Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
The Law of Consecration
The Lord revealed the law of consecration to the Saints.
The law of consecration is an eternal law.
We can consecrate our lives to the Lord now.
A study of this lesson will help us understand the law of consecration and
its eternal purposes and desire to consecrate our lives more fully to the
service of God.
Scripture references for study:
Doctrine and Covenants 42:30–42;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 14 Handout (PDF)
The Law Of Consecration
The Prophet arrived in Ohio in early 1831. At that time there were about
a hundred members living in the Kirtland area, with the New York Saints
soon to follow.
Wrote Joseph Smith: "The branch of the Church
in this part of the Lord's vineyard . . . were striving to do the will
of God, so far as they knew it, though some strange notions and false spirits
had crept in among them. With a little caution and some wisdom, I soon
assisted the brethren and sisters to overcome them." (HC,
Among the "strange notions" in the Kirtland area
was a group known as the Morley family. Prior to the preaching of the
gospel in Ohio, this group had organized itself in an attempt to live as
the early Christians and have all things in common. They lived
an imperfect law of sharing all things, which caused difficult feelings.
They had a revelator known as "Black Pete." They claimed to see angels
and to receive letters from heaven. These were people striving to
do the will of the Lord, but had brought many of their earlier, incorrect
practices with them into the church.
In response to the "strange notions and false spirits"
the Prophet received a revelation (Section 41) in which the Lord commands
obedience to his law. It was in this same revelation that Edward
Partridge was called as first bishop in the Church.
Five days later, "February
9, 1831, after the Church had removed to Kirtland and had been augmented
by many converts from among the Disciples, or followers of the Campbells
and Sidney Rigdon, who were living in Kirtland and its vicinity, the Lord
gave to the Church this revelation (Sec. 42) as a law. In this revelation
many commandments given from the very beginning and reiterated in the days
of Moses were again proclaimed as being in force for the government of
the Church in these latter days. By grave and solemn proclamation the members
of the Church were commanded to observe all these laws and others which
were yet future but would be given for the establishment of the City of
Zion—New Jerusalem—which was to be built by the law of consecration and
obedience to the fulness of the Gospel."
(Joseph Fielding Smith in Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:168)
"And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and
consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to
impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken."
WHAT DOES CONSECRATE MEAN?
To set apart or dedicate something to the service of the Lord.
WHAT IS THE LAW OF CONSECRATION?
It is an organized way in which individuals consecrate their time, talents,
and possessions to the Church to build the Lord's kingdom and serve His
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF THE LAW OF CONSECRATION?
(Read & review
D&C 51:3-4, 13;
Under the law of consecration one voluntarily consecrates one's property
to the Church by legal deed.
" . . . and consecrate of thy properties . . .
with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken" (D&C
Receive a stewardship.
The bishop grants stewardships or portions from all
" . . . every man shall be made accountable unto
me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration,
as much as is sufficient for himself and family" (D&C 42:32).
The stewardship comes with a deed of ownership for which the steward is
responsible and accountable. The stewardship is then treated as private
property rather than communal property, though the consecration ultimately
belongs to God.
" . . . 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" (D&C 51:4).
Disposition of surpluses.
Any surplus at the end of the year, in excess of the needs of the family,
are to be given to the bishop for placement in the bishop's storehouse
to be used to care for the poor, to build houses of worship, and for other
"And again, let the bishop appoint a storehouse
unto this church; and let all things both in money and in meat, which are
more than is needful for the wants of this people, be kept in the hands
of the bishop" (D&C 51:13).
In March 1832, the Lord revealed that there must be an organization to
regulate and administer the law of consecration among His people. Since
time there have been a variety of united orders established within the
Church. All ceased to operate by the beginning of the 20th Century.
" . . . it must needs be that there be an organization
of my people, in regulating and establishing the affairs of the storehouse
for the poor of my people" (D&C 78:3).
