Was the Law of Consecration, in Zion, a practical experiment?

Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” and knowing that two of (what I consider) the best blogs are doing well, and knowing a friend is coming over to help with a post on Personal Progress… it really feels like things are moving and exciting!

I have dropped off a bit on my posts on my D&C 42 paper. I am still reading Staker’s book on the Ohio revelations and getting a fantastic vision of what things were like at that time. Sometimes I stop and then read D&C 46 or D&C 42 and the words in those sections make so much more sense now. They weren’t just setting up a new way of doing things, those sections were responding to something. They were commenting on how to change what they were already doing.

It makes me wonder about the economic law of consecration that we talk about so much, too often assuming it is the “only” way to live the covenant of consecration.

There is a lot to consider here.

I agree and understand that the scriptures talk about us not possessing more than others, about us only taking what we need, etc. All things in common. I agree that we can’t at all ignore those scriptures!

But now that I know at least a little more about the Morley farm in Ohio, I wonder now if the Lord was trying to set up a new, perfect ideal city of Zion, or whether he was taking advantage of Saints who were already interested in living communally. The principles are there; for example, read D&C 42:39 “For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.”  You can’t get around that. But, perhaps a city, with a storehouse and a Bishop, is not the only way of fulfilling this consecration. Don’t get me wrong: the riches of the Gentiles do need to be shared in order for us to live in harmony in a “celestial” law (see D&C 88:22, 88:25, 105:4), but is a city necessary? Were these “rules” necessary? Or was it one practical application of the law?

Some of you will smile at the use of the word “practical” here, since one of the most common ways of dismissing the failure of Zion in Missouri was that it was not “practical.” But it was one way to put into practice the law of consecration – the law that says everything I have is the Lord’s. I am here to to your work. Here am I, send me.

That reminds me of one of the basic “corrections” of the Morley Family Farm I see in D&C 42. In a communal effort, even those trying to imitate the order they saw in the  New Testament, it seems (to my uneducated eyes!) that they were focused on people, on people living together, on a more fair way of sharing, on a way to work less with better results, or to work smarter, etc. It was a fantastic idea, and in many cases it actually worked very well. But D&C 42 puts a twist on what they were doing. You consecrate, not to the community, but to God: “that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words, unto me— For inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me” (v.37-8). And the excess wasn’t spread around, nor put back into making the community more profit:

33 And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, which is a residue to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.

34 Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council;

35 And for the purpose of purchasing lands for the public benefit of the church, and building houses of worship, and building up of the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed—

36 That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.

Notice that there is some outside purpose to all of this consecration, careful living, lack of idleness, etc: we are preparing a common temple, a common place, to gather and receive God! This new way of living together is similar to the Morley Family Farm and other communal endeavors, but none of them with this grand of a purpose!

So, I wonder: when God saw the good desires of some of the Saints already living in a “Family” city, did he work with what they already were doing, and edit it to his purposes? If we were suddenly to know that it was time to prepare Zion for God’s coming, would our city look a lot or a little like this early effort?

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