The Four “Givers” of the Bloggernacle

November 27, 2007

by BiV

I’m going to agree with the Narrator that temple-endowed members of the Church are under covenant to obey the Law of Consecration.  As has been noted in the comments to his post, there is sometimes confusion between the Law of Consecration and the United Order, which was a 19th century religio-social practice attempted for some time among the Latter-Day Saints.  It is unclear if this particular system of living the Law of Consecration will ever be reinstated.

The Church no longer practices the United Order, but the Law of Consecration is an eternal principle which faithful followers of Christ are encouraged and expected to live.  Thus it is the United Order which was abrogated, and the Law of Consecration which continues to be in force among the faithful and which we are asked to live today.  Confusion arises when members of the Church preach that the Law of Consecration itself has been rescinded. 

In my mind, the Law of Consecration consists of several elements.  These can be most clearly seen in the City of Zion under Enoch, our best example of the achievement of a group of people living the Law of Consecration.  Moses 7:18 describes this group as being

  • of one heart and one mind
  • dwelling in righteousness
  • having no poor among them

These elements, taken together, distinguish the Law of Consecration from political experiments such as communism, communalism, and socialism.  In these structures money and goods are shared, but the other elements are lacking and abuses of the system often occur.  In constrast, any manifestation of the Law of Consecration (United Order or otherwise), provides for individual ownership, self-mastery, and deliberate unity of thought and purpose.  At this period of time, we are being given the opportunity to practice the Law of Consecration without organized direction from society or the Church.  Our giving is under the control of our own conscience.  Thus we may learn many things about ourselves by analyzing our patterns of giving. 

Within the past year I have seen several attempts to describe what the Law of Consecration might look like in practice.  The following are four types of “Givers” who frequent the Bloggernacle:

  1. Attempting to assist his fellow man to follow the path of righteousness and keep sacred resources from being used in unlawful pursuits, the first Giver withholds his money from the beggar.  Instead, the Giver contributes liberally to the coffers of the system set up by the Church for the welfare of the poor.  This Giver fasts faithfully each month and pays tithing as well as an abundant fast offering.
  2. From his reading of Mosiah, the second Giver believes that he should give to all who ask him, without judging their need.  He carries dollar bills in his wallet to hand to those who ask him for money on the streets.  Whenever friends ask to borrow money, he gives freely.  He actively looks for those he can help with a donation of his money.  At those times when he is down on his luck and his resources are strained with the effort of supporting his family, he tells those who ask him for money, “I give not because I have not, but if I had, I would give.”
  3. The third Giver is a woman who has pondered her responsibility to participate in the Law of Consecration.  She dedicates her body to the service of the Lord and has many children.  She sacrifices a career and further education so she can nurture and teach the gospel to the small spirits who enter her home.
  4. The fourth Giver interprets the Law of Consecration to apply to many aspects of his life such as his time, his energy and his talents.  Thus, rather than contribute money to individuals or institutions, he concentrates on giving to people who enter his circle in different ways.  For example, he makes the effort to talk to the bum outside the grocery store, learn his name, and encourage him to apply for a job that was recently advertised in his company.

(Please excuse my blatant oversimplification of some thoughtful ideas.)

I believe there are certain problems associated with each of these approaches.  Which do you most identify with?  What are some of the problems you see with these responses to the Law of Consecration?


  1. One note about my comment regarding the covenant. I am not arguing against obligation we have with regard to that covenant, but next time you attend the temple, note that there IS an interesting difference.

    As to your approaches, I think each could be a way that an individual feels impressed to live the law of consecration, but none will be something that we could say all people ‘should’ do. None summarizes in my mind a true living of the law of consecration.

    Involved in all of this, in my mind, is revelation and seeking divine guidance for the ever-difficult balancing act of seeking to be followers of Christ and our covenants in every way. This is why I responded to narrator’s post as I did. As important as relieving suffering is, it is, as you have pointed out with the summary of Moses 7:18, only one facet of consecration. If we hold back on any front — time, talents, means, desires, thoughts, heart — we are holding back with regard to this law, this covenant.

    The other night, my children asked if you should choose sleep or service when you have an opportunity to serve and have to choose between one or the other. I told them that they would have to pray to know what is right. I believe that it is very difficult to draw any absolute lines in the sand about how we can or should fulfill our covenants, because it may depend in different situations. King Benjamin reminds us that all things should be done in wisdom and order and yet with diligence. Therein lies the tension that makes any “absolute” wrong to create. In all facets, I think we give if and when we can. We desire to give. So much of the law depends on our hearts. And with open, humble and willing hearts, I believe the Lord can show us what He would have us do to consecrate more of ourselves. But what He shows us individually will be individual, not something we can then generalize on and declare to others. For now, as you said, consecration is an individual endeavor.

  2. i think a combination of 1,2, and 4 is possible and right. a woman can choose do to #3, but overly adding to the world’s population seems counter-intuitive. but that is largely because i think the commandment to replenish the earth has largely been fulfilled.


    the commandments in the scriptures concerning the law of consecration are hardly relative contingencies. they are pretty upfront about the demands. why can’t we just admit that we are failing and need to strive harder, instead of making up mini-commandments to make us feel warm and fuzzy.

