A. Neal de Gaston
Dear Elder Nelson,
I am writing you this letter because within the last few weeks our Gospel Doctrine teacher relied on your article in the February, 2003 "Ensign" to teach that God’s love is conditional…on man’s behavior. I do not believe that this assertion by you is true. I hope that you will have the charity not to be offended by my boldness in addressing you on this issue.
God is not co-dependent with us. He does not try to control us either by lavishing love on us, or withholding it from us. We are free to choose, and thus God too is free. He sets the rules or boundaries, lives them, and expects the same from us…and that is for us to love him unconditionally. Whether our Heavenly Father disciplines us, or an earthly father disciplines us, they are not to do it by withholding love from us. Rules are made, and breaking the rules brings penalties. But to be denied love is not one of the penalties. I hope that what I say and the materials that I use will change your mind from what you said in the January, 2003, article in the Ensign that you authored, unless, of course, I am wrong. But then why would I go to all of the trouble to write this letter if I thought the point I am making is not valid, and widely supported by other Church authorities, as well as an appeal to the context of the scriptures, and reason?
Christ has said that there should be no disputations among us in III Nephi 11:28,29. About two or three Sundays ago our Gospel Doctrine teacher asked the class whether God’s love was conditional or unconditional. I answered, "Unconditional". Wrong I was told, and the authority for this was your Ensign article wherein you say as in the inserted box that God’s love is conditional on our behavior. I shall later go through your list of supporting scriptures, and show how they do not necessarily say that God’s love is conditional, but rather our enjoyment of His (unconditional) love and blessings are dependent on our actions and where we place ourselves.
In my opinion, it is a worldly concept to use love as a means of controlling. Part of the reason that the divine love that you speak of God having is divine, in my opinion, is that it is unconditional. Perhaps with this letter I shall persuade you of this. It is only when we love others unconditionally that we are free…free to not be controlled by whether they love us or not, whether they will be nice to us or not. We choose to do right by them, and hope that they will do right by us. We must love them to be free. God is free…partly because God loves us unconditionally.
Pharisaical love is conditional, to give and receive salutations in the market place, and exchange gifts. We are commanded to love our enemies. I must love my ex-wives to be free of them and the hurts of their lies and attempts to do me in. Thanks for the Lord’s prayer to help me to personally understand this great antidote to what could be bitterness. They do not abide in my love, nor do they receive from me the things that I would like to do for she who would be my sweetheart and true love, nor can I call them friends, and I can honestly relate how they behaved (as well as myself)…and it helps to pray for them (at times…I am weak, and question their merit, etc.), but I shall not trust them. My duty is to be their friend, not to make them my friend…that would put me in their manipulative power. Neither does God have to make us like him, and be His friend. But He will still be our friend, unconditionally.
God, nor Christ, do not say that they will not be our friends, rather they say we are their friends if we do as we are told. We are the ones that step away from God’s love, which I believe is unconditional.
God commands (through Christ) that we love our enemies. But he does not say that we must trust them. My loving them is my responsibility, and accountability before God. Keeping my trust which is easily and freely given in the beginning is my enemies’ responsibility. I am responsible only for my character…the only character that I can really change. They are responsible for theirs. Neither does God have to show His love for us by giving us unmerited trust. Not giving trust is not a failure or diminishment of love…it is merely recognizing the actual state of things with regard to a given being. It would not be an act of love to turn an untrustworthy individual loose on God’s other children, and His creation. It would be a failure to love both the untrustworthy one (as he would soon suffer for his failures) and the other children. There is no space in which there is no kingdom, and no one is justified to live within a kingdom who cannot abide the law of that kingdom. Hence all (except the Sons of Perdition) will be placed in a kingdom of glory where they can be trusted to abide the law of that kingdom. By the nature of their creation, these beings in lower kingdoms will be as happy as they can be where they can be perfect. This is part of God’s unconditional love.
