The notion of “How to Love” stems from, not only our own personal experiences and education, it includes our spiritual belief system as well. Besides the Bible, the Book of Mormon gives some specific guidelines.
I learned a very important lesson recently from my dear friend, Chauncey Riddle. “Loving Offensively” was the point. Now, that sounds offensive but let me explain.
In war, it is clear in the Book of Mormon that the Nephites” defense was successful if they were keeping the commandments. If they went on the offensive, they would fail.
However, there is an exception, when the Lord uses his people for a divine purpose as with Israel marching into the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. This was literally a two-edged sword: the people they destroyed were idolatrous and needed to be destroyed and the Lord had a covenant with Israel to bring them to this land of “milk and honey.”
War is motivated by hate, bigotry, pride, greed, coveting, anger, etc. – all negative emotions and is about destroying. True love is motivated by just the opposite of these and brings out the best of positive emotions, and instead of destroying, love is about fostering beautiful relationships and building the ideal society (Zion).
Love and War Are Opposites
We see that true love and war are opposites, as are the emotions that go with them. In this Telestial sphere of existence, offensive warring is wrong while defensive war tactics are approved of the Lord. Love being the opposite of war then leads to the logical conclusion that pro-active true love is of God, while passively loving is not. We are to love all including our enemies. This means, we look at another person’s needs, enemy or not, as to what we can lovingly do that will best help them in time and eternity (here and hereafter). Then we pro-actively do what will bless their lives with the inspiration of the Lord to sustain us in so doing, because He loveth every soul.
Our inspired constitution – among other things – was set up to have a military to provide for our common defense; not offense. This is totally consistent with the Book of Mormon message. At the same time, the book that influenced the writing of the declaration of Independence and the US Constitution more than any other was the Bible. What are the first two greatest commandments? Loving God and our neighbor is the solution to every problem. It is far from typical for someone to lovingly address the needs of their enemies.
As my good friend, Delta Bement quotes at the end of every e-mail, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” (John Adams–1798–Address to Militia of Massachusetts) If we wish to move to a celestial level of love, we will pro-actively and lovingly address the needs of both our enemies and our friends, and then do our best to address those needs that will best help them in time and eternity.
The Book of Mormon expands our understanding of “How To Love.” Pro-active love is fully living those first two great commandments. It need not be offensive. In contrast it is “most joyous to the soul,” (1 Ne. 11:23) and the recipients, when they partake of Jesus’ love, find “nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” (Alma 36:21) Let us pray with all the energy of heart to be filled with this love (Moroni 7:48), and then to be pro-active in sharing it.
David W. Allan