Jason Carroll, professor of marriage and family studies, delivered Tuesday’s BYU Devotional address. He spoke about emulating the Savior’s example of agency-based love in dating and marriage relationships.
While his remarks focused on dating and marriage, Carroll said that the principles he discussed would be applicable to a wide range of relationships, including friendships and family relationships.
To explain agency-based love, Carroll posed three questions.
1. How important is love?
According to Carroll, almost everyone instinctually answers this question by saying that of course love is very important to successful romantic relationships. While love is important, do we have a consensus about what that means?
Carroll said that we use the term "love" in diverse and inconsistent ways. We love our spouse, but we also love ice cream. Improper understandings of love are responsible for many of the struggles in dating and marriage.
“While feelings of love and happiness are indeed present in good marriages, they are best understood as the fruits of those relationships, not necessarily the roots,” said Carroll.
“Our understandings of a good marriage should include feelings of love and happiness, but we need to make sure that we also emphasize the far richer and more enduring aspects of relationships.”
2. What is the true nature of love?
Understanding the true nature of love comes from emulating the example of Jesus Christ, who is the only true source of enduring love, said Carroll.
“Emulating the Savior and following his injunction to love as he loves involves embracing an agency-based view of love,” said Carroll.
“Love is something we do, something we can control and ultimately something we can choose – if not, God could not command us to love one another.”
Carroll shared that relationship sciences are another witness that an agency-based approach to love and marriage is valuable. Research recognizes that while emotions ebb and flow, our priorities, choices and behaviors can be intentional and consistent.
3. How can we actively create loving relationships?
Carroll’s final question moved to application. He said that individuals and couples can foster love with intentional choices and actions. He shared five actions that can produce love in relationships: thoughtful service, commitment, equal partnership, practicing virtues and sincere discipleship.
“How we feel may be uncertain or confusing at times, but how we treat others and how we are treated in relationships is much more certain,” said Carroll.
One of the lessons Carroll returns to is that “in relationships, differences are not problems, they are opportunities!” Differences invite individuals to see their partners for who they really are and to be responsive to their needs.
Carroll closed with devotional remarks given by Elder Holland, saying, “You want capability, safety and security in dating and romance, in married life and eternity? Be a true disciple of Jesus. Be a genuine, committed word-and-deed Latter-day Saint. Believe that our faith has everything to do with your romance, because it does.”
Next Devotional: M. Joseph Brough, Young Men General Presidency
Brother M. Joseph Brough, Second Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, April 9, at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center.
His remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.