WHAT ARE THE PURPOSES OF THE LAW OF CONSECRATION? WHY HAS THE LORD
GIVEN US THIS LAW?
To care for the poor and needy.
" . . . thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate
of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto
them" (D&C 42:30).
The Law of Consecration is a law of love. With obedience to that
law, the powers of heaven are invoked, not only to those who consecrate,
but also to those for whom the consecration is intended. It is a
law meant to bless both the giver and the recipient.
In today's world we see a variety of programs and
organizations intended to assist the poor, along with those who have a variety of
other challenges. Laws have been enacted. Government agencies
setup. Charitable organizations and labor unions set up. Why? In large measure to assist those having challenges. The intent is
good. The reality is that bureaucracy, competition, and disputations
often get in the way of dispensing the intended assistance.
The Law of Consecration is a perfect law intended to deal
with the inequities in society. It dispenses necessities to those in need. It
assists those who cannot assist themselves. The Law of Consecration is much like
the operation of a family. We help and assist each other without looking for the
benefit. We do it out of love. Parents take care of small children who cannot
take care of or provide for themselves. Children assist elderly parents who can
no longer do many things for themselves. The Law of Consecration blesses the
family of God here on earth.
To purchase lands, build houses of worship, and build the New Jerusalem.
" . . . 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" (D&C 42:35).
When we donate our tithes to the Lord, we are consecrating a portion of
our possessions. We see today the power of this tithe. Hundreds
of church buildings are built each year to handle the increasing membership
of the Church. We have seen in recent years the advance in temple
building that extends the blessings of the eternities to more of the living
and countless persons that have died. The Lord has blessed the tithe and it has been
able to accomplish an incredible amount of good. Imagine what we
could do if we, as Latter-day Saints, could fully live the Law of Consecration.
To help the Lord's people be industrious and avoid idleness.
"Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall
not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer" (D&C
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
There is a need for laborers in the field. The building of Zion cannot
be done by a few. It also helps the individual spiritually. Those who are idle often feel useless and may even get into mischief. As we work and consecrate to the Lord, we are blessed as individuals.
To help the Lord's people be one.
"And let every man deal honestly, and be alike
among this people, and receive alike, that ye may be one" (D&C
HOW DOES THE LAW OF CONSECRATION HELP US BECOME ONE?
In any endeavor that we become involved in, we usually find ourselves more committed. The parent that becomes involved in the school PTA, is more committed to
the school, the organization, and the education of one's children.
An active member of a Rotary club, works closely with
the membership to accomplish the aims of the organization. When we
consecrate our time and efforts to our ward, we feel more at one with the
ward family and come to more fully love the members. Consider the bishop
of a ward. No one gives as much to the ward and no one is more at
one with the ward membership than the bishop.
To make the Lord's people equal in earthly things and help them receive
a place in the celestial kingdom.
"That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly
things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For 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" (D&C 78:5-7).
To help the Church "stand independent above all other creatures."
" . . . that the church may stand independent
above all other creatures beneath the celestial world" (78:14).
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Heber C. Kimball: "Let us take that course
which will make us independent of all other people upon the earth; I know
that this is the course for us to take all the time. Then we should
put our minds together, and our mites also, to build up the kingdom of
God; and if we will do this, being of one spirit, we shall prosper in all
things. I know of no other way for us to become of one heart and
one mind in regard to the things of the kingdom of God. By pursuing
this course we shall increase in the knowledge of the truth, and ere long
the angels will come to visit us, and Father will talk to us in relation
to his purposes and the introduction of his government. Let us endeavor
to attain these blessings, for they are ours through faithfulness and diligence
in well-doing." (JD, 10:78)
Elder Hyrum M. Smith & Janne M. Sjodahl:
"The purpose of revealing the celestial order
of society was to enable the Church to pass through all trials safely.
God knew that persecutions and sufferings would come. He also knew that
obedience to the law revealed would make the Church independent of enemies."
