A Mormon guide to love

Twilight author, Stephanie Meyer, captivates her audience by weaving one single concept throughout her entire series — the quest for … Continued

Twilight author, Stephanie Meyer, captivates her audience by weaving one single concept throughout her entire series — the quest for eternal love. As romantic and fantastical as this may be to read, for Meyer, a Mormon, it is more than just mere fantasy–it’s reality – minus, of course, all the vampire action.

The belief that love is eternal is at the very heart of the meaning of love for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s the lens through which Mormons view their most personal relationships, serve community and extend their outreach in charitable humanitarian efforts globally.

The source of this eternal love emanates from God; whom individual members enter a covenant relationship to follow His Son, Jesus Christ, and emulate his teachings throughout their lives. With this priority firmly in place, Mormons set off with a desire, instinctively knowing that, “When ye have done it unto one of the least of these…” a spouse, child, friend, neighbor, even a stranger… “Ye have done it unto me.”

In Mormonism, the marriage relationship between a husband and wife is sacred; second only to God. In marriage, Mormons are “sealed” in temples, considered holy and set apart from the world for “time and all eternity” (versus “married” and “until death do you part”). Eternal marriages, or sealings, are performed in LDS temples, they are a necessary ordinance required for exaltation, according to the faith.

Having an eternal perspective adds a unique dimension to marriage for Mormons. The expectation that the marriage is to last into the next life requires a deep level of commitment to living the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to overcome the many obstacles and challenges that will inevitably arise. Mormons believe that if they are diligent in keeping the marriage covenant it will continue forever in the presence of God.

The importance of eternal marriage is significant in the Mormon faith. Great emphasis is placed on its preparation from the time children are young. A familiar motto repeated in many member homes, families are forever, gives meaning to the special bonds of love that are developed within the immediate family. This belief also extends to relatives and to those who have passed – thus the special interest in genealogy and temple work in the LDS church — a true labor of love.

Mormons are romantics at heart. How could they not be when they genuinely believe and live life with an eternal mindset? Interesting note: Mormons believe in an afterlife where families live together throughout eternity, but they also believe that they all lived together before they came to earth; a period referred to as pre-mortality.

A frequent, fun thought among some Mormon couples is the idea that perhaps they knew each other before this life –soul mates if you will; unexplained inklings from the past that make for a deep connection.

The concept of love inside Mormonism is also fundamentally formed by the true essence of eternal love: the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ has made it possible to be forgiven of sin, cleansed through baptism and made worthy to return back into the presence of God. That is love. In return, he has commanded that we are to love him, our brothers and sisters as self, and to forgive one other as we desire to be forgiven. This is the meaning of love in Mormonism and is the motivation behind our love for one another.

Mormons believe that one of the most effective and meaningful ways that they can show love for others is to emulate the love of Jesus Christ, as if he were here, through service. Service is another form of love, and that when one consistently serves, it helps us to develop charity, which is the pure love of Christ. Service is sometimes difficult, not always convenient, and can also be monetary; thus associated with sacrifice.

Ultimately, Mormons cherish their understanding of eternal love and honor their covenant relationship with God, which gives rich and symbolic meaning and purpose to their lives in every way imaginable.

“May we ever watch over one another assisting in times of need. Let us not be critical and judgemental but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior’s example of loving-kindness. In that vein, may we willingly serve one another. May we pray for the inspiration to know of the needs of those around us, and then may we go forward and provide assistance.” -Thomas S. Monson, President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Kathryn Skaggs writes on her personal blog, A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman.



Read More On Faith and Valentine’s Day:

Kathryn Skaggs: A Mormon guide to love

Arsalan Iftikhar: A Muslim guide to love

Deepak Chopra: A seeker’s guide to love

Libby Anne: An atheist guide to love

Aseem Shukla: A Hindu guide to love

Mark Driscoll: A Christian guide to love

Danielle Bean: A Catholic guide to love

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  • duwaynea

    From the article: “The belief that love is eternal is at the very heart of the meaning of love for [Mormons] … The source of this eternal love emanates from God…”

    It’s almost impossible for Mormons to imagine that anyone but Mormons feels that love is “eternal.” And it’s virtually impossible for Mormons to contemplate love as a deeply passionate feeling that originates between two people, and isn’t predicated upon a tryst that puts the church, or god, in the marriage. Part of the church’s indoctrination is bound up in a sense of uniqueness and feelings not had by anyone but those “sealed” by the Mormon Church.

