Saturday, October 18, 2008

The United Order, taxes and wealth

The scriptures do have a lot to say about riches and wealth. A lot of Mormon people are misled or confused by the current economic situation. We worry about the future.

Fortunately, we have inspired counsel to guide us through troubled times, and confusing issues.

In his conference talk of April, 1977, Elder Marion G. Romney instructs regarding the history or the Lord's program for the church, the United Order.

(The Purpose of Church Welfare Services, Ensign, May 1977).

Whenever the Lord has had a people who would accept and live the gospel, He has established the united order. He established it among the people of Enoch, of whom the record says:

“The Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

“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 7:17–18)

If we will do the things the Lord has asked us to do, we too will continue to be blessed and will grow in righteousness. In the revelation that the Prophet specified as “embracing the law of the Church”, the Lord said:

“Behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them. …

“And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors. …

“And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, … 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.

“Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:30–34)

“And this I do,” said the Lord, “for the salvation of my people.” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:36)

In this revelation, which the Prophet designated the “law of the Church,” the Lord revealed the essentials of the united order, which was His program for eliminating the inequalities among men. It is based upon the underlying concept that the earth and all things therein belong to the Lord, and that men hold earthly possessions as stewards accountable to Him.

Romney further asserts,
These divine principles are very simple and easily understood. However, there are a number of concepts which must prevail in order for this ideal to be realized. Chief among these concepts are the following:

1. A belief in God and acceptance of Him as Lord of the earth and the author of the united order. Through it we seek righteousness and spiritual development. “For,” declared the Lord, “if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;

“For if you will,” he continued, “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. …

“That you may come up unto the crown prepared for you, and be made rulers over many kingdoms, saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Zion.” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:6–7, 15)

2. The united order is implemented by the voluntary freewill actions of men, evidenced by a consecration of all their property to the Church of God. No force of any kind is ever involved.

3. As to property, in harmony with Church belief as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, “no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, [and] the right and control of property.” (Doctrine and Covenants 134:2) The united order is operated upon the principle of private ownership and individual management. Thus, in both ownership and management of property, the united order preserved to men their God-given agency. In this way, He holds each steward accountable for his own work and productivity. Indeed, He said:

“For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures.” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:13.)

You can see from this the truth of President Clark’s statement when he said:

“The Church never was, and under existing commandments never will be, a communal society, under the directions thus far given by the Lord. The United Order was not communal nor communistic. It was completely and intensely individualistic, with a consecration of unneeded surpluses for the support of the Church and the poor.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “The United Order and Law of Consecration As Set Out in the Revelations of the Lord,” from a pamphlet of articles reprinted from the Church Section of the Deseret News, 1942, pp. 26–27.)

4. The united order is nonpolitical. It is therefore totally unlike the various forms of socialism, which are political, both in theory and in practice. They are thus exposed to, and riddled by, the corruption which plagues and finally destroys all political governments which undertake to abridge man’s agency.

5. A righteous people is a prerequisite to the united order.

6. 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.” (Moroni 7:47) In this way they qualify to “become the sons of God.” (Moroni 7:48)

With these concepts in mind, we are better prepared to understand how our present Welfare Services efforts relate to the united order and the full ideal of Zion which the Lord has in mind to bring about. Because the people were not then fully ready to live the united order, the Lord suspended it, because, as He said:

“They have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;

“And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;

“And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:3–5)

He further indicated that:

“It is expedient in me that mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion—

“That they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:9–10)

Full implementation of the united order must, according to the revelation, await the redemption of Zion. (See D&C 105:34.) In the meantime—while we are being more perfectly taught and are gaining experience—we should be strictly living the principles of the united order insofar as they are embodied in present Church requirements, such as tithing, fast offerings, welfare projects, storehouses, and other principles and practices. Through these programs we should, as individuals, implement in our own lives the bases of the united order

Romney quotes from President Kimball regarding physical needs,

Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way, that they may also be fruitful. Instead, we expend these blessings on our own desires, and as Moroni said, ‘Ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not.’ (Mormon 8:39)

“As the Lord himself said in our day, ‘They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.’ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:16) (President Spencer W. Kimball, The False Gods We Worship)


Crusty said...

I was very fond of this post. I especially loved, "The united order is implemented by the voluntary freewill actions of men" ...and... “no government can exist in peace, except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, [and] the right and control of property.”

I'm keenly aware that we are not living in a "United Order" system now, but why shouldn't our current political decisions still be based on these principles?

Jim Cobabe said...


Thanks for your comments. I have asked myself the same question about our current system. The only answer that comes to me is that people are too dependent upon the current system to consider changing. A lot of people have told me they think the current system serves just fine, with all the nice things our government presumes to provide. Roads, libraries, museums, and all kinds of publically supported functions that they cannot or will not live without, and they are convince that the government serves them just fine. I would like to argue that private business could handle these tasks as well, or perhaps better. Why not try?