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InstilledPhear

Friend using Exodus 20:5 to 'disprove' God's limitless love; how do I help her?

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I bore my testimony to a friend about God's unconditional love for all of his children, and that friend countered with this scripture:

Exodus 20:5 says "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

My friend goes on to say:

"So...he is going to spite myself, my children, my grand and great grandchildren, just because I don't wholly worship him? Yeah, that sounds like love. And the fact that supposedly you are damned to hell for rejecting a God that you have absolutely no proof of. He is like "here, earthlings. Imma put you on this planet and give you this book that is full of contradictions and doesn't fully make sense, and if you don't put all your faith in me you get to spend eternity in fire and brimstone. Also, I'm going to make myself as scarce as possible and not show you or any other human that i really exist."

Theres a guy, who created the whole universe, gave up his only son, has the POWER to create an entire universe yet not enough power to save starving abused children or slaves or dying humans, and if you don't worship him you go to hell. But he loves you. Right."

As you can see, she's so anti-God and anti-Mormon that I'm really unsure of what to say that can really help her out. I don't want to fuel the fire, but I don't want to shove my beliefs down her throat, either. I just hope that I can come up with the right thing to say that will allow her to stop for a moment and reevaluate her beliefs.

If anyone would be so kind as to back me up and share their wisdom, it would be much appreciated. In the meantime, I'm searching for scriptures that will reassure her that God does, in fact, Love us all with a pure and unconditional Love.

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As you can see, she's so anti-God and anti-Mormon that I'm really unsure of what to say that can really help her out.

That sounds like your answer right there. It doesn't really sound like she wants to be helped, or thinks she needs help. She wants to debate and is only going to cause contention. Don't take the bait.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

If you think she would actually listen, then I would recommend the book, The God Who Weeps by Terryl and Fiona Givens.

Just google "Terryl Fiona Givens podcast" . . .and you/she can hear them interviewed and talking about the weeping God we Mormons believe it.

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I bore my testimony to a friend about God's unconditional love for all of his children, and that friend countered with this scripture:

Exodus 20:5 says "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

My friend goes on to say:

"So...he is going to spite myself, my children, my grand and great grandchildren, just because I don't wholly worship him? Yeah, that sounds like love.

Some time ago Elder Nelson of the Twelve published an article in the Ensign on this very topic. He said that God's love is NOT unconditional. He then spoke at some length from various scriptural passages that illustrate our need to follow him and avoid becoming his enemy if we want his love. There are places in scripture that teach God hates sin and curses his enemies. Many of the prophets have spoken of God's enemies as "child of the devil" "children of the devil" and so forth. Examples can be found in all of scripture, but are especially common in the Book of Mormon. Anyone who reads Matthew 23 in which the Savior uses the strongest language possible to denounce the Pharisees will immediately see that our false notion that "God loves everybody" needs further clarification.

I am sure that God does love everyone. We are all his children. But that includes Adolph Hitler, Judas, Cain, Jeffrey Dahmer, Karl Marx, and Anton LaVey of the Church of Satan. And just as loving parents in mortality love their children even when they give them a spanking, I'm sure that God loves his children even when he thrusts them down to hell. Does he love the Sons of Perdition? They are his children so I imagine he does, not because they deserve it, but because he is a perfectly loving Father. But in the case of Outer Darkness, I doubt if a loving Heavenly Father could be mete out a more painful and terrible punshment than the sinner's worst enemy.

I believe that Heavenly Father loves all his children, every one. But there must be more to it than that. From scripture we may be certain that mercy cannot rob justice, and not everyone qualifies for God's mercy under the Atonement. But perhaps there is something loving about meting out justice even when that justice is terrible. Perhaps God is loving all his chidlren because he is so willing to temper justice with mercy when his child repents. The Atonment was a loving sacrifice for all of us, not just those who choose to accept the Atonement by choosing the right.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

Anyone who reads Matthew 23 in which the Savior uses the strongest language possible to denounce the Pharisees will immediately see that our false notion that "God loves everybody" needs further clarification.

Every parent knows that sometimes we must "reprove betimes with sharpness", but that does not mean we don't love our children. God can reprove us and still love us. :D

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Thank you so much for the input, guys! I really, really do appreciate it.

