Mormonism and Commodification

One of the perennial (and perennially fun) debates in legal theory revolves around the issue of commidification. In this context commidification means the ability to take something and sell it. Thus, we have all sorts of fun debates about prostitution, markets in adoption rights, surrogate mothering contracts, and the like. So does Mormonism offer us anything that gives us any unique traction in these debates, or as Mormons do we simply argue about these sorts of issues in the same way as everyone else?

We do have some scriptures stating in no uncertain terms that the priesthood cannot be baught or sold. Thus, the priesthood cannot be commodified and if we can understand what it is the makes the priesthood uncommodifiable we could be well on our way to a possible Mormon theory in the general commodification debates. It seems that there are a couple of alternatives:

1. It may be that the priesthood is metaphysically incapable of commodification. A sold priesthood would be no priesthood at all.

2. It may be that the only kinds of desires giving rise to a wish to commodify the priesthood are wicked. Only a bad person would want to buy the priesthood.

3. It may be that there is something about the uses, roles, etc. of the priesthood that make it inherently uncommodifiable.

If we want to use the priesthood as a way of thinking about commodification debates, it seems that we need to opt for 3. The reason is that 1 provides us with very little traction for other issues. Sex clearly CAN be bought and sold. 2 is probably too narrow of a category, since we are unlikely to have the complete and exclusive identification between any particular kind of character and a potential object of commodifcation. For example, the desires for sex is not inherently evil, but it can clearly lead to its commodification. That leaves us with 3. However, I am not certain that 3 is the right answer, and if it is then I am not sure what its substantive content is. What about the priesthood makes it special?

42 comments for “Mormonism and Commodification

  1. Kaimi
    January 13, 2004 at 8:29 pm

    Priesthood is not a property right, but a delegation. As such, making it non-comodifiable makes sense. Priesthood is not _ours_ to buy or sell.

    It is thus like many other delegations of authority. Is the presidency of the United States commodifiable? The command of the Pacific fleet? The deanship of Harvard? And so forth.

  2. Kaimi
    January 13, 2004 at 8:32 pm

    That last comment may not have been clear. The original owner may retain the right to sell such things. So, Harvard may be perfectly within its rights to auction off their deanship to the highest bidder. However, a Dean chosen by a search committee may not auction off her deanship.

    Similarly, we may believe that God has the ability to sell the priesthood, if he so desires. But the people to whom it is designated on earth do not have that capability.

  3. Greg
    January 13, 2004 at 9:04 pm

    “God has the ability to sell the priesthood…”

    And we wonder why legal reasoning gets a bad rap… ;).

  4. Adam Greenwood
    January 13, 2004 at 9:09 pm

    So, if Kaimi’s right, and he’s right, the real question that Nate needs to answer is why God can’t commodify the priesthood, and that’s not a very helpful question because, in some sense, maybe he could. But would he then cease to be God? If so, answering why might have some relevance in other instances of objectionable commodification. Or even in uncertain instances, like selling organs.

  5. Ben
    January 13, 2004 at 9:50 pm

    “God has the ability to sell the priesthood”
    Good thing He doesn’t need the money:)

  6. January 13, 2004 at 9:52 pm

    I think the question of why God wouldn’t sell the priesthood is only understandable when one limits God’s powers and abilities to the rules that we abide by on this earth. God is, by nature, not of this earth, and therefore money (or commodification in general) is not something that concerns him. (Recall Jesus’ statement about taxes and Caesar.)

    Money, the means of commodification, is clearly an earthly phenomenon. God transcends this level of interaction. Money is of no use to God because there is nothing that he wants that can be bought. I’m assuming that if He wants something, he goes out and acquires it by other means.

    I guess I’m also assuming that in a celestial world there is no reason for money to exist. I don’t think heavenly beings buy and sell on the market quite like mortal beings do, and this is precisely because they do not have shortages of resources. Why buy and sell if there is no scarcity?

    And so this also leads back to the idea of why there is no need to sell the priesthood. There is no scarcity of priesthood power. It is available to anyone who would accept God’s plan and enter into His covenants. Attempting to buy the priesthood would clearly misalign one’s intentions with the holy order of God’s plan, and therefore that person would not be worthy of receiving it. This doesn’t mean this person is evil; it just means that someone who is willing to buy the priesthood isn’t quite educated in the ways of God and is not prepared to receive a stewardship as important as the priesthood.

    Summary – God’s ways are not of this world and money, and by implication buying and selling, is a worldly phenomenon.

