10 Comments

  1. Daniel

    Bryce, I always appreciate your posts and insight, and I have read your previous posts regarding consecration. I am all for exploration and “digging” into doctrine. It seems, though, that you might be taking some liberties here in reinterpreting the law as it applies to church members in our day. A statement from the First Presidency to stake presidents back in 1970 (a form of which I am sure is in the current handbook), which I am sure you have read might help:

    “For your guidance in this matter, please be advised that we have uniformly replied that the simplest statement we know of is that statement of the Lord himself that the members of the Church should pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this. We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly.”

    We are not asked to deduct from our income all that is surplus, etc., and then pay 10% of what is left. We are asked to pay 10% of our income/increase. While I would agree that those with exceeding excess ought to counsel with the Lord and determine what they ought to give (NO ONE, in my opinion, needs 4 cars, 2 vacation homes, and a flat-screen in every room “just to have”), the Apostles do not put specific requirements on this. We are asked to give generous fast offerings, I would assume that are proportional to our means. But many people in our day struggle heavily to make ends meet and pay tithing, and giving that 10% literally is all they can spare. (It’s the widow’s mite, so to speak).

    One day (in the Millennium I presume), the United Order will be re-instituted (as described in Moses and 4 Nephi), wherein all will labor for Zion (give 100% of themselves), and in return all people will be provided for and taken care of (all things common, no rich and poor, etc.) While I understand the principle of consecrating ourselves in this day to God’s Kingdom (including money, time, other means, and most importantly ones’ heart), we also have other responsibilities and there needs to be a balance. We are also counselled to save money (Pres. Hinckley), to enjoy the fruits of our labor (within reason), etc.

  2. Hi Daniel. Thank you for your comments. You are right, of course, that today we seem to interpret tithing as 10% only, and not a penny more. All I’m showing is that the revelation on tithing does not prescribe that necessarily. It is more nuanced. Yes, we should follow our leaders and their instructions. The “statement of the Lord himself” in D&C 119 is more than paying one-tenth of all our interest annually, as it also includes consecration; and I think that the Brethren also have taught us this principle plentifully in their words on the law of consecration, as I’ve shown briefly. Another example, the Brethren have taught us over the years to give a “generous” fast offering; that could equal as much or far more than our tithing. Of course, this is all voluntary; the law of consecration consists of agency, stewardship, and accountability. President Marion G. Romney taught, “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, 1966, 537).

    The comparison with the widow’s mite falls somewhat short, I’m afraid. Let’s read the full scripture:

    41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
    42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
    43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
    44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:41–44)

    The widow was consecrating everything, all that she had, all her living. This was not her tithing, her 10%, or what she could spare. It was all she had.

    I am of the opinion that we can fully consecrate ourselves today to the Lord and his kingdom, and take care of all our daily responsibilities at the same time, many of which are part of our duty towards our families and/or communities, and our providing for them, which is included in the Lord’s gospel. We do not need to wait until the day when the United Order may be re-instituted to give ourselves to the Lord. I perceive when that day comes, only those who are already so living will be able to “abide” such an institution, for they will already be prepared for it.

  3. Daniel

    Thanks for your response Bryce. Regarding the “widow’s mite” concept, I understand what you mean, the idea being that the poor widow who cast in all that she had was giving more than the hypocritical Pharisees who had an exceeding abundance and loved to show off how much they were giving. Yet we are not required to give to the church “all that we have,” otherwise we would all be homeless and destitute and miserable indeed. I don’t believe that to be God’s will. I wonder if the story isn’t so much about money as it is about the heart. Where is my heart? The Lord knows each of our circumstances–how much we have, what our needs for survival are, our capabilities, etc. The Law of Consecration as given in the temple (which is in connection with tithing) states that we “consecrate” (make holy; set apart) our means, time, abilities, etc., for God’s work. The specifics of this (as most things in the gospel) are left up to the individual and the Lord. We are taught to not hold back anything from God and to be generous. I’m not pointing fingers; I could certainly use improvement here as we all can. I agree completely that we are not to wait for the reinstatement of the United Order to give ourselves to God, but beyond the specifics of the 10% tithing, it is left up to the individual and the Lord.

