Jimmy Jones on the Doctrine and Covenants (A Book of Revelations received by Joseph Smith):
One of the great challenges in Christianity, and especially Mormonism, lies in determining which scriptural passages represent unique advice to an individual and which represent broad principles to be applied to the faith as a whole. While most agree that portions discussing the atoning sacrifice of Christ illustrate an eternal, salvational principle, very few people would read the Doctrine and Covenants and claim that every individual has been asked to build a house for Joseph Smith. Many passages lie somewhere in between, however, and infuse the scriptures with ambiguity. When Alma told Corianton that forsaking his ministry and committing sexual transgression was second only to murder, does this reflect the eternal severity of premarital sex, or a father’s private counsel to his son? A complicating question is whether Alma referred to Corianton’s sin of fornication or of forsaking his ministry in favor of his own desire, walking after the lusts of his own heart; the accompanying passages about denying the Holy Ghost lead me to conclude the latter. This particular passage has no corroboration in the body of the scriptures, was given in private between two individuals rather than over a pulpit to a congregation, and the evidently eternal principles established in this tale (Alma 36-42) seem disconnected from this portion of the conversation. Yet the murder-like severity of premarital sex is frequently treated as unequivocal and universal.
If we look instead to the story from the Gospel According To Luke of the wealthy young man, required to sell all he has, impart to the poor, and follow Christ, Christ follows by imparting caution to the rich: “how hardly shall a rich man enter the kingdom of heaven,” and states that it would be easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle. These words speak more generally and eternally than the direct commandment to a single follower, giving lie to the oft-repeated notion that this particular young man was asked to forsake his wealth because it was his particular weakness. In the following chapter, the publican Zacchaeus claims that he is in the midst of this very process, and Christ in return proclaims the man’s salvation.
Latter-Day Saints frequently claim that charity and temporal equality are not demanded of the followers of Christ; we do not currently practice the United Order, and to attempt to be equal with others before Christ’s return might even be sinful. Haven’t you heard what Ezra Taft Benson said about socialism? The very idea of agency means that we have the right to do whatever we want with our wealth, and to acquire it by whatever means we see fit, and whatsoever a man doeth with the money he acquires between the hours of 9 and 5 is no crime. Such claims should be dismissed as ludicrous: the principles of equality are taught in more ancient volumes of scripture, and outside the context of a United Order. Since individual requirements of a specific person or population may reflect eternal principles, however, I have included many Order-related verses, and requirements clearly given to individuals.
Examining the universality of the scriptures, it is easy to see that the institution called the United Order was made for the principle of temporal equality, and not the principle for the institution. All four of the standard works only briefly mention a utopian order, classless and egalitarian (Acts 4, 4th Nephi, Moses 7, and of course the D&C with far less brevity, but reflecting a brief period of time). However, the scriptures espousing redistribution of wealth, consecrating one’s goods for the Lord’s purposes, and decrying the sin of hoarding wealth for self-serving purposes are ubiquitous; the Lord’s people in every era have been expected to aspire toward the Zion community. While some note the failure of these societies to achieve longevity, we know this is the only way to achieve a celestial existence.
Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.
24:18 Commandment to missionaries to journey without temporal welfare in mind, relying instead on the Lord and the church. Reflects Christ’s admonition to consider the lilies of the field.
And thou shalt take no purse nor scrip, neither staves, neither two coats, for the church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip.
29:34 No commandments are temporal. All things are spiritual. If we view our daily bread and shelter as a gift from God, it is a spiritual one and should be treated accordingly.
Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.
35:13-15 The Lord’s armies are not those with worldly power, but the weak, the poor and the meek. They share the gospel, and share in the gospel. Joseph’s weakness is a blessing.
13 Wherefore, I call upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thresh the nations by the power of my Spirit; 14 And their arm shall be my arm, and I will be their shield and their buckler; and I will gird up their loins, and they shall fight manfully for me; and their enemies shall be under their feet; and I will let fall the sword in their behalf, and by the fire of mine indignation will I preserve them. 15 And the poor and the meek shall have the gospel preached unto them, and they shall be looking forth for the time of my coming, for it is nigh at hand
38:16-17, 24-27 The Lord has made the earth rich. It is His justice that, as His children, we share his gifts in equality. His modern commandment to esteem one’s brother as oneself reflects King Mosiah’s commandment to his subjects, both in its language and call to share earthly wealth. “If ye are not one, ye are not mine” is given in a context both spiritual and temporal.
