Teach and encourage the practice of economic equality through the Law of Consecration in its proper framework under the United Order. Completely ignoring this law separates the church from the heavenly organizations which helped to found it. Failing to even teach (let alone practice) this system makes the church just another religious faction preaching supposed religiousness but not practicing a system which remedies economic inequality—the single largest cause of social instability & collapse. See D&C sections 42, 51, 78, 82, 104. see also Enrichment L.
ALL General Authorities, Area Seventies, Stake Presidents and Bishops should be required to live this simple law of binding oneself to the median income of one’s particular social demographic.
20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49:20)
14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70:14)
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me… 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 25 When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 29 …every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first. (Matt 19:21–30)
New testament scripture and the LDS Doctrine and Covenants contain one of the best systems imaginable for creating an organization that not only avoids corruption, but assures that organizational power is given only to the most selfless of individuals. You simply force the leadership (first and foremost) to self-sacrifice more than anyone else in society. The primary tool for doing this is the law of consecration. In this system, those who wish to be leaders must give up all their earthly possessions, and join an economic order of complete equality. Their good example then encourages others to do likewise.
The Doctrine and Covenants make it clear that “Zion” or a Utopian/heavenly society cannot be established unless it attempts to the best of its ability to live a form of economic equality. In LDS scripture this system was called the United Order (D&C 51:2–3; 105:3-5). In its early stages, the system is especially essential as a social framework for vetting leadership, integrating converts, immigrants, and the raising generation. According to LDS scripture, relative economic & social equality is still THE absolute requirement to the founding of the heavenly church on earth— or a lasting Utopian society like those which exist in the higher dimensions (D&C 38:27). The church will remain “under condemnation” for as long as obedience to this law goes completely untaught and unattempted. LDS implementation of this order has always been over-complicated and corrupted (because it was manipulatively forced on poor members; and rarely actually required of the wealthy leadership). A simplistic form of this order/system can be begun at any time, by any person, with the following simple common sense teaching.
Willingly bind yourself to live a comfortable lifestyle somewhere near the median income of your chosen demographic.
This divine rule has nothing to do with how much an individual actually makes in income, per se—it simply regulates how much an individual can spend on themselves. It dictates that saints (especially those who wish to be leaders) live median income lifestyles regardless of their income—and invest excess income in ventures which help their posterity and build the community, instead of spending it on selfish pursuits, expensive housing or a lavish lifestyle unequal from the average of their community. (A practice which God’s true Saints throughout the world always live regardless of which church they belong to.) This simple rule of social equality is detailed in scripture to follow these simple steps…
- According to the LDS Doctrine and Covenants, the foundation of the United Order is a ward/stake institutionalized credit union (a bank whose members are sole shareholders. see D&C 51:8–15; 104:68; 124:70). Were the Church its own kingdom (political nation), this bank might be considered a Central Bank. However I don’t think the character of the financial organization has much baring on the spirit of the law—and church instituted financial organizations are probably only best in under-developed parts of the world where stable, trustworthy banks are hard to come by. For most current LDS members the following instructions concerning the utilization of “excess income” can just as easily be implemented by using a bank or credit union of each member’s choice.
- Worthy members keep their “excess income” in the credit union or trust (just like most normal Americans do). Of particular importance is excess land & real-estate. (D&C 42:33–36; 3 Ne 26:19, 4 Ne 1:3, Acts 4:32–34)
- Worthy members voluntarily bind themselves to live at a median income which approximates the median income for their area and circumstances. (see D&C 51:3). For example, the median income for a family with 2 children in Park City utah is about $77,000/year (this goes up radically with more children). Members agree not to spend on themselves more than this amount in a year even if they have it. The exact amount and details of this fixed salary are for the individual to decide. Excess income goes into the credit union/trust/order/etc. Caveats and details of what constitutes “excess” stay loosely defined and are ultimately left up to the individual to decide, with counsel as desired from spiritual leaders. (Or political leaders once the religious order becomes a true kingdom)
- Here’s where a fully functioning united order varies with a typical credit union. Members with excess income agree to allow the credit union to annually invest their “excess” (increase) into worthy pursuits which make money while working to lift up the poor (every member who makes less than the median income—according to their need). This can be managed just as a modern credit union does, lending money to worthy business startups, education funds, social projects or even home purchases). As a peripheral-endeavor, each credit union should be encouraged to capitalize cooperative social projects which employ the poor (ie. fund bonds in cooperation with political entities, if possible). Those shown to be good with money should be in charge of the lending process according to accepted modern banking standards. (FDR’s new deal/CCC, ZCMI, Deseret Industries, and many other historical cooperative ventures can serve as important historical analogs to what works and what doesn’t. In many ways this scriptural system is not so different from typical modern social programs funded by taxes instead of a central bank. Indeed, the United Order is simply a mandate and formative template to create a system similar to some of the highly functioning democratic socialist societies who have become righteous enough to get it to work without widespread corruption & inequality.
