Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14: How We Taught this Topic in the Past

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 14: How We Taught this Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 12, 2009

I’ll bet you’ve never heard the story of Adam’s fall told as if Adam were a hired gardener fired as the result of a financial crash, forced to make his way forward through an economic depression. Read on . . .

Lesson 14: The Law of Consecration

1933: Gospel Doctrine

Lesson 29: The Law of Consecration

1. More Blessed to Give than to Receive. The scriptural aphorism that it is more blessed to give than to receive embodies a truth of far more than passing importance, and which is especially well illustrated in connection with the present social problem of providing for the needs of the worthy poor. The easiest way of extending this relief, and perhaps the one most frequently resorted to, is merely to give without exacting a compensating effort on the part of the receiver. Observers, however, are learning that this process is commonly followed by various undesirable reactions.

There appears to be something about the repeated receipt of a free gift that strikes at the independence of the receiver and makes him even more impotent than before. This has become especially apparent to relief workers in the present world-wide depression. Men and women, on the other hand, who have been given opportunity to earn the things which they have received, even though times were hard and distressing, have lost none of their independence and desire to be self-supporting.

2. A highly similar condition exists in educational matters. The student who becomes habituated to the practice of depending upon his instructors and associates for information, without putting forth an adequate effort on his own part, is, almost without exception, weak and non-progressive. On the other hand, the student who industriously acquires as much as possible for himself, seeking help only as necessity actually demands, continuously he becomes stronger, more self-sufficient, and capable. The same conditions are also true in matters of religion.

3. It is the giver who gains in all such transactions. One of the most effective means known to the teaching profession by which one’s grasp of a problem can be clarified and perfected is to attempt to explain the problem to another. It is truthfully said that the teacher commonly learns more than his students. There is something about giving that strengthens and enhances the capacity to give. It is needless to say that the most efficient men and women in every community of the Church are they who give of themselves to others, and it is they too who are profiting most. The Savior has said that “whosoever wills ave his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.’ (Matthew 16:25.)

4. Commandments Given for Man’s Profit. The children of God should strive for a full understanding of the fact that the commandments of the Lord are given for their benefit, and theirs alone. The Lord has commanded men to give because of the benefit which giving brings to the giver. We pay tithing, for example, for our own good and not for the aggrandizement and betterment of God. It is just as impossible for man to give without being rewarded as it is impossible for the sun to appear without giving light. Blessings, like the gifts of the spirit, manifest themselves in a variety of ways; to one is given worldly wealth, to another wisdom, to another physical health, etc. But the greatest and most desirable of all the gifts is an enrichment of spirit which carries to all who diligently love and serve the Lord.

5. Complete Devotion requisite to Complete Success. Nothing short of complete devotion to an ideal can result in complete success. The college man, for example, whose energies are scattered and whose devotion is only partial, cannot hope for the success attained by another of single thought and action. It would not be difficult to state what the outcome of General George Washington’s military campaigns would have been if his interest had been divided or his allegiance incomplete. Lack of wholeheartedness at any crucial stage of his campaign would have been fatal to a successful outcome. But instead, his loyalty knew no bounds and his success was complete. He suffered with his men. His ambition was common with theirs and he was willing to sacrifice all, if needs be, for its accomplishment.

6. Similarly, it may not be difficult to imagine what the outcome would have been if our own prophet Joseph Smith, had failed to give full allegiance to the cause of God. From the day of his first vision, however, he sought with all his might and strength to discharge the responsibilities which God had placed upon him. His last act was to go to Carthage, in full knowledge of the fate that awaited him. Long before, he had consecrated himself and, if necessary, his life to the cause of God.

7. Unworthy Objectives. It is easily possible to devote oneself to an unworthy cause. Some men, for example, devote their lives to the single purpose of obtaining wealth, with little or no thought of its proper expenditure. Greed for worldly fortune may in some such cases prompt even the foulest deeds. Brigands often bind themselves by oath and promise to deeds of pillage and spoil. Others apply their efforts to the destruction of peace and order, and still others to the perpetuation of carnage and war. It is apparent of course that unworthy objectives never redound to the benefit either of those who pursue them or the public at large.