(D&C Commentary, p482)
To help the Lord's people improve their talents for the good of all, seek
the interest of their neighbor, and do all things with an eye single to
" . . . that every man may improve upon his talent,
that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold"
"Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor,
and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God"
Some Latter-day History of Consecration.
Among the new converts in the Kirtland area was Leman Copley, formerly
of the Shaker faith.
After joining the Church, he consecrated his land near Thompson, Ohio,
to Bishop Partridge.
The members of the Colesville branch, who had moved together from New York,
were settled on the consecrated land of Brother Copley by Bishop Partridge
according to the laws of the United Order as instructed in
After returning from a mission to the Shakers, Brother Copley apostatized
from the Church, broke the covenant of consecration, and ordered the Colesville
Saints off his land.
The rebellion of Brother Copley sent the Colesville Saints into a frenzy. Newel Knight was sent to the Prophet to learn what these Saints should
do. He arrived in time for a special conference being held in Kirtland
in June 1831.
Section 54 was given through the Prophet instructing the Colesville Saints
to leave Ohio and move on to Missouri. Once again they packed up, this time
for Missouri, establishing themselves at Kaw Township in Jackson
The Saints that gathered to Jackson County, including the Colesville Saints,
were bound by the law of consecration. They consecrated their money
and possessions toward the purchase of land.
This consecration was not compulsory, yet failure to comply erased the
offenders' names from the records of the Church.
Many were striving toward the ideal of Zion, but still discord entered
in among some of the Saints.
As time passed, many of the Missourians took measures against the members
of the Church and eventually drove them out of the county.
"And that those who call themselves after my name
might be chastened for a little season with a sore and grievous chastisement,
because they did not hearken altogether unto the precepts and commandments
which I gave unto them" (D&C 103:4).
In Section 105, the Lord gives further information as to why the Saints
were driven out of Jackson County: "But
behold, 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."
Living the Law of Consecration is not easy as we learn from the Leman Copley
incident and the challenges of the Saints in Jackson County. We must
keep striving to live the law as required by the Lord. Though we
are not living under a United Order, we still have many opportunities to
consecrate our time, talents, and possessions. As we do so, we come
closer to living the law of the celestial kingdom.
Joseph Smith: "A religion that does not require
the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith
necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man,
the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could
be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.... When
a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth's sake, not
even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called
to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most
assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and
that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these
circumstances, then he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold
on eternal life." (Lectures on Faith, 6:7)
During the early Utah period, the Law of Consecration was practiced in
the establishment of several different United Orders. Motivated by
the depression following the Panic of 1873 various cooperative movements
were organized under the name of the United Order of Enoch.
Brigham City: In 1864 Lorenzo Snow organized a mercantile cooperative
in which many citizens took shares.
Profits were dispersed in kind rather than cash. A tannery and woolen factory
were built and operated. By 1874, forty departments had been established
covering almost every phase of industry and agriculture. The settlement
became 85% self-sufficient.
Brigham City gained a reputation as a "hive of industry." It was
one of the most prosperous and progressive settlements in the territory.
The Brigham City experiment was so successful that they barely felt the
depression following the Panic.
Brigham Young was so impressed with the Brigham City enterprise that he
wanted to extend such cooperative movements. Four types evolved:
The community contributed all their economic property to the Order and
received wages and dividends depending upon their labor and property.
About half of these type of orders lasted only a year. Some in these
communities refused to join. There were often arguments of its operation.
Brigham City type plans.
A modification of the Brigham City plan used in the larger cities.
Each ward would have a specialty. In Salt Lake City, the 8th Ward
operated a hat factory, the 11th Ward a tailor's shop, the 19th Ward a
soap manufactory, the 20th Ward a boot and shoe shop.
A communal plan. All property was contributed to the Community.
The best known of these communities was that at Orderville, in southern
They ranged in size from 50 to 750. They ate at a common table and wore
clothes from the same bolt of cloth. Labor was directed by a board of management
and life was regulated by a United Order bugler who signaled the community
to rise, to eat, to attend to prayers, to go to work, to return from work,
Some of these communities worked remarkably well.
