Law of Consecration and Tithing


Here is a post I made over at the lds.net forum. It was long enough I figured I should share it here. If you want to follow the replies to my post on lds.net please do. And it would be cool to get some of the people who frequent this blog to post over on lds.net. The only issue is you have to be careful what you say because they will ban you if you get too out of hand. I like it because it challenges my writing style as I have to adapt my ideas to so it is presentable to that kind of audience.

Anyway here it is:

Many members of the church have made a covenant to obey the Law of Consecration as given in the Doctrine and Covenants. In order to understand what our duties are in obeying this law we must look to the revelations contained in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Here I have cited the main references to consecration in the Doctrine and Covenants. For the sake of brevity I have summarized the references. But do not stop at my summaries. They are only my words and NOT the Word of God. Go to each scriptural reference and read the entire revelation for yourself.

Doctrine and Covenants 42:30-35

Consecration is to help the poor. But it must be done after the proper manner. All property is to be given to the bishop. What is needed for the individual is given back to him as a stewardship. The rest of the consecrated property is to be used for: “administer[ing] to the poor and the needy,…for the purpose of purchasing lands…and building houses of worship, and building up of the New Jerusalem.”

Doctrine and Covenants 51:2-14

Unless we are organized according to God’s laws we will be cut off. The bishop is to appoint stewardships unto every man equally according to their families, wants, and needs. A writing will be given to the person that secures their portion to them. If a person transgresses and is not counted worthy to belong to the church, then he cannot draw on the properties consecrated to the bishop, but he does retain the property he received. Branches of the church should not take money from each other. But if they do borrow money from another branch of the church it should be payed back as they agree. The bishop should have claim on a portion of that which is consecrated for his own support.

Doctrine and Covenants 70:7-14

Anyone who receives more than is needful for their needs and wants is to give that excess to the Bishop. This excess is to be consecrated to the inhabitants of Zion. The Lord requires this of all who have a stewardship. No one who belongs to the church is exempt from this. If we are not all equal in temporal things then Spiritual manifestations will be withheld from us.
Doctrine and Covenants 83

Women have claim upon their husband and children have claim upon their father for their support. When children come of age they have claim upon the Lord’s strorehouse; along with widows, orphans, and the poor. The storehouse holds those excess properties which were consecrated to the Bishop.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:104

Missionaries who receive money from people, if they don’t have a family to support, should send that money to Zion so it may be consecrated for bringing forth the revelations and printing them, and for establishing Zion.

Doctrine and Covenants 85:1-7

The Lord’s clerk will keep a history and record of those who consecrate properties and who receive an inheritance. A record is to be kept of people to become apostate after receiving their inheritances. Those who do not receive an inheritance by consecration should not have their names enrolled with the people of God, neither is their genealogy to be kept. God will send One Mighty and Strong to set the church in order, and arrange by lot the inheritances of the Saints. An inheritance is a plot of land that is given to the member who consecrates their property. It is literally the land of their inheritance.

Doctrine and Covenants 105:29

The lands which are to become Zion and the Stakes of Zion are to be possessed according to the laws of consecration.

Doctrine and Covenants 124:21

One of the duties of bishop is to receive consecrated property.

Another part of consecration involves those lands that the Lord has consecrated for our use. Lands such as Kirtland, Far West, Zion(Interdependence Missouri), etc. There are many scriptures stating that the Lord has consecrated these lands for us.

Some posters have brought up the difference between the United Order and the Law of Consecration. They are correct in that there is a difference. But I believe this difference has been largely misrepresented.

The Law of Consecration as given in the Doctrine and Covenants deals with individual duties in how properties are to be consecrated to the Lord and from the Lord back to the people. The United Order however is the actual society wherein the Law of Consecration and other covenants relationships are put into practice.

The revelation detailing the United Order is contained in section 104, I suggest reading it.

Lastly there seems to be some belief that the revelation contained in Section 119 institutes as “lesser” law because people were not able to live the Law of Consecration.