8. Consecration to the Cause of God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16.) The manner in which Jesus came to earth and sacrificed himself that man might be saved needs no attention here. In return for this transcendent service, Deity expects his children to live righteously and work unceasingly for the cause of truth. The law of consecration as revealed to Joseph Smith intends that every Latter-day Saint shall dedicate himself, his time, his talents, and everything that he has or may have to his Church for the building up of the Kingdom of God upon the earth and the establishment of Zion. The desirability of such an exaction should be apparent without comment, especially in view of what has been said in the foregoing paragraphs of this lesson, specifically that man cannot hope to reach a cherished goal without applying his full efforts to its attainment. And surely no higher ideal has ever been offered to the human race than honorable membership in the Church of God and eventual exaltation in the presence of the Father.

9. The United Order. At a conference held at Fayette, New York, January 2, 1831, less than one year after the Church was organized, promise was contained in a revelation (Doctrine and Covenants, 38:32) that when the Saints assembled in Ohio the law of the Lord would be given unto them. Accordingly on the ninth of February, 1831, only a few days after the Prophet’s first arrival at Kirtland, the Lord gave a revelation (Ibid., Section 42.) which well may be called the moral law of the church. Among many other important matters, the Lord directed that the saints should give of their substance for the benefit of the needy and poor. The Lord further commanded that after this was done every man should be made accountable unto him, as a steward over his own property or over that which he had received by consecration, as much as was sufficient for himself and family. Thereafter, the Lord said, “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.” (Ibid., 42:32, 33.)

10. Again, “It is wisdom in me,” saith the Lord, “that my servant Martin Harris should be an example unto the church, in laying his moneys before the bishop of the church. And also, this is a law unto every man that cometh unto this land Zion to receive an inheritance; and he shall do with his moneys according as the law directs.” (Ibid. 58:35, 36.)

11. It was evidently not intended by the law of consecration that property should be held in common, but rather that men should be equal in their holdings according to their various needs. In harmony with this thought the Lord said: “Let my servant Edward Partridge, and those whom he has chosen, in whom I am well pleased, appoint unto this people their portions, every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs. And let my servant Edward Partridge, when he shall appoint a man his portion, give unto him a writing that shall secure unto him his portion, that he shall hold it, even this right and this inheritance in the church, until he transgresses and is not accounted worthy by the voice of the church, according to the laws and covenants of the church, to belong to the church. And if he shall transgress and is not accounted worthy to belong to the church, he shall not have power to claim that portion which he has consecrated unto the bishop for the poor and needy of my church; therefore, he shall not retain the gift, but shall only have claim on that portion that is deeded unto him.” (Ibid. 51:3-5.) “this order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you, and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not.” (Ibid. 82:20.)

12. Wisdom and Propriety. The wisdom and propriety of the following statements scarcely need comment: “The beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. But it is not given that one man shall possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.” (Ibid. 49:19, 20.) Again: “You are to be equal, or in other words, you are to have equal claims on the properties, for the benefit of managing the concerns of your stewardships, every man according to his wants and his needs, inasmuch as his wants are just. *** Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.” (Ibid. 82:17, 19.) The world is groaning today in the midst of one of the most distressing financial collapses known to the human race, and while the causes that produced it may be legion, yet inequality of wealth is by no means the least. The rich are rolling in wealth and luxury while the poor are often in need. There is no dearth of food; the granaries of the world are filled and yet want and even hunger are not unknown. It is to the credit of humanity, however, that at no other time in the history of the world have greater efforts been made to appease the hunger and suffering of those in need.

13. Just now efforts are rife to bring about a redistribution of wealth, with the hope that conditions such as now exist can never recur. This, of course, is merely a re-enactment of the hope entertained by various idealists in the past. All uninspired efforts thus far have failed, at least in large part because of selfishness and disregard for the rights of others. It is regrettable, and wholly uncomplimentary to the intelligence of man, that in a world where abundance abounds, inequality of wealth exists to such an extent that want and suffering are widely extant upon the land. The remedy is simple. The Lord has provided the way. Let man keep the commandments of God, “seeking the interests of his neighbor,” and all trouble will disappear. “For,” saith the Lord, “if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things; for if you will that I give unto you a place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you.” (Ibid. 78:6, 7.)