    In fact, the “eternal” love offered by the Mormon Church is a shallow substitute for the real thing. In Mormonism, marriage for “eternity (eternal love) is a gift bestowed on those who affirm their loyalty to the church, pay the church 10% of their increase, attend church meetings, etc. “Eternal love” in Mormonism is literally purchased. But this is the antithesis of true love. True love isn’t found in couples who jointly swear allegiance to a third party; that is a fake, a forgery. True love exists independently of any other entity – it is the bond between soul mates who love each other in spite of, and without regard for, churches, governments, kings, rulers, or gods. Any organization that tells its members they can’t be “eternal companions” unless they pay homage to a corporate church and pay the price of a “temple recommend,” is simply selling a scam.

  • It wasn’t me

    I’ll have four women with short hair and three with long hair ,make sure they have some flesh on their bones …

    Mormon guide to love…

  • bytebear

    cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh, Gen. 2:24 (Gen. 2:18; Matt. 19:5).
    whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever, Eccl. 3:14
    whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, Matt. 16:19 (Matt. 18:18).
    What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder, Mark 10:9
    neither is the man without the woman … in the Lord, 1 Cor. 11:11
    a man … shall be joined unto his wife … be one flesh, Eph. 5:31
    heirs together of the grace of life, 1 Pet. 3:7

  • mormonpatriot

    duwaynea, I have some things to teach you about the Church and its doctrines. You have brought up repeatedly the physical practices of the Church, such as tithing or the sealing of husband and wife in the temple, to try to say that these physical things are paramount with us.
    Well, consider the Latter-day Saint doctrine in Doctrine and Covenants 29:34 : “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.”
    With respect, I believe this is what you have missed in analyzing the Church and its members. All of these physical things – everything from tithing to service of our fellow men, to temple ordinances, are only ways to sacrifice something physical for something spiritual. Its whole purpose is to point us to God, who is whom we have to thank for all lasting joy in our relationships and the quality of our marriages. It is not therefore incorrect to say that God must be part of our marriages in order for them to last and to be of quality. Because God is the source of all that is good, it would be foolish to say otherwise. Indeed, God is love, and “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…” (Galations 5:22-23)
    And as to the idea that Mormons believe that they have cornered the market as far as romantic love – we believe that one’s capacity to love is indeed increased as one learns to obey more and more of the laws of God. But we also strive to follow the admonition of Paul in Philippians 4:8 : “ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

  • mormonpatriot

    We seek to find good, to appreciate love, and to emulate all that is worthy in the world. We seek truth, no matter its source, believing that there is something to be learned from everybody. But love is not just a feeling – it is an act to be performed in many different ways and in all of our relationships, something we are commanded to do and an ideal to live up to all of our lives. This is the challenge of a lifetime, and it is everybody’s challenge. And that love between husband and wife should be the most pure and heavenly of all our earthly relationships. So I do not apologize when I say that love and obedience to God’s commandments are inextricably

  • mormonpatriot

    connected, for it is true. And praised be the name of God for what he has taught about love to me and all others who have tried to live his commandments.

  • Slovensko

    Congratulations, you know how to take verses out of context. Marriage is meant to be a picture of Christ and the church in this life.

  • LaurieBee

    Great article, Kathryn! It is inconceivable to imagine the afterlife without my family. Families are forever!

  • duwaynea

    In response to “Mormonpatriot”

    The Mormon Church is unique among major denominations in that it *forces* an ecclesiastical divorce on couples if one of them resigns from the Church. In particular, if one of the spouses resigns their membership (and the other spouse remains a member), the LDS Church “cancels” their “temple marriage (sealing). This is done unilaterally, regardless of the feelings of the other spouse [See page 86 of the 2006 Church handbook.]

    In other ways, too, the Mormon Church uses family relationships to coerce and control members. For example, non-Mormons are not allowed to attend temple weddings. At a time when the entire family should be celebrating new love, the Mormon Church uses the temple wedding as a wedge – only those who pay the church 10% of their income, and affirm allegiance to church authorities, are allowed in the temple.

