I hear this a lot from members of the Church. In fact just two days ago, I had someone ask me this very question after reading some of the quotes from Nibley in Approaching Zion:
“So then are we required to live the law of concecration now?“
To that question I would pose a counter question, that might help us arrive at an appropriate answer. When God reveals a law to man, is it required of man to live it if he wishes to return to live with God? When viewed from this perspective, I think the answer can be none other than an unequivocal “Yes!“
The prophet Joseph Smith declared:
Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. (Lectures on Faith 6:7)
Unfortunately, some of those who humbly believe that the law of consecration is a current, relevant, binding law, yes, even today, are taken to task by those who do not believe as much. Here is a comment from an individual (
I assume who is a fully active member of the Church, indeed, with alias TrueBeliever. Update: I’ve learned since then that TrueBeliever is not actually a believer, not in modern prophets, not in the modern temple endowment, not in the temple sealing, not in anything beyond the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. It’s shame when I encounter such folks, for they claim to believe in Joseph Smith and his revelations, but they don’t really, for if they did, they would believe in living prophets such as Joseph, the church as was restored by Joseph, and the temple as it was received by Joseph through revelation and given to the Brethren he ordained. We have deceivers in our midst.). It was just a day or two ago the comment was made regarding the law of consecration:
Actually, our temple endowment has replaced the original law of consecration. In the holy temple we promise all we have to the cause of Zion. This promise enables us to fulfill the law of Zion without actually having to give up our own personal income and resources. The problem with some of Nibley’s quotes is that they take the scriptures more literally than the current temple endowment and the current teachings of the brethren. All we need to do is follow the current brethren and put our trust in the current temple endowment and we are guaranteed exaltation without having to have a literal gathering or to literally consecrate our temporal substance… I personally don’t think there is a person on the face of God’s earth that is currently living consecration the way it was originally explained in the scriptures… I think that if you claim to literally be living it correctly, you are delusional. [emphasis added]
How convenient, yet entirely ineffective, would it be to live the law of consecration without having to “literally consecrate.” Furthermore, how sad it is that people would belittle those who are striving in every way possible to so live their lives, and turn their will over to that of the Father.
Some might say, “But the law has been rescinded, revoked, stopped, ended, done away with, blocked, desisted, finished, halted, replaced, paused, terminated, stayed, closed, discontinued, ceased, snuffed out, postponed, delayed, suspended, and is no longer a law of God in the Church!” As I and others have noted elsewhere, the law of consecration is still binding upon us as a people, as every temple-attending member of the Church should know, but doesn’t. President Gordon B. Hinckley, our living prophet and president from 1995-2008, taught the following in 1996:
Without the spirit of dedication, without the spirit of sacrifice, without the spirit of consecration, temples could not function. That goes without saying. The work in the temple is essential, it is a work of personal sacrifice and individual consecration… the law of sacrifice and the law of consecration were not done away with and are still in effect. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997), 639.)
Could our prophet be more clear? Steven C. Harper, one of the editors of the Joseph Smith Papers project, followed that up in 2010 with this insightful statement having studied the revelations of the Doctrine and Covenants more than most of us, echoing the words of Joseph Smith cited above:
No revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants rescind, suspend, or revoke the law of consecration… The law, in other words, was revealed to Joseph Smith in February 1831, but the law itself simply has been, is, and ever will be. Consecration is the law of the celestial kingdom, and section 78 teaches that no one will receive an inheritance there who has not obeyed the law (see D&C 78:7). (H. Hedges, J. Spencer Fluhman, and Alonzo L. Gaskill, eds., The Doctrine and Covenants: Revelations in Context, 213.)
Br. Harper taught about the law of consecration recently on the Church’s official Mormon Channel, “The Law of Consecration: Episode 20,” as well as “The United Order: Episode 21.” It would do well for each of us to take the time to carefully listen to these official church radio episodes, and learn what these things really are, not only for ourselves to more fully understand our duty before God, but so that we may more appropriately address each other in our desires to best live the laws of God as he has so taught through the fullness of the restoration of his gospel.
Those who want to obey the law of consecration, will. Those who don’t, won’t. But we surely won’t arrive at either without a correct understanding. What is also sure is that Zion cannot be built up, except by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom. Otherwise, God cannot and will not receive her (D&C 105:5). The law of consecration is the law of the celestial kingdom.
