Doctrine and Covenants 104

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 177–79


Introduction

The Saints are always commanded to care for those in need. One purpose of the united order, which the Lord commanded the early Saints to organize, was to help them meet this responsibility. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy, explained:

“As then attempted, practice of the full law of consecration called for the saints to consecrate, transfer, and convey to the Lord’s agent all of their property ‘with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.’ (D. & C. 42:30; 58:35.) … Because of greed … and the worldly circumstances in which they found themselves, the saints did not achieve great success in the practice of this law, and in due course the Lord withdrew from them the privilege of so conducting their temporal affairs.

“Many of the underlying principles which were part of the law of consecration, however, have been retained and are still binding upon the Church” (Mormon Doctrine, 158).

Many of these principles are taught in Doctrine and Covenants 104.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 104:1–46. The Church’s welfare services use principles of the law of consecration to help care for the poor.

(45–50 minutes)

Read the section heading for Doctrine and Covenants 104 and ask: What is the united order? Explain that some people confuse the law of consecration with the united order. Under the law of consecration, individuals consecrate (or give) their time, talents, and money to build Heavenly Father’s kingdom. The law of consecration is a voluntary system. When the Saints live it fully, they will be equal in temporal things. (Note that equal does not mean “identical.” The Saints receive their inheritance according to their just wants and needs. See D&C 51:3; 70:14.) United orders were organizations established in the early days of the Church to put the law of consecration into practice. Share the following statement by Elder Marion G. Romney:

“As you will recall, the principles underlying the United Order are consecration and stewardships and then the contribution of surpluses into the bishop’s storehouse. When the law of tithing was instituted four years after the United Order experiment was suspended, the Lord required the people to put ‘all their surplus property … into the hands of the bishop’ (D&C 119:1); thereafter they were to ‘pay one-tenth of all their interest annually. …’ (D&C 119:4.) This law, still in force, implements to a degree at least the United Order principle of stewardships, for it leaves in the hands of each person the ownership and management of the property from which he produces the needs of himself and family. Furthermore, [in] the words of President [J. Reuben] Clark:

“‘… in lieu of residues and surpluses which were accumulated and built up under the United Order, we, today, have our fast offerings, our Welfare donations, and our tithing, all of which may be devoted to the care of the poor, as well as for the carrying on of the activities and business of the Church.’

“What prohibits us from giving as much in fast offerings as we would have given in surpluses under the United Order? Nothing but our own limitations.

“Furthermore, we had under the United Order a bishop’s storehouse in which were collected the materials from which to supply the needs and the wants of the poor. We have a bishop’s storehouse under the Welfare Plan, used for the same purpose [in Conference Report, Oct. 1942, 57–58]” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 100).

Ask:

  • How does paying tithes and offerings help prepare us to live the law of consecration?

  • How much can you give in fast offerings?

  • What offerings fund the bishops’ storehouse today? (Answers should include fast offerings and other welfare contributions.)

Explain that in areas where the Church is well established, bishops have access to physical storehouses stocked with groceries and household items. The Church also has employment offices, thrift stores, canneries, and counseling and adoption services that the bishop can call on to help those in need. In a larger sense, the word storehouse includes all the contributions Church members make to help others. Share the following statement:

“In form and operation, the storehouse is as simple or sophisticated as circumstances require. It may be a list of available services, money in an account, food in a pantry, or commodities in a building. A storehouse is established the moment faithful members give to the bishop of their time, talents, skills, compassion, materials, and financial means in caring for the poor and in building up the kingdom of God on the earth.

“The Lord’s storehouse, therefore, exists in each ward” (Providing in the Lord’s Way, 11).

Have students take turns reading Doctrine and Covenants 104:1–18 one verse at a time. Have them look for principles related to caring for the poor. Use questions like the following to help your discussion:

  • Verses 1, 11. Why does it help to organize ourselves when caring for the poor?

  • Verses 11–13. What is a stewardship? (A responsibility from the Lord to care for something that belongs to Him.) What responsibilities does the Lord give us today? (Answers might include job, family, Church callings.) How are we to use them in caring for the poor?