    “Mormonpatriot” talks about Mormon spiritualism, and feigns the Mormon line that the church fosters love in marriage, and supports families – but the reality of Mormonism is far different from the carefully prepared propaganda and talking points disseminated by the church’s PR department.

  • Andy Kiser

    My friend, the verses were not taken out of context, granted the church has been referred to as the bride of Christ, but these verses explicitly refer to marriage between a man and a wife. Very straight-forward. Please go back and re-read them carefully. Thank you.

  • Andy Kiser

    The allegiance you refer to is allegiance to God and entering into a covenant relationship with Him to keep His commandments and love our fellow man. If you believe the Bible, then you know that tithing is a commandment. The things of God are understood by the spirit of God, and when you gain a testimony or the revealed truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you will no longer feel as you presently do, Our allegiance is to Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. We obey our Church leaders because we know that they have been called of God, to direct His kingdom here upon the earth. When you gain a testimony, that will include spiritual confirmation that these men have been called of God. Do yourself a huge favor my friend, obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon, read it and then go to your Heavenly Father in prayer, with a sincere heart, and with real intent. Those are the keys, sincerity and intent when you pray about this. Once you gain this testimony, everything else will fall into place for you. I promise you that if you pursue this course, that you will no longer feel as you presently do. All the best to you and your family.

  • Zackman001

    why do we as members try to argue with these pople who have spent their lives searching ways to bring down what we know to be true? they can just use words our church continues to grow and we are doing just fine ..just smile remember your testimonies and smile because god loves everyone. Mormon and none mormon lovely article

  • duwaynea

    Andy wrote: “The allegiance you refer to is allegiance to god.”

    Actually, Andy, the “allegiance” is to the Mormon Church. Let’s review the questions that the Mormon Church asks of members before they allow them into the temple.

    The first two questions ask if the person has faith in god and Jesus. That’s not a question about “allegiance,” but of faith.

    The third question is about faith in the Mormon Church – specifically the organization of the church under the con man and founder, Joseph Smith.

    The fourth question is about allegiance to the Mormon Church. It reads: “Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?”

    The fifth question is about sexual behavior.

    The sixth question is non-specific, relating to “conduct” with family members.

    The seventh question is again about allegiance to the church, as it stipulates that members not “support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? “

    The eighth question is about keeping the oaths made in the temple. [Until the mid-90s, some of those oaths involved the simulation of slitting one’s throat as a penalty for disclosing certain secrets of the temple.]

    The ninth question is about general honesty (although Willard Romney showed us that honesty isn’t really a requirement for going to the temple.)

    The tenth question is again about allegiance to the church, as it stipulates payment of 10% of your increase to the Mormon Church (payments to the poor, or any other charitable organization are not good enough)

  • loveyourneighbor

    Well, I know. Don’t those rituals seem strange and odd? How can those people possibly be Christian if their religious observances are different from what we grew up with? Because, of course, “Christian” means “what we do in our church, not those funny things that someone else does.”

    Well, actually, of course, that’s NOT what “Christian” means. “Christian” means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, sent to redeem the world. John 3:16. THAT’S what “Christian” means. Fitting your cultural predispositions has nothing to do with it.

    The article is about eternal love. We know from the scriptures that love is central to the First and Second Greatest Commandments. Matt. 22:34-40. The belief that families can be sealed together eternally is an unmatched blessing to many of us.

  • loveyourneighbor

    It’s funny when someone proclaims doctrine without bothering to refer to the scriptures, and then criticizes someone who does refer to the scriptures. When so-called Christians say that a verse has been taken out of context, they often mean that the verse doesn’t fit well with what they’ve been taught, so they prefer to ignore it.

  • loveyourneighbor

    Ha ha. That’s funny. A polygamy joke. I bet we never heard one of those before. You must be very smart to come up with a clever joke like that. You probably have some great racial jokes too, don’t you?

  • Tornogal

    I think you are missing the point. It isn’t about “funny,” “odd,” or “cultural predispositions.”

    It’s about promising–in what purports to be a house of God–to slit your throat and disembowel yourself rather than reveal what goes on in there. Can you point to a Biblical example of Jesus Christ: 1) Having secret rituals he didn’t want to share with EVERYONE; 2) Asking for a blood oath of secrecy?

    And more, for all the “eternal love” the LDS church proclaims, something is horribly wrong when family members are forbidden from attending temple weddings unless they agree to pay a 10% tax on their income. Can you point to such a practice by the Christ you claim to follow?