The problem lies in the fact that many people (i.e. likely a majority of the members of the Church) confuse the law of consecration with what was known as the “United Order” or “United Firm” in the history of the Church. Let me attempt to use plain language that cannot be misunderstood—these are not the same thing. In another place this has been called a “myth” or a “folk memory.”
Do not feel sad if you did not know this, or were not aware of it. This is an ever prevalent and promulgated folk memory in the Church, that has even reached the highest authorities. I love President Eyring as one of my favorite speakers and leaders in the Church, who is touched by the Spirit in ways I can only one day hope to emulate. But I have to respectfully disagree in one sense with the last part of his following statement:
As those blessings come, our faith is increased that God is the source of everything that is good in our lives. It becomes easier to see that consecration simply recognizes the truth that all of God’s creations are His. It makes us feel gratitude that He asks only 10 percent of what He has already given us. So we are better prepared to live the law of consecration when it will be asked of us. (The Blessings of Tithing, June 2011 First Presidency Message)
It has been “asked of us,” repeatedly, in the scriptures and by living prophets, as even President Eyring himself has taught us elsewhere (see his several quotes below, one of which was only three paragraphs before this one). I believe President Eyring is actually referring to the official institutionalization of the law of consecration, which may indeed again become an official practice in the Church in a future day. But you can see how we can so easily get confused in our terminology, and say one thing when we really mean another. (Note: President Eyring may have also meant that we start our journey in the gospel by paying a full tithe, which leads us later to the temple where we make covenants regarding the law of consecration.)
The United Order was a practice in the Church to formally and officially institutionalize the living of the law of consecration among the Saints. Its practice was ended, as have other practices. But the law of consecration lives on; President Marion G. Romney stated this eloquently in 1966:
While we await the redemption of Zion and the earth and the establishment of the United Order, we … should live strictly by the principles of the United Order insofar as they are embraced in present church practices such as the fast offering, tithing and the welfare activities. Through these practices we could as individuals, if we wished to do so, implement in our own lives all the basic principles of the United Order…. What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the United Order? Nothing but our own limitations. (Improvement Era, June 1966, p. 537.)
To be sure, here are some additional quotes from the “current teachings of the Brethren” on the law of consecration, which some of our members have unfortunately been somewhat dull of hearing, or have altogether conveniently ignored:
Elder D. Todd Chistofferson in 2010 – “The word stewardship calls to mind the Lord’s law of consecration (see, for example, D&C 42:32, 53), which has an economic role but, more than that, is an application of celestial law to life here and now (see D&C 105:5)… True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.” (Reflections on a Consecrated Life – Elder D. Todd Christofferson)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell in 1995 – “Whenever Church members speak of consecration, it should be done reverently while acknowledging that each of us ‘come[s] short of the glory of God,’ some of us far short (Rom. 3:23). Even the conscientious have not arrived, but they sense the shortfall and are genuinely striving. Consolingly, God’s grace flows not only to those ‘who love [Him] and keep all [His] commandments,’ but likewise to those ‘that [seek] so to do’ (D&C 46:9). A second group of members are ‘honorable’ but not ‘valiant.’ They are not really aware of the gap nor of the importance of closing it (see D&C 76:75, 79). These ‘honorable’ individuals are certainly not miserable nor wicked, nor are they unrighteous and unhappy. It is not what they have done but what they have left undone that is amiss. For example, if valiant, they could touch others deeply instead of merely being remembered pleasantly… Consider three examples of how honorable people in the Church keep back a portion and thus prevent greater consecration (see Acts 5:1–4)… Only greater consecration can correct these omissions, which have consequences just as real as do the sins of commission… So many of us are kept from eventual consecration because we mistakenly think that, somehow, by letting our will be swallowed up in the will of God, we lose our individuality (see Mosiah 15:7). What we are really worried about, of course, is not giving up self, but selfish things—like our roles, our time, our preeminence, and our possessions. No wonder we are instructed by the Savior to lose ourselves (see Luke 9:24). He is only asking us to lose the old self in order to find the new self. It is not a question of one’s losing identity but of finding his true identity! Ironically, so many people already lose themselves anyway in their consuming hobbies and preoccupations but with far, far lesser things… Thus, brothers and sisters, consecration is not resignation or a mindless caving in. Rather, it is a deliberate expanding outward, making us more honest when we sing, ‘More used would I be’ (“More Holiness Give Me,” 1985, Hymns, no. 131). Consecration, likewise, is not shoulder-shrugging acceptance, but, instead, shoulder-squaring to better bear the yoke. Consecration involves pressing forward ‘with a steadfastness in Christ’ with a ‘brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men … [while] feasting upon the word of Christ’ (2 Ne. 31:20)… Along this pathway leading to consecration, stern and unsought challenges sometimes hasten this jettisoning, which is needed to achieve increased consecration (see Hel. 12:3)… Consecration is thus both a principle and a process, and it is not tied to a single moment. Instead, it is freely given, drop by drop, until the cup of consecration brims and finally runs over… God’s blessings, including those associated with consecration, come by unforced obedience to the laws upon which they are predicated (see D&C 130:20–21). Thus our deepest desires determine our degree of ‘obedience to the unenforceable.’ God seeks to have us become more consecrated by giving everything. Then, when we come home to Him, He will generously give us ‘all that [He] hath’ (D&C 84:38)… Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory! May we deeply desire that victory, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” – Elder Neal A Maxwell)
President Henry B. Eyring in 2011 – “One of the blessings that comes from paying a full tithing is developing faith to live an even higher law. To live in the celestial kingdom, we must live the law of consecration. There we must be able to feel that all we are and all we have belong to God.” (The Blessings of Tithing)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell in 1992 – “Any call for greater consecration is, of course, really a call to all of us. But these remarks are not primarily for those who are steadily striving and who genuinely seek to keep God’s commandments and yet sometimes fall short. (See D&C 46:9.) Nor is this primarily for those few in deliberate noncompliance, including some who cast off on intellectual and behavioral bungee cords in search of new sensations, only to be jerked about by the old heresies and the old sins. Instead, these comments are for the essentially ‘honorable’ members who are skimming over the surface instead of deepening their discipleship and who are casually engaged rather than ‘anxiously engaged.’ (D&C 76:75;D&C 58:27.) Though nominal in their participation, their reservations and hesitations inevitably show through. They may even pass through our holy temples, but, alas, they do not let the holy temples pass through them… In contrast, those sincerely striving for greater consecration neither cast off their commitments nor the holy garment. Likewise it is only fair to warn that any determination to seek greater consecration will soon expose what we yet lack, a painful but necessary thing. Remember the rich, righteous young man who was told by Jesus, ‘One thing thou lackest’? (Mark 10:21.) Ananias and Sapphira, otherwise good members of the Church, ‘kept back’ a portion instead of consecrating their all. (Acts 5:1–11.) Some would never sell Jesus for thirty pieces, but they would not give Him their all either! … Unfortunately, we tend to think of consecration only in terms of property and money. But there are so many ways of keeping back part… speculation seems more fun than consecration, and so is trying to soften the hard doctrines instead of submitting to them… Only greater consecration will cure ambivalence and casualness in any of us! As already noted, the tutoring challenges arising from increased consecration may be severe but reflect the divine mercy necessary to induce further consecration. (See Hel. 12:3.) If we have grown soft, hard times may be necessary. Deprivation may prepare us for further consecration, though we shudder at the thought… Consecration is the only surrender which is also a victory. It brings release from the raucous, overpopulated cell block of selfishness and emancipation from the dark prison of pride. Yet instead of striving for greater consecration, it is so easy to go on performing casually in halfhearted compliance as if hoping to ‘ride to paradise on a golf cart.’ (Henry Fairlie, The Seven Deadly Sins, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979, p. 125.)… Increased consecration is not so much a demand for more hours of Church work as it is for more awareness of Whose work this really is!… Jesus counseled His disciples, ‘Wherefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.’ (JST, Luke 14:28.) Getting thus settled precedes consecration… Finally, if we shrink from deeper consecration, then we are not worthy of Him who, for our sake, refused to ‘shrink’ in the midst of His deepening agony during the Atonement! (D&C 19:18.)… Brothers and sisters, whatever we embrace instead of Jesus and His work will keep us from qualifying to enter His kingdom and therefore from being embraced by Him. (See Morm. 6:17.)” (“Settle This In Your Hearts”)