This was my response to her (and I apologize for being long-winded):

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

I kindly ask you to read all of this with an open mind, instead of completely shooting me down. If you feel the need to rip my beliefs apart after the fact, you are free to do so. But not until after you've read it through once *without* the intention of arguing. Please.

D&C 98: 46-48

"46 And upon his children, and upon his children’s children of all them that hate me, unto the third and fourth generation.

47 But if the children shall repent, or the children’s children, and turn to the Lord their God, with all their hearts and with all their might, mind, and strength, and restore four-fold for all their trespasses wherewith they have trespassed, or wherewith their fathers have trespassed, or their fathers’ fathers, then thine indignation shall be turned away;

48 And vengeance shall no more come upon them, saith the Lord thy God, and their trespasses shall never be brought any more as a testimony before the Lord against them. Amen."

Again I say, His love is indeed unconditional. However, not all of His children allow themselves to feel that love because they distance themselves so far from God and refuse to keep his commandments. Fortunately for us, we have the gift of repentance.

I'm going to go ahead and counter your statements:

1) "supposedly you are damned to hell for rejecting a God that you have absolutely no proof of."

It makes me sad to hear that you feel like there is absolutely no proof. We're all living on this giant floating rock in the middle of a universe so expansive that we can't even comprehend it, surrounded by other floating rocks that are utterly inhabitable, and we just happen to have perfectly functional bodies, a conscience, and thought processes that set us completely apart from other living creatures. You honestly think that all of this was just some magical spacey-wacey accident?

2)"Imma put you on this planet and give you this book that is full of contradictions and doesn't fully make sense"

The Bible is not the only word of God. It's just plain not. It is, in fact, missing a lot of information, and with the dozens and dozens of translations that it has, of course people are going to get lost. Relying on the Bible alone is like trying to bake a cake without any eggs--you're missing what holds everything together. That's why we're also given The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and, most importantly, a living prophet. (And if that living prophet were in ANY way unworthy to be the mouthpiece of God, he would be immediately removed from his place.) Not just that, either--we have bishops, teachers, fathers, brothers, friends, and we can even gain knowledge and personal revelation ourselves. The word of God is EVERYWHERE, and if you find any inconsistencies in the Bible, then all you have to do is approach another source. Prayer helps, too, if you take it seriously.

3)"if you don't put all your faith in me you get to spend eternity in fire and brimstone."

Not necessarily. Hell isn't some fiery place with demons and chains and whips and an eternity of being tortured. 'Hell' is simply a state of being in which an individual is without God. And if God is all that is good, then... I'll let you fill in the blanks.

4)"I'm going to make myself as scare as possible and not show you or any other human that i really exist."

First off, that is absolutely incorrect. We've got Biblical figures like Jacob, Abraham, Moses, and Isaiah who have given us first-person experiences of their communication with God. There are more in the Book of Mormon, like Lehi, who also recount their experiences of seeing God. Countless more individuals in modern times have also seen God, whether or not they choose to share their experience with the world like Joseph Smith did. You are accusing every single one of those people all across time, which may be hundreds, even thousands, of being liars. Some who claim to have seen God haven't. Likewise, some who claim to have seen God *have.*

5)"Theres a guy, who created the whole universe, gave up his only son, has the POWER to create an entire universe yet not enough power to save starving abused children or slaves or dying humans"

Of course he has the power to save them, silly! Keep in mind, however, that we're all given the gift of free agency. God isn't going to take away the free agency of a man who beats his child. In the end, that man will be judged accordingly, based on the choices he made and the intentions of his heart. As for starving children and dying humans... as much as the world would like it sometimes, God isn't going to just snap his fingers and make everything all better. That's not his plan. We came here fully aware that we'd go through some serious trials. For some, one of their trials could be to have been born in an environment with little food or water. For some, one of their trials may be cancer, or another disease of the sort. For a lot of us, our trials could be as simple as depression, being bullied, having a particularly bad temper, our new kitten getting run over, being lactose intolerant... Our trials vary every bit as much as we do as human beings. I personally choose to see my own trials as opportunities for growth and strength. And, fortunately, there are seven billion other people on this planet. A pretty darn good chunk of them know what we're going through, so we can help each other.