Before God we are all responsible for our character. In my mind I have summarized the Gospel and Eternal Life as being a matter of two things, and that is righteous desires, and self-control. Everything follows from this. Through sin and adversity we become unhappy. Sin is a matter of our choices based on our desires and self-control. Adversity comes to us. Even if we are perfect in our choices and self-control, the story of Job teaches us that we can be tried by adversity. This is where God learns whether he can trust us…how good the desires of our heart are, and whether we have the requisite self-control.
President David O. McKay has stressed how much more important to him to be trusted was than to be loved. He has said that it is greater to be trusted than loved. Applying what I have said above, this is easily seen. God, and good people, consider it their responsibility to love others. Only in a Pharisaical society is the measure of a person given by the amount of professed love someone receives, necessarily based on how well a person does "politically". But trust reflects on the character of the one who is trusted. It is a truer measure of the person, than whether he is loved…because trust is not obligatory. There is no commandment that I can think of that says that we must trust our enemies. Because one does not trust someone does not mean that they are not loved. God cannot pass out the blessings of His power to the untrustworthy because His Justice is also perfect and unconditional.
That is why there is mercy, so that the repentant can avoid the penalties of justice, because of the atonement…but only upon repentance. Of the four "R"s of repentance, the last step of repentance is to forsake the sin (forever). If we repeat the sin which has been forgiven, we shall be held accountable for the previous occasions of that sin.
All across the World, in our Faith, and in other Faiths, those who feel overcome by sins and/or adversity have one tenet that they hold to, and that is that God loves them. Whatever dark well they find or feel themselves to be in, the one thing that they believe in and hold to like a slender cord dropped to them at the bottom of their well is that God loves them, no matter what they may have done or failed to do. It is the source of their hope, the substance of their faith that there is a way out, that all is not hopeless.
I think that their faith is justified by the scriptures.
You talk of divine love, but conditional.
I think that you are mistaken…I think that God’s love is not only perfect, but unconditional, perfectly unconditional.
I think that you have mixed up and do not understand the difference between love being unconditional, and being nice to someone as a reward, and hence the exercise of justice and mercy in the light of true love. Love is not to be a tool of coercion in any degree…and I believe that is part of what makes it "divine". Love is a giving, and to sell it for cooperation and conformance to personal desires (even those of God by God) seems a prostitution.
The repentant sinner (except he sins against the Holy Ghost once he has a complete knowledge…as King David?…by shedding innocent blood) will by the power of mercy through the redemption be saved from the execution of the penalty that justice requires. And if this is so, great will be the joy of all, including God…and why joy? Because God loves that soul! So it gives Him joy to see the soul saved.
And if the repentant sinner’s soul is saved, that soul will abide with God forever, in his presence. Hence, of course he will receive the personal attention and the giving of love because of where he is…with God. Often when we receive a blessing from God, we consider it evidence of God’s love for us…we even say to ourselves God loves us. Because God was not restrained from manifesting His love at the time (because perhaps we obeyed some law upon which it was predicated, or in the unfolding of God’s plan for us individually or even for mankind it was time for that blessing to come) does not mean that God’s love is conditional. You may love all of your children whatever their achievements, but if one, following your parental advice, graduates from college and you are able to reward such an accomplishment with a tangible reward, does that mean your love is conditional upon their graduating from college? I think not, but because of what that one has accomplished, he abides in a special blessing from you. We would hope that the other children would not say that your love is conditional upon what they do, and I believe that you would protest if they did. Of course, because he was favored with a coat of many colors, they might want to dig a pit for him, and sell him into Egypt? :)) Just kidding!
The faithful man will share in God’s power, and knowledge, and being a god, because he is trustworthy! He will be a joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17). He will be dwelling in the midst of the love of God, meaning the blessings that God (who loves all) wants to bestow, but can only bestow on the righteous because not only is His love unconditional, but so is His justice, and so is His honesty, and so is His devotion to the Plan of Salvation…different than that of Lucifer’s. How can the power of God be given to someone who will murder to gain glory in any or all of its forms, if God loves us all?