  • loveyourneighbor

    duwaynea, you left out the Word of Wisdom question. You said that there was a question about “oaths” made in the temple, but actually it concerns covenants. Those are covenants with God. Mormons seek allegiance with God the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Obviously that allegiance is expressed, among other ways, by faithfulness to doctrines and teachings of the Church, in exactly the same way as any other church. I know you like to point out what used to be in temple ceremonies – shock value, right? – but the truth is that temple ordinances are what they are. They are regarded by members of the Church as sacred and holy. They are intended to be, and are, covenants with God.

    It’s funny to see you throw in a disparaging comment about Mitt Romney, who you’re pleased to refer to by a different name. As a sign of disrespect, obviously. This claim about him being dishonest comes from watching too much MSNBC. What I mean is, I have seen this on other blogs. Nutballs like you think that there is clear proof that Romney lied about Jeep’s plans to add capacity in China. It turns out that there were exactly zero lies. The statement at a rally accurately characterized a statement by Bloomberg News and the campaign ad included only truthful statements. Zero lies is a smaller number than Pres. Obama’s lies (oh, wait, I should say “Barry Soetoro,” right?) but I know you are competely disinterested in cateloging those.

  • JamesZee

    duwaynea, you may think it is allegiance to the church. No one will change you mind. It is acutally allegiance to God not to a church. I don’t have time to go through your list but take the last one as an example. 10% is not to the church but to God. In Malachi when people were paying their tithes there was no church. But suddenly you decide that we pay tithing to our church not to God. That’s twisting the facts.

  • loveyourneighbor

    duwaynea makes an assertion that he proposes to support by a page reference to out of date materials (2006 handbook). But he makes his assertion using the present tense. He obviously is unconcerned with accuracy, if accuracy would get in the way of slander. That’s sad thing, really, to be such a hater.

  • EW88

    Thanks for your post. I think it’s important for members of the LDS Church and others alike to understand that there are three distinct yet related entities in question. First is the gospel of Jesus Chris which never changest: all eternal truths and eternal love. Second, the Church which teaches the gospel, at times changing policies to best meet that objective and occasionally subject to human error. Third, Mormon culture. This last doesn’t always have much to do with either the gospel or the Church and is most pronounced in areas with many members of the Church in close proximity.
    http://www.conservativemormonmom.blogspot.com

  • Plantaginate J. Squid

    The current discussion regarding the Mormon Guide to Love is interesting. However, has anyone noted that the preceeding article a Jewish Guide to Love? I found it just as interesting and thought there were some interesting parallels that would be curious to consider between the two belief systems. I leave that consideration to those who have the time. However, it is curious to note that if the same negative comments (note I do not use the word critical) were made about Jewish Love, as those made about Mormon Love, it could be characterized as anti-semetic. Thus it would seem that similar negativity can equally be characterized as anti-mormon. From that point of view, there is no point having a debate about a subject when neither party appears to want to hear the others side. In such a case it is no longer a discussion but just an arguement, and as Dale Carneggie said, “the only way to win an arguement is to avoid it.”

  • Tammo

    Yes, the Twilight series was certainly inspired by Mormonism. Eternal love, soul mates, yes and yes. But look a little closer and you will see something less sparkly. Twilight promotes female dependency to a fault. Bella is nothing without Edward, empty, a shell, a clutz. In th estory, she becomes so dependent on Edward that she literally kills herself to be with him. Real love does not strip one of self-worth such that they require the other. There is nothing romantic about dependency.

  • Jerusalem16

    Just try not to criticize what you don’t understand Tornogal or you just might find yourself fighting on the wrong side

  • Tornogal

    “…Or you just might find yourself fighting on the wrong side”? What the heck?

    I will criticize whatever I care to, Jerusalem16, when facts support my position. I note you can’t (or won’t) address the points I made regarding blood oaths or mandatory taxation to enter the temple. So I guess you must resort to empty threats.

    Zero examples of blood oaths by Jesus Christ. Zero examples of Christ withholding blessings or “ordinances” unless people paid money.

  • LVC

    Where do you think the Masons GOT their “rituals”? Those were passed DOWN. The gospel of Jesus Christ–given to Adam & Eve–pre-dates any simple LATER Mason copying.

