Chapter 22: Tithing and Consecration

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 154–62


Despite all the challenges that President Brigham Young faced, for him, “there [was] no such thing” as sacrifice (DNW, 24 Aug. 1854, 1) because everything belongs to God already and what we give up only blesses us and prepares us for exaltation. He viewed what we would call sacrifices as opportunities to exchange “a worse condition for a better one” (DNW, 24 Aug. 1854, 1). President Young taught that we can participate in the Lord’s work by obeying the laws of tithing and consecration—acknowledging that all we possess belongs to our Father in Heaven and returning a portion of our possessions to Him.

Teachings of Brigham Young

Paying tithing allows us to participate in the Lord’s work by returning a portion of that which belongs to Him.

I do not suppose for a moment, that there is a person in this Church, who is unacquainted with the duty of paying tithing, neither is it necessary to have revelation every year upon the subject. There is the Law—pay one-tenth (DBY, 174).

There has been so much inquiry it becomes irksome: the law is for a man to pay one-tenth … for the erecting of the House of God, the spread of the gospel, and the support of the priesthood. When a man comes into the church he wants to know if he must reckon his clothing, bad debts, lands, etc. It is the law to give … one-tenth of his increase [see D&C 119:4] (HC, 7:301). The law of tithing is an eternal law. The Lord Almighty never had his Kingdom on the earth without the law of tithing being in the midst of his people, and he never will. It is an eternal law that God has instituted for the benefit of the human family, for their salvation and exaltation. This law is in the Priesthood, but we do not want any to observe it unless they are willing to do so (DBY, 177).

The people are not compelled to pay their tithing, they do as they please about it, it is urged upon them only as a matter of duty between them and their God (DBY, 177).

We do not ask anybody to pay tithing, unless they are disposed to do so; but if you pretend to pay tithing, pay it like honest men (DBY, 177).

Everybody should pay their tenth. A poor woman ought to pay her tenth chicken, if she has to draw out ten times its value for her support (DBY, 178).

It is very true that the poor pay their tithing better than the rich do. If the rich would pay their tithing we should have plenty. The poor are faithful and prompt in paying their tithing, but the rich can hardly afford to pay theirs—they have too much. If he has only ten dollars he can pay one; if he has only one dollar he can pay ten cents; it does not hurt him at all. If he has a hundred dollars he can possibly pay ten. If he has a thousand dollars he looks over it a little and says, “I guess I will pay it; it ought to be paid anyhow;” and he manages to pay his ten dollars or his hundred dollars. But suppose a man is wealthy enough to pay ten thousand, he looks that over a good many times and says, “I guess I will wait until I get a little more, and then I will pay a good deal.” And they wait and wait, like an old gentleman in the East; he waited and waited and waited to pay his tithing until he went out of the world, and this is the way with a great many. They wait and continue waiting, until, finally, the character comes along who is called Death, and he slips up to them and takes away their breath, then they are gone and cannot pay their tithing, they are too late, and so it goes (DBY, 175).

It is not for me to rise up and say that I can give to the Lord, for in reality I have nothing to give. I seem to have something. Why? Because the Lord has seen fit to bring me forth, and has blessed my efforts in gathering things which are desirable, and which are termed property (DBY, 176).

When my Bishop came to value my property, he wanted to know what he should take my tithing in. I told him to take anything I had, for I did not set my heart upon any one thing; my horses, cows, hogs, or any other thing he might take; my heart is set upon the work of my God, upon the public good of his great Kingdom (DBY, 176).

If we live our religion we will be willing to pay tithing (DBY, 176).

We are not our own, we are bought with a price, we are the Lord’s; our time, our talents, our gold and silver, our wheat and fine flour, our wine and our oil, our cattle, and all there is on this earth that we have in our possession is the Lord’s, and he requires one-tenth of this for the building up of his Kingdom. Whether we have much or little, one-tenth should be paid in for tithing (DBY, 176).

When a man wishes to give anything, let him give the best he has got. The Lord has given to me all I possess; I have nothing in reality, not a single dime of it is mine. You may ask, “Do you feel as you say?” Yes, I actually do. The coat I have on my back is not mine, and never was; the Lord put it in my possession honorably, and I wear it; but if he wishes for it, and all there is under it, he is welcome to the whole. I do not own a house, or a single farm of land, a horse, mule, carriage, or wagon … but what the Lord gave me, and if he wants them, he can take them at his pleasure, whether he speaks for them, or takes them without speaking (DBY, 175).