  7. January 13, 2004 at 9:54 pm

    Just to clarify my summary, the reason that commodification is only applicable to this world is because only in this world (and others like it) do we have resource scarcity.

  8. Ben
    January 13, 2004 at 10:02 pm

    Or, paraphrasing Brayden and then Hugh Nibley, since you can get anything in the world with money, (Nibley’s corollary) than anything you can get with money is worldy. The priesthood, like Jesus, is not of this world.

  9. Frank
    January 13, 2004 at 11:34 pm

    While there may not be buying and selling in the next world, I’m not convinced that there won’t be scarcity. We know that in the next life individuals will be at varying levels of glory and power. Some will be able to reproduce and create worlds, while others won’t. Indeed, some will have the priesthood and some won’t. Thus there will be scarcity, of sorts, and a scarcity analysis doesn’t explain why the priesthood can’t be bought or sold.

  10. cooper
    January 13, 2004 at 11:36 pm

    Well the priesthoog may not be for sale, but it seems they always find a way to “sell” the relief society. Not for real money mind you just lots and lots of casseroles! (just trying to add some light mindedness ;o))

  11. cooper
    January 13, 2004 at 11:47 pm

    whoops! meant priesthood!

  12. Matt Evans
    January 14, 2004 at 1:04 am


    Going back to your first question, about whether Mormonism offers any insights into commodification dilemmas.

    I don’t know of any. I took “Markets & Morals” from Sandel, and was quite disappointed that, despite spending a semester looking, I could find no relevant principles from Mormonism to add to our discussions on selling kidneys, paying to avoid the draft, paying crack addicts to be sterilized, surrogacy, patents in human cells or tissues, etc.

    Even anti-utilitarianism, a principle that fits well with Mormonisms belief that the “ends don’t justify the means,” had some gnarly counter-examples, like the justification the Lord gave Nephi for killing Laban.

  13. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 9:23 am

    Bayden and Ben: I don’t think that money is responsible for commodification. Rather, it is the possibility of exchange. Also, Nibley’s corrallary is a logical fallacy (affirming the consequence, ie If A then B does not imply if B then A) and is patently wrong. It is possible to purchase sex with money, does it follow that sex is per se worldly?

    Matt may be right, but I hope not. I spend so much time doing Mormon stuff and legal stuff that I want to link the two. Perhaps I’ll have to keep looking…

  14. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 9:23 am

    Bayden and Ben: I don’t think that money is responsible for commodification. Rather, it is the possibility of exchange. Also, Nibley’s corrallary is a logical fallacy (affirming the consequence, ie If A then B does not imply if B then A) and is patently wrong. It is possible to purchase sex with money, does it follow that sex is per se worldly?

    Matt may be right, but I hope not. I spend so much time doing Mormon stuff and legal stuff that I want to link the two. Perhaps I’ll have to keep looking…

  15. January 14, 2004 at 10:51 am

    Nate – Money may not be the cause of commodification, but it is the means whereby commodification is made possible (That’s what you’re saying right?). My main point is that putting prices on things (which is essentially what commodification is) is the result of resource scarcity. The priesthood isn’t limited in that sense. It is freely available to any who will accept God’s plan. In that sense God is willing to give priesthood blessings to anyone who repents and takes part in the necessary ordinances. This is an exchange of sorts but it is not a commodified exchange.

    Frank – The kind of scarcity, or inequality, that you talk about is a kind of fixed state (insofar as I understand the three kingdoms). One cannot exchange one glory for another, and so it isn’t really helpful to conceive of immortal blessings as resources. A scarcity analysis only works when a resource is available to anyone but is of limited supply.

  16. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 11:11 am

    To summarize thus far:

    According to Kaimi, the priesthood cannot be commodified because it is an agency of God and is therefore not alienable.

    According to bayden, he priesthood cannot be commodified because it is not scarce, so everyone can get it for free if they want.

    I am not sure that I buy bayden’s argument. Kaimi’s makes more sense to me. As Adam points out, it is not logically impossible for God to commodify the priesthood. He simply does not.

    If Adam is right, then the non-commodifiablity of the priesthood tells us very little about the commodification debates in general. (This seems to be Matt’s position)

    I suppose that it might be possible to generalize from Kaimi’s argument. If we can characterize certain goods as agencies that are not alienable without the principle’s permission, then we know that those goods are not commodifiable. However, once you look at things this way, it doesn’t seem to do that much work. Are kidneys an agency?

