One of the things that has always concerned me about my oaths and covenants with God was my fulfillment of the Law of Consecration. Did observance to the Law of Tithing satisfy the conditions of Consecration? During some research on a closely related topic, I found my answer and my testimony on the subject. This article will follow my progression on that other topic to my personal revelation and increase in testimony. Really cool, actually.
First, what is the Law of Consecration? The Law of Consecration can be defined as consecrating “our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the [God’s] Church.” In short, in all that we engage ourselves in for the prosperity of ourselves, family, and community, anything that is earned, should be given to God for the distribution back to us and others who are in need. In short, and on a temporal plane of thinking, it is the redistribution of wealth. But looking at it deeper, it is SO much more. (And by following the link above, you can find out more.)
United Order vs Socialism
First, I knew from past lessons that the United Order of God, from which is the manifestation of the Law of Consecration, is not the same as Socialism or its related political manifestations: Communism and Fabianism. Some definitions:
- Communism is the revolutionary component of creating a socialist government. That is, it uses a revolution, often violence, to force a government to change to socialism. An example is the United Soviet Socialist Republic and the People’s Republic of China
- Fabianism is the evolutionary component of creating a socialist government.. That is, it uses constitutional and societal means to change the government to socialism. An example is Nazi Germany, and several other Western European countries. Even the United States as it moves closer and closer to a fully enacted socialist government.
How is Socialism different from the United Order? Well, how is it the same? In 1966, President Marion G. Romney, of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, spoke on the matter:
The following are similarities: Both
- deal with production and distribution of goods;
- aim to promote the well-being of men by eliminating their economic inequalities;
- envision the elimination of the selfish motives in our private capitalistic industrial system.
Where they are different is multitude. And you can read all about it in his talk, “Is Socialism the United Order?” Simply, the difference hinges on forced redistribution of wealth, which results in the destruction of wealth and loss of freedom. The other, the United Order, is the free will of the participant to join the Order and participate, freely giving up their wealth to the greater good out of their desire to follow God’s Law, which results in the creation of wealth and the increase of freedom.
The United Order, as directed by God through his Patriarchs and Prophets throughout time, have had varying levels of success. Mostly failure. Two known successes are the City of Enoch and the few generations after Christ visited the people in the Americas. Concerning the City of Enoch, the Pearl of Great Price teaches us:
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. (Moses 7:18.)
And of the time after Christ in America:
And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. (4 Nephi 1:3)
I just noticed something. I stated above that God’s Law increased our freedom. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to explain that. But there it is, right there in 4 Nephi 1:3. Okay, back onto the main topic.
Of course, the failures are documented as well. The early church of Christ in the Old World tried for awhile to live the Law of Consecration and the United Order, but the distances between the seven churches was too great and they were having a hard time just living the basic tenets of Christianity. Not to mention the overpowering influence of the Roman empire. The early church in the Last Dispensation, while Joseph Smith was the living prophet, the United Order lasted for 3.25 years before it failed as President J. Reuben Clark Jr. noted:
The United Order lasted, in theory, for some three and a quarter years, and then it was discontinued, withdrawn by the Lord, because of the greed and selfishness of men. (“Testimony of Divine Origin of Welfare Plan,” Church News, 8 Aug. 1951, p. 3)
So where does this leave the Law of Tithing? Tithing is the giving of 10% of one’s increase to God. How is increase defined? Well, that’s between you and the Lord. For me, personally, I have evolved on the subject a bit, but will not add my personal thoughts on the subject here. You can figure it out for yourself. (Do I include *all* increase, including gifts, birthday present money, etc? Do I include money that is taxed away from me or discount the taxed monies that were given me in pay?) Whatever you decide 10% is, is what you should give to the Lord. And now we’re getting somewhere in relation to the Law of Consecration.
Tithing was always an active Law in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, before and after the United Order. Tithing was an active law during the time of Christ, during the Generation of the Israelites, even as far back as Abraham:
And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. (Alma 13:15)
So we now understand that Tithing is an important Law, but how does it relate to the Law of Consecration. And am I fulfilling my responsibilities to the Law of Consecration by simply following the Law of Tithing?