All these blessings come upon those, who by the grace of God are fortunate to have charity (Moroni 7:44-48), for which they are to pray with all energy of soul so that they may be like God and Christ when they appear. This is a matter of our desires, choices, and strength. We have to merit this trust; we have to be God and Christ’s friends. If a man has charity, he will seek to continually do good because part of charity is to "thinketh no evil".
Look at the definition of charity, both in Moroni 7 and I Corinthians which I have appended below. The charity for which we are to pray (a gift of the Spirit) is not conditional on what other people do. When Christ died on the cross, or Stephen at the time of his martyrdom asked forgiveness for those who killed them, or the great prophets in the Book of Mormon for blessings on the bloodthirsty Lamanites….this came from charity, the pure and unconditional love of God to the degree that they had achieved the gift of charity.
God, out of His unconditional love for all is dedicated to justice, and will carry it out. God can be expected to have more joy (and in that sense love) to associate with His own kind, as He said, intelligence cleaveth to intelligence. Christ can have His beloved John. But Christ loves all unconditionally, and if John takes the "toy" wrongfully away from Peter (or the position on the right hand), Christ will out of perfect love that is not conditional, will feel for the injustice to Peter, and tell John to give the "toy" back. Christ’s justice will not be corrupted by a conditional or prejudicial "love".
How can God’s justice be perfect if He doesn’t have unconditional love…that is patience, long-suffering, love of truth, etc. as He judges us one by one. In this World of turmoil and inconstancy, we need to believe that He really cares for us all unconditionally.
There will be a final judgment, and the vast majority will not obtain Eternal life, we may suppose (based on the strait gate and narrow path, and the number of degrees in the Telestial Glory), and hence will not be in the presence of God’s love, and powers, and knowledge, and be joint-heirs with Christ. But this will be a result of each being’s personal worthiness, based on the application of just principles by a Judge who unconditionally loves them.
We shall see God and Christ as they are, because we shall be like them, if we have this gift of charity bestowed upon us (Moroni 7:48). This gift will be bestowed upon us as we merit it, because no matter who we may be, God’s love for us is unconditional, giving us confidence in His justice, and mercy.
The "love" that they receive after Judgment Day will be conditional on each being’s desires and self-control, but is not because God’s love is conditional. The portion of God’s love that they are able to receive will not be dependent on conditionality of God’s love, but their "ability" or merit to receive the full amount of blessings that God will in His love, love to bestow upon all worthy children. That is the power of God to manifest His unconditional love is what is conditioned, and it is conditioned by justice and mercy according to the desires of a man’s heart, and that man’s works (righteous desires in the heart, and self-control….what can’t be brought into this simple summary that I use for understanding the Gospel?…I ask people for a counter example, and none has been given. Perhaps you may be able to think of a counter example?).
Please let me make an analogy to apply to this matter of the love God sheds upon his children. I shall use the sun, its light, and someone who teaches how to utilize the sunlight (a "Teacher"). As you have quoted in your article, "God ‘maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust’".
The sun is a boiling mass of hot plasma that indiscriminately sends its light rays in all directions, without any temporal or spatial-directional conditionality. More specifically, the sun sends day after day the same light to the World, and bathes all parts of the World in the same sunlight as another part of the World, and more particularly, without regard to any man or group of men on the surface thereof. Of course some ground gets more of the light than other ground because of its slant (whether latitude or topography). The solar constant is a constant (almost perfectly constant, but certainly not conditional as to upon whom it shines). This in the analogy I make is a representation of the love of God. The "Teacher is a figure to represent Christ, teaching about the sun and its light.
Men may choose to put up an umbrella, go into a deep forest, or even descend into caves to escape the sunlight. But whatever they do, their lives depend on the sun…even as the wicked depend on the support of God according to the words of King Benjamin. Some may go into the fullness of the sun to benefit from its rays, for warmth, raising of crops, or even pure energy, and certainly so that they can see the lay of the land. Some will go out at night to prey on their fellows, avoiding the sun, because they don’t want to be revealed. Sometimes clouds come, and dim or hide the sun…and these may be likened to adversity. But above these clouds the sun is unconditionally shining, always.