  • Verses 14–15. What do these verses teach about our property?

  • Verses 17–18. How has the Lord ensured that all people can be properly cared for?

Ask students to think of occupations they would like to pursue (for example, doctor, farmer, homemaker, teacher, construction worker), and invite a few students to share their choices with the class. Tell students: Imagine that you have finished school and are pursuing your chosen occupation. What resources (such as tools, time, talents, money) could you donate to help people in the following situations:

  • A man loses his job and cannot afford to pay his family’s bills.

  • A young mother is killed in an accident. The father is struggling emotionally and doesn’t know how to manage with four small children.

  • A family’s only car breaks down, and they have no money to repair it.

  • A new family moves into the area, and their home needs many repairs they cannot afford.

Read “Ward Welfare Work—‘Mein Bruder’” from the appendix (p. 305) to show how the principles in Doctrine and Covenants 104 can be applied.

Quickly read verses 25, 31, 33, 35, 38, 42, 46 and look for phrases that are found in every verse. Ask:

  • What blessings are promised to these individuals if they are faithful?

  • How can we be faithful in the responsibilities the Lord has given us?

  • How might the blessings in these verses apply to us today?

Invite students to think of the blessings the Lord has given them. Encourage them to use those blessings to help care for and serve others. Conclude by singing or reading “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219).

Doctrine and Covenants 104:78–83. The Lord counsels us to pay our debts and avoid the bondage of debt.

(15–20 minutes)

Invite two students to the front of the class. Tell the class to imagine that the first student borrowed a large sum of money from the second. Ask the first student:

  • Do you like to borrow money? Why or why not?

  • How do you feel toward those you are in debt to?

Ask the second student:

  • Do you like to loan money? Why or why not?

  • How do you feel toward those who are in debt to you?

  • How would you feel if the money that was borrowed was never paid back?

Ask the class:

  • How does interest affect a loan?

  • What effect can this increased cost have on those who borrow money?

Share the following facts:

  • A 30-year loan for $100,000 at 9 percent interest will incur over $189,000 in interest. The total cost of the loan is over $289,000.

  • A six-year loan for $20,000 at 10 percent interest will incur over $6,500 in interest.

  • If you make a $1,800 charge on a credit card that has a 19.6 percent interest rate and make only the minimum payment each month, depending on the terms of the credit card, it may take decades to pay off the charge and cost several thousand dollars in interest.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 19:35; 64:27; 104:78 and find the Lord’s counsel concerning debt. Ask: Why do you think this is important counsel? Share the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

“President J. Reuben Clark Jr., in the April 1938 general conference, said from this pulpit, ‘Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1938, 103). …

“President Heber J. Grant spoke repeatedly on this matter from this pulpit. He said:

“‘If there is any one thing that will bring peace and contentment into the human heart, and into the family, it is to live within our means. And if there is any one thing that is grinding and discouraging and disheartening, it is to have debts and obligations that one cannot meet’ (Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham [1941], 111). …

“I urge you … to look to the condition of your finances. I urge you to be modest in your expenditures; discipline yourselves in your purchases to avoid debt to the extent possible. Pay off debt as quickly as you can, and free yourselves from bondage” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 71–72; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 53–54).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 104:78–83 looking for the Lord’s instructions to the members of the united order on how to get out of debt. Ask:

  • How can diligence, humility, and prayer help a person get out of debt?

  • Why would some need to have their creditors’ hearts softened?

  • Who must we rely on to gain the victory over debt?

  • How can these same principles help you avoid getting into debt?

Testify of the blessings of being out of debt. Point out that the Church sets a good example for us in dealing with money. First, the Church does not borrow money. Second, the Church saves a portion of what it receives. President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:

“In the financial operations of the Church, we have observed two basic and fixed principles: One, the Church will live within its means. It will not spend more than it receives. Two, a fixed percentage of the income will be set aside to build reserves against what might be called a possible ‘rainy day.’

“For years the Church has taught its membership the principle of setting aside a reserve of food, as well as money, to take care of emergency needs that might arise. We are only trying to follow the same principle for the Church as a whole” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 74; or Ensign, May 1991, 53–54).