Elder Steven B. Oveson in 2005 – “We might ask ourselves whether we are the kind of people who feel that giving an occasional egg or two toward the building of the kingdom is sufficient or whether we want to be categorized among those who consecrate their all in this endeavor… All of these worthy acts, along with almost countless others, constitute personal efforts by those who are consecrated members of the Church. Disciplining our spirits in this way prepares us for celestial living. The Lord tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 88:22 [D&C 88:22], ‘He who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.’ Latter-day Saint scholar Hugh Nibley said, ‘The main purpose of the Doctrine and Covenants, you will find, is to implement the law of consecration.‘ He further taught, ‘This law, the consummation of the laws of obedience and sacrifice, is the threshold of the celestial kingdom, the last and hardest requirement made of men [and women] in this life.’ When we discuss the subject of consecration, the first thing that often comes to mind is the consecration of our temporal means. What is currently required in this regard is to pay our tithes and offerings as a preparatory step in learning to return to the Father a portion of what He has given us. But the law of consecration goes beyond the mere payment of tithes and offerings or the consecration of monies and properties to the Lord. “The law of consecration,” said Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.”… Whenever scriptural reference is made to those who, as a society, have learned to live the law of consecration to the fullest, we read about a pure and peaceful people, devoid of strife and contention—a Zion people. The people of Enoch became such a people. We read in Moses 7:18, ‘And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.’ Our consecration will not happen with one single act. In this endeavor, those who willingly accept calls to be nursery leaders, Cub Scout den mothers, early-morning seminary teachers, Scoutmasters, or other time-consuming but sometimes perceived low-profile callings in the Church surely are examples of what consecration is all about. In the long run, offering ourselves for sacred uses might simply mean maintaining a consistent attitude of meek willingness to offer all we are capable of giving at any given time while we help those about us do the same. Consecration seems to be a day-to-day process of dedication, humility, refinement, and purification as we follow the example of the most consecrated person of all time—our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.” (Personal Consecration)
President Henry B. Eyring in 2011 – “Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others… The names and the details of operation are changed to fit the needs and conditions of people. But always the Lord’s way to help those in temporal need requires people who out of love have consecrated themselves and what they have to God and to His work.” (Opportunities to Do Good)
Should we be antagonistic towards our brethren and sisters who desire to more fully consecrate their lives to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth, and to the Lord, and live the law of consecration which he has given to us, and which is the only way that Zion may be established in the last days? Or should we strive to learn what the law of consecration is, and more fully implement it in our own lives?
It is my humble, sincere, and solemn desire, hope, and prayer that we can end (and soon!) the “folk memory” that we as a people harbor for the law of consecration as it has been given to us, among our families and friends, neighbors and associates, colleagues and coworkers, brothers and sisters, that we might shout it from the rooftops with full breath and the strength of soul, and that we might more fully listen to the living word of God instructing us to live this supernal, eternal and unchanging law which God has given us for our temporal, spiritual, mortal and eternal benefit and blessing, and then go and so live it to the fullest extent possible in our personal lives, families, and within the Church. “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Donald Gene Taylor
Good job. Well done. Good resource. The JS quote in Lectures is the hard doctrine, but it tastes good.
Another interesting approach Bryce; my thoughts are along the same lines as yours. It seems to me that Joseph Smith, under the direction of the Lord, attempted to establish the same type of consecrated SOCIETY as we understand the city of Enoch to have been like (and as is described in the book of 4 Nephi), except that it didn’t work. The D&C is full of the Lord’s rebukes to the early Saints for various themes having to do with having their hearts set upon property and money. (But not all, of course). This society of consecration (The United Order) was then, indeed, “suspended.” (We are NOT now asked to all gather together in Missouri–or wherever–and give every last cent to the Church and then the needs of all are then taken care of, “having all things common.”) Indeed, we are not even asked to gather to Salt Lake City–we are asked to “build Zion” in all our native lands. My view is that such a consecrated (Zion) society can’t work in this wicked world, that such an Order is reserved for the Terrestrial Order the Earth will become during (or prior to?) the Millennium. That being said, we seem to face the opposite problem in the Church today. Notwithstanding the generosity of many, there are also people IN THE CHURCH who are “puffed up” because of their money/property/status, those who covet and hoard (2, 3 houses? multiple cars? 5 flat-screens? ), and think that “all is well” because they pay tithing. That’s all I will say on that because I’m not here to pick people apart. There seems to be a balance, AND it’s a matter of “where is my heart?” Prophets have counseled us to save money for an emergency/rainy day; the abundance of the earth is indeed ours; the Book of Mormon is a perfect example (repeatedly) of a humble people of the Lord being blessed by him to be “exceedingly rich.” It’s when the peoples’ HEARTS turned from the Lord and to their money/property/flesh/status that the problems started (over and over again). I think (just like virtually all covenants) this one comes between the individual and God. I can only judge, based on what the Lord has allotted ME to have — am I consecrating my SELF, my TIME, my TALENTS, my MEANS to his work? Is there room for improvement? You bet.