The amount of sun that most will receive and benefit from is a matter of their choices. Now let us go through the scriptures that you put in the Ensign, prefaced by your emphasis that God’s love is conditional because of the "if ". These will be in the order of the box above as scanned into the computer from your article. The transmutation of the scriptures to the analogous illustration might become:
We note that in this analogy, the amount of sunlight, and the use to which it is put is variable, but not because the sun’s giving forth light is conditional on the behavior of the people being taught by the "Teacher". The light from the sun is a constant. The conditionality arises from the people, and their response to the teachings of the "Teacher" whose "commandments" are based on the truth of the laws upon which the sun may best utilized.
I submit that in all of these scriptures that you have adduced to show that God’s love is conditional because of the "if" do not demonstrate at all that God’s love is any less an unconditional constant than is the constancy of the sunlight that reaches the Earth day after day. The "if" refers to how men will take advantage of the love of God (or the sunlight). "And God so loved the World, that He sent His beloved Son…" to be our teacher and our Redeemer.
We can shield ourselves from the love and benefits of the love of God, and thus not be "loved", but it is not because God’s love is conditional upon our actions, or who we are, but because we choose to put ourselves away from His love, to shut out His light. If you go into a cave, and do not abide in the sunlight, you can hardly say that the sunlight is conditional on your behavior, it is still there, though you are not abiding in it. There are laws. And it is by obedience to those laws that we get the blessings, including abiding in the (manifestations of) love that God will give unconditionally (or partiality) to everyone according to those irrevocably decreed laws!
Both Paul and Moroni put in their definitions of charity (which are appended) that charity "seeketh not her own". Are these not other words for saying that the pure love of Christ (part of Moroni’s definition of charity [Moroni 7:47]), the same as the Father’s, is not conditional? To me, not seeking her own means that charity does not look for those that are good to be "kind" to, and to be "long-suffering" with, etc. It says that the attributes of charity are for all, without condition or prejudice, and that as charity "rejoiceth in truth", the truth is what is important, not how some individual has behaved, or what his record is, or of what he may be accused. Is this not another evidence of "unconditionality". How can one rejoice in truth under some conditions, and not under others (is how somebody behaved more important than learning the truth?), and have charity...a rejoicing in truth? Is it possible to have charity which "endureth all things" except under some conditions?
Because you do not find the word unconditional coupled with love from God in the Scriptures is a necessary but not sufficient condition for demonstrating that God’s love is conditional. Does that word, "unconditional", have to be there for His love to be unconditional? I think not. The circumstance of being unconditional is described without the specific word being used, as I have tried to illustrate. For instance, we do not find the word "compassion" in the description/definition of charity by either Paul or Moroni. Does that mean that compassion is not a part of charity? Nonetheless, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines…
com·pas·sion:: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it
…where I have emphasized that charity is a word related to compassion. It is just a matter of understanding the common elements of the two words’ definitions, where we might find that compassion is an application of charity to the situation where someone is in distress. Perhaps the word "kind" in the definitions of charity by Paul and Moroni suggest compassion. After this letter, I hope that you will think kindly of me.
Elder Nelson, it seems logical from the above that in order to find that God’s love is conditional, that you need to find a scripture that flat out says that His love is conditional. The "if"s that you use, are conditionality of us, not God’s love.
Finally, if what I have said is not persuasive, I then make an appeal to authoritative references which I have appended. I have cited Spencer W. Kimball, Neal A. Maxwell, Theodore A. Tuttle, Marion D. Hanks, and a number of other General Authorities and respectable authorities. If our love is to be unconditional, can God’s be less?
I don’t know how I can avoid disputation with those who accept what you have said in your Ensign article about God’s love being conditional, without failing to be valiant in what most of us have always accepted, and that is God’s love is unconditional, just as are His honesty and justice (and mercy is a part of justice, is it not?).