The Orderville community operated farms, gardens, and orchards, a cotton
farm, a poultry project, three dairies, a sheep enterprise, a steam sawmill,
water-powered gristmill, and several molasses mills. Almost complete
self-sufficiency was attained.
The Orderville community was not without its challenges. As local
communities prospered from the mining boom at Silver Reef, some of the
inhabitants of Orderville became jealous. Consider this story about a young
man as related by Mark Pendleton:
"As he gained stature, the pants he wore seemed to shrink, but as there
were no holes in them, and no patches, his application for a new pair was
denied. But where 'there is a will there is a way.' There was
a big crop of lambs that spring. When the lambs' tails were docked, the
young brother surreptitiously gathered them and sheared off the wool which
he stored in sacks. When he was assigned to take a load of wool to
Nephi, he secretly took the lambs' tail wool with his load and exchanged
it for a pair of store pants. On his return, he wore his new pants
to the next dance. His entrance caused a sensation. The story
is that one young lady rushed to him, embraced and kissed him. The
president of the Order demanded an explanation, and when it was truthfully
given, he said: 'According to your own story these pants belong to the
Order. You are requested to appear before the Board of Management
tomorrow evening at half past eight, and to bring the store pants with
At the meeting, the brother was commended for his enterprise, but was reminded
that all pants must be made of cloth from the same bolt. The Board
of Management, being reasonable, decided to unseam the store pants and
use them as a pattern for all new pants. This young man would get
the first pair.
"The tailoring department was soon swamped with orders for pants. The elders of the Order protested. The boys went to work, as usual,
but loafed on the job. It was noticed that the everlasting pants
worn by the boys were getting thin in spots, and even some holes had developed. These boys were often on their knees when at prayers, or when weeding in
the garden, but not much time was spent sitting down. Why was this
unusual wear on the seat of the pants? When the elders saw the boys
going in groups to the shed where the grindstone was housed, they became
suspicious and investigated. Yes, the boys were wearing out their
pants on the grindstone. The elders protested and then capitulated. A load of wool was dispatched to Washington Mills to trade for cloth. The tailor shop was a busy place. The boys were hard at work. The
pants rebellion was over!" (Great Basin Kingdom, p336)
By the late 1880's these orders faded and private enterprise became almost
universal throughout the settlements. One of the significant achievements
of the various orders was the construction of the four early Utah temples. It is interesting to note that the most successful of these orders was
the one the required the most.
We Can Consecrate Our Lives
"As Saints of God, we must be prepared and willing
to live the law of consecration in its fulness. But we do not need
to wait for a future day to consecrate our lives to the Lord. As
we do all we can to live the law of consecration today, we will be better
prepared to live the fulness of the law when the Lord asks us to do so."
(Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual)
HOW CAN WE LIVE THE LAW OF CONSECRATION IN OUR LIVES TODAY?
Realize that everything we have belongs to the Lord.
"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. I, the Lord, stretched
out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things
therein are mine." (D&C 104:13-14)
WHY DOES THIS KNOWLEDGE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Bishop Victor L. Brown (former Presiding Bishop of the Church) said that
until we "feel in total harmony" with the
principle that everything we have belongs to the Lord, "it
will be difficult, if not impossible, for us to accept the law of consecration. As we prepare to live this law, we will look forward with great anticipation
to the day when the call will come. If, on the other hand, we hope
it can be delayed so we can have the pleasure of accumulating material
things, we are on the wrong path." (1976 Devotional Speeches
of the Year, 439)
Make the sacrifices the Lord requires now.
In the 34th chapter of Alma, Amulek teaches that this day, this life, is
the time to prepare to meet God. He says, "Ye
cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent,
that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit
which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life,
that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world"
(Alma 34:34). Though Amulek is speaking of the afterlife, it certainly
applies to us today. When the time comes that we are commanded to
fully live the Law of Consecration, if we have not been preparing ourselves,
how can we possibly be willing to live it then?
