In the present dispensation the law of tithing has been given a place of great importance, and particular blessings have been promised for its faithful observance. This day has been called by the Lord “a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned.” In a revelation, given through the Prophet Joseph Smith, July 8, 1838, the Lord has explicitly set forth His requirement of the people in this matter.
Consecration and Stewardship-The law of tithing, as observed by the Church today, is after all but a lesser law, given by the Lord in consequence of human weaknesses, selfishness, covetousness, and greed, which prevented the saints from accepting the higher principles, according to which the Lord would have them live. Specific requirements regarding the payment of tithes were made through revelation in 1838; but, seven years prior to that time, the voice of the Lord had been heard on the subject of consecration, or the dedication of all one’s property, together with his time, and talents, to the service of God, to be used as occasion may require. This again is not new; to the present dispensation the law of consecration is given as a reenactment; it was recognized and observed with profit in olden times. Even in the apostolic period the doctrine of consecration of property and common ownership was old, for thirty-four centuries before that time the same principle had been practised by the patriarch Enoch and his people, and with such success that “the Lord came and dwelt with his people; * * * 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.” In each of the instances cited-that of the people of Enoch, and that of the saints in the early part of the Christian era-we learn of the unity of purpose and consequent power acquired by the people who lived in this social order; they were “of one heart and one mind.” Through the spiritual strength so attained the apostles were able to perform many mighty works; and of Enoch and his followers we read that the Lord took them unto Himself.
The people of whom the Book of Mormon gives us record also attained to the blessed state of equality, and with corresponding results. The disciples, whom Christ had personally commissioned, taught with power and “they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.” Further, we read of a general conversion by which the people came to a condition of ideal peace; “there were no contentions and disputations among them. * * * And they had all things common among them; therefore they were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.” They were so blessed, that of them the prophet said: “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” But after nearly two centuries of this blessed condition the people gave way to pride; some of them yielded to a passion for costly apparel; they refused to longer have their goods in common; and straightway many classes came into existence; dissenting sects were established; and then began a rapid course of disruption, which led to the extinction of the Nephite nation.
Stewardship in the Church-A system of unity in temporal matters has been revealed to the Church in this day; such is currently known as the Order of Enoch, or the United Order, and is founded on the law of consecration. As already stated, in the early days of the latter-day Church the people demonstrated their inability to abide this law in its fulness, and, in consequence, the lesser law of tithing was given; but the saints confidently await the day in which they will devote not merely a tithe of their substance but all that they have and all that they are, to the service of their God; a day in which no man will speak of mine and thine, but all things shall be the Lord’s and theirs.
In this expectation they indulge no vague dream of communism, encouraging individual irresponsibility and giving the idler an excuse for hoping to live at the expense of the thrifty; but rather, a calm trust that in the promised social order, such as God can approve, every man will be a steward in the full enjoyment of liberty to do as he will with the talents committed to his care; but with the sure knowledge that an account of his stewardship shall be required at his hands. As far as the plan of this prospective organization has been revealed, it provides that a person entering the order shall consecrate to the Lord all that he has, be it little or much, giving to the Church a deed of his property sealed with a covenant that cannot be broken. The person thus having given his all is to be made a steward over a part of the property of the Church, according to his ability to use it.
The varying grades of occupation will still exist; there will be laborers, whose qualifications fit them best for unskilled toil; and managers who have proved their ability to lead and direct; some who can serve the cause of God best with the pen, others with the plow; there will be engineers and mechanics, artizans and artists, farmers and scholars; teachers, professors, and authors-every one laboring as far as practicable in the sphere of his choice, but each required to work, and to work where and how he can be of the greatest service. His stewardship is to be assured him by written deed, and as long as he is faithful to his charge, no man can take it from him. Of the proceeds of his labors, every man may use as he requires for the support of himself and his family; the surplus is to be rendered to the Church for public and general works, and for the assistance of those who are justifiably deficient. As further illustrative of the uses to which the surplus is to be devoted, we read: “All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age. And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words, upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances. And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.” Any faithful steward, requiring additional capital for the improvement of his work, has a claim for such upon the custodians of the general fund, they in turn being held accountable for their management, which constitutes their stewardship.