14. Saints Temporarily Released. Although the united order was intended as a permanent measure, yet in consequence of insufficient faith on the part of the saints it was temporarily withdrawn. Relative to this the Lord said: “Let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law be executed and fulfilled, after her redemption.” (Ibid. 105:34;.) The irrevocability of this law is fully attested by the word of the Lord as follows: “I give unto you counsel, and a commandment, concerning all the properties which belong to the order which I commanded to be organized and established, to be a united order, and an everlasting order for the benefit of my church, and for the salvation of men until I come – with promise immutable and unchangeable, that inasmuch as those whom I commanded were faithful they should be blessed with a multiplicity of blessings.” (Ibid. 104:1, 2.)

15. The Law of Tithing. The word of the Lord calling for a temporary abandonment of the united order was given the Prophet at Fishing River, June 22, 1834, while he was enroute to western Missouri with Zion’s Camp. Shortly after his return to Kirtland, the Prophet and Oliver Cowdery made a sacred covenant with the Lord to give one-tenth of their income to the church for the benefit of the poor of as the Lord should command. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 175.)

16. Nearly four years later, July 8, 1838, when the saints were gathering at Far West and vicinity the Prophet offered supplication to the Father, saying: “O Lord! Show unto thy servant how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing.” (Ibid. Vol. 3, p. 44.) In reply he received the revelation on tithing, now designated in the Doctrine and Covenants as Section 119. Prior to this time the term “tithing” had been used in several of the revelations (64:23; 85:3; 97:11), but evidently as synonymous with “contribution” or “free=-will offering.” The law of tithing may properly be regarded as a “school master” to bring the Lord’s people to an understanding of the higher law. It is evident that those who do not obey the law of tithing will not be able to obey the higher law which belongs to the celestial kingdom. The Lord has said that “he who is not able to abide the law of the celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.” (Doctrine and Covenants, 88:22.)

17. Consecration of Self. The dedication of one’s self is likewise an important part of the law of consecration. Aside from his material contributions, man must be ready and willing at all times to give fully of his very self to the cause of God. He must ever be a contributor to the cause of righteousness; he must be constructive and serviceable; he must be kindly; he must be loyal to the church and its teachings, and his influence must everywhere be felt for good. He himself, his time, and his talents must be consecrated to the cause of God.

1941: Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 45: The United Order in Ohio

(Read Sections 51, 54)

1. The Situation: It will be recalled that the Saints in New York State moved to Ohio in the spring of 1831, in three different companies. “On our arrival it was advised that the Colesville Branch remain together, and go to a neighboring town called Thompson, as a man by the name of Copely had a considerable tract of land there, which he offered to let the Saints occupy. Consequently a contract was agreed upon, and we commenced work in good faith.” (Newel Knight, in Scraps of Biography, pp. 69,70.)

This was said of the Colesville Branch, but it was true also of the other two groups that came from New York. Only, it was not expected nor advised that they remain together. In the counsel given tot he Colesville company of about sixty persons there was not a little sentiment, on the part of the Prophet as well as of the Saints. These people, in addition to being among the first converts to the Church, had rendered Joseph Smith some help in the years before. this was true especially of the Knight family. Thompson was a township rather than a town.

“The Saints from the State of New York began to come,” says the Prophet in his History (Volume I, p. 173), “and it seemed necessary to settle them. therefore, at the solicitation of Bishop Partridge, I inquired, and received the following” revelation. Then follows section 51.

Edward Partridge, as we may recall, had just been appointed presiding Bishop of the Church. ordinarily the settlement of these oncoming Saints would not have proved difficult, but they had been promised that when they gathered to the new home, they would be given the Law of the Church at that place. (Doctrine and Covenants, 38:32). “There I will give unto you my Law, and you shall be endowed with power from on high.” This was the beginning of the gathering in this dispensation. it is not difficult to imagine the feelings of the New York Saints under these circumstances. the mysterious reference, of course, was to the Law of Consecration, later to be amplified.

2. Plurality in Unity: Two essential errors are made by mankind. One is that there is a section called “Time’ and another section called “Eternity.” The truth is that we are living in eternity now. Another error is the division into the “Material” and the “Spiritual.” In the eyes of God “all things are spiritual.” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:34) he gives no commandments to us for time merely. One’s attitude toward the laws of God would be very different from what it now is if one applied this idea in daily affairs. “It wad frae mony a blunder free us, an’ foolish notion.” (Robert Burns, “To A Louse.”

In at least three dispensations the Lord has revealed this Law of the gospel to His people. This is probably because it is generally the ‘material” that generates most of man’s selfish acts in our world.

