One of my pet peeves is the comment, often heard in Sunday School, that “the Lord has not asked us to live the law of consecration.” Those who have been to the temple should know better. The more pressing question for me is how to implement this relatively simple law. This seems to be the current topic of conversation under the Material Prosperity thread below, which, like the Eveready Bunny, just keeps on going. In this post, I want to propose a practical way of thinking about consecration.
But first, some background. Perhaps I was a little severe with my fellow congregants who proclaim that “the Lord has not asked us to live the law of consecration.” After all, the following comes from the Gospel Doctrine teacher’s manual for the Doctrine & Covenants:
Explain that the fulness of the law of consecration has been lived only at certain times as commanded by the Lord. Some of the early Saints attempted to live the law for periods of time in Ohio, Missouri, and Utah. However, the Church as a whole failed to live it, and the Lord suspended it. At some future time He will ask us to live the fulness of the law.
This is a little confusing, but the manual seems to be suggesting that the United Order was an attempt to live the “fulness of the law of consecration.” The implication is that some “lesser” law of consecration might still be in effect. While I am not sure I like the jargon, I get the drift. My view is that this “lesser law of consecration” is simply the law of consecration without centralized administration. It is, if you will, a personal law of consecration, rather than a collective expectation.
So, what does this “lesser law of consecration” demand of us. Here is some discussion fodder from Bruce R. McConkie: “The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church; such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.” This is the usual response that I hear when I raise this question in church. The inference usually drawn is that we don’t actually have to share all of “our time, our talents, and our money and property” until we are asked. At the moment, the reasoning goes, we are asked to share some of our time, a few of our talents, and 10% of our income (plus occasional offerings). The residual is ours to keep.
Can this be right? Again, the covenant that I made in the temple includes no such limitations. But McConkie’s statement contains the seeds of a useful method of thinking about the law of consecration. In my view, we are obliged to use all of our time, talents, money, and property to further the Lord’s interests on earth. Period.
Every minute and every dollar should be consecrated to the Lord’s work, which includes raising our families, doing missionary work (by word and by deed), offering productive labor at the workplace, etc. Every aspect of our lives is relevant to our eternal salvation, and every aspect should be pointed in the same direction. This is the essence of an integrated life. The law of consecration should cause us to purge selfishness from our souls — no more “mine” and “His,” but all His. And in the great paradox expressed by Jesus, when we lose ourselves in this way, we gain eternal life. (Mark 8:35)