WHAT THINGS CAN WE CONSECRATE TODAY?
Tithes and offerings: In addition to these regular donations, we
are free to contribute to the missionary work, temple construction, and
humanitarian aid through the Church. President Hinckley announced
at the spring 2001 General Conference the formation of a Perpetual Education
Fund to assist members of the Church in impoverished areas of the world
in getting an advanced education. We can contribute to this and other
Elder Marion G. Romney: "What prohibits
us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses
under the United Order? Nothing but our own limitations."
(Conference Report, Apr 1966)
Serve willingly in the Church.
President W. Kimball: "Consecration is the
giving of one's time, talents, and means to care for those in need--whether
spiritually or temporally--and in building the Lord's kingdom. In
Welfare Services, members consecrate as they labor on production projects,
donate materials to Deseret Industries, share their professional talents,
give a generous fast offering, and respond to ward and quorum service projects. They consecrate their time in their home or visiting teaching. We
consecrate when we give of ourselves." (Ensign, Aug 1984, p4)
Serve a full-time mission. This is great training for living the
Law of Consecration. One gives all one's time and talents to the
Lord during a mission.
Develop Christlike love for others.
"The ability to have Christlike love for others
is the foundation of the law of consecration. As we grow in love,
our ability to live this law will also grow." (Gospel
Doctrine Teacher's Manual)
President Thomas S. Monson: "I have many
memories of my boyhood. Anticipating Sunday dinner was one of them. Just as we children … sat anxiously at the table, with the aroma of roast
beef filling the room, Mother would say to me, 'Tommy, before we eat, take
this plate I've prepared down the street to Old Bob and hurry back.'
"I could never understand why we couldn't first
eat and later deliver his plate of food. I never questioned aloud
but would run down to his house and then wait anxiously as Bob's aged feet
brought him eventually to the door. Then I would hand him the plate
of food. He would present to me the clean plate from the previous
Sunday and offer me a dime as pay for my services. My answer was
always the same: 'I can't accept the money. My mother would tan my
hide.' He would then run his wrinkled hand through my blond hair
and say, 'My boy, you have a wonderful mother. Tell her thank you.'
… Sunday dinner always seemed to taste a bit better after I had returned
from my errand." (Ensign, Feb 1992, p4)
Strive to consecrate all aspects of our lives to the Lord.
If we are striving to live in harmony with this great law, we need to examine
our lives and be in tune with the Spirit to learn what we need to do to
be in compliance with the principle of consecration.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell: "The many other things
we 'give' … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual
wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something
to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"
(Ensign, Nov 1995, p24)
WHAT ARE WE LETTING INTERFERE WITH OUR LIVING OF THE LAW OF CONSECRATION?
Spencer W. Kimball: "May I suggest three fundamental
things we must do if we are to 'bring again Zion,' three things for which
we who labor for Zion must commit ourselves.
"First, we must eliminate the individual tendency
to selfishness that snares the soul, shrinks the heart, and darkens the
"Second, we must cooperate completely and work
in harmony one with the other. There must be unanimity in our decisions
and unity in our actions....
"Third, we must lay on the altar and sacrifice
whatever is required by the Lord. We begin by offering a 'broken heart
and a contrite spirit.' We follow this by giving our best effort in our
assigned fields of labor and callings. We learn our duty and execute it
"Finally we consecrate our time, talents, and means
as called upon by our file leaders and as prompted by the whisperings of
the Spirit." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp363-364)
For additional information on the Law of Consecration and its historical
background, see the following articles at LDS.org:
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachings as discussed in this lesson. How do
you feel about the law of consecration? How can you bring yourself closer to
living this law?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Church History and Modern Revelation by Joseph Fielding
Conference Reports (CR).
Devotional Speeches of the Year.
Doctrine & Covenants Commentary by Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl.
Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard Arrington.
History of the Church (HC).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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