This Law was given to Enoch, the seventh from Adam. It was in effect among his people in the City of Enoch for 365 years, at the end of which period the Lord took the city, before the Flood. “They were of one heart,” we are told, “and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Book of Moses, in Pearl of Great Price, chap. 7.) Thus we have what has been called “the Order of Enoch” or the “United Order.”

The ancient Nephites, too, had this law of Consecration. It was in effect among them for about one hundred and fifty years. “The people were converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another. 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.” (Fourth Nephi, 1:2, 3.)

In the Christian dispensation, across the sea in Palestine, the Law of Consecration was put into practice among the Saints. “They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. … And all that believed were together, and had all things common: and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Acts of the Apostles, 2:41-47.)

It was this Law of the Gospel, this law of Consecration, the Order of Enoch, or United Order that was revealed as a “privilege” to the Colesville Branch at Thompson.

3. Principles of This Order: The Law of Consecration operated according to some very definite ideas, which are given in the Revelation (Section 51). They are as follows:

a. Each head of a family in this group of Saints at Thompson was required to deed over to the Presiding Bishop, as the representative of the Church or community, all his property. a deed made the transfer legal, so that in case of dispute there could not be a law suit by either party.

b. After this deed had been executed, the Bishop then, as the agent of the community, deeded back to the head of the family such goods and implements of production as were deemed necessary in order to carry on the process of making a living. It might be less than he had turned in or it might be more than that. this deed, too, made the transaction legal.

c. In case of rebellion against the Order or of transgression against the Church or community, if it were such as required expulsion or withdrawal from the order, the head of a family might properly take with him out of the group whatever had been deeded to him, but not anything else, even if he had originally deeded to the Order more than that.

d. If, during any particular year, any member of the Order earned more than he needed to keep himself and his dependents, he turned everything in excess of this amount to the agent, who kept it in the Storehouse, erected for this purpose. This was, if necessary, dispersed for the benefit of the Order. The agent drew on this for his services, since he devoted all his tie to the community.

e. The underlying principle of the assignment to each head of a family was the principle of “need.” For instance, a man with a large family would necessarily require more for his living than a man with a small family. And then, too, assignments would differ with the business of each man in the Order. A storekeeper would need more capital than one who taught school.

4. Motivating Force in the Order: More than one attempt ha[s] been made in the history of the world to establish an “ideal order,” and many books have been written on the subject. it is not possible here to even outline such “utopias.” One thing, however, may be said about them: Other than those endeavors mentioned above, they have all lacked the essential element of success – religion.

When it comes to what we call material things, selfishness becomes very prominent. this selfishness (perhaps we should say self-interest), is due to the nature of a social order based on individualism. people must live. not only must they live now, but they must live when they get to the non-productive age and when they are incapacitated for work. this requires that they earn more than if they did not have to provide against sickness and old age. Probably if sickness and old age were taken care of, selfishness, or self-interest, would not be so manifest. The United Order takes care of these contingencies.

But even so, selfishness, excessive self-interest, is not the ideal condition. What element can be introduced into human life to modify or eliminate this element of greed? the answer is, Love, and love only – love of one another and love of God. the reply of Jesus to the lawyer still holds. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.” (Luke 10:27.)

God was at the core of the Restored gospel, as he was of the gospel in the Christian dispensation. The Colesville Branch had already made two kinds of sacrifice in order to gather with the Saints in Ohio. First, they had sold their property in their home town at much less than it was worth. newel Knight tells us this. And then, second, they suffered the ill will of their fellow townsmen on account of their having joined the New Movement. “having made the best arrangements we could for our journey,” says Knight, “we bad adieu to all we held dear on this earth.” (Scraps of Biography, 68, 69). They, with others, did this because of religion, and they entered the United Order from the same motive.

Love, after hunger, is the strongest motive in men. Not only is this true of the love of a man and a woman for each other and the love of parents and children for one another, but it is true also of the love of men and women for God. Indeed, the love of God has been known to override all other loves. But the Gospel requires that we love our neighbor as ourself. (Not more, mark, but only as much.)

5. Breaking Up of the Order: While the Colesville Branch had been told to establish the order as a “privilege,” some of its members, notably Leman Copely and Ezra Thayre, did not regard it as such. According to Section 54, the “covenant” was broken. Confusion followed. Newel Knight called on the Prophet, who was in Kirtland, to see what should be done. A revelation explained the situation, in which Knight was told what to do.