  • Tornogal

    LVC,

    That is common Mormon apologist rationale. But it is not true.

    The Mason rituals date at least two thousand years after Solomon.

    Freemasonry was a development of the craft guilds during the construction of the great European cathedrals during the tenth to seventeenth centuries.

    After the Middle Ages, lodges in Scotland and Great Britain began to accept honorary members and worked out rudimentary ceremonies to distinguish members of trade organizations. In 1717 four fraternal lodges, perhaps actual masons’ lodges, united as the Grand Lodge of England, considered the beginning of organized Freemasonry or ‘speculative Masonry.’ The order spread quickly to other countries and included such prominent adherents as Mozart, Voltaire, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin.

    Latter-day Saints may feel that Masonry constitutes a biblical-times source of uncorrupted knowledge from which the temple ceremony could be drawn. However, historians of Freemasonry generally agree that the trigradal system of Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason, as practiced in Nauvoo, cannot be traced further back than the eighteenth century.

    (The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship, pp. 45-46 by LDS historian David John Buerger)

  • loveyourneighbor

    OK, so you claim that your comments about temple ceremonies are limited to those no longer practiced. I actually think that you intended to call attention to videos published in infringement of copyright (normally considered by ethical people to be a bad thing, but I know you don’t care about ethics) with the assertion that those ceremonies can’t be “Christian.” And why not? Well, the implication was, and is, that they don’t look like church services the way they are conducted at the Baptist church on the corner, or what have you, so they can’t be Christian. This is of course nonsense, since by that standard, the practices of the 1st Century Apostles would not be “Christan” either. Your point is not to offer fair or honest criticism, but only to smear and marginalize. It’s sad to think that that is the kind of person you are.

    Regarding the relationship between temple ordinances and masonic ritual, I guess my response is, so what? I guess your argument is that if there is a historical pedigree to the ritual, then they can’t be divinely inspired. For the life of me, I can’t imagine why not. It is not as though temple ordinances are identical to masonic ritual; there are elements of similarity and elements of sharp difference. But so what? The point is that these are symbolic forms of entering into sacred covenants with God. You seek to profane them because, well, that’s your style. But that doesn’t make them any less sacred.

  • johnfromil

    I appreciate your comment. You hit the nail on the head. Comments simillar to those used against Mormons would be considered bigoted etc. when used against any other group.

  • manaen1

    You’re wrong — there was no penalty in the temple’s ceremony for divulging what occured there.

  • Tornogal

    Mormon Temple Death Oath 3:

    PETER: “All arise. (All patrons stand.) Each of you make the sign of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail by brining the left hand in front of you with the hand in cupping shape, the left arm forming a square; also by bringing the right hand is also brought forward, the palm down, the fingers close together, the thumb extended, and by placing the thumb over the left hip. This is the sign.”

    “Now repeat in your mind after me the words of the covenant, at the same time representing the Execution of the Penalty:”

    “I solemnly covenant in the name of the Son that I will never reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail, with its accompanying name,and sign and penalty. Rather than do so, I would suffer my life to be taken.”

  • HappyToday

    Totally agree. People are intitled to their opinions, but it becomes enlightening when we start to think about how our opinions sound if said about us, or something we believe in.

  • dcdinnell

    Actually it shows they are nothing without each other, if you were to be more accurate. . . that they are one. . .

  • Tammo

    Wrong. Edward is still just exactly the same kind of vampire that he was and would be, with or without Bella. Bella becomes whole (in her mind) by joining with Edward, but Edward was whole to begin with. He craved her, but nothing about him changed when, as you say, they became one. Bella did change. Went from clutz to graceful vampire. Horrible message for tween girls.

  • gwilt1

    Thank you for your comment! The Mormon religion and Jewish religion actually have very much in common. The Mormon faith also has a firm doctrinal foundation as found in the Old Testament. Where the two religions part ways is at the birth of Jesus Christ and the ushering in of the Higher Law that builds upon the lower Law of Moses. Jews do not believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and thus, still practice the Mosaic Law. Mormons believe that Jesus is the Christ and fulfilled the Law of Moses, building upon it and instituting a new higher law of sacrifice. It is only at that time that the belief systems part ways, but almost run parallel to each other, so it would stand to reason there would be many of the same doctrines shared by both religions.