the person and the sin together. That way, everybody gets hoodwinked into thinking we have to accept the sin or we are aren't loving the sinner and aren't being like Jesus. Again, Jesus condemns sin and calls us to repentance in no uncertain terms. Because he truly loves us.

The wicked don't like the truth about sin. The truth cuts them to the heart and they get angry and defensive and twist things around. They like their sins and don't want to give them up. It's only the meek and repentant who aren't arrogant or angry when their sins are pointed out. Only the meek and repentant are grateful for the truth and for the Savior so they can change and become clean.

Second, if we do not respect law by condemning sin---get ready for it--- we are denying reality, denying Christ, and helping the sinner to hell. And that doesn't sound like love in any sense.

Some say, well, how can we help people if we condemn their sin? Then we're turning them away. Not so. This turning away is up to them. People have to desire goodness. They have to be seeking it. No amount of coddling or friendshipping alone can change a person's desires. But truth can. The truth is more powerful than anything else. So as we go about being patient and kind, if we really love people we have to also testify of  reality, of sin, of Christ, whenever it feels appropriate. We have to love people enough to offer them the whole truth even if they reject it and reject us and choose another path.

There is only love where there is law.

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