I am beginning my 4th year teaching Early Morning Seminary. I’ve told the Bishop that I will need to be released to go on a mission when I retire in 10 years.
People tell me, “I could never teach Early Morning Seminary. How Do you do it?”
I reply, “I have consecrated my sleep cycles to the Lord.”
Silly me. When he said “everything” I assumed he meant “everything”.
Thank you for the wonderful quotes from our prophets and apostles. Consecration is a dominate theme in the Doctrine and Covenants. As one studies the DC concurent with church history it becomes very evident how the Lord feels about consecration and those who will not do so. I would ask that we consider DC 105:5, 32, “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself….That the kindgoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws.”
For those who want to inherit Zion it is required that we live celestial law. Elder Oaks in several talks has told us that we “need to become.” The living of celestial law is for here and now so we can inherit Zion.
We also must consider what the prophets have told us about saving money, preparing for missions as seniors, not having to rely on the government for support, planning for missions for our children, etc. This is also an important part of our stewardship.
Yes the law of consecration goes far beyond the payment of tithes and offerings. Tithes and offerings, what you might say, is given as a test of our faith and our desire to give – and do we give freely with full purpose of heart as if the money we give does not even belong to us or do we give with judgement and regret? I feel this is a inward struggle for all of us as we learn to give of ourselves and for the good of all. We must learn to master this step before we can truly jump to living the the higher law of consecration and what it entails. It could be that we would be required to give 90% and keep 10%?
I think with consecration, we can accept it as a commandment coming from the Lord, and still recognize that we are not being asked to fully observe it at this time.
It’s a good question. What does it mean to not “fully observe” a commandment? Is that truly what the Lord has asked of us in consecration?
Here is the “Daily Message” from the Church today, which I received in my inbox just a few minutes ago:
Mormon Channel Episodes on the Law of Consecration and The United Order – Temple Study - LDS Temples, Mormon Temples, Study Blog
[…] noted a couple days ago in my discussion about the law of consecration that there was an episode available from the Church’s official Mormon Channel on this topic, […]
Living The Law Of Consecration – Part 4: What is Tithing? – Temple Study - LDS Temples, Mormon Temples, Study Blog
[…] subject of the law of consecration, including Hugh Nibley quotes from Approaching Zion, “Are we required to live the law of consecration, now?“, and Mormon Channel Episodes On The Law Of Consecration And The United […]
Yes, we can live the law of consecration now even though the Church does not particularly press for it. We can do it to the extent we are able and that could primarily mean living it in attitude by being willing to give up all your possess for the kingdom, although I wouldn’t limit its meaning to that. I went to a meeting about three years ago that our temple president spoke at and he talked about his calling and how he was asked to go to Salt Lake for temple president training. He said that when President Hinckley got up to speak the very first thing he said was, “Brethren, you have been assigned to be temple presidents because of your faithfulness to the law of consecration.” Now take from that what you will. I have my own thoughts on it.
At differing points in time different aspects of the gospel will be stressed while some will have less emphasis placed on them. As we mature in the gospel and grow up into the measure and stature of the fulness of Christ we likewise grow in our ability to keep all of the commandments, even if in some we can only do so largely in attitude due to the larger Church not having fully implemented it yet.
Yes, as you said, we don’t need to limit it to “attitude.” There are a very many ways we can consecrate ourselves that are much more than attitude, that involve action. In fact, today it may be that we can live the law of consecration by action more than we can in other ways. I’m reminded of this quote from Nibley:
There is also a scripture on this point:
I liked the thoughts of Steven Harper in the Mormon Channel episode on the “United Order”, where he told how we can consecrate today. Here’s some of my notes:
Yes, the attitude part comes in only when you are truly kept by means beyond your control from living a certain aspect of the law. Short of that you still need to truly live it.
I recall reading Elder Maxwell or another apostle say that the easy part of the law would be giving up our things while the hard part would be giving of our will to God. I wish I could find the exact quote. Any help would be appreciated.