I know for an absolute fact that God is here for us, that He loves us, and that He wants nothing more than for his children to return and be with Him again. That in itself remains the greatest choice we could ever make, and if we choose to distance ourselves from Him, He'll still be poking around on the sidelines with his arms outstretched, watching and waiting and Loving.

It saddens me that you can't feel His love for you. It's definitely there.

~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~

Did I go about this in the right way? I certainly hope so. (She's an Ex-Mormon, by the way, so these things should make sense to her.)

I just know that I've said what I feel like needed to be said, and if she wants to argue with me further then I'll just leave her to her beliefs and ask her to leave me to mine.

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Guest

When I read this thread's title at first, I was thinking of "Friend" magazine. That changes the context quite a lot!

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I bore my testimony to a friend about God's unconditional love for all of his children, and that friend countered with this scripture:

Exodus 20:5 says "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;"

This is very typical of individuals who are not trying to understand scriptures and the purpose behind their meaning. This verse isn't saying God will curse the second, third, and forth generations, however I have understood this verse meaning that God allows natural consequences, and typically when a person is filled with hate, enmity, that enmity will exist among their children as well. The second generation usually will experience the brunt of their parents choice. Notice what happens when a person leaves the church with so much animosity, and then that animosity is shared with the children. How often do these kids like the church, or God, if they fully forsake their beliefs? The Lamanites are a perfect example regarding this verse.

However, as with the Lamanites, as much as anybody repents, the Lord God will accept, for he is no respecter of persons. This is also what happens when a person becomes fixated on one verse, instead of trying to understand all the other verses which shed a different light to the subject.

This is how I would answer your friend, assuming this is a friend, and not just some random person on the internet.

"So...he is going to spite myself, my children, my grand and great grandchildren, just because I don't wholly worship him?

No, you are misunderstanding, and mis-interpreting this verse. If any of your children decided to repent the Lord will accept their sincere repentance, if they do not repent, then they are like any other person who forsakes him.

Yeah, that sounds like love.

Yes, holding parents responsible for their choices in life is an example of his love. Similar to a child who screams "I hate you!" to their parents because they disciplined them, and they do not like their discipline, and they say, "You don't love me!"

And the fact that supposedly you are damned to hell for rejecting a God that you have absolutely no proof of. He is like "here, earthlings. Imma put you on this planet and give you this book that is full of contradictions and doesn't fully make sense, and if you don't put all your faith in me you get to spend eternity in fire and brimstone. Also, I'm going to make myself as scarce as possible and not show you or any other human that i really exist."

Begin with the last sentence. On the contrary the Lord has proven, by a perfect knowledge, of his existence to many of his children. Adam knew that God existed by a perfect knowledge. When Adam shared with his children regarding the existence of Heavenly Father, the knowledge shared was perfect. His children were the first to exercise faith.

Since then we know Mose spoke with a perfect knowledge, Abraham we know was saved by an Angel. When the Lord, our Savior was upon the earth, many people met their Savior and saw the risen Savior.

In our day, others have had such a witness. Joseph Smith saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and others since him have also. Thus, he isn't as scarce as possible, but very much an important aspect of our lives.

Theres a guy, who created the whole universe, gave up his only son, has the POWER to create an entire universe yet not enough power to save starving abused children or slaves or dying humans, and if you don't worship him you go to hell. But he loves you. Right."

Yes, there is a God, our Heavenly Father, who created this universe, provided us an opportunity to be like him, and yes, he has all POWER. Children are starving because we as a people as selfish, greedy, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.

Pure religion is to watch over the widow and the fatherless, which means we are doing our part to honor God in aiding the poor. God expects us to act.

I would then share Moses 7: 18, regarding Zion, and how it is our responsibility to create such in honoring the Lord's commandments. If humankind had been following the commandments of the Lord from the beginning, there would be no rich, no poor, no poverty, and no children would be starving.

If anyone would be so kind as to back me up and share their wisdom, it would be much appreciated. In the meantime, I'm searching for scriptures that will reassure her that God does, in fact, Love us all with a pure and unconditional Love.

These are my thoughts, and I wouldn't express them to convince him/her of anything. I would share and allow her moral agency to think upon them.