    At this point, Bayden may come to the rescue. He suggests that the priesthood cannot be commodified because it is “not of this world.” I am not sure what this means, but if it refers to some quality, then presumably if we can identify that quality in other goods it follows that they ought not to be commodified as well.

  17. Matt Evans
    January 14, 2004 at 2:15 pm

    I didn’t mean for my point to have anything to do with the commodifiable-priesthood subthread. No matter how it’s resolved, I can’t tell how the answer to the priesthood question would effect the issues we discussed in Sandel’s course.

    It’s immoral to pay crack addicts to get sterilized because God can/cannot commodify the priesthood which is/isn’t scarce?

    I think the reason Mormonism had so little to add to Sandel’s course is that it has lots of prohibitions, but the prohitions aren’t contingent on the inducements. Mormonism offers many rationales to criticise sterilization generally (reproduction may be an ‘agency’ or ‘not of this world’) but doesn’t offer any help determining if something that is not immoral in itself becomes immoral because it was induced with money.

    Inducements can strip the moral value of affirmative acts, like baptism or generosity, but our class didn’t discuss any affirmative moral acts.

  18. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 2:20 pm

    Matt, you may be right. Here is my point. Suppose that we can say that the priesthood should not be sold because it has quality X. Further suppose that quality X turns out to be something surprising or interesting, something that was not discussed in Sandel’s class. Having isolated quality X we could then generate potentially interesting conclusions in the commodification debates. Kidneys ought not to be sold because they have quality X, etc. etc.

    Now it may be that quality X is banal (priesthood isn’t scarce) or circular (quality X is “God said don’t sell it”). The project thus may be bankrupt on these sorts of grounds. However, I don’t think that the inducement concept that you invoke necessarily does the work. The reason is that in the priesthood context the prohibition is explicitly directed against commodification, against — to use your term — the inducement.

  19. Kaimi
    January 14, 2004 at 2:23 pm

    I think we’re dealing with two different types of non-commodifiable things.

    Self-ownership, reproductive rights, voting rights, and such may be properly considered the property of the person, but also be considered inalienable property. Margaret Radin and others have written about this. (Quick self-promotion — my piece coming out in American University Law Review this month discusses self-ownership as an inalienable property right).

    Priesthood is not commodifiable for a different reason, because we are not owners but agents, as discussed above.

  20. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 2:29 pm

    I need to look more carefully at Radin’s stuff, although my sense is that she seems to fall back on intuition, moral choice, and some kind of equitable decision making. Not too theoretically interesting. There was some stuff on inalienablity done by philosophers in the mid-1980s, (I think that there was an issue of NOMOS on the topic), arguing that certain kinds of alienation were self-contradictory. (This argument was marshalled against certain extreme versions of slavery, but I don’t see that it has much logical traction against milder forms.)

    I will have to look at your piece Kaimi. I would agree that self-ownership is probably inalienable, but my problem is trying to work out the contours of the concept.

    BTW, did you ever take a look at Randy Barnett’s work on inalienability and contract?

  21. January 14, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    Another solution to this problem is to take the (perhaps unpopular) social constructionist approach. Humans commodify what they think should be commodifiable. Therefore, any inherent quality (X) that makes an entity or action commodifiable is really just a characteristic that groups in society have deemed to be commodifiable. This would help us understand the sex issue (we don’t want to see it as commodifiable and try to legislate against it but many people still want to buy it even though it goes against standards of appropriateness) and the priesthood issue (the priesthood is not commodifiable because Mormons say it isn’t). The role of Mormonism (or Mormons) in this is simply to act as one other legitimating force in society that strives to consruct the norms regarding market behavior. I think the reason it is hard to find a Mormon theological basis for commodification is because the Church has, by and large, said little about this. It is one of those issues that the Church likes to leave up to the individual – a matter of agency.

  22. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 2:31 pm

    FWIW, I think that Kaimi’s analysis of priesthood as agency is probably right, and also — regrettably — means that it probably provides very little traction for most commodification debates.

  23. Nate
    January 14, 2004 at 2:35 pm

    Brayden: It seems to me that the social construction approach isn’t simply unpopular — it is circular and normatively useless. I don’t see how it can provide us with any traction on the question of whether or not something SHOULD be commodified. Unless, of course, you can spin out some story how about commodification in the face of an anti-commodification social concensus would lead to social break down or something like this. As I see it, recasting normative debates in the language of sociology does very little good in the normative debates, although it obviously can be useful in discussing the sociology of normative debates.