I would like to reproduce the revelation contained in Section 119 here and examine it.

Doctrine and Covenants 119

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion,

2 For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.

3 And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.

4 And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

5 Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.

6 And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you.

7 And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.

In verse one we read that the Lord requires all surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop. Surplus property is to be understood in the context of the previous consecration revelations. Meaning everything that is beyond that which is needed for the people who possess the property.

In verse two we read the purposes of those properties are to be used for. These purposes are for the building of the Lord’s house(the temple), laying the foundation of Zion, for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of the Church.

Verse three tell us that this initial consecration of surplus property is the beginning of tithing.

Verse four tells us that those who have made this initial consecration should “pay one-tenth of their interest annually.” In the 1828 Webster dictionary one definition of the word interest is:

Any surplus advantage.

Here we again see the word surplus. Interest, therefor can be understood to mean the surplus that is left over after the need s of the person has been met. In a person needs $10,000 to provide for his family and he makes $15,000. Then $5,000 is his surplus/interest. It is our of this interest that the one-tenth is commanded to be payed. Therefor his tithing would be $500. Tithing is to be collected annually because it is only after one year that many people can truly see what their total expenses vs income is.

Verse four continues by stating that this is to be a standing law forever and that the one-tenth of the interest is for use of the Priesthood

Verse five states that all those who gather to the land of Zion are to be tithed according to this law or else they will not be found worthy to live there.

Verse six tells us that unless we keep this law then the land will not be the land of Zion unto us.

Verse seven tell is that this is to be an example to all the stakes of Zion. To understand this we must remember that “stakes of Zion” has a very specific meaning. Stakes of Zion are distinct from Zion, and stakes scattered abroad. This verse is telling us that even though this revelation speaks concerning Zion. It is to be and example to all the stakes of Zion as well.

In reading through this I would like to point out that nowhere does it state that consecration or the United Order are done away with. Rather I would like to list these reasons why I personally believe that tithing is not a “lesser law” and can only be lived, as commanded, if we are living the Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants:

– The revelation never refutes consecration.

– Verse 3 states that the initial consecration of surplus is the BEGINNING of tithing. If tithing was a “lesser law” why would a “higher law” be used as a beginning to establish a “lesser law”?

– Verse 4 states that only those people who have made the initial consecration are to pay one-tenth of their interest.

– Verse 4 also states that this law of tithing is to be a standing law unto us forever. Why would a lesser law be established “forever” as opposed to until the people can get their act together and live consecration?

– Verses 5-7 states that this law is top be used to establish Zion.

Ultimately what the revelation in section 119 institutes is procedure wherein a small portion of the annually consecrated property is reserved for the use of the priesthood.

I have not been able to find a revelation where consecration or the United Order was commanded to be stopped. If there is one someone please send it to me or link to it. Additionally since members still covenant to obey the Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. The only conclusion I can come to is that neither the Law of Consecration nor the United Order were done away by God’s command, but rather we simply stopped practicing them.

But again that’s just my personal opinion. Search the scriptures and come to you own conclusion.

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23 Responses to Law of Consecration and Tithing

  1. Ironically, under the law D&C 119 lays out, the saints would be paying less tithing than they do now ($500 vs $1500 for the $15000/year income used above), even the wealthy saints. Interestingly this becomes somewhat of a graduated tax, since the poor (having no surplus) pay no tithing and those who make only a little surplus only pay tithing on a little surplus. To the modern capitalist members this smacks of socialism. If they could get over this bias, the next major hurdle would would be the first step of consecration: giving the bishop everything they possess in hopes that he’ll give them back enough of a stewardship to provide for their basic needs. This is a huge step of faith. However, those who don’t have this kind of faith are not worthy of the kingdom. One of the best examples of this is found in the history of Jesus:

    “And a certain ruler asked [Jesus], saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.

    Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!”
    (Luke 18:18-24)

  2. AV says:

    It seems that the Celestial ‘Law of Consecration’ is giving all our excess to the poor. While the Terrestrial law of ‘Tithing’ (because the people are not righteous nor willing to live the law of Consecration) is giving only 10% of our excess to the poor.

    I also believe that the righteous today in the Church can & should & would still be living the law of consecration & giving their excess to the poor, the Spirit would help them decide what is excess.

    As Christ taught, I believe it is impossible for a rich man or woman to be exalted, for the righteous who have any ‘excess’ would be continually giving it all to the poor.

    But today, since most Bishops & church leaders don’t seem to be righteous nor have the Spirit, we may often need to decide for ourselves who around us should be given our excess to directly, which I believe should be given, 1st & foremost, to the ‘widows & the fatherless’ (single mothers) among our family & friends & people that we know personally.

    Widows & divorced single mothers who have been abandoned by their husbands or who’s ex-husbands refuse to completely support all their financial needs & wants, then have claim upon the Church for their support, but unfortunately the Church & Bishops do not usually support these women financially as they should, so that these women don’t have to leave their home & children & grandchildren & go to work. When mothers & grandmothers have to go to work it further hurts the children & the church & our society.

    That’s why God said pure religion is ‘men taking care of the widows & the fatherless’, the single mothers & wives around us, so they can focus on & fulfill their vital role as mothers & grandmothers.

    We do this by giving our excess to these women & then to disabled men & their families.

    • Matt says:

      I fully agree we should be giving to the widows and fatherless first. However, when marriage is treated lightly and divorse easy, there is a surplus of single mothers expecting help without accountability for their situation. Single fathers can be victims too.

      • What kind of accountability do you think single mothers should give? Are you referring to the kinds of single mothers that continue to have children out of wedlock in order to remain on the government dole?

    • AV says:

      Matt,

      Most divorced single mothers, no matter how many, probably had to divorce because of unrighteous husbands or their unrighteous husbands abandoned them. Thus they should not have to suffer even more by having to go to work and hurt their children even more. If Church leaders and members had to financially support all these divorced single mothers, they would soon wake up and stop allowing men to abuse or abandon their wives. Leaders would then require husbands to completely financially support their ex wife and children, instead of only requiring them to give what the child support laws say, which is rarely enough to live on.

      The Church supports the abusive abandonment of women and children today, by allowing it for any reason without any consequences. Joseph Smith said such leaders who allow men to abandon wives will be accountable for such on the day of judgment.

  3. Rob says:

    The Law of Consecration to me, is an attitude, a lifestyle, a state of being. In living the law of consecration, one consecrates their life to the cause of Christ. I think the way the United Order went with Joseph, was that the people didn’t live the law on their own, so it was trying to get them to do it. I understand where he was coming from. It’s hard to understand and see things that are coming and not try desperately to get everyone on board. Unfortunately, that will never work. The law of consecration will never be lived by people through coercion or pushing or challenging others. It only is born through one’s desires, those who are born again, truly, of the Spirit. So the way I see things now, I want to move beyond the United Order. Christ didn’t have some system, it was a philosophy. He did set up systems, that’s what D&C is about. Those systems are the result of people being guided according to their idols.

    So Joseph tried to get it to happen. I think that those seeking out how to live in a society of people wanting to consecrate, organized by a church in the typical sense, will find the United Order fantastic…which it is. I just don’t think it is the full answer…well it is the answer to how to we get as many people into a Zionistic society sort of.

    Now as far as what you’ve put in this post…it’s great. This is what I believe that so many have ignored and turned their back on. People don’t read or accept the D&C. Like you said, the law has never been rescinded, the call to Zion has never been taken away, it never will. It is eternal. So this can never go away. It goes hand-in-hand with Zion.

