31 Comments

  1. Daniel

    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.

  2. wonderdog

    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”.

  3. Vickie

    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.

  4. Clay Pendleton

    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%?

  5. Peter

    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.

  6. Christian

    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.

  7. 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:

    A General Authority recently told me that the important thing is to observe the law of consecration “spiritually.” Yes indeed, say I, and the law of tithing also—how much better to observe it spiritually than in a gross, material way—a great comfort to the rich. And yet the express purpose of both those laws is to test the degree of our attachment to material things, not to provide an exercise in “spiritual” semantics. (Approaching Zion)

    There is also a scripture on this point:

    14 What profit is it, my brethren, for a man to say he hath faith, and hath not works? can faith save him?
    15 Yea, a man may say, I will show thee I have faith without works; but I say, Show me thy faith without works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. (JST James 2:14–15)

    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:

    We see numerous examples of Saints that consecrate. Missionaries, good neighbors, Christmastime when we give of ourselves generously. We are living the law of consecration today, and it is inspiring. Sometimes we waste away our time looking forward to a future day that we can do more, we are missing the opportunities to become sacred, and to consecrate and bless the lives of others today.

    We should live the law of consecration wherever we are. How can we better live the law in this dispensation? Worry less about material things. It doesn’t matter what we do, if its honorable, and we do it with integrity – we can fix cars for the Lord, we can play piano for the Lord, we can teach the gospel for the Lord, we can teach accounting for the Lord. There are wonderful examples all over. There are many examples of consecrated Saints.

  8. Christian

    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.

  9. mike

    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.

  10. mike

    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.

  11. 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

  12. mike

    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

  13. Craig

    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?

  14. I like this quote from President Marion G. Romney:

    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)

  15. Christian

    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.

  16. Kasey

    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?

  17. 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:

    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)

    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:
    http://www.templestudy.com/2008/11/17/living-the-law-of-consecration-part-1-the-mythic-folk-memory/
    http://www.templestudy.com/2008/11/29/living-the-law-of-consecration-part-2-the-law-the-united-order/
    http://www.templestudy.com/2009/10/14/living-law-consecration-part-3-lords/

  18. Christian Z.

    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.

  19. Christian Z.

    “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.

  20. It’s a good question Christian, with no easy answer. I noted in another place:

    I think wherein living prophets have counseled us to save and live providently, we are safe. But it is certainly a delicate and difficult balance to determine how much to save. Some would save every penny of surplus for themselves; there are an endless number of socks to stuff these days, if we get right down to it – stocks, bonds, ETFs, real estate, time shares, 401k’s, IRAs, other retirement accounts, future vacations, emergency funds (how big?), food storage (how much?), bigger homes, better cars, better clothing (or apparel), the next best gadgets, etc. At the end of the day, is there anything left for consecration, for giving to the poor and needy, for helping the sick and afflicted? For being our brother’s keeper? For being a neighbor (Luke 10:25–37)? At what point does it turn into pride and hoarding? Does saving come before or after consecration? What constitutes a surplus? How does that work? I perceive that in these things each individual must study it out, pray, and determine the Lord’s will for themselves. I think if we are in tune with the Spirit, we will know in our heart what we should do.

  21. Craig

    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.

  22. Christian Z.

    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.

  23. Rod Johnson

    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.

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