Section 83 The Laws of the Church Concerning Widos and Orphans

Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, (2002), 179–180


Historical Background

The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following background:

“On the 27th, we transacted considerable business for the salvation of the Saints, who were settling among a ferocious set of mobbers, like lambs among wolves. It was my endeavor to so organize the Church, that the brethren might eventually be independent of every incumbrance beneath the celestial kingdom, by bonds and covenants of mutual friendship, and mutual love.

“On the 28th and 29th, I visited the brethren above Big Blue river, in Kaw township, a few miles west of Independence, and received a welcome only known by brethren and sisters united as one in the same faith, and by the same baptism, and supported by the same Lord. The Colesville branch, in particular, rejoiced as the ancient Saints did with Paul. It is good to rejoice with the people of God. On the 30th, I returned to Independence, and again sat in council with the brethren, and received the following: [D&C 83].” (History of the Church, 1:269.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 83:1–6. Laws of the Church Concerning Widows, Orphans, and Children

Since widows and orphans have special challenges, the Lord spelled out the Church’s special obligation to care for them. The declaration that a widow could remain upon her inheritance and that children who came of age could lay claim upon the Lord’s storehouse referred to the law of consecration (see Enrichment L in the Appendix for a discussion of how inheritances were given).

While indicating the responsibility of the Church for certain Saints in unfortunate circumstances, the Lord also outlined the basic responsibility of family members to care for their own (see D&C 83:2, 4). President Spencer W. Kimball said:

“The Church and its members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent. (See D&C 78:13–14.)

“The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.

“No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life. (See 1 Timothy 5:8.)” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1977, p. 124; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, pp. 77–78.)

man and little boy in garden

A parent’s stewardship is both temporal and spiritual.