President Dallin H. Oaks: ‘Love Your Enemies’

First counselor in the First Presidency

Notable quotes:

“In a democratic government, we will always have differences over proposed candidates and policies. However, as followers of Christ we must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced in many settings.”
“[Obeying the laws of the land] does not mean that we agree with all that is done with the force of law. It means that we obey the current law and use peaceful means to change it. It also means that we peacefully accept the results of elections. We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome. In a democratic society we always have the opportunity and the duty to persist peacefully until the next election.”
“As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism.”

Summary points:

  • Followers of Christ must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced. A “well-known but rarely practiced” teaching of the Savior is to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
  • Individuals learn to love his or her enemy or adversary by avoiding anger or hostility, increasing in the love of Christ, and by keeping the laws of his or her country.
  • It is possible to obey and seek to improve a nation’s laws and also to love adversaries and enemies. “While not easy, it is possible with the help of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Talk summary: 

Followers of Christ must forgo the anger and hatred with which political choices are debated or denounced. A “well-known but rarely practiced” teaching of the Savior is to “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).

Loving enemies is not easy, but it must be essential, for it is part of the Savior’s two great commandments to “love the Lord thy God” and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:37, 39). It must also be possible, for He also taught, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).

The first step to learning to love an enemy is to follow the Savior’s teaching not to “contend with anger” and to understand the power of love.

Another essential part of loving enemies is to “render unto Caesar” by keeping the laws of one’s country. “Though Jesus’s teachings were revolutionary, He did not teach revolution or law-breaking. He taught a better way.”

The Savior’s teaching to love enemies is based on the reality that all mortals are beloved children of God. “That eternal principle and some basic principles of law were tested in the recent protests in many American cities.”

There have been racial injustices. “As citizens and as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we must do better to help root out racism.”

The Constitution protects peaceful protest. “Redress of grievances by mobs is redress by illegal means. That is anarchy, a condition that has no effective governance and no formal police, which undermines rather than protects individual rights.”

Loyalty to established law instead of temporary “allies,” or ideologies, is the best way to love enemies in seeking unity in diversity. “Knowing that we are all children of God gives us a divine vision of the worth of all others and the will and ability to rise above prejudice and racism.”

In the news:

About the speaker:

  • President Dallin H. Oaks was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1984.
  • As a young man, President Oaks obtained a radiotelephone operator’s license and later worked as a radio announcer and engineer.
  • President Oaks was a law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court and later served as a justice on the Utah Supreme Court until his call to apostleship in 1984.
  • President Oaks and his late wife, June Dixon Oaks, are the parents of six children. She died July 21, 1998. On Aug. 25, 2000, he married Kristen M. McMain in the Salt Lake Temple.

Recently on social:

  • Even during the difficult times facing everyone in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fundamental principles of faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His gospel are the same as always, President Oaks wrote in a Sept. 10 Instagram post.
  • The most important knowledge on earth is to know that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten and Beloved Son of God, President Oaks taught in an Aug. 23 Facebook post.

Jesus issued the challenge “What think ye of Christ?” (Matthew 22:42). The Apostle Paul challenged the Corinthians to…

Posted by Dallin H. Oaks on Sunday, August 23, 2020
  • Because reading scriptures are a source of revelation, President Oaks encouraged everyone to read the scriptures repeatedly and daily, in a June 25 Instagram post.