“Don’t be a spiritual eclipse.”
This quote I recently heard in Sunday School has stuck with me ever since, as this might be one of the biggest problems we have in our culture today.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson shared the following in an October 2017 talk called Spiritual Eclipse:
A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the earth and the sun, almost completely blocking any light from the sun’s surface.1
In the same manner that the very small moon can block the magnificent sun, extinguishing its light and warmth, a spiritual eclipse can occur when we allow minor and troublesome obstructions—those we face in our daily lives—to get so close that they block out the magnitude, brightness, and warmth of the light of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell took this analogy even further when he stated: “Even something as small as a man’s thumb, when held very near the eye, can blind him to the very large sun. Yet the sun is still there. Blindness is brought upon the man by himself. When we draw other things too close, placing them first, we obscure our vision of heaven.”2
Clearly, none of us wants to purposefully obscure our vision of heaven or allow a spiritual eclipse to occur in our lives.
Elder Stevenson and Elder Maxwell talked about spiritual eclipses that were self-imposed, eclipses that men and women have brought upon themselves.
But what about being a spiritual eclipse for someone else, by blocking the light and love of God instead of leading people to it?
One of the ways that we create a spiritual eclipse for those we love is by acting like our love is the most important thing, that our love is what they need to survive.
Get ready for a hard truth – our love is not the most important kind of love!
Is our love important? Absolutely. But is our love more important than God’s love?
I’ve seen this scenario too many times. A person wants to live a life in opposition to commandments and covenants. A family member, in an effort to show their support, decides that their love is the most important thing for that individual, and they downplay the commandments and covenants of God. They no longer encourage covenant keeping and commandments. In this way, they stand between their family member and God.
Why? Because in their minds they are “just loving” that person, and in their minds, that love is the most important thing.
A Special Kind of Love
What is the most powerful force in the universe? It is the love of God!
When we sever individuals from that love and those blessings, we are not acting in their best interest. To clarify, I am not saying that all of God’s love is severed, I am saying that a special kind of love becomes lost from their lives when they chose not to stay on the covenant path.
President Russell M. Nelson said:
“Once we make a covenant with God, we leave neutral ground forever. God will not abandon His relationship with those who have forged such a bond with Him. In fact, all those who have made a covenant with God have access to a special kind of love and mercy. In the Hebrew language, that covenantal love is called hesed (חֶסֶד)
Making a covenant with God changes our relationship with Him forever. It blesses us with an extra measure of love and mercy. It affects who we are and how God will help us become what we can become. We are promised that we, also, can be a “peculiar treasure” unto Him (Psalm 135:4).”
This concept of a special kind of love is spoken of in the scriptures, in John 14:21-24:
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
“He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”
Elder John H. Groberg said: “When filled with God’s love, we can do and see and understand things that we could not otherwise do or see or understand. Filled with His love, we can endure pain, quell fear, forgive freely, avoid contention, renew strength, and bless and help others in ways surprising even to us.”
What many people don’t understand, is that the greatest manifestations of God’s love are his commandments and covenants – and the associated blessings that come from obedience to commandments and covenants.
Continually encourage our loved ones to stay on the covenant path is also an invitation for them to receive the highest form of love.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson shared this message in his conference talk, The Love of God. He said:
The love of the Father and the Son is freely given but also includes hopes and expectations. Again, quoting President Nelson, “God’s laws are motivated entirely by His infinite love for us and His desire for us to become all we can become.”
Because They love you, They do not want to leave you “just as you are.” Because They love you, They want you to have joy and success. Because They love you, They want you to repent because that is the path to happiness. But it is your choice—They honor your agency. You must choose to love Them, to serve Them, to keep Their commandments. Then They can more abundantly bless you as well as love you.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
In the past few months there have been at least two highly publicized cases of parents who have left the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in support of their gay adult children. How I wish they would continue to direct their children towards God and encourage them to be faithful to their covenants.
To show forth our love in the most effective way, we must always be pointing people to the Savior and their Heavenly Father. Keeping commandments brings blessings. Breaking commandments brings chaos, disease, heartache, and emotional pain.
“LDS women are absolutely the most charitable, accepting, tolerant, loving, kind, Christlike demographic on the planet, and the ex-Mormon/LGBT activists have developed a potent toolkit for using that against them.” – @Vandie
The world would have us believe that our love is the highest form of love. That our love must mean advocacy. That true love means rejecting an organization that requires people to live God’s laws. That true love means celebrating people as they sin. But these lies that the world tells us don’t help anyone approach the healing and empowering love of God.
We should love them the right way, and acknowledge that the greatest form of love they can have in their life, the love that will have the greatest impact on them becoming who they need to be, is the love of God.
And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.
And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul. – 1 Nephi 11:21-23
Just as the prophet stands beside us and points us to the Savior, we must stand by our loved ones and point them to the Godhead.
A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior. – Elder Neil L. Andersen
Counsel to Parents
Elder Ahmad Corbitt gave the following counsel with parents:
Parents, if your child struggles with a gospel principle or prophetic teaching, please resist any type of evil speaking or activism toward the Church or its leaders. These lesser, secular approaches are beneath you and can be lethal to the long-term faithfulness of your child. It speaks so well of you that you would protect or advocate for your precious child or show signs of solidarity with him or her. But my wife, Jayne, and I know from personal experience that teaching your beloved child why we all desperately need Jesus Christ and how to apply His joyful doctrine is what will strengthen and heal him or her. Let us turn them to Jesus, who is their true advocate with the Father. The Apostle John taught, “Whosoever … abideth in the doctrine of Christ … hath both the Father and the Son.” He then warns us to beware “if there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine.”
Bonnie H. Cordon shared the following quote in the April 2020 General Conference:
“The Lord’s invitation to let our light so shine is not just about randomly waving a beam of light and making the world generally brighter. It is about focusing our light so others may see the way to Christ. It is gathering Israel on this side of the veil—helping others see the next step forward in making and keeping sacred covenants with God.”
May we love those who don’t agree with us. May we love those enough to point them to the Savior. May we never celebrate their sin and become a spiritual eclipse, but always stand beside and lovingly point to the Savior and our Father in Heaven, whose special kind of love and mercy is what everyone truly needs. That is the saving and perfect kind of love!