God is not a co-dependent. He doesn’t need our love or obedience to love us, because as it says in Corinthian’s 13:5, his love is not self-seeking. Conditional love is a terrible justification to all of us to parcel out our love on "condition". What a source of mischief! Can you imagine the mischief that could arise if God’s honesty were conditional (or His justice)? The selfish are going to love and eclectically use your words to justify not loving when they should but don’t want to, and faithful members are not going to be able to come to a knowledge of the truth (and come to know God as He is) as they try to reconcile your words with the scriptures and other teachings. As the faithful try to make logic out of the contradictions, they may be tempted to claim understanding (pride) of illogic, and explain away by saying that it is a "mystery", or gather together and claim a consensus, etc.. This does not seem to be the "plainness" of which Nephi speaks.(I Nephi 13:29). Plainly, your article’s thesis that God’s love is conditional is in contradiction with the teachings of others. You dispute what they say, and your logic contends with their pronouncements...because God’s love is unconditional as they say (without qualification), or it is not conditional as you say (qualifying it as divine anyway).
This does raise a question, and that is, presuming that you are modeling yourself after Christ and God, is your love then not unconditional? Can you be striving to have unconditional love if you do not believe even God has unconditional love? If you are personally struggling for divine but conditional love, what are the rules of conduct for this conditional love that you are using in your quest? Under what conditions will you withhold love? What are the scriptural underpinnings of these rules?
If I have failed to be persuasive, perhaps you will take a "journey down the hallway" and talk with Elder Maxwell, and the two of you can come to a mutual understanding to share with the rest of us.
If after all you are persuaded that God’s love is unconditional, would not this General Conference be a good time to set things aright?
Sincerely you Brother in the Gospel,
A. Neal de Gaston
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.247
Love ignores rejection. But where there are special challenges, we fail only if we fail to keep trying. Let our love of each member of our family be unconditional.
Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, p.128
Just as the love of God for us is unconditional, one day ours for Him will be likewise. This is what the first commandment is all about. But even then, the adoration and awe we have developed for God will take humble and eternal notice of the vital fact stressed by John— that God loved us first. (1 John 4:19.) Indeed, while God's great plan of redemption was made feasible by His omniscience and His omnipotence, it was made inevitable because of His perfect love for us!
Would we have understood later on— if God had sought to prepare us for something far less, or if He had interrupted, irrevocably, a process we earlier endorsed— just because the predicted pains and the anticipated afflictions did come upon us? Of course not, for God, who is perfected in all His attributes, is also a perfect Father. We are His work and glory; He has no distracting hobbies. Little wonder, then, that this omniscient and omnipotent God would say truthfully and tutoringly, "All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."[end:1032:
Tough love is doing all one can, risking being misunderstood in the process, yet finally accepting that others are meant to be "free to choose." Tough love never quits; it is unconditional. But neither is it unaware of Lehi's "trembling parent" (2 Nephi 1:14).
Neal A. Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple, p.58 - p.59
I don't think of the gospel as subtle, however; I think of it as deep and simple. For instance, some might say that what follows is a subtlety: God can love the sinner and hate the sin. When our desires and our actions go against his plans for us, he must be against us and what we are then doing. But that really means that God is always for us. He never regards man with contempt, but regards many of the things we do as contemptible. In the very moment in which Jesus sent Judas away to do his awful deed, He still loved Judas; His disciple whom He had taught unconditional love, who could not love Jesus, nevertheless could not move outside the range of Jesus' love even in betrayal.
Some truths take a good deal of pondering, but not because they are complex. Because they are so powerful and cut so deeply, we must truly feel their edge—and more than fleetingly.
Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am, p.33
Yet He cannot fully receive us until we fully follow Him. His love for us is unconditional and perfect, but ours for Him is clearly not. Being just, He cannot deviate from His standards by giving us blessings without our obedience to the laws upon which such blessings are predicated. His devotion to truth is such that even in His mercy, He cannot lie, including to Himself, about our readiness. He knows our weaknesses, but, mercifully, He also knows how to succor us as we seek to cope with them. And whatever weaknesses remain in us, He will tutor us and train us to exculpate these, if we will but let Him.