16 And for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers, and the poor have complained before me, and the rich have I made, and all flesh is mine, and I am no respecter of persons. 17 And I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it. 24 And let every man aesteem his brother as himself, and practise virtue and holiness before me. 25 And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself. 26 For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there—and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? 27 Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am. I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.
38:34-40 While stewards over the temporal needs of the poor and needy are to be appointed from within the church, the Lord reiterates that true wealth transcends such things. The pride of the Nephites (first manifested in wealth disparity) is warned against.
34 And now, I give unto the church in these parts a commandment, that certain men among them shall be appointed, and they shall be appointed by the voice of the church; 35 And they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer; and send them forth to the place which I have commanded them; 36 And this shall be their work, to govern the affairs of the property of this church. 37 And they that have farms that cannot be sold, let them be left or rented as seemeth them good. 38 See that all things are preserved; and when men are endowed with power from on high and sent forth, all these things shall be gathered unto the bosom of the church. 39 And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old. 40 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a commandment, that every man, both elder, priest, teacher, and also member, go to with his might, with the labor of his hands, to prepare and accomplish the things which I have commanded.
42:29-42, 55 Those who love the Lord will consecrate their excess wealth to the Lord. This is specifically in the context of the instituted United Order, as stewardships are meted out by the bishop. Pride is commanded against, once again regarding substance. Costly apparel forbidden.
29 If thou alovest me thou shalt bserve me and ckeep all my commandments. 30 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. 31 And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose. 32 And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies concerning the consecration of the properties of my church, that they cannot be taken from the church, agreeable to my commandments, 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. 33 And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, which is a residue to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants. 34 Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council; 35 And 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 which is hereafter to be revealed— 36 That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people 37 And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out of the church, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words, unto me— 38 For inasmuch as ye ado it unto the least of these, ye do it unto me. 39 For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel. 40 And again, thou shalt not be proud in thy heart; let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands; 41 And let all things be done in cleanliness before me. 42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer. 55 And if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it into my storehouse, that all things may be done according to that which I have said.
44:6 The elders of Israel are commanded to preach the word in this section, but also to administer relief (the modern day synonym is welfare) to the poor and needy.
6 Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief, that they may be kept until all things may be done according to my law which ye have received. Amen.
49:19-21 God gives His gifts that man may have abundance, but not that inequality may arise. Wasting flesh or shedding blood (of animals) without need is a sin (refer as far back as the JST for Genesis 9:11).
19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance. 20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. 21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.
3 Wherefore, let my servant Edward Partridge, and those whom he has chosen, in whom I am well pleased, appoint unto this people their portions, every man equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs. 9 And let every man deal honestly, and be alike among this people, and receive alike, that ye may be one, even as I have commanded you.
52:39-40 Elders remaining at home as others labor in the mission field are not to draw support from the church. However, they are expected to render support to all those in need; their discipleship is conditional upon it.
39 Let the residue of the elders watch over the churches, and declare the word in the regions round about them; and let them labor with their own hands that there be no idolatry nor wickedness practised. 40 And remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.
2 Behold, I, the Lord, who was crucified for the sins of the world, give unto you a commandment that you shall forsake the world.
56:16-20 Riches canker the soul. Compare to the Book of Mormon, referring to that which will canker and rot. Idle, greedy poor are as prideful and condemned as the wealthy. The only ones blessed and saved are the humble poor.
16 Wo unto you rich men, that will not give your substance to the poor, for your riches will canker your souls; and this shall be your lamentation in the day of visitation, and of judgment, and of indignation: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and my soul is not saved! 17 Wo unto you poor men, whose hearts are not broken, whose spirits are not contrite, and whose bellies are not satisfied, and whose hands are not stayed from laying hold upon other men’s goods, whose eyes are full of greediness, and who will not labor with your own hands! 18 But blessed are the poor who are pure in heart, whose hearts are broken, and whose spirits are contrite, for they shall see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory unto their deliverance; for the fatness of the dearth shall be theirs. 19 For behold, the Lord shall come, and his recompense shall be with him, and he shall reward every man, and the poor shall rejoice; 20 And their generations shall inherit the earth from generation to generation, forever and ever. And now I make an end of speaking unto you. Even so. Amen.