First, he was assured that the revelation was from Jesus Christ, the Lord, Alpha and Omega, Him who was crucified for the sins of the world.

Second, Newel was informed that he should “stand fast in the office” to which he had been appointed. hew as the leader of the Colesville Branch, who looked to him for guidance under the Presiding Bishop.

Third, he was instructed to take the Colesville Saints and “flee to Missouri, lest your enemies come upon you.” A statement had been made to the Ohio Saints, through the Prophet, that “Zion” was in Missouri. “We now understood,” says Newel Knight, “that this [Ohio] was not the land of our inheritance, but that Missouri was the place chosen for the gathering of the Church, and several were called to lead the way to that State.” (Scraps of Biography, p. 69.)

Accordingly, soon after the June Conference of the Church, the Thompson group, under the leadership of Newel Knight, went to Jackson county.

Something to Think About

1. Why is the “material’ so full of pitfalls for those who are trying to live a good life?
2. Is the Untied Order individual or social?
3. If you could be assured that through effort, you could earn your living and that you would be taken care of in sickness and old age, would you still be grasping? Why?
4. Why is religion necessary if we are to eliminate greed and selfishness?
5. Is self-interest a necessary part of human nature? At what point must it stop?
6. What responsibility does the individual have in these matters?

1943: Advanced Senior Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 47: Past and Present

Tithing Not Enough for Support

In the previous lesson we discussed briefly the problem of tithing. We said nothing at all about the meaning of tithing. It is not necessary. The word is of Anglo-Saxon origin and means one-tenth. It cannot be construed to mean something else any more than baptism can be construed to mean sprinkling.

If every member of the Church paid a full and complete tithing, other forms of Church contribution might not be necessary, but they do not. Many who still claim membership and seem to expect all the blessings and advantages equal with the full tithepayer, pay little or nothing at all. Tithing of the Church, then, cannot meet all its requirements. Other forms are called for.

The Saints are asked to fast one day in each month, and to pay to the Church a sum equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten for two meals. This Fast Offering fund goes to the support of the poor and the needy in the community. “More than 184,000 church members made contributions of this sort during 1938.” No doubt there will be more during 1942.

Each ward is expected to take care of its own running expenses – heat, light, janitorial service, and the like. This is called ward maintenance and is distributed to ward members. Each auxiliary organization collects small amounts for its own support.

Even with revenue from these sources, in times of emergency and economic depression, the amount collected is not nearly sufficient to meet all our needs. “During the depression which followed the crash of 1929 – thousands of people were thrown out of employment. Government relief was drawn upon heavily. More than 40,000 Saints were accepting whole or partial support form Federal relief agencies.

“The Church faced the situation courageously and announced that it would make every effort to take care of its people; to provide employment for them and to furnish them the things needed for subsistence.” This war is a big undertaking and responsibility for the church. Tithing, fast offerings, and other existing sources of income were insufficient. From this condition of emergency has developed our present Church Welfare Program which will be mentioned again later.

How Past Depressions Were Met

Famines and economic depressions have occurred from time to time since the beginning of history. The half of them, perhaps, have never been written. In the Scriptures are mentioned two or three events, but most of the details are lacking.

While in Eden, Adam had all things necessary for his physical comfort, but it was all provided by someone else. God planted the garden; it was ready-made. All Adam had to do was to look after the garden and at whatever he wanted. He had nor ent to pay – no clothing or food bills to meet – everything was furnished free. Such a condition is unfavorable to spiritual, physical, or moral growth.

Finally, the crash came. Adam lost his position as caretaker of God’s garden. He was driven out and the gates were closed. But he and his wife Eve courageously faced the emergency problems. How we would like to know the details of how they did it! Our imaginations must fill these in. We know only the results. They succeeded. They learned to build houses, make clothing, till the soil and domesticate animals. So the depression, the emergency, proved a blessing because they met the problems and worked them out themselves. There was no dole system or Federal relief agencies to fall back on for support.

