Sunday, June 4, 2017

Law of Consecration

There's a small error in my primary manual. It says,

A few days after calling Edward Partridge to be the bishop of the Church, the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the law of consecration (see D&C 42:30–39, 42). This law commanded the Saints to share with each other in an organized way.

The Lord gave the following instructions:

1. The Saints were to consecrate, or give, all of their property and possessions to the Church. The bishop would be responsible for these consecrations.

2. The bishop would decide with the head of each family what property and possessions the family needed to work and live. The bishop would give these needed items to the family.

3. Families would work hard to provide for themselves using the things they were given. After they filled their own needs and wants, anything extra they had earned or created was to be given to the bishop to help the poor and strengthen the Church.

...Early members of the Church lived the law of consecration for only a short while. Someday the Church will practice the law of consecration again, but today we as members are asked to live only part of the law. We are not asked to give all we have to the Church, but we are asked to pay tithing and fast offerings.

The practice the manual speaks of here is actually the United Order. It is one implementation of the law of consecration, but not the only implementation. We are still expected to live the law of consecration today and to be just as open-hearted and generous with our means as were the saints back then; but we do not live the United Order, so we do not follow the process outlined above involving the bishop. It is *that* process (the United Order) which has been supplanted in our day by the law of tithing, as commanded in D&C 119:4.

TL;DR: the law of consecration still applies to us today.

Also, here is some useful context from the Institute manual:

In a somewhat humorous but sadly true commentary, President Brigham Young recounted his early experiences in attempting to get people to live the [United Order]:

"When the revelation … was given in 1838, I was present, and recollect the feelings of the brethren. … The brethren wished me to go among the Churches, and find out what surplus property the people had, with which to forward the building of the Temple we were commencing at Far West. I accordingly went from place to place through the country. Before I started, I asked brother Joseph, 'Who shall be the judge of what is surplus property?' Said he, 'Let them be the judges themselves. …'

"Then I replied, 'I will go and ask them for their surplus property;' and I did so; I found the people said they were willing to do about as they were counselled, but, upon asking them about their surplus property, most of the men who owned land and cattle would say, 'I have got so many hundred acres of land, and I have got so many boys, and I want each one of them to have eighty acres, therefore this is not surplus property.' Again, 'I have got so many girls, and I do not believe I shall be able to give them more than forty acres each.' 'Well, you have got two or three hundred acres left.' 'Yes, but I have a brother-in-law coming on, and he will depend on me for a living; my wife's nephew is also coming on, he is poor, and I shall have to furnish him a farm after he arrives here.' I would go on to the next one, and he would have more land and cattle than he could make use of to advantage. It is a laughable idea, but is nevertheless true, men would tell me they were young and beginning [in] the world, and would say, 'We have no children, but our prospects are good, and we think we shall have a family of children, and if we do, we want to give them eighty acres of land each; we have no surplus property.' 'How many cattle have you?' 'So many.' 'How many horses, &c?' 'So many, but I have made provisions for all these, and I have use for every thing I have got.'

"Some were disposed to do right with their surplus property, and once in a while you would find a man who had a cow which he considered surplus, but generally she was of the class that would kick a person's hat off, or eyes out. … You would once in a while find a man who had a horse that he considered surplus, but at the same time he had the ringbone, was broken-winded, spavined in both legs, and had the pole evil at one end of the neck and a fistula at the other, and both knees sprung." (In Journal of Discourses, 2:306–7.)

I know of certain acts of extraordinary sacrifice and generosity during early church history, so I know that Brigham Young must be exaggerating a little here. Not *everybody* was like this. Apparently many people were though, and it gives some insight into what conduct the Lord was chastising in D&C 105 when he said, "But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom."


If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

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