Perhaps here? http://www.lds.org/ensign/1995/11/swallowed-up-in-the-will-of-the-father?lang=eng
I love that talk Bryce, but it doesn’t have the quote. It is probably in one of the numerous books I’ve read that Maxwell authored.
Here is a quote from Elder Holland, which is nearly the same – “We must be willing to place all that we have—not just our possessions (they may be the easiest things of all to give up), but also our ambition and pride and stubbornness and vanity—we must place it all on the altar’ of God, kneel there in silent submission, and willingly walk away.” http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=729
Bryce, that is most helpful. I don’t believe it the same quote I was looking to find, but it is highly possible I mixed up the reference. Mike
Agree with all the stuff about law of consecration. The question is HOW. Isn’t it right for us to look to the prophet to call us to action on this? And if you say no, how does that work exactly? I was in a ward in the 1970’s where some members were disciplined for taking it upon themselves for setting out to live the law. You know, move to the mountains with like minded people and do it. Well, if that’s not OK what do you propose?
I like this quote from President Marion G. Romney:
The full implementation needs to be done with an assigned bishop at the head. Short of this individuals can still live the consecration by tithing, fast offering, other offerings, time spent in service, not having their hearts set on worldly goods, having things but being willing to give them up when needed, asked, etc. and in other ways.
I wish it could be implemented more fully right now. I am reminded of a quote that says that every new possession brings an increased weariness. I have no desire to be burdened down with possessions but sometimes I buy something because nobody else I know has it so the only way for me to get it is to buy it. I might get a book and read it all the way through and not necessarily want to throw it away because I might want to reference it again later but I also might not want it sitting around my place when it’s not being used. I would love to be able to donate it (and many like things) to a library where others could use it but where I could access it again later if necessary. It’s not super easy to do right now, and I’m not just talking about books.
Even after reading all of this, I’m still a little confused, not about consecration, but in a similar issue, the law of tithing. In D&C 119:1-5 it says that you must *first* give *all* of your surplus to the bishop. That is to be the *beginning* of the tithing. *After* you have given all the surplus, *then* you give 10%. I have not given any surplus. It is official church doctrine and as far as I know has never been overridden with new official doctrine. Is there an official position, policy or practice that supersedes this doctrine? Should I answer “no” in my next temple recommend interview when asked if I pay a full tithing?
You are correct, Kasey. See my comments on tithing here: http://www.templestudy.com/2012/09/06/living-law-consecration-part-4-tithing/
Unfortunately, D&C 119 is perhaps the most misunderstood revelation of the Prophet Joseph Smith (according to one LDS scholar, Steven C. Harper). Most of us do not properly understand what was revealed here, so there is quite a range of personal interpretations and strange ideas. The plain way you have read it is right. The Lord said that we should give all of our surpluses, and then, after that, give 10%. That makes the 10% a true sacrifice. Tithing is not a replacement for the law of consecration; it is an extension of it. It is not to be practiced instead of consecration, but in addition to it. The Lord wasn’t asking less of the Saints, he was asking for more.
How we practice this today is the big question. The general understanding of the law of tithing in the Church today is simply 10% of our income. That’s fine, but it is not consecration. One of the best quotes on the subject (which is also quoted in the D&C Gospel Doctrine lesson this year on “The Law of Consecration“), is by President Marion G. Romney, which I’ll repeat again:
Consecration has always been up to us to live. It is not forced upon us, or coerced upon us. We don’t wait for someone else to live the law of consecration. We can and should live it now, and we can do so in a myriad of ways, only a small part of which is monetary (see quote from Elder Holland above). That is the only way we will build and bring Zion (D&C 105:5). More commentary on this subject is found in a recent official Mormon Channel radio episode that I noted here (featuring an interview with Steven C. Harper on the subject): http://www.templestudy.com/2012/09/03/mormon-channel-episodes-law-consecration-united-order/.
See also my other commentary on the law of consecration:
I just read one of the best essays on consecration I’ve ever come across, written by Orson Scott Card (of Ender’s Game fame) back in 1993, which is entitled “Consecration: A Law We Can Live With.” Highly recommended reading: http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-consec.html.
In fact, I think I’ll write a blog post about it.
OSC makes a lot of good points. I have a quote on my personal website from somebody who says, “Every new possession brings an increased weariness.” Very true. We don’t need to pile up possessions.
“The plain way you have read it is right. The Lord said that we should give all of our surpluses, and then, after that, give 10%. That makes the 10% a true sacrifice.”
