President Oaks discusses the importance of loving neighbors despite differences

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President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spoke at Saturday night’s general women’s session in which he expounded on President Russell M. Nelson’s teachings regarding loving God and loving others.

Oaks began with “what Jesus taught were the two great commandments. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’”

According to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ taught that everyone is our neighbor, whether we agree with their lifestyle or beliefs.

“You don’t always have to agree with each other to love each other,” Oaks said.

He also discussed the importance of keeping the first commandment and showing God’s love to all.

“We cannot let that love supersede the commandments and the plan and work of God, which we know will bring those we love their greatest happiness,” Oaks said.

Quoting President Nelson, he continued, “Our commission as Apostles is to teach nothing but truth. That commission does not give us the authority to modify divine law.”

Oaks said church leaders “must always teach the unique importance of marriage between a man and a woman and the related law of chastity.”

Oaks said that while the Church follows the laws of the land, including the recognition of LGBT marriage, God has not changed his definition of marriage. He emphasized the importance of the sanctity of marriage, ordained of God, to promote the gospel’s ultimate purpose of attaining exaltation as eternal families.

“That highest destiny is only possible through marriage for eternity,” Oaks said.

Next, Oaks discussed how to reconcile the two seemingly contrasting commandments of loving both God — including honoring the commandments he has given — and our neighbors when ideologies misalign.

“The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love and treat all people with kindness and civility — even when we disagree,” Oaks said. “We affirm that those who avail themselves of laws or court rulings authorizing same-sex marriage should not be treated disrespectfully.”

Oaks discussed the importance of feeling and showing love for all, as all are children of God. He counseled attendees and viewers to not marginalize, condemn, or judge those whose choices differ from the understanding Saints have of gospel standards.

According to Oaks, final judgement rests with the Lord, as he alone has the knowledge and grace to judge everyone.

Ultimately, Oaks concluded, “We must try to keep both of the great commandments. To do so we walk a fine line between law and love — keeping the commandments and walking the covenant path, while loving our neighbors along the way.”

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