All of 70, especially 7-10, 14 This section moves seamlessly between the stewardship over obviously spiritual gifts (revelations) and temporal gifts, effectively coalescing the two worlds; all commandments are spiritual, and all is God's creation. Equality in temporal things, however, is specifically commanded once again. The ability to receive the spiritual depends upon it. We see that a choice has to be made between God and Mammon: in which kingdom do we desire abundance, the world, or the Lord's?
7 Nevertheless, inasmuch as they receive more than is needful for their necessities and their wants, it shall be given into my storehouse; 8 And the benefits shall be consecrated unto the inhabitants of Zion, and unto their generations, inasmuch as they become heirs according to the laws of the kingdom. 9 Behold, this is what the Lord requires of every man in his stewardship, even as I, the Lord, have appointed or shall hereafter appoint unto any man. 10 And behold, none are exempt from this law who belong to the church of the living God; 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.
All of 72 Newel K Whitney called as a bishop, to care for the storehouse and relieve those in need from the bondage of debt. Labors of the faithful in spiritual things shall answer the debt taken on by the bishop. Bishops to issue certificates – stewardship recommends – to members. All of 78, especially 3-6 Verses 3,4 discuss a specific institutional practice. 5,6 discuss the eternal implications of this practice, which transcends the institutional.
3 For verily I say unto you, the time has come, and is now at hand; and behold, and lo, 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, both in this place and in the land of Zion— 4 For a permanent and everlasting establishment and order unto my church, to advance the cause, which ye have espoused, to the salvation of man, and to the glory of your Father who is in heaven; 5 That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. 6 For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;
All of 82, especially 13, 17-19 Verse 10 is one of those famous scriptures whose context is frequently ignored – read the subsequent verses. Verse 18 places the parable of the talents in a slightly more temporal context than its original intent was, but still gives lie to the virtues of wealth disparity that some people attempt to assign to it.
17 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— 18 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 19 Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.
And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor. Amen.
84:77-84, 89-90, 104-105, 112 Commandment to missionaries to labor in poverty, focusing on the things of the Lord. Verse 85 parallels the word of God with temporal substance: focus on the things of the Lord, and your needs as a minister will be attended to. Thus we once again see the barrier between the temporal and spiritual world lowered. This uniting paradigm is, in my opinion, essential to proper understanding of temporal wealth as one of God’s gifts, and our duty to share it equally with our brothers and sisters. The sin in corrupting such a sacred stewardship in favor of the lusts of one’s own heart should require no comment. We see this again as verse 106 follows verse 105.
77 And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power; 78 For I suffered them not to have purse or scrip, neither two coats. 79 Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire. 80 And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a chair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst. 81 Therefore, take ye no thought for the morrow, for what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye shall be clothed. 82 For, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin; and the kingdoms of the world, in all their glory, are not arrayed like one of these. 83 For your Father, who is in heaven, knoweth that you have need of all these things. 84 Therefore, let the morrow take thought for the things of itself. 89 Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money. 90 And he who feeds you, or clothes you, or gives you money, shall in nowise lose his reward. 104 And let all those who have not families, who receive money, send it up unto the bishop in Zion, or unto the bishop in Ohio, that it may be consecrated for the bringing forth of the revelations and the printing thereof, and for establishing Zion. 105 And if any man shall give unto any of you a coat, or a suit, take the old and cast it unto the poor, and go on your way rejoicing. 112 And the bishop, Newel K. Whitney, also should travel round about and among all the churches, searching after the poor to administer to their wants by humbling the rich and the proud.
88:123 What can I add to this?
See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires.
101:42 It is the Lord’s way to humble the prideful (including the wealthy) and glorify the humble. (I wrote this remark before I looked at the next verse listed, 104:16. I was terribly delighted when I did)
He that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted.
All of 104, especially 16-18, 62, 71, 85 We learn that, if we become equal, the substance of the earth is generous enough for the righteous needs and wants of all. Hell is once again named as a consequence for inequality. In 62 71, 85, we reiterate that all things within the Order are to be held in common, and common consent to be given. This of course was put into practice in different ways by each of the different United Order organizations, from redistributive free enterprise, to craft/labor unionism, to extreme command economy egalitarianism and communalism. These call for an end to private property, however.