  24. Kaimi
    January 14, 2004 at 2:36 pm

    The 30-second version of Radin is that she focuses quite a bit on the harm of commodification of certain things, such as self-ownership.

    As for my piece, I did not spend a lot of time on theoretical justifications, since the main focus of the piece was elsewhere. The brief discussion I have is largely based on Locke, Radin, and (to a lesser extent) Madison and C.B. McPherson. I mention some others in passing, including Jeremy Waldron and Richard Epstein.

    I’m probably going to further explore the idea of self-ownership in a future piece (I have some pre-draft ideas collected), and I’ll have to discuss the concept with you in more depth at a later date.

  25. Nate
    January 14, 2004 at 2:42 pm


    We should definitely talk about your self-ownership paper ideas sometime. This is one of the topics that I find very interesting. One fun thing to think about in this context, is Paul’s use of slavery metaphors to discuss the atonement and his apparent denial of self-ownership. See, e.g., 1 Cor 6:20, 1 Cor 7:23.

  26. January 14, 2004 at 3:17 pm

    Nate, I’m not sure that priesthood is amenable to analysis as a commodity. I would limit that term to goods (not services) that are standardized to the degree they can be freely traded. Services, IMO, always retain a unique personal element that prevents full “commodification,” and priesthood is more like a service than a product.

    An alternative schema that fits priesthood better is to consider the evolution from priesthood as dependent on personal authority or mana, to priesthood as an office in a hierarchy, to priesthood as an essentially mandatory organizational career path (deacon-teacher-priest-elder-high priest). I think all three formulations are present, to some degree, in the present LDS priesthood. I think you can get more mileage from that analysis than from trying to make it fit a commodification model. It also helps distinguish the LDS use of the term “priesthood” from the more familiar usage referring to the role of Christian clergy in other denominations.

  27. Nate
    January 14, 2004 at 3:24 pm

    In this thread we are not using the term commodifcation to imply that priesthood is somehow like pork belly futures, grain, or some other Commodity-Exchange-Commission-kind-of-commodity. Rather, commodification refers simply to the idea that something can be bought or sold. (Clearly personal services are bought and sold all the time.)

    What you say may be correct if the point is to try to understand what priesthood really is. However, that isn’t really what I am interested in. Rather, I would like to understand why — whatever it may be — it is not something that we can sell.

  28. January 14, 2004 at 4:57 pm

    Nate, I think my alternative approach gives more insight into your central question of salability than is at first apparent. Priesthood as mana must be achieved and can’t be transferred therefore can’t be sold, but the other two types can be sold.

    Priesthood as office plainly can be sold. This was a big moneymaker in times past for secular authorities that controlled appointment to ecclesiastical office. But the price need not be in money, it could be in-kind provision of labor. An organization may grant the office (say of Bishop) to one who has demonstrated in the past or who offers in the future generous provision of free labor to the organization rather than cash. That’s a form of sale. If you think not, then consider the prince who defends the “sale” of ecclesiastical office as follows: “No, I was merely awarding the sacred office to the one who best demonstrated his faithfulness and willingness to sacrifice by generously offering of his earthly goods for the good of the commmonwealth and its sovereign.”

    Priesthood as a membership career path seems too bound up with organizational membership to easily disentangle. But if ongoing financial contributions are a condition of continuing membership or good standing, then there is an element of sale present, like paying dues at your health club. Keep in mind that, to me, “sale” is not a dirty word and the term “paid clergy” is not a slur. Recognizing an element of sale or exchange does not serve to denigrate either the institution or its officers.

  29. Kaimi
    January 14, 2004 at 5:02 pm

    Following up on Dave’s point, is it possible to view priesthood as indeed for sale, and the price being tithing?

  30. January 14, 2004 at 5:35 pm

    I wouldn’t think that priesthoods would be for sale. Although signs and tokens…?

    Of course, I wouldn’t think that one’s birthrate could be up for sale either, but the scriptures tell me otherwise. (Edom, anyone?)

  31. Nate
    January 14, 2004 at 5:43 pm

    Dave: These are very interesting points. I fully agree with you that money is not necessary to a sale, and I think that a lot of critics of commodification unhelpfully obsess about money.