Filled with mercy, Jesus generously described his true followers as His friends. Both endearing and lifting, this designation describes how in His perfect love He regards us. He has surely proven His unconditional and unending friendship for us, but we have not yet proven our friendship for Him. He said to His disciples in the meridian of time that they were no longer servants, but friends: "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
Neal A. Maxwell, Even As I Am, p.41
Attaching this condition does not indicate conditional love for us, since we are loved perfectly by Him. Rather, it describes the condition necessary for us to achieve in order to prove our friendship for Him: we must keep His commandments and strive to become like Him. His truest friends are those who give such evidence of being "valiant in the testimony of Jesus" and who thereby overcome themselves and the world.
His duties have long been galactic, yet He noticed the widow casting in her mite. I am stunned at His perfect, unconditional love of all. Indeed, "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me." I thank Him for His discerning way of loving us without controlling us, for never letting the needs of now crowd out the considerations of eternity.
Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness, p.33
Just as the love of God for us is unconditional, one day ours for Him must be likewise
(Mosiah 3:19.) This willingness is the unconditional submittal of our souls to Him whose love of us, individually, is unconditional and perfect. Those who can so trust God and who see His hand in all things can effect such a submittal with a "brightness of hope."
Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, p.29 - p.30
5. To be like Jesus, we must cultivate a love of pure intelligence, of light and truth. One way of testing our present commitment—and whether or not our love of light and truth is really unconditional is to ask ourselves this question: Is my love of light and truth sufficiently strong so that when it (having my errors exposed) happens—and it will—I can cope with the consequences? When the glow of the gospel so illuminates an incident that I see my shortcomings in shame and sorrow, is it with a grateful shame and a godly sorrow that I start scrubbing my soul? Or is the light an inconvenience, an irritation?
Clark V. Johnson, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, p.32
And the writers could have strengthened their presentation of the relationship between Lehi and his sons by showing Lehi's unconditional love for his children.
Eugene England, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, p.65
…chief characteristic of the Christ-like divinity, the Keeper of Earth, who in the last book is anticipated as one who will come in person to the earth when his people succeed in becoming more like him in unconditional love.
…but instead is able to move all readers with the "transformative power" of Mormon Christian ethics and doctrine. The ethics he focuses on is unconditional love and honesty—versions of what Lowell Bennion has called the two basic religious virtues, mercy and integrity.
FARMS, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7, Number 1, p.152
… The moral teaching of the book would remain just as true, even if Joseph Smith's story were completely false or even an out-and-out lie. That teaching would surely include words from the Savior's sermon at the temple, even though Christ never really said those words, and we would be able to salvage truths about unconditional love. (And we could, at the frontiers of theology, discuss the limits of such love and perhaps even speculate that putting any qualifying word in front of the word love, like total, Christ-like, and perhaps even unconditional, no longer makes that love genuinely unconditional.) … We could then discard whatever portions of that teaching that we found unsavory or which conflict with our efforts to seek pleasures of one kind or another, or which offended our sense of the "politically correct."
Marion D. Hanks, Conference Report October 1970, p.55
For the part-Indian it had been a man living next door, a Mormon bishop whose interest and kindness had opened his heart and his home to this youngster. There he found acceptance and affection and unconditional love. Theological answers the little boy was not prepared to understand; loving concern he could readily comprehend. Through the life of a good man he learned to care about and to know Christ.
The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.10
He [Elder T. Tuttle] said one cannot study the scriptures without knowing that perilous times are coming and that people must prepare now. "Take steps to strengthen your family," he said. "Spend time together. Establish and maintain family traditions that build happy memories. Maintain a discipline with fair rules and regulations. Express unconditional love to one another in thought and act."
The Church News, Conference Issues 1970-1987, p.3
President Kimball urged the members to be diligent in recording their personal and family histories. "We hope our parents are using the added time that has come from the consolidated schedule in order to be with, teach, love and nurture their children. We hope you have not forgotten the need for family activity and recreation, for which time is also provided. Let your love of each member of your family be unconditional. Where there are challenges, you fail only if you fail to keep trying."