16 But it must needs be done in mine own away; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the bpoor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. 17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. 18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment. 62 And there shall be a seal upon the treasury, and all the sacred things shall be delivered into the treasury; and no man among you shall call it his own, or any part of it, for it shall belong to you all with one accord. 71 And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order. 85 And pledge the properties which I have put into your hands, this once, by giving your names by common consent or otherwise, as it shall seem good unto you.
105:1-6 The sins of Zion are responsible for her persecution;the people of the Lord have proven themselves lacking in their willingness to share their substance. Many have claimed that this proves the impossibility of institutional equality, but we hold Nephi’s words about the viability of the Lord’s commandments to be true, and therefore must conclude that these commandments are within the realm of mortal man’s potential.
1 Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the aredemption of mine afflicted people— 2 Behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now. 3 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; 4 And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; 5 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. 6 And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer.
119 All surplus property to be given to the church, and after this, tithing shall be instituted. At this point in the reading, giving one-tenth to the institution cannot realistically be construed as all the Lord requires; the organization of the Church is simply no longer the means through which temporal equality shall be sought after. 121:34-46 Focus on the things of the world and the honors of men prevents us from understanding the righteous means of wielding the priesthood. However, through charity and virtue we may bear the doctrine and power of the priesthood.
34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson— 36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. 37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. 38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. 39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. 40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen. 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— 43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death. 45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. 46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
124:74-75, 88-90, 111-114, 115-116 Vinson Knight’s offerings shall be received if he will champion the poor and the needy. This is contrasted with Cain, whose motivation for sin was to get gain. William Marks’ calling bears a similar requirement. Amos Davies commanded to abase himself, laboring with his own hands. Robert D Foster to clothe himself with charity (and build the aforementioned house for Joseph). We see in each of these cases that humility and practical love for fellow men are necessary.
74 Therefore, I say unto you concerning my servant Vinson Knight, if he will do my will let him put stock into that house for himself, and for his generation after him, from generation to generation. 75 And let him lift up his voice long and loud, in the midst of the people, to plead the cause of the poor and the needy; and let him not fail, neither let his heart faint; and I will accept of his offerings, for they shall not be unto me as the offerings of Cain, for he shall be mine, saith the Lord. 88 Let my servant William go and proclaim my everlasting gospel with a loud voice, and with great joy, as he shall be moved upon by my Spirit, unto the inhabitants of Warsaw, and also unto the inhabitants of Carthage, and also unto the inhabitants of Burlington, and also unto the inhabitants of Madison, and await patiently and diligently for further instructions at my general conference, saith the Lord. 89 If he will do my will let him from henceforth hearken to the counsel of my servant Joseph, and with his interest support the cause of the poor, and publish the new translation of my holy word unto the inhabitants of the earth. 90 And if he will do this I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings, that he shall not be forsaken, nor his seed be found begging bread. 111 And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant Amos Davies pay stock into the hands of those whom I have appointed to build a house for boarding, even the Nauvoo House. 112 This let him do if he will have an interest; and let him hearken unto the counsel of my servant Joseph, and labor with his own hands that he may obtain the confidence of men. 113 And when he shall prove himself faithful in all things that shall be entrusted unto his care, yea, even a few things, he shall be made ruler over many; 114 Let him therefore abase himself that he may be exalted. Even so. Amen. 115 And again, verily I say unto you, if my servant Robert D. Foster will obey my voice, let him build a house for my servant Joseph, according to the contract which he has made with him, as the door shall be open to him from time to time. 116 And let him repent of all his folly, and clothe himself with charity; and cease to do evil, and lay aside all his hard speeches;
136:8-11 Pertaining to the westward migration. In Building the City of God: Community and Cooperation Among the Mormons, legendary church historian Leonard Arrington outlines the ways in which unity and wealth redistribution proved vital to the trek across the plains.
8 Let each company bear an equal proportion, according to the dividend of their property, in taking the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who have gone into the army, that the cries of the widow and the fatherless come not up into the ears of the Lord against this people. 9 Let each company prepare houses, and fields for raising grain, for those who are to remain behind this season; and this is the will of the Lord concerning his people. 10 Let every man use all his influence and property to remove this people to the place where the Lord shall locate a stake of Zion. 11 And if ye do this with a pure heart, in all faithfulness, ye shall be blessed; you shall be blessed in your flocks, and in your herds, and in your fields, and in your houses, and in your families.