    The question of whether or not membership dues or prior labor constitutes a sale is an interesting one. For example, if I give in expectation of some reward but don’t necessarily have a commitment that I will recieve the reward, is it a sale? It seems that in order to have a real sale you need some set of recipricol commitments. Of course, one needn’t have a specific commitment to a particular person. You could think of it as an auction — priesthood office to the hardest worker. However, it is not clear to me that you have even this level of committment. For example, on my mission I was a zone leader for a while, even when I knew for a fact that I was not the hardest working or most effective missionary in my zone.

    A final point, I think that there are some anthropologists and economists who claim that in certain societies recipricol gift giving largely replaces explicit exchange as a mode of allocating resources. The idea is that you give gifts in the expectation that at some future point you will recieve gifts, even if you don’t have specific commitments about who, when, where, or what. The group then sanctions members who are “greedy” (don’t give gifts). I once heard a lecture by a law and sociobiology guy who even argued that the reason humans had big brains was because they evolved in order to recognize and remember faces so as to keep a rough tally of who was and was not generous. It all seemed rather fanciful to me. (There is a strange, just-so quality about sociobiology that always gets me.) On the otherhand, it is a fun story…

  32. January 14, 2004 at 6:11 pm

    I think it’s pretty obvious that one can see the priesthood as an exchange and one that involves a utility calculation, but that doesn’t mean that acquiring the priesthood is buying a commodity. We are clearly accepting some costs (giving up time, energy resources and giving up pleasures that we might otherwise enjoy) in order to retain the benefits of the priesthood. Some economists would say that no decision is made without this kind of rational calculation. But commodification actually means more than just trading or exchanging. It means that a dollar amount – an actual price that can be recognized by a market audience – has been assigned to the commodity. Paying tithing is only one of the things we must do in order to qualify for the priesthood, but it is not the “price.”

  33. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 6:18 pm

    I tend to think that arguments about what some word “really” means are a bit odd, but I am confused by Bayden’s focus on money and price. I suspect that part of this is that Bayden is a sociologist and I am a lawyer. I suspect that Bayden thinks in terms of social facts, wants “commodification” to refer to some social fact, and therefore picks up on markets, money, and prices as a way conceptualizing commodification in terms of a social phenomena amenable to sociological interpretation. I am a bit more pedestrian and am interested in understanding inalienability rules. Hence, I think that the focus on money and to a certain extent market price is misplaced.

    Although our economy is largely driven by money, it is worth noting that a lot of transactions occur on what is basically a barter system. For example, in complex commercial transactions money changes hands but in addition folks bargain about what sorts of contractual rights they will have under the terms of the deal. Sometimes these rights are reduced to a price (e.g. you get a security interest and I get a lower interest rate) but often they are not (e.g. I give you a bigger equity cushion on your security, and we don’t demand as much in terms of access rights to monitor the security), etc. etc.

  34. January 14, 2004 at 9:49 pm

    Nate, I completely agree with you that people barter in ways that do not use money or prices. In fact, there is whole economy of unpaid labor and informal exchange (subsistence living is one example). My point (I think) was that commodification is a concept that is generally used by academics and others to refer to the process whereby something is given a price so that it can be bought and sold on a market. It’s not to deny that other things, like rights, are also traded all the time. Perhaps the priesthood is often given with some sort of reciprocity in mind. But this is not the same thing as saying that the priesthood is given a price and therefore commodified.

    By the way, most of my understanding of commodification comes from reading political economy, so I’m obviously biased by that perspective.

  35. Nate Oman
    January 14, 2004 at 10:10 pm

    Many legal theorists do not really use the term in the same way. See, e.g., Michael Trebilcock, _The Limits of Freedom of Contract_ (Harvard UP, 1993). While they talk about markets and prices, they generally are conceptualizing things in terms of inalienability rules. Of course, this shows my biases as well…

  36. lyle
    January 15, 2004 at 3:59 pm

    In over my head…

    1. I think that Priesthood is an excellent example of a commodity, in the sense that it is a “good” that can be “obtained” in exchange, or as a consequence, for a certain “price,” albeit one in terms of agency, agentic abdication/dedication, time, etc. Time, talents, goods past, present or future comes to mind.

    2. Does God “sell” the PH? yes, in the sense that he has placed it on the open market, and any “buyer” can choose to meet the “price” by becoming a member of God’s organization.

    3. Can, God revoke/someone sell, their PH? perhaps. While God, or the Church, (via whomemver holds the keys to the priesthood office in question) can “shut the door” to PH access…there is the non-revocable concept that even if a PH holder fails to pay tithing/commits a sin making them unworthy to perform blessing/saving ordinances, they are still able to do so. I.e. the blessing on the sick can be performed regardless of personal righteousness, as is (thankfully) the efficacy of the sacrament blessing done by Joseph Smith-esque (or more) proneness to the weaknesses of the natural man.

