By Ilyan Kei Lavanway, Moroni Channel
United States of America
Maayong hapon, Brothers and Sisters. Sister Grace, our Relief Society President, asked me to give a message about love for our Ward Post-Valentine’s Day activity.

​This month being a time for celebrating romance, I consider it a privilege to address the topic of romantic love from a Christian perspective.

Some of my remarks are taken from a devotional titled The Gospel and Romantic Love by Brother Bruce C. Hafen1 when he was serving as President of Ricks College. Brother Hafen’s address was presented at Ricks College 12 January 1982 and at BYU 28 September 1982, and published in the October 1982 Ensign Magazine.

“Today I feel an unusually keen need for inspiration, because I have on my mind a subject so important and yet so sensitive that it is almost in a class by itself. I will call it, “The Gospel and Romantic Love.

“In approaching this topic, I feel I am walking on holy ground. This subject, delicate as it is, inspires my deepest reverence. The idea of romantic love, so commonplace that it is touched upon in virtually every popular book or movie or magazine, is also at the very center of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one of the greatest of God’s laws that ‘a man [shall] leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.’ (Gen. 2:24.) And, ‘Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 11:11.)

As Elder Packer put it, ‘Romantic love … is not only a part of life, but literally a dominating influence of it. It is deeply and significantly religious. There is no abundant life without it. Indeed, the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom is unobtainable in the absence of it.’ (Eternal Love, p. 4.)”2

​Remember the Bible story about Jacob and Rachel. This is dear to me, because I am a blood descendant of Jacob and Rachel through Joseph of Old, through the loins of Ephraim.

Remember how long and how diligently Jacob worked to win the girl he so deeply loved. He was under Laban’s employ for seven years with the promise that Laban would give him Rachel when the seven years of work were fulfilled. But Laban tricked Jacob by giving him Leah instead of Rachel. Jacob was then required, and willing, to work another seven years to marry Rachel (see Genesis 29).

What man today would have the fortitude, the patience, and the resolve to work fourteen years and maintain a courtship of that length for the girl he loves?

May every man, myself included, develop that degree of devotion, for we now have, or eventually will have, plentiful opportunity to demonstrate that level of devotion and more, as we continue to love and court our beloved wives through the duration of time and onward throughout eternity.

In light of Elder Boyd K. Packer’s remarks, I have a new perspective regarding the Savior’s words:

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (see John 10:10)

​When you are in love, every adversity is bearable, every flaw is overlooked, every offense easily forgiven. Life is beautiful and filled with hope. A lack of material riches seems insignificant in light of an abundance of gratitude for even the smallest and simplest of blessings, whether temporal or spiritual. The infinite span of eternity feels present in a day (see Genesis 29:20).

If only we would maintain that kind of faith throughout our married lives – or return to that degree of faith if we have for a while lost it – how much more abundant life will become in our families and in our homes.

Alma taught:

“… there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another.” (See Mosiah 18:21.)

​Knit is a verb, an action. It means to link firmly or closely, or to cause to grow together, or to become drawn together,3 like the threads that make up a fabric. Individual threads are weak alone, but when woven together, they can become a strong fabric.

Brother Hafen encourages those who do not yet enjoy the blessings of marriage:

“Your time for marriage may not come until the autumn of your life and then ‘be twice more precious for the waiting.’ (Eternal Love, p. 17.)4

“Even if your time should not come in this life, the promises of eternal love are still yours in the Lord’s view of time, if only you are faithful.”

​There is a quote by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf printed on the program for our Ward activity today. It comes from a General Conference address titled Living the Gospel Joyful:5

“He is not waiting to love you until [after] you have overcome your weaknesses and bad habits. He loves you today with a full understanding of your struggles.

When I first read that quote, I assumed it was speaking to every girl who longs to be loved and cherished by a man who is worthy of her hand in marriage, and that that man is not waiting for the girl to overcome every flaw in order to be loved, but that he loves her even while she may be struggling through her imperfections. I also supposed it was implying to every man that this is the way we should look upon and know our wives.

Only later did it dawn on me that this quote refers to the way Heavenly Father looks upon each of us. Of course, Heavenly Father is the perfect role model for every husband.

I am grateful to be blessed with a perfect wife and a perfect son. I named my son Immanuel, after Jesus.

I named my wife Babygirl, because, well, Adam named his wife, so I figured I could name mine. I named my wife Babygirl because she is cute and she is perfect, always young at heart, full of the wonder of youth, a timeless combination of great miracles all rolled into one little girl. Now, I realize my wife gets embarrassed when I say mushy stuff like that in public. But, sometimes I just have to speak my mind.

I am the one who is not yet perfect. My wife and son will be exalted. My challenge is to be worthy to go with them. I learned from our dear Patriarch that it is our wives who exalt us.

May we live faithfully, and look to God and live (see Alma 37:44-47). In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Notes
1. Hafen, Bruce C. “The Gospel and Romantic Love.” Ensign, Oct. 1982.
https://www.lds.org/ensign/1982/10/the-gospel-and-romantic-love?lang=eng.
Accessed 20 February 2017.

2. Packer, Boyd K. Eternal Love. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 4.

3. “Knit.” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knit.
Accessed 20 February 2017.

4. Packer, Boyd K. Eternal Love. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 17.

5. Uchtdorf, Dieter F. “Living the Gospel Joyful.” Liahona, Nov. 2014.
https://www.lds.org/liahona/2014/11/general-womens-session/living-the-gospel-joyful?lang=eng
Accessed 20 February 2017.

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