- Special consideration must be given to focus on providing work and lifting all members to attain the median income range for their area and family size (especially convert refugees, immigrants and the raising generation).
- The countless considerations inherent in this system are to be worked out by those with experience in investment and banking. (Using free market principles as much as possible.) The enterprise would essentially mimic the socialistic practices of free-market governments or even modern banking/investment systems in general (there is essentially little difference except that the goal is to lift the poor, in addition to providing an inheritance/pension for members). The most fit and qualified individuals in these industries must be employed to solve problems and create safe and viable organizations. Free market trial and error are inevitable as Stakes and Region’s learn to make it work.
- The return on investment for the credit union assures retirement funds (an inheritance) for members of the order. (Just as is currently done with pension funds, except that the religious encouragement might create greater participation— and an emphasis is placed on helping the poor with profits).
- Religious (and one day political!) leaders are required by the church & society to be members of the order. To be an ecclesiastical leader or social servant (politician), one must prove they are willing to self-sacrifice enough to bind themselves to the median income–helping to assure that the majority of church leaders (& public servants!) are fairly selfless and dedicated to social equality. (This ends up being the societies best way to assure that social power, such as high callings or positions, is kept in the hands of those willing to self-sacrifice. It helps keep selfish people out of government)
- Just as the jizyah was a powerful factor in Islam’s regional growth & success, the United Order is Mormonism’s program to grow the church (D&C 58:8–11) while helping to promote social stability & equality. Through this program people (especially converts/migrants) are encouraged to live basic religious/social tenets of morality in order to be eligible for loans and good paying jobs on church/social projects. Bishops are scripturally mandated to be somewhat like loan officers. The system serves to motivate the rapid economic lifting and cultural/moral integration of immigrants and the lower classes into the middle class–as well as to minimize the economic disparity of the upper class.
- This is not communism, but a hybrid free-market/socialist system. I believe the United Order in LDS scripture is very similar to the modern banking and investment system coupled with metered democratic socialism. But the stark differences lie primarily in its goals, participation and management. The system is obviously inferior to the free market system when it comes to returning profit. If you personally covenant with God to not buy a lavishly expensive house, your motivation to work like crazy to make millions may be gone… and for this reason the system must not discourage members who don’t wish to join. But EVERY free or controlled market & monetary system eventually collapses under the weight of its own social inequality. This church program seeks to assuage the social and monetary collapse which result from inequality by giving non-monetary rewards to successful people who make the difficult selfless sacrifice to promote equality—namely they get to govern the investments funds/credit unions, raise the poor, govern wards, stakes and desirably they would be the only people considered for political office…
Failed early attempts to live the United Order (like failed national social systems) attempted to take from the rich and give to the poor without requiring appropriate labor or intelligent investment. And by allowing money to be managed by bureaucrats instead of those who have shown they are good with money by being the ones who made it in the first place. They were based on force and lacked balance, education, and common sense. They also lacked needed social or political support—being run and managed by church leaders instead of regionally successful business leaders. Successful LDS attempts, however, simply used excess funds to start or invest in business (such as ZCMI or Church Farms) which could then be used to employ the poor with an appropriate wage. These enterprises must be run by those who are good with money (which would usually be those who give the most money to them) NOT by local priesthood or church bureaucrats (who are notorious at losing/wasting people’s money). The church should only set up the system, and have local church leaders who sit on the boards and act as advisors to show board members where the greatest needs are. Bishops simply run the bishop’s storehouse and food pantry as currently constituted–and serve as or work with loan officers who can adequately judge the need/risk involved to lending to applicant members.
People typically over-spiritualize Consecration and the United Order. The truth is that it is obeyed by millions of people and in operation in thousands of communities and nations throughout the world. It seems the same spirit or philosophy which taught Joseph Smith, informed the ideas of many other economic reformers since as has created the foundation of economic equality and care for the poor which many nations practice. It is a very common-sense approach to community economic equality, not requiring a massive redistribution of wealth, and certainly not limiting the rich’s ability to do what they do best—make & manage money. It does require convincing the rich that it is in their best interest to not spend their money solely on themselves. Convincing them not to spend their money on huge houses or lavish living; but to invest it in their future, their children, and most importantly—their community. A society that masters the Spirit of the Law of Consecration will avoid the social collapse which comes from economic inequality, and selfish politicians. The rich in such a society are not robbed or abased–they are motivated to live a median income lifestyle by being encouraged to live the law so they can become the communities leaders, educators, civil servants, and money managers. They are taught to self-sacrifice and that sacrifice gives them power. Under the law, it is that self-sacrifice-dependent power which serves as the motivation for achievement and advancement in the society. This in contrast to so many of our modern cultures where mansions, lavish living, sexual favors, and selfish, non-sacrifice-dependent power serves for motivation to upward social mobility & economic/political advancement.