    Now…The dean might not be able to “sell” her deanship, after committee selection, but…if he followed the same rules that led to her selection, i.e. used the committee procedure himself by starting a new search committee (in the case of a temporary or acting dean), or suggested an alternate that was subsequently approved…then yes. So…Nate can “commodify” and “alienate” the PH in the same sense that God can…in the way/manner that the originator/creator/giver dictates and per those conditions; see any sale of contract and limits on usage conditions. Alt: the dean could just sell the job of ‘dean secretary” to the highest bidder/secret bid, etc. and then let the secretary make all the decisions…a de facto, if not de jure, sale of the office.

    4. Scarcity and fixed states. Stuff we just don’t know about. While Eugene England wasn’t a prophet, his ideas are as valid as the next womans, and he seemed to think that “heaven” was not a fixed state (see references to other T&S threads re: nature of god). Scarcity could also well exist…we all started as intelligences, yet…just as some spirit children chose not to continue their journey, might not some intelligences have, temporarily/permanently, have made a similar choice? To be good and speculating…perhaps the atoms in my computer are an intelligence that refused the progression from intelligence. Or…I’m reminded of the Piers Anthony books, where the deities/demons of the world actually ‘compete’ with each other for a type of ‘fame’ by placing bets with each other. Not to say that God the Father is competing with another deity for worshippers, but…it does remind me of some of the “religious market” research I’ve read about in the socio-political fields re: competition/scarcity for worshippers.

    5. Nate…re: leadership roles…perhaps callings are actually a form of penance, i.e. it isn’t about “righteousness,” but…about sloth. Maybe the DL is more “righteous” than the ZL or AP (or perhaps my personal explanation for failure to get a “higher office”)?

    6. I’m reminded of something Elder Oaks/Maxwell (?) said…in the sense of abdicating/bending our agency to that of God? Assuming our agency is even ours…and not a “gift” from God in the literal sense…for which we are still “owned” by him. Re: inalienability…that we are just divine property, as grounds for the incapacity to inalienate ourselves, seems like a stronger Pauline argument. I seem to remember hearing in Church that I’m not “free” to sin…because my life/blessings aren’t mine…just ‘talents’ that the traveling master has ‘lent’ to me and who expects an increase in all too short a time.

    7. If actions/choices are commodifiable, i.e. they may have value to another, they are scarce in the sense of opportunity costs, and taking into account learning and bounded rationality…perhaps LDS Doctrine does shed some light on commodification.

  37. Adam Greenwood
    January 15, 2004 at 4:16 pm

    So, Lyle, if the priesthood is indeed a commodity, does the ‘price’ vary with demand? In a time when the general standards of morality are low, does God require less before he’s willing to grant priesthood authority?

  38. January 15, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    Adam, That’s an excellent question, and I think it demonstrates why the priesthood is not a commodity in the economic sense. Sure, we exchange something for it, but its “price” (not the word I would use, but I’ll go with it) doesn’t fluctuate with demand.

  39. Nate Oman
    January 15, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    Could it just be a product of price elasticities?

  40. lyle
    January 15, 2004 at 4:42 pm


    I don’t think that demand has much affect on requirements. Maybe, maybe not. Some ideas on where to start….hm…recent “raising of the bar” for the “office” of missionary, the restoration when there was no PH, but apparently alot of desire, the post-apostacy period…when demand was presumably also high, or the time pre OD#2 and those who wanted to be Saints/PH holders in Africa. Maybe how only the “lesser” PH was given to the Children of Israel?

    Nate: Price elasticity? Hm…perhaps in the sense that the price doesn’t vary? As far as I know, from Adam til now…the price has been constant, i.e. 100% consecration.

  41. Grasshopper
    January 15, 2004 at 5:26 pm

    Maybe another model for talking about this is licensing. It seems that the priesthood is more like a license (think software licenses and minister’s licenses) than like a product. Thus, the priesthood itself is never transferred; only a license to exercise it. That license carries with it certain conditions, which, if violated, invalidate the license until other conditions (i.e., repentance) are met. Licenses can also specify the manner in which the license may be transferred to someone else (always under the same terms). Licenses may be obtained free of monetary charge but still have requirements (including that passing the license on cannot involve a monetary charge, etc.).

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