The Two Great Commandments: Not Mutually Exclusive
In two different LDS Sunday meetings last week, someone in my family heard a disturbing message. The message was that although Jesus said the two great commandments were to love God and love your fellow man, we shouldn’t love people too much because then we might not be keeping the first commandment. In one meeting it was even said that Satan wants us to love people more than we love God. Really? Satan wants us to love others? Does that sound like something Satan would want us to do? My question is: why do you have to choose? Jesus didn’t say “Love God, and love your fellow man as yourself. But don’t love others too much, or else you might not be following God.” These two commands do not contradict each other. In fact, if you refuse to love some people, or only love them conditionally, I would say you are offending God.
Which people did Jesus love? He loved the sinners, the lepers, those on the margins of society. He loved those who killed him: “Forgive them father, for they know not what they do.” When the woman caught in adultery was brought before him, he didn’t convene a church disciplinary hearing (John 8:7-11):
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Today I watched the movie “Risen” which depicts the story of Jesus after his death and resurrection. I thought it was very beautifully done. In one part, a leper is shown trying to approach society. A small mob yell and kick at him, trying to keep him out so that he won’t infect the community. Jesus walks over to the man and helps him up. He hugs him, and comforts him. As the man walks away, he turns back to Jesus and the apostles and we see the man has been healed. To me this symbolizes that Christ-like love can be very comforting and even healing, especially to those who feel marginalized or rejected. It touched me very deeply, and it’s a scene I will think often about.
As I watched this scene, I couldn’t help but think of the LDS church and the way they treat LGBT people. Like the leper, LGBT people are on the fringes of society, through no fault of their own. But instead of loving them unconditionally, the LDS church strips them of their membership if they enter a legal same-sex marriage, and refuses to allow their children to receive ordinances until they reach 18 years of age. And even then the children have to denounce their parents’ marriage. Like the mob in “Risen”, the church doesn’t want to risk infection of their community. The infection they fear is acceptance of happy, loving LGBT couples participating in the LDS church community. That doesn’t sound like what Jesus Christ would have done. Who do you think is happiest that children are denied saving ordinances and a loving church community, Jesus or Satan? That’s something each person will need to answer for him or herself. Instead of being contradictory, loving God and your fellow man go hand in hand. You can’t do one and not do the other. And if you are ostracizing others, you are putting distance between you and God. I’m just disappointed this is so hard for some in the LDS church to figure out.
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