    • There is good evidence that Christ did have “a system.” If you recall the story of Ananais and his wife (Acts 5), God killed them both for not fully consecrating. Sure this was during the time when Peter was presiding, but it’s quite likely that Peter was teaching the same gospel that Jesus taught. Recall that Joseph Smith said the ordinances of the gospel remain the same through all ages. We know consecration is an ordinance because it is something we all made a covenant to live (as specified in the D&C) in our temple covenants. As with all ordinances, you must have a record kept that you’ve entered into the ordinance (D&C 128:8) or it’s not valid. Would you consider a baptism or temple marriage valid if there was no record kept? So it is with the other ordinances, including consecration.

      “And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.”
      (D&C 42:30)

      You can think you’re living a consecrated life all you want, but unless you have the deed to prove it, you’re name isn’t written in the book of life.

      “It is contrary to the will and commandment of God that those who receive not their inheritance by consecration, agreeable to his law, which he has given, that he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, should have their names enrolled with the people of God.”
      (D&C 85:3)

      • AV says:

        If a person does not know about the true church or if the true church & it’s leaders have gone into apostasy, as has happened every time before in history, then the Spirit can teach people to live the law of consecration individually for now & to distribute their excess to those they feel inspired to & it will all be to their blessing & recorded in heaven.

        Just as any non-member couple on earth can keep their marriage covenants to love & serve their spouse with Christlike love & thus their marriage is not only valid, but guaranteed to be eternal. The sealing ordinance is just a technicality that they will eventually be able to have done in the Millennium.

        The same goes with baptism or any other ordinance. The ordinance itself does not make something valid, the ‘righteousness’ of the person makes it valid.

        Sealings, baptisms, ordinations, etc. are just a technicality to be done later for the righteous, if it’s not possible now.

        For now, we have to live the Law of Consecration individually, as best we can & by the direction of the Spirit, until the Lord returns & directs it collectively.

      • Rob says:

        It’s a valid point John…the way I look at it, the record could by kept by angels or as put in 2 Corinthians 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

      • Rob, the angels don’t make a record of anything unless it’s recorded here first.

        “…whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven…”
        (D&C 128:8)

      • Rob says:

        Thanks for sharing that scripture, I should have looked into that before.

      • I just stumbled on that verse not too long ago and realized that it could be applied to more than temple work for the dead. Joseph seems to have meant it as a general principle.

  4. JLC says:

    HC IV pg. 93 At a High Council meeting on March 6 1840 Joseph Smith told the council that the Law of consecration could not be kept here, and that it was the will of the Lord that we should desist form trying to keep it; and if persisted in, it would produce a perfect defeat of its object, and that he assumed the whole responsibility of not keeping it until proposed by himself.

    This statement was given two years after section 119 was given so I believe you are right on about the Law of tithing being in connection with the Law of Consecration. Nice job.

    Hugh Nibley looked at it a bit different than you do. From what I can tell he thought that you paid 10% of that what was given you as your interest. Or in other words, you paid 10% of what was given to you for your wants and needs and therefore it became a true sacrifice. He said that in one of his papers in “Approaching Zion.” Can’t remember which one.

    After trying to figure out how to truly pay tithing for the last two years I am no closer now than I was then. I pray for the day that revelation will once again guide the Kingdom. I can’t tell you how frustrated I am that we think that a 10% tax on every member, rich or poor or destitute is fair and equal and the same sacrifice. Blows my mind. Yes, Brother Poor South American man that can’t feed your family we want 10% of the few penny’s you make and the Lord will bless you. It’s no different than the late night Christian TV channels asking for you money and the blessing will flow from Heaven. I thought the blessings from heaven was the tithes that came to the Lords house so there would be meat in Mine house so the poor could be fed.

    I could go on but I need to look for a few pennies.

    • Ascentury says:

      I believe that the orthodox/correlated (corthodox? orthelated?) response to the United Order is that it was suspended as a principle active in the church by the remarks in D&C 104:53 and 105:34. Whether or not that means what the official position thinks it means is a different question.