Everything worthwhile has come into the world to fill a definite need – not by chance, but through effort and struggle. The city of Enoch is always referred to as the ideal city. It had a perfect form of government – people in it lived the perfect life. There were no poor – no rich, every one shared alike. There were no idlers – no gangsters – no sinners. God Himself dwelt among them, and before the wicked were swept away by the flood, the Lord took the city to Himself – it was actually taken from the earth. Its people seem to have lived the Kingdom of God on earth as it is lived in heaven. We are looking forward to the time when this perfect city will return, and its perfect order, “The Order of Enoch,” be established as the rule upon the whole earth. It will come, for God, through His prophets, has told us so.

Again we have few details of how they accomplished such great things. They must have faced depression and other conditions which demanded perfect organization. They had the gospel as we have it, and it functioned in their daily lives. Perhaps an emergency arose similar to our own, for they lived in a world when people were growing more and more wicked and were, a little later, destroyed b the flood. Who knows but that our own welfare program may train and develop us to the point where we too may live as Enoch’s people lived. That time is coming, and this may be the beginning.

One of the most interesting experiences recorded in the bible is of the manner in which Joseph solved the problems of an economic depression. He was a young man, but he had had some experience in managing affairs of others. He evidently had been overseer of his father’s flocks and herds. As a slave he had full direction of all his master’s goods. As a prisoner, he was the keeper thereof. Pharaoh made no mistake in appointing Joseph to be manager and director of all his economic affairs throughout the entire kingdom. “Whatever was done, Joseph was the doer of it.”

The people were warned and forewarned seven years in advance. During these seven years there was plenty. There was no lack of employment. It was the most prosperous time in the history of Egypt. People were told to save, lay up in store, and be prepared for the dearth that was sure to follow. Joseph set the example by building government storehouses and storing up for future emergency all the surplus of what the people produced. He paid them for it out of the government treasury. And then came the crash.

Perhaps a few had been wise and prepared for the famine, but in a short time most of the people were without food. There was no employment, for crops failed because of drouth. They were utterly helpless. The government had plenty, but the people had nothing. They faced a terrible famine– it was to last for years – seven years in fact.

When the people applied for government relief, Pharaoh replied, “Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.” “Give us bread,” they cried unto Joseph. But he did not give it to them – he sold it to them. When their money was gone, he took their cattle in exchange for food. When there were no more cattle, he bought their land and gave them more food. Finally, all the land belonged to Pharaoh, and the people sold themselves for food. There was no dole under Joseph’s administration. People paid for what they got. Joseph seems like a hard-hearted, cold-blooded tyrant. He had bought the people and all they had.

Now the sympathetic, far-seeing Joseph comes to the front. He removed people into central locations where they could be organized and cared for. He must have assigned to them definite stewardships, giving each man what ground he could till with seed to plant, and no doubt tools and animals to cultivate it. He must have advanced supplies to start their work, but they did not get something for nothing – they paid for all they got.

For all these favors to them, he charged only one-fifth of what they produced for rent to Pharaoh. The people were appreciative and exclaimed to Joseph, “thou hast saved our lives – let us find grace in the sight of our lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” (Genesis 41:32-57, 47:13-26)

Joseph solved the depression problems. He saved both the lives and the self-respect of the people of Egypt. No one went hungry, but no one got something for nothing. At the last he established a kind of cooperative system wherein each man became steward or owner of land under the government and retained all he produced for his family except a reasonable rental which went to the king, no doubt for government upkeep.

King Solomon had a similar experience. The last years of King David, his father, had been years of war from within and without. Financially, the kingdom must have been bankrupt. Solomon was a master organizer. He put the people to work. He built the temple, his royal palace, storehouses and good roads, in all parts of the land. He opened up and developed new mines. He built up a navy which sailed to foreign lands. He developed agriculture and domestic animals. During his life there were few material contentions; people were too busy for them. His economic system worked, but when he forgot the Lord, married many strange women, and introduced idolatry, his kingdom and people suffered and later were divided.

Now we pass over hundreds of years to the time just following the death of Christ. The church was growing rapidly. Peter and the other apostles had much to do to direct the work of the ministry. They adopted the co-operative system of living, no doubt patterned after the plan of Enoch’s city. We have few details of what they did, but the venture finally failed. All members seem to have put all their worldly goods into a common fund. This was again distributed as needs of the people required. Perhaps there was little land or other permanent property involved. No mention is made of producing employment as in cases of Adam, Joseph, and Solomon. Without this provision, any co-operative system of living is doomed to failure. “The idler must not eat the bread of the laborer.”

the same plan of co-operation was tried among the Nephites. We do not know how they went about it, or how long it lasted. Like the experiment in Palestine, it finally came to an end. No doubt the cause in both cases was selfishness and lack of proper organization.