Does this mean we should never have a savings account? Do we donate all our surplus then 10% beyond that and make sure we are living paycheck to paycheck and trust in the Lord to see us through? I read some of Hugh Nibley’s stuff and think, “Geez, I’m pretty wicked. The only way I can live up to what he’s suggesting is to sell all my clothes and every other possession and put a barrel around me held up by rubber straps on my shoulders and go and live on top of the mountain and sit in the lotus position and allow myself one grain of rice per day.” Okay, I’m being facetious but it’s very easy to do the best you can and still have somebody come alongbody come along and suggest you’re not sacrificing nearly enough. Or if it’s not somebody else then it’s yourself flagellating yourself for being materialistic when you actually live pretty nearly like a monk.
It’s a good question Christian, with no easy answer. I noted in another place:
I guess one of my take aways after reading all the above is that the principles reveled in scripture is not always. What the church is practicing at a point in time and I suppose this is why we have prophets. An interesting example is the word do wisdom in a similar way. If you took the revelation at its seemingly simplicity, the revelation would be a ‘guide’ not a commandment. (Yippee! I CAN drink my Starbucks Chai Tea!). The prophets added to the revelation by adding the words ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’. (By the way where is the detailed research on how this and these two things only came to be the ‘clarification’?). So, apparently the revelations are subject to further light and knowledge as given by the living prophet.
Different parts of the gospel can be emphasized or downplayed at different times. The Word of Wisdom is a guideline but I believe it was Heber J. Grant who turned the key so to speak and made the living of it (at least as far as it pertains to the definite no-nos) a prerequisite for holding a temple recommend.
Several (more like MANY) years ago, while living in the Boise, Idaho area, I was serving in our Stake Seventies’ presidency. L. Alden Porter was our Regional Representative of the Twelve (Shows how long ago it was, I guess). We as a presidency wanted to come up with a memorable way to mark the up-coming holiday season for our stake seventies and their families, and we decided to have a “Thanksgiving Fireside” one evening using a church-owned summer camping area in the mountains north of Boise.
We invited Elder Porter to participate with us, and to share whatever message he felt the desire to use. He graciously accepted our invitation, and, I believe, on the Saturday evening immediately following Thanksgiving of that year, we all met in one of the lodges. After the dinner, we all gathered around the HUGE fireplace in this lodge and had the most literal Fireside experience I have ever participated in.
Elder porter spent most of the night speaking about the Law of Consecration, and how it applies to each of us, as members of the church. He taught us that, as are all of our laws of God, this law is eternal, and that our observance and compliance with it’s requirements is expected to be voluntary, and therefor it’s implementation will vary from one person to another, just as is any other of the requirements of the Kingdom. Thus, one person on a street, or a city block, or in a city, state or nation might be living the law, while another, perhaps his neighbor or friend, would not be. The general atmosphere of a given area would be greatly affected by how many, or what percentage of the people in the area observed the Law of Consecration. The greater the observance, the safer, the more Christ-like, or the more like the City of Enoch the area would become. He taught that this was the way that Enoch raised his people to the level where the Lord translated the entire city and removed it from the earth.
He taught us that this is the manner in which any principle of the gospel should be implemented. (by teaching the principle, then by individuals coming to the point where they put it into play in their lives.) He further told us (and this was in the days immediately preceding the building of the Boise Temple) that right then, in the Treasure Valley surrounding Boise, that there were “many” who were in practice, living the Law of Consecration. He said that in addition to their observance of the laws of Tithing & Fast Offerings, they were, when they met with their Bishops in Tithing Settlement, giving ALL of their surplus (above what was needed for the support and sustenance of their families). He said that the identities and particulars of these people would never be revealed, but that the practice was what was needed for a people to become a “Zion” people.
He said further that attempts such as the United Order failed because they lost sight of the FACT that all things must be voluntary, and that if ANY form of compulsion was a factor, the 121st section of the Doctrine & Covenants’ proscriptions against unrighteous dominion came into play.
So, in short, Yes, the Law of Consecration is in place as much today as at any time in the history of mankind, Regardless of what temple covenants we might or might not have made, or what level of observation we maintain in our personal lives. The Law is there, and our level of blessing depends on our observance to it.
That evening changed my life and my way of looking at my life. I wish all could have heard his counsel to us. Needless to say, in the years that followed, I listened very closely to him as he took his place in the leadership of the church.
Wow. Thank you.