Why is “mine!” often among our first words? One of the most sensitive, difficult, and important questions involves resource allocation. Who gets what? Who has the right to what? Is there a minimum of resources that every person deserves? What level of inequality is ethical? What makes possession ethical?
The Law of Consecration holds a complex status in Church practice and culture. Everyone understands tithing, but what is consecration? Is it the same as the United Order? Does it mean no one can have more than anyone else? We still promise to obey it, but how does that impact the way we live?
The powerful message of the Law of Consecration is that all things belong to the Lord, and that God desires that we use our property to care for those in need. This lesson will discuss:
- Scriptures relating to the Law of Consecration, including the themes of unity and equality in the New Testament and Book of Mormon
- The theology behind the Law of Consecration
- The historical context of this principle
- The realities of economic inequality today which make this principle so vital to understand and responsibly implement
One Time Donation:
Student Reading: Doctrine and Covenants 42:30–42; 51; 78; 82; 104:11–18; Our Heritage, page 26; 4 Nephi 1:3; D&C 49:20; D&C 105:5
Additional Teacher Reading: D&C 19:26;D&C 29:34–35;D&C 64:34; D&C70:14; D&C72:3–4; D&C83:5–6; D&C 92:1;D&C 104;D&C 107:99; Moses 7:18;Acts 4:32, 34–35; 4 Nephi 1:1–3, 12–13, 15.Psalm 24:1;Jacob 2:17
Jared, Jennifer, and Heber provide an insightful discussion.
Continue the conversation by posting your comments and questions here, in the facebook group, or email them to me at MormonSundaySchool at gmail.
You can access my Lesson Notes here.
You can access my Reading Notes here.
- Steven Harper’s discussion of the Law of Consecration
- Compelling video about wealth inequality in America
- TED talk on how wealth inequality harms societies
- Orson Scott Card parable about Consecration
- Economist article on problems with growing wealth inequality
- Inequality put in perspective, if the world were a village of 100 people
- Ways to help the poorest in the world
- Efforts to help and empower women–probably the most effective way to solve the world’s problems
- The Life You Can Save
- Kiva Microloans
Many thanks to Devin Roth for the beautiful bumper music. Check out his arrangement of hymns and other work at DevinRothMusic!
Thanks to James Estrada of Oak Street Audio for post-production.
Brett Macdonald says:
Jared: Please keep up this helpful contribution.
Jared Anderson says:
I certainly hope I can, if contributions allow. 🙂
I have just discovered these MS-SS podcasts and thank you Jared for sharing your time, study, and thoughts. What an enormous undertaking! I believe these podcasts fill an important need for many.
Here is an observation about the discussion portion of podcast #041:
Concerning Church Callings: If we believe in the “Law of Witnesses” (as in D&C 6:28, etc.) should we not be one of the 2 or 3 witnesses to confirm a personal Church calling. Granted, that witness may come as a premonition before the call, or it may come at the very time of the call, but if not, I wonder if we offend the Spirit when we fail to tell a leader that the “Law of Witnesses” requires us to ask and receive confirmation of the will of God before we accept.
This presents us with essentially two scenarios: Yes—Yes; or Yes—No, depending on God’s answer. Always Yes to God, no matter how hard or inconvenient, (“I will do this calling with Thy help if that is required, but these are my feelings / my circumstances: …”). And then God’s answer: “This is required of you”; OR “This is not required at this time for I have a ‘ram in the thicket’ prepared to meet the necessity.”
Receiving callings is one of the most frequent opportunities to be tutored by the Spirit, yet how often do we take (or are we given) the time and space to receive a witness for ourselves?
I was really happy how the podcast was going until the it got into the politics section. Especially when the listener question was asked about why people refuse to “give” their money to the government but would trust to give it to the church. This followed with a discussion with many fallacies.
Here is my answer. I cannot answer for others. Some background first. I come from the voluntaryist tradition. You can say the voluntaryist tradition, from a religious point of view bases ones ideas on human interaction on the Christ’s commandment to love one another as He loves us. Or, more commonly called, the non-aggression principle, which is the idea that the initiation of force is unethical.
Government: A group of people who hold a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given territory.
I would define it more as the monopoly of the initiation of force in a given territory. Since, by definition, the state (as in statism: The belief that the centralization of power in a state is the ideal or best way to organize humanity.), necessitates the initiation of force through taxation (double speak for theft/extortion).
Now, why would someone disagree with the government using taxes (theft) to help the poor? We could also ask, why would someone disagree with Lucifer forcing everyone to be good? Is it not because it is antithetical to the way of God? To give man his agency to choose to be good to one another. Is this not the most important thing that God has given us (i.e., liberty)? If God can’t take it away from us, then why would we let man?
Now this is fundamentally different from saying, that we stop a person from killing, or stealing, or raping, etc. Because those take away the property of our brethren/sisters. (Our bodies are our property, and our things, etc). To steal from others is to steal from God.
It seems that those that wish to do good to others through government forget what government is and the harm it causes. They focus on the importance to help one another that the scriptures teach but then ignore the other commandments that this action must by voluntary. As Alma the Elder taught they should impart of their substance of their own free will and good desires towards God. When we don’t allow people to do this we create contention, which Alma also taught against that there should be no contention one with another.
Addressing one point in the podcast which said (paraphrasing) that if people would do their duty to help the poor then there would be no need for the government to do it. We must realize the human condition and that when we have the government doing it we create perverse incentives for people not to do it. Haven’t you heard someone say “but that’s the government’s job!” Also, since the government is typically much less efficient then the private sector (only 33% at most of the taxes actually make it to the poor), has less desire to put in a higher effort (in the private sector you will get people with more of a passion to help) – also, rules in the bureaucracy make it difficult to perform many tasks, rules in bureaucracy make it so they are forced to help people that might not need it as much as others, the government for all its money that it has spent is not responsible for failure (and many times gets more money when it fails the most).
In the private sector many times you will get people that are more passionate about what they are doing, despite the circumstances. Many time the people helping were in the same circumstances and, consequently, can empathize better with those they are helping. Are not straddled by rules that large organizations are straddled with. Of course, with all the laws and regulations which have been created many private actors have been pushed out of the philanthropy world in favor of large “corporate” philanthropies.
So, it is not correct to say, “if people did their duty, we wouldn’t need the government.” Since government laws and competition/monopolization of “charity” pushes out the private sector.
A good book on learning more about how government initiation of force can cause more harm then it was originally intended is “Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression” by Dr. Mary J Ruwart.
I hope you can now understand why I believe it is important that the government not be involved in these matters. There is much more to the argument than “republicans are heartless.” Of course, I’m not a conservative. Just trying to defend their stance and help people understand why others might not believe the same way you do.
Jared Anderson says:
I appreciate this thoughtful response Jon. Tricky issues to be sure, and there is room for intelligent, informed disagreement.