In the early days of our own church the plan was tried again. But the people were newly converted to the gospel, they had no background of experience. The true Order of Enoch required the giving up of all individual and personal wealth. It required the complete elimination of selfishness. In truth, it required all men to live the two great commandments set forth by Jesus:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Mark 12:30-31)

After the coming of the Saints to the West, the United Order was attempted in various places. The community at Orderville, Utah, is a good example. The plan was good, but it too was abandoned. Selfishness was the basic cause of all these failures. We have not yet learned to love God with all our heart, and our neighbors as ourselves. [See Stephen Harper’s article – linked at the end of this post – before teaching about a so-called “lesser law” of tithing.]

Because we cannot lie the higher law of God, as they did in the City of Enoch, we have been given the lesser law of tithing where we are expected to give one-tenth of our income instead of all of it. Most of us are not living the lesser law – we just cannot pay, even one-tenth. How, then, shall we ever live the perfect life when we are so selfish? some time it will be done; perhaps in the days of you who are now young.

Helps to Study

1. Why is tithing not enough to meet all requirements of the Church?
2. What are fast offerings and what are they used for?
3. What were Adam’s temporal conditions in the garden?
4. Compare his conditions in the garden and out of the garden. Which were better? Why?
5. What is the “Order of Enoch”?
6. In Joseph’s plan, mention the special features.
7. Why was it better to have them buy food than to give it to them?
8. Compare this plan with the plan of the government. How did the government provide employment for the people?
9. What is the church’s attitude about providing for the needy?

1943: Advanced Senior Sunday School Lessons

Lesson 47: My Brother’s Keeper

The Return to Zion

“There is one thing I have thought much of lately,” said George. “We learned in the Church History class that Jackson Co., Missouri, was dedicated in 1831 to be the Center Stake of Zion, and the Prophet Joseph Smith, at the same time dedicated a temple site at Independence, Missouri, and said that the temple would be built in this generation. I know the Saints were driven out and could not build it then. When will it be built, and who will go back and do it?”

“I know one who will go,” Leola said. “My father’s patriarchal blessing says that he will return with the Saints and help build that temple. I know of others too who have that same promise. It can’t be very long either, for some of these folks are getting along in years.”

None of us knows who nor when, George and Leola. No doubt it will depend upon our people. It looks reasonable that people who do not pay tithing and keep all the commandments would not go to do that work. Who is building the temple in Idaho Falls? the actual construction is being done by a few master mechanics, but all who pay tithing and other contributions in the Church are paying for it, helping to build it. It is quite possible that is the way the temple in Jac



  1. What? Do you really believe the content of this doubtful collection of questionable wisdom?

    Comment by zz — April 12, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

  2. No, zz, since you ask, I believe you are a fragment of underdone potato.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 12, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  3. Unless we develop our economic resources so that they can meet more than our immediate minimum expenses, we shall not even be in a position to make any contributions to those who have less of this world’s goods than we have. In other words, it is imperative that we work out a certain economic stability if we are to do our full duty as a Christian.

    Regardless of trollish comments, this is excellent stuff, Ardis. There are so many money quotes (pun intended) that it’s impossible to cite them all.

    Comment by Ray — April 12, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  4. I wish I had seen this before our Gospel Doctrine lesson yesterday. Then, maybe I would have had something to contribute to the lesson. As it turns out, after a rocky start, the lesson turned into a wonderful discussion about the law of consecration and how we view material things (viz., do I really need those snowmobiles?).

    Also, it was fun to see Gerrit DeJong, Jr.’s name in the post. Haven’t heard his name in a while, and didn’t know he was involved in writing Church manuals.

    Sometimes, when I haven’t been exercising regularly, I feel like a fragment of underdone potato.

    Comment by Hunter — April 13, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

  5. We just had Lesson 12 yesterday — I knew we were behind because we had both ward and stake conference so early in the year, but I had thought everybody would have had at least one of those conferences so far and that Lesson 14 wouldn’t be coming up anywhere until next Sunday. I’ll get Lesson 15 put up by Wednesday so that I’m back ahead of the curve.

    And I pretty much look like a potato even on the best of days.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 13, 2009 @ 2:09 pm