The law of consecration worries me. It nags me. It harasses me. It won’t leave me alone. It’s like that paper boy in the 80′s teen flick Better Off Dead that kept showing up out of nowhere demanding his “twoooo dollllaaarss!” — It just won’t go away.
Last week in Sunday school we covered lesson 14 in the D&C manual – you know, the lesson called “The Law of Consecration”. My neighbor and friend Bruce is the teacher and he pulls no punches. He emphatically reminded us that we as a church are under obligation to live this law and that specifically those who have taken temple covenants are at spiritual risk if we do not keep every promise we make to God in the temple. He further pointed out that not even the prophet himself can rescind the promises that I have personally made to God. Only God can amend that contract.
Oh, great. Now what do I do? I’ve talked about money and righteousness in the past on two separate posts, but the law of consecration is about much more than money. As the lesson manual points out, the law of consecration is:
…an organized way in which individuals consecrate their time, talents, and possessions to the Church to build up the Lord’s kingdom and serve His children. (p. 75)
Ok I’m all for it. I’m willing to try it starting today… The problem is that the details are very fuzzy as to what exactly that means for me here and now. How do I know when I’m fully living that law? I want to do it but I still lack the knowledge of exactly what fully living it entails for me right now and how I can get there and how I can know when I’ve arrived. Roasted Tomatoes put up an interesting related post this week and Clark asked some extremely insightful questions in the comment (hat tip once again to Clark who I have quoted in two consecutive posts!). Here is what he asked:
Consider for example Geoff’s comment that under consecration we use only what we need and want. (Presumably everyone’s needs are taken care of but that leaves the wants) It seems that a person who wants to go waterskiing on Lake Powell has an unequal want to the person who wants to oil paint in the afternoon. Now if we say, but both are equal because their wants are equally met, regardless of the cost/value of the items necessary, then we’re left with a problem.
Consider if the boat, skis, and so forth for waterskiing are such that it has an undue impact on the community. So the presiding Bishopric of the united order tells our skiier that he can’t have his want. He really ought to want to paint. Suddenly we have an inequality of wants.
So wants can’t determine our equality.
This doesn’t occur in the primitive society because frankly there aren’t many goods to choose from.
The other problem with equality is the problem that there is no zero sum game in modern technological societies. Thus a limited hardship on a few and unequal benefits to a few might make the community as a whole more wealthy and thus able to provide for the wants. (Say being able to buy speedboats and skis for waterskies) In this case limited inequality actually could promote better equality.
The problem obviously is because our sense of equality is in terms of value, but values are not static things. Thus, how can we be equal? The obvious answer is, well change your desires. In that case that changes the values. So perhaps the reason our community with the skier is unequal isn’t because of the boat (or lack of it) but because of the desires of the skiier. Change the desires and equality returns.
But that brings about a most troubling conclusion. It would imply, for instance, that the graphs RT mentions are simply measuring the wrong thing. We could have identical graphs and have equality. After all, the problem then becomes the desires of the people. But we don’t want to say that, further we have that scripture about equality in earthly things and heavenly things.
It almost sounds like an invitation for a kind of monastic order where one totally renounces earthly things. But once again it seems hard to justify that in the scriptures as well. (IMO)
I know that was a long quote (I’m getting as bad as Justin with my long posts lately) but it was too good to pass up. I think I’ll stop here for now and pick up in a series of follow ups but there are a couple of questions at hand:
Does anyone think we are off the hook on the law of consecration right now? If so how can you defend that other than the fact that we are not living in the United Order as a church? If you agree with me that we are currently on the hook for consecration what do you make of this equality thing Clark brings up? What about the natural disparity that including wants and needs entails?
I reckon we better figure this stuff out or that dang paper boy in the back of my head will never go away.