The law of tithing, for example, gives us a great opportunity to implement the principle of consecration and stewardship (Enrichment L The Law of Consecration and Stewardship, L-8 Preparing for Consecration)
First, let’s answer the question about relation. And this is my big revelation… (not prophetic revelation, that’s already happened but the revelation and testimony I received): the Law of Tithing is the Law of Consecration, at least in part. Marion G. Romney writes:
As you will recall, the principles underlying the United Order are consecration and stewardships and then the contribution of surpluses into the bishop’s storehouse.
Notice the wording of the above statement. The underlying principles … are consecration and stewardships and then the contribution of surpluses. There it is! The tithe is a request of 10%, for many of us this is a contribution of surplus.
So what about those where a payment of tithe is a sacrifice and not a contribution of surplus? Well, certainly, if our society truly lived the United Order, the person for whom it would be a sacrifice would not feel the pinch at all. Since everyone who creates or earns a wealth keeps what they need and gives of the surplus, the surplus is returned to those who could not create an increase sufficient for their needs. For those with greater creation power they feel no superiority and those who receive feel no humility as the giving and receiving is done with an eye single to the glory of God and for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.
The United Order exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and humiliating limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by consecration and by imparting of their surplus for the benefit of the poor, not by constraint but willingly as an act of free will, evidence that charity for their fellowmen characterized by Mormon as “the pure love of Christ.” (Moro. 7:47.) (“Is Socialism the United Order”, Marion G. Romney)
But we are not living the United Order today and those who pay tithing just might feel the pinch of
sacrifice by doing so. The honest tithe payer will admit to being blessed, even if it is not monetarily or temporally manifest. However, their temporal needs may be met by the welfare programs of the Church, in counsel with the steward of the Lord’s Storehouse, the Bishop (or Branch President as the case may be). Having just served in such a branch and being privy to the financial needs of its members as the ward clerk, I can testify that NO ONE should look down on those who receive from the welfare of the Church. NO ONE. The decision of the Branch President or Bishop in these matters are given to him by the Spirit of God and for the benefit of our Father’s children. So, should you find yourself speaking ill of either a recipient of Church welfare or of the decisions of God’s representative, please check your pride. (And I exempt not myself as I must be continually watchful of my thoughts and demeanor toward the poor and needy.)
Wherefore, the office of a bishop is not equal unto it; for the office of a bishop is in administering all temporal things; (Doctrines and Covenants 107:68)
So, am I living the Law of Consecration by paying tithing? Yes! and no. Yes, because for me I am doing God’s will with an eye single to his glory. I am also a giver of Fast Offerings. Can I give more? Probably, possibly, maybe not? I have made decisions for my family and myself and I feel honest with God in my financial performances to him.
Now let’s review the Law of Consecration. It is that we consecrate our time, talents, and all things with which the Lord has blessed us. Are we consecrating our time? How about our talents? Do you have a calling in the Church? Do you fulfill that calling to the best of your ability? Do you spend the time necessary to fulfill that calling? Do you spend the time to fulfill other needs to bring to pass the immortality and eternal lives of God’s children by performing temple work, genealogy, missionary service, home teaching or visiting teaching, reading of your scriptures, prayerful supplication to Heavenly Father? I have need of much improvement and repentance in some of these matters. In others, I do quite well.
I’m not sure where to add this, so I’ll add it here. This is not new if you’ve read the links I’ve provided. In short, however, the Law of Consecration is the willingness of the participant to give of all they have and to receive all that they need and want. But they are to be stewards of what they receive. Jesus told of the three people who received talents of the master and how those three handled those talents and performed their duty in stewardship. In the United Order, we are to be stewards of what we receive and increase that to the best of our abilities. The product of our abilities may be more or less than others or more or less than our needs, but the Lord blesses us individually and as a society for proper obedience.