"Our Heavenly Father, through His prophets in these latter days calls us to develop the love of God as a power from above that cannot be threatened through outward circumstances," Elder Busche said.
"Our Heavenly Father wants us to fill ourselves with this love—this love which is without condition. Filled with this love, we are prepared to receive the admonition to take upon ourselves the cross of our daily lives and, in humility, learn to follow in His footsteps…," he said.
"A marriage that is built on this foundation of unconditional love in the covenant and oath of the eternal dimension does not know the two self-centered individuals living together as we often observe in today's society.
"In the marriage that is built on the cornerstone of unconditional love which is the love of God, the idea of divorce is unthinkable and even short separations bring unquenchable pain. Separations and divorces are a sign of weakness and sometimes wickedness," he said.
Discipleship requires an exercise of unconditional faith and love, Elder John Sonnenberg of the First Quorum of the Seventy said Saturday afternoon.
"In these inspired visits, I [Gardner H. Russell] do not know of a single instance where hearts of families have not been touched by the miracle of our Lord's unconditional love and his servants' caring and love," he said.
Church News, Conference Issues, October 7, 1989, p.22
He [Elder Victor L. Brown] observed, "At the conclusion of these 28 years [as a General Authority], I testify of our Heavenly Father's love for us. The unconditional love the Father and the Son have for us is so real. The Savior continually invites us to 'come unto him and partake of his goodness.…' " (2 Ne. 26:33.)
Church News, Conference Issues, April 7, 1990, p.22
He [Elder H. Burke Peterson] suggested four guidelines to foster unconditional love.
Church News, Conference Issues, April 13, 1991, p.16
"That is symbolic of the Lord's unconditional love for each of us," Elder Lawrence [Elder W. Mack Lawrence] explained. "We should feel wanted, valued and accepted at these meetings. No one should feel like a stranger."
AMCAP, Volume 16, Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi, p.84
Then he told him that that week they needed to supply one young brother to assist with the night security for President Kimball and his party. So on that particular morning he was there when President Kimball came out. This young man, 20 years of age, couldn't stop his tears. Later he said, "In the Celestial world, is it like that? When President Kimball kissed me and hugged me, I felt so strongly that the Spirit testified to me that our Heavenly Father is just like he is." And he said, "Oh, I was almost going to miss the glorious opportunity to stay in the Church! And I wouldn't have stopped wandering. I almost missed the total picture, the panorama, the beauty of the gospel." This young man is now saving his money to go on a mission. He felt strongly that the Spirit testified to him that he could help his parents and could share the gospel with them. The people must feel the true love of Christ, unconditional love. This love can heal any concerns of our lives. "Wherefore, [p.85] my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love." (Moroni 7: 48)
AMCAP, Volume 16, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, p.190
We are God's spiritual children and that is an absolute truth. He has eternal and unconditional love for us.
Book Reviews; BYU Studies Vol. 30, No. 2, pg.109pg.118
An overwhelming message of Mormonism is "by their works ye shall know them," and success in the mission field is usually measured by numbers. It is thus difficult for struggling missionaries like Elder Say to understand that our Savior's love is unconditional, that we are sufficient just as we are, that our love and faith are more important to God than what we have achieved
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.
40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.
42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.
43 And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.
44 If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.
45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--
47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;
32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;
33 And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts.
34 And again, verily I say unto you, O inhabitants of the earth: I the Lord am willing to make these things known unto all flesh;
35 For I am no respecter of persons, and will that all men shall know that the day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.121 CHARITY
See ALMSGIVING, CHRIST, FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, PERFECTION, RELIEF SOCIETY, SALVATION, WELFARE PLAN. Above all the attributes of godliness and perfection, charity is the one most devoutly to be desired. Charity is more than love, far more; it is everlasting love, perfect love, the pure love of Christ which endureth forever. It is love so centered in righteousness that the possessor has no aim or desire except for the eternal welfare of his own soul and for the souls of those around him. (2 Ne. 26:30; Moro. 7:47; 8:25-26.)
1 Corinthians 13
4 ¶ Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 ¶ Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.