  4. I like to think of it not as giving 100% of our money to the Church, at least not at the present time, but rather, as Elder McConkie noted, “such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.” All our time, talents, money, and property are to be made available to the Church and cause of the kingdom, whenever or wherever they may be asked of us. If that includes everything we have, then so be it. The Lord will never leave his consecrated Saints destitute.

    It is interesting to note that in the law of consecration, that if one so consecrates all they have, that all your needs are also taken care of. Hugh Nibley noted that “the law of consecration demands everything you have, but at the same times it fills your every physical need.”

    I love the scriptures on “consider the lilies” which I think directly apply to consecration. These are some of the most exquisitely beautiful scriptures that I know of.

    24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
    25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
    26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
    27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
    28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
    29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
    31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
    32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
    33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
    34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:24–34; cf. Luke 12:21–31)

    As Nibley often said, it comes down to our faith. Do we have faith that the Lord will provide if we turn ourselves over to Him? It’s often been said that the Lord can make much more out of us than we can (D&C 98:13, JST Matthew 16:28, D&C 103:27, Matthew 10:39, Matthew 16:25).

    I’m reminded of a promise from President Gordon B. Hinckley:

    President Hinckley taught them that if they would pay their tithing, they would always have food on their tables, they would always have clothing on their backs, and they would always have a roof over their heads.” (Lynn G. Robbins, “Tithing—a Commandment Even for the Destitute,” Ensign, May 2005, 34 (April 2005 Conference))

    These are the blessings of consecration. A binding promise from a living prophet, even the word of the Lord himself (D&C 1:38), that all our basic necessities will be met, and much more! Indeed, all that the Father hath (D&C 84:38).

  5. A marvelous read and very inspiring-much to ponder…thank you so much for taking the time to study and share these important concepts. I’m especially glad that you pointed out the more recent mentions by our prophets. I’ve not read the first 3 parts yet…looking forward to them when I get an opportunity.

  6. Our consecration can be part of our daily responsibilities:

    “Hard-earned achievement brings a sense of self-worth. Work builds and refines character, creates beauty, and is the instrument of our service to one another and to God. A consecrated life is filled with work, sometimes repetitive, sometimes menial, sometimes unappreciated but always work that improves, orders, sustains, lifts, ministers, aspires.” (Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Reflections on a Consecrated Life”, General Conference, October 2010)

  7. Sandy

    I’ve been introduced to your site fairly recently and really appreciate all the research you have done. You have some excellent insights and share much fascinating information.

    I think it is valuable to note that consecrating things to the Lord doesn’t necessarily need to involve physical offerings to the church. I think the family with a big house that is frequently letting youth come over or hosting ward activities is consecrating their home. I’m not expected to be as Hannah and ask the temple president to raise my son to be a temple worker, but I am expected to instill a love and understanding of the Gospel in him.
    We can give all of our surplus in fast offerings, or we can give it in other ways – like saving up to serve a senior mission during retirement years.

    The point is that we are stewards of all the Lord has given us, including our physical means, knowledge, time, talents, families, and our bodies. Like the parable of the talents, we should be using what we are given wisely so that we can give back more than we are given to start with. When the Lord gives us blessings, we should give back.

  8. Bryce Haymond,
    I’m not convinced, partly because I think like a lawyer, partly because I think you are abstracting the revelation from its time and place.
    I read it as saying that (1) at the time the revelation is issued, everyone is supposed to turn over their surplus property. After that, everyone is supposed to pay a tenth. (2) Later-baptized members are also supposed to turn over their surplus on their joining the community of the Saints. After that, they also pay a tenth every year.
    So really the only aspect of the modern law of tithing that is missing is a requirement that new converts turn over their surplus. But that aspect of the law of tithing has not been commanded by contemporary prophets. Even then, those of us who were baptized at the age of eight are probably still in compliance, since we didn’t have any ‘surplus’ at that age.
    That said, I agree with much of your larger point about the law of consecration still being in force and not being fully fulfilled by paying 10%.

  9. 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)

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