However, I agree with other posters who have shared if your friend only wants to argue and debate, then you might simply just say, "I understand your heart, however you understanding of the scriptures is incorrect, and until you understand the scripture correctly I won't be able to help."

You know your friends heart better than myself, if you think the heart is more open then share and discuss, if not, then other posters are correct avoid the debate.

:)

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(She's an Ex-Mormon, by the way, so these things should make sense to her.)

She's probably Ex-Mormon for a reason, and most Ex-Mormons aren't interested in being preached to by Mormons.

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Tell your friend that she is taking one scripture out of the whole Bible, and then taking it out of context. The Israelites just left Egypt, where they worshiped many different gods. They dwelt in a basically lawless world, and the 10 commandments gave them structure to live and survive as a nation.

But when you take it as a terrestrial law, something better than a telestial savagery, then you can understand it in better terms.

Christ came to fulfill the law of Moses, and replace it with something better. He taught us to love God and our fellow being with all our heart. John 3:18 teaches that God so loved the world, he sent his Son to save the world.

Help her understand the context, and not to take one verse out of context from the whole of scripture. Also encourage her to read what the Book of Mormon states about Christ's atonement, how he loves little children, and how we are encouraged to believe and repent to be saved. I think she'll find God to be much more loving than she thinks.

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[quote name=InstilledPhear;731879

I know for an absolute fact that God is here for us' date=' that He loves us, and that He wants nothing more than for his children to return and be with Him again. That in itself remains the greatest choice we could ever make, and if we choose to distance ourselves from Him, He'll still be poking around on the sidelines with his arms outstretched, watching and waiting and Loving.

It saddens me that you can't feel His love for you. It's definitely there.

You must be a mind reader to be so certain that we cannot feel His love. I too know for an absolute fact that He loves us. I also know for a fact that if we refuse to repent of our sins there will be consequences. He did not suffer and die for use to atone for our sins only to have us blow it off by refusing to follow him and keep his commandments.

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To tell the truth, I was like your friend before, nobody can really help me, anything would just sound like an argument for me.

Sometimes somethings no one can really help. You can bear your testimony, and you can pray for your friend, but she will not accept or appreciate anything you say or do in regard of religion until she herself is willing to truly investigate and pray for the help of the Lord to understand the scriptures.

That's how it is for me. The moment I was willing to understand the scriptures, I prayed and I can see them as "they really are". ---every word testifies God is love. But I can't understand until I'm willing to understand. :)

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To tell the truth, I was like your friend before, nobody can really help me, anything would just sound like an argument for me.

Sometimes somethings no one can really help. You can bear your testimony, and you can pray for your friend, but she will not accept or appreciate anything you say or do in regard of religion until she herself is willing to truly investigate and pray for the help of the Lord to understand the scriptures.

That's how it is for me. The moment I was willing to understand the scriptures, I prayed and I can see them as "they really are". ---every word testifies God is love. But I can't understand until I'm willing to understand. :)

It is Christlike to forgive, and he requires of us to forgive all men. If we do not forgive, our sin is greater than the sin of the person who offends us. But if a man cheats on his wife, or beats her up, while she is required to forgive him, she is not required to reconcile with him. If she has divorced him for molesting the chidlren, she must forgive him. But forgiveness does not mean she has to place her children at risk by inviting him back under her roof.

Keeping this in mind, God love all his children, every one including the Sons of Perdition. But that does not mean he has to invite them back into his house. Justice has demands. That was the reason for the Savior's sacrifice in Gethsemene and on the cross. But to accept his sacrifice, a brother or sister must repent. If they do not repent, they are rejecting his sacrifice and they lose their eternal life. They go to the spirit prison rather than paradise in the spirit world. Why? Because even God cannot break his word. Mercy cannot rob justice. That is what he has taught us in the scriptures. If we want forgiveness, we must repent. If we want mercy, we must repent. If we want to obtain salvation or eternal life, we must repent. Those are laws that God will not and cannot break according to his own word. Does he love us. Yes. He love all of us unconditionally, every one. But he is bound by his word and by his laws. So he will deliver us over to be punished, often by our own hand, if we refuse to repent. His infinite love for us cannot change this.

I believe in the infinite and unconditional love that Jesus has for all of us, for all mankind. But I know that his mercy does not rob justice. It cannot.

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