Equal rights are to be secured to all. The Lord said: “And 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-And all this for the benefit of the church of the living God, that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold, to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church.”
Freedom of agency is to be secured to every individual; if he be unfaithful he will be dealt with according to the prescribed rules of church discipline. A corresponding power of self-government will be exercised by the several stakes or other divisions of the Church, each having independent jurisdiction over its own storehouses and its affairs of administration, all being subject to the General Authorities of the Church. Only the idler would suffer in such an order as is here outlined. Against him the edict of the Almighty has gone forth: “Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.” “The idler shall not have place in the church, except he repents and mends his ways.” “And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord.”
Social Order of the Saints-In view of the prevailing conditions of social unrest, of the loud protest against existing systems whereby the distribution of wealth is becoming more and more unequal-the rich growing richer from the increasing poverty of the poor, the hand of oppression resting more and more heavily upon the masses, the consequent dissatisfaction with governments, and the half-smothered fires of anarchy discernible in almost every nation-may we not take comfort in the promise of a better plan, a plan that seeks without force or violence to establish a stable equality, to aid the lowly and the poor, and to give every man an opportunity to live and labor in the sphere to which he is adapted? From the tyranny of misused wealth, as from every other form of oppression, the truth will make men free. To be partakers of such freedom mankind must subdue selfishness, which is one of the most potent enemies of godliness.
The Church teaches the necessity of proper organization, in harmony with the laws of the land; the sanctity of the institution and covenant of marriage as essential to the stability of society; the fulfilment of the divine law with respect to the perpetuation of the human family; and the importance of strict personal purity.
Marriage-The teachings of the scriptures concerning the necessity of marriage are numerous and explicit. “The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone;” this comprehensive declaration was made concerning Adam, immediately after his establishment in Eden. Eve was given unto him, and the man recognized the necessity of a continued association of the sexes in marriage, and said: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Neither of the sexes is complete in itself as a counterpart of Deity. We are expressly told that God is the Father of spirits, and to apprehend the literalness of this solemn truth we must know that a mother of spirits is an existent personality. Of the creation of humankind we read: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” The purpose of this dual creation is set forth in the next verse of the sacred narrative: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” Such a command would have been meaningless and void if addressed to either of the sexes alone; and without the power of perpetuating his kind, the glory and majesty of man would be insignificant; for small indeed are the attainments of any individual life in mortality.
Grand as may seem the achievements of a man who is truly great, the culmination of his glorious career lies in his leaving posterity to continue, and enhance the triumphs of their sire. And if such be true of mortals with respect to the things of earth, transcendently greater is the power of eternal increase, as viewed in the light of revealed truth concerning the unending progresssion of the future state. Truly the apostle was wise when he said: “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
The Latter-day Saints accept the doctrine that marriage is honorable, and apply it as a requirement to all who are not prevented by physical or other disability from assuming the sacred responsibilities of the wedded state. They consider, as part of the birthright of every worthy man, the privilege and duty to stand as the head of a household, the father of a posterity, which by the blessing of God may never become extinct; and equally strong is the right of every worthy woman to be wife and mother in the family of mankind. Notwithstanding the simplicity, reasonableness, and naturalness of these teachings, false teachers have arisen among men declaring the pernicious doctrine that the married state is but a carnal necessity, inherited by man as an incident of his degraded nature; and that celibacy is a mark of a higher state, more acceptable in the sight of God. Concerning such the Lord has spoken in this day: “Whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man * * * that the earth might answer the end of its creation; And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.”
Celestial Marriage-Marriage, as regarded by the Latter-day Saints, is ordained of God and designed to be an eternal relationship of the sexes. With this people it is not merely a temporal contract to be of effect on earth during the mortal existence of the parties, but a solemn agreement which is to extend beyond the grave. In the complete ordinance of marriage, the man and the woman are placed under covenant of mutual fidelity, not “until death doth you part,” but “for time and for all eternity.” A contract as far reaching as this, extending not only throughout time but into the domain of the hereafter, requires for its validation an authority superior to that of earth; and such an authority is found in the Holy Priesthood, which, given of God, is eternal. Any power less than this, while of effect in this life, is void as to the state of the human soul beyond the grave.
The Lord has said: “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment, through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power, are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”