      Personally, I always use the seed corn analogy for determining my tithing: if it’s what it takes to stand still (especially on a fixed income since 2008), it sure ain’t surplus.

  5. AV says:

    What sense does it make for the poor to pay 10% of their earnings, if after doing so they are going to have to go right into the Bishop & ask for that much or more back in assistance to pay their bills, because they paid so much in tithing?

    Giving 10% of our excess, if we have any, (or all of our excess) seems to be a much more common sense law, especially for the ‘poor’, who the law is really all about & trying to help anyway. I have always found all true revelation to be just pure ‘common sense’.

    • Toni says:

      AV, not only that, but the poor have to work to get back what they freely gave. If, during their lives, they gave a total of $20,000 to the church but fell upon hard times and needed $400 worth of food (the food the church offers, not necessarily what the family is used to eating), they would have to work for that to “avoid the evils of the dole” – never mind that the church did not work for the money the family gave to them (though one _could_ argue that point).

      • AV says:

        Thanks for that additional insight Toni.

        I don’t believe that widows & the fatherless (single mothers) should have to work for the help, food or money that they get. They are often already burdened far more than most members are & often because the leaders of the Church don’t help keep their husbands from abusing & abandoning them. I believe widows & single mothers should be given complete financial support from the Church if they need it, for the rest of their lives, if they don’t remarry or their ex-husband or family won’t support them. Mothers & grandmothers should never have to leave the home & go to work (if they don’t want to) & thus hurt their children & grandchildren all the more.

        Nor do I believe anyone receiving help should ‘have to’ accept food that they aren’t used to or don’t like. The poor & needy & the widows & the fatherless should be given money to shop as freely as the Bishop does or any other member of the ward.

  6. Kael says:

    Is tithing just for providing for the poor? or the clergy? or for the church buildings? What has Christ asked of us? What did He do? Is there anything you can ever do to pay that back? or even tithe into? Why tithe if you aren’t doing it because of Him? Why tithe by what “the leaders” or “the scriptures” say? What does God tell you? Are we void of the ability to hear what we should do for the Lord with everything we have, including money?

    • “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. … Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”
      (Acts 4:32,34-35)

      It really is that simple. The Law of Consecration taught by Joseph Smith was essentially this. Of course you need to find an apostle of God willing to take your money and distribute it to the poor. Do you know a man with the integrity to use the Lord’s money righteously? Does he have the calling to do so? If so, you can take part in this law and the blessings attached to it.

  7. Rob says:

    “Any surplus advantage.”
    God isn’t about giving us a checklist. He is helping us to become Gods. He doesn’t want us to become slaves he wants to to share all that he has. So how does this principle fulfill that?

    What the current view is for many, I found posted on a forum, “I don’t care what happens with the money once I pay tithing. Once it is out of my hands, it’s not my problem.” So what is the point of tithing? How do we grow, what are we to learn…why? For me, tithing was something that I paid and never thought about. It wasn’t a challenge or difficulty or question. I just did it like clockwork. There was never any thought. So how does that help with our progression? Yes, we get blessings but that doesn’t equate with growth and development. It really wasn’t moving me towards God. Growth does come with the law of consecration.

    With the law of consecration, one has to examine what they own. You have to ask, “is this a necessity or a want?” Imagine going through every single item that you owned, every pair of socks, silverware, books, assets to determine if it is necessary. This is so important because people will really take a look at their lives and hopefully realize all their wants and that their needs are so few. It will be different for many people, but hopefully will cause a paradigm shift.

    Throughout the year, people will look at what they are doing with their income and determine if it is surplus. That really will get them thinking about their lives and what they are doing. One of the consequences will also be as Bishop Whitney was commanded, D&C 84:112 And the bishop, Newel K. Whitney, also should travel round about and among all the churches, searching after the poor to administer to their wants by humbling the rich and the proud.

    The rich will be humbled, the poor will be administered. That is not what I have heard in conference, it is usually that the poor sacrifice the assets to show their faith and be blessed.

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