  3. Loyd, I think you misinterpret me. I agree that we fail at everything, but I do think that fulfilling commandments and covenants is a process, not an event. I do think that some of the purpose of these commandments is to help us learn how to really get direction from the Lord and to be clay in His hands, instruments that He can use at will. That is my view of this. I’m not trying to feel all warm and fuzzy. I’m working through my thoughts on this just like anyone else and I tend to look at commandments not only as ends in and of themselves, but as means as a part of a larger whole.

  4. The Lord has commanded us to care for the poor. I think what you are trying to say, M&M, is that we are to use inspiration in the way that we accomplish this task.

  5. The temple covenant to “accept” the law of consecration is specifically interpreted in that context, and does not actually involve giving to the poor at all. Rather, it involves giving your time, talents, etc. to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Therefore, I’m really not sure why any of you are discussing service or donations to the poor as a fulfillment of that covenant, other than perhaps through official fast offerings.

  6. Nick, thanks for that clarification. You are right, the poor are not mentioned in that context. Although it does specify giving to the Church in order to establish Zion. And if you define Zion as I have above, it would include taking care of the poor.

  7. Agreed, BiV, yet the language of the covenant requires that you consecrate all these things specifically to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “for the purpose of” the building up the kingdom of god on earth and the establishment of Zion. Ultimately, the language directs that your time, talents, etc. are to be given to the church, and not directly to the poor. The implication seems to be you need to hand these things over to the church, and church leaders will decide if, when and where to care for the poor.

  8. hmmm, well I guess with that perspective, the first Giver is the only one who is following the specificities of the Law of Consecration as covenanted in the Temple! But we still have the injunctions given in scripture, particularly Mosiah and the NT passages mentioned by the Narrator…

  9. What does it mean to give to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Are we talking about the official corporate organization, or can this refer to the broader concept of the modern body of Christ – the community of believers (and maybe non-believers) that are trying to fulfill Christ’s teachings in Matthew 25. I think we too often confuse ‘Church’ with a hierarchical organization, whereas the scriptural use of ‘church’ is simply a gathering/assembly/community of believers.

  10. BiV, yes, my thought on all the facets of the law of consecration or any other law for that matter is to seek divine guidance. How exactly do we allot our time, talents and means for the good of the kingdom and for the good of others? I don’t think there is any One Right Way to do that, and the Lord expects us to be anxiously engaged and to seek His inspiration to do what He would have us do. We each have different abilities (and/or disabilities, like health problems or family situations or financial limitations or…), different talents, different situations, and He can help us within the specifics of our lives.

  11. Mind you, I’m not saying it’s wrong to give to the poor on your own. All that I am saying is that the plain language of the covenant actually requires giving “your time, talents, and everything with which the lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you” to the corporate entity known as “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” not “the metaphorical church of folks who happen to believe in Jesus.” If this covenant was actually enforced, it would be considered a violation of the covenant for you to determine on your own (with or without claimed inspiration) who should receive your benevolence. The distribution of your consecration is specifically left to the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are to use it (as they see) “for the building up the kingdom of god on earth, and for the establishment of Zion.”

    To turn this covenant into metaphor, symbol, or insincere platitude leaves all the temple covenants up to the same treatment. Would any of you argue that the covenant to have “no sexual relations other than with your spouse, to whom you are legally and lawfully wed” is mere metaphor, or something you should “seek divine guidance” about determining whether and how you will fulfill? I’m betting not.

  12. Nick,

    I am not saying anything about metaphors. I am saying that scripturally (especially with ancient scriptures) the word ‘church’ literally means a community/assembly/gathering – not an organized and hierarchical entity. Of course, this still begs the question of what sense ‘church’ is meant in the temple rites.

  13. The temple covenant doesn’t say “church,” or even “the church.” It says, very specifically, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” There’s simply no ambiguity there to justify the broader usage of “church” that you seem to advocate.

  14. the scriptures often use “the church of christ” or “the church of jesus christ” without referring to some formalized organization. why can’t we just add a time-code to it as well? i’ll admit that the upfront reading does seem to point to the formal structure, but i don’t believe it is necessarily the case.

  15. guys, could we keep the temple quoting to a minimum. I (and I am sure others) would greatly appreciate it.

  16. Nick…

    I guess another way to look at it is whether “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is a name-title of a formal organization or a description of a movement.

  17. guys, could we keep the temple quoting to a minimum. I (and I am sure others) would greatly appreciate it.


  18. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the specific legal name of a corporate entity, not a “movement.”

  19. and it can’t be both?

  20. “Mormonism” is a movement. “Restorationism” is a movement. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is a corporate entity, which is part of these movements.

  21. or the words can be used to describe a movement. i don’t think the temple rituals are as tied down to such a systematic semantic usage, such as we have tried to do with our ordinary usage.

    for example, in the church today we have made a distinction between salvation and exaltation. we say that hell is some spirit prison or outer darkness. we say that jehovah=jesus and elohim=god the father. that’s all fine and dandy, but scripturally there is very little justification for any of it (except maybe the yahweh/elohim distinction which occurs occasionally in the OT).

    my point is that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” can have a broader meaning than the simple title of an organization. you can state your point all you want, and I’ll disagree.

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