“The world largely ignores the first and great commandment—to love God—but talks a lot about loving their brother ….But only those who know and love God can best love and serve his children, for only God fully understands his children and knows what is best for their welfare. Therefore, one needs to be in tune with God to best help his children. …Therefore, if you desire to help your fellowmen the most, then you must put the first commandment first.
When we fail to put the love of God first, we are easily deceived by crafty men who profess a great love of humanity, while advocating programs that are not of the Lord.”
This quote, from Ezra Taft Benson, can be applied to many things, but I have been thinking about it a lot in relation to gay marriage. Many Christians, including members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints (LDS, or Mormons), out of sincere intent and loving motive, have tried to demonstrate their love for their friends and family members who are gay or experience same-gender attraction by celebrating and promoting gay marriage. From my perspective, these great people are trying to follow Christ, but are misguided in their attempts.
God does not explain all of His commandments. He doesn’t need to, He’s God. I don’t fully understand why He has ordained marriage to be only between a man and a woman. But I trust Him. I trust that His commandments, if followed, bring eternal happiness—greater happiness than the happiness we could receive in a mortal marriage, greater happiness than our minds can comprehend. I also believe when He tells us through His prophets that we must qualify for that eternal happiness through obedience, even when we don’t understand why He has ordained the laws He has.
I love God. I love my friends who are gay, and I want this eternal happiness for them. I trust that God knows what is best for their welfare. So I show love for them by not encouraging or promoting that which is not best for their eternal welfare. That doesn’t mean I treat them poorly if they choose that which isn’t best for their welfare. My love isn’t conditional on their choices. But I can’t, because I love them, encourage or glorify those choices.
In this tumultuous time in society, when the adversary of truth and of us all is especially sophisticated and subtle in his deceptions of mankind, I am trying to follow Ezra Taft Benson’s counsel to “be in tune with God to best help his children”. I am not perfect at it, I’m ever learning. But I hope I will become what God wants me to be and learn to love and help His children in His ways and according to His plan for us all.