It is all the Lord’s and we are only his stewards (DBY, 178).

I do not expect to see the day when I am perfectly independent, until I am crowned in the celestial kingdom of my Father, and made as independent as my Father in Heaven. I have not yet received my inheritance as my own, and I expect to be dependent until I do, for all that I have is lent to me (DBY, 177).

Salt Lake City tithing store

The Tithing Store in Salt Lake City about 1860. President Young taught that the law of tithing “is an eternal law that God has instituted for the benefit of the human family, for their salvation and exaltation”. (DBY, 177).

Our responsibility is to pay tithing and to sustain those who are responsible for the tithing funds.

Here is a character—a man—that God has created, organized, fashioned and made,—every part and particle of my system from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, has been produced by my Father in Heaven; and he requires one-tenth part of my brain, heart, nerve, muscle, sinew, flesh, bone, and of my whole system, for the building of temples, for the ministry, for sustaining missionaries and missionaries’ families, for feeding the poor, the aged, the halt and blind, and for gathering them home from the nations and taking care of them after they are gathered. He has said, “My son, devote one-tenth of yourself to the good and wholesome work of taking care of your fellow-beings, preaching the Gospel, bringing people into the Kingdom; lay your plans to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves; direct the labors of those who are able to labor; and one-tenth part is all-sufficient if it is devoted properly, carefully and judiciously for the advancement of my Kingdom on the earth” (DBY, 176).

If the Lord requires one-tenth of my ability to be devoted to building temples, meetinghouses, schoolhouses, to schooling our children, gathering the poor from the nations of the earth, bringing home the aged, lame, halt and blind, and building houses for them to live in, that they may be comfortable when they reach Zion, and to sustaining the Priesthood, it is not my prerogative to question the authority of the Almighty in this, nor of his servants who have charge of it. If I am required to pay my tithing it is my duty to pay it (DBY, 174).

I like the term [tithing], because it is scriptural, and I would rather use it than any other. The Lord instituted tithing; it was practiced in the days of Abraham, and Enoch and Adam and his children did not forget their tithes and offerings. You can read for yourselves with regard to what the Lord requires. I want to say this much to those who profess to be Latter-day Saints—if we neglect our tithes and offerings we will receive the chastening hand of the Lord. We may just as well count on this first as last. If we neglect to pay our tithes and offerings we will neglect other things and this will grow upon us until the spirit of the Gospel is entirely gone from us, and we are in the dark, and know not whither we are going (DBY, 174).

The Lord requires one-tenth of that which he has given me; it is for me to pay the one-tenth of the increase of my flocks and of all that I have, and all the people should do the same. The question may arise, “What is to be done with the tithing?” It is for the building of temples to God; for the enlarging of the borders of Zion; sending Elders on missions to preach the Gospel and taking care of their families. By and by we shall have some temples to go into, and we will receive our blessings, the blessings of heaven, by obedience to the doctrine of tithing. We shall have temples built throughout these mountains, in the valleys of this Territory and the valleys of the next Territory, and finally, all through these mountain valleys. We expect to build temples in a great many valleys. We go to the Endowment House, and before going, we get a recommendation from our Bishop that we have paid our tithing (DBY, 178).

It is my business to control the disbursements of the tithing paid by the Saints, and not the business of every Elder in the Kingdom who thinks the tithing belongs to him (DBY, 178).

You allow the devil to suggest to you that I am not leading you right, and allow that thought to abide in your hearts, and I will promise you that it will lead you to apostasy. You allow yourselves to doubt anything that God has revealed, and it will not be a great while before you begin to neglect your prayers, refuse to pay your Tithing, and find fault with the authorities of the Church. You will be repeating what apostates all say, “The Tithing is not used aright” (DNSW, 29 Aug. 1876, 1).

Consecration is a willingness to give all and an acknowledgment that all we have belongs to our Father in Heaven.

I have looked upon the community of Latter-day Saints in vision and beheld them organized as one great family of heaven, each person performing his several duties in his line of industry, working for the good of the whole more than for individual aggrandizement; and in this I have beheld the most beautiful order that the mind of man can contemplate, and the grandest results for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God and the spread of righteousness upon the earth. Will this people ever come to this order of things? Are they now prepared to live according to that patriarchal order that will be organized among the true and faithful before God receives his own? We all concede the point that when this mortality falls off, and with it its cares, anxieties, love of self, love of wealth, and love of power, and all the conflicting interests which pertain to this flesh, that then, when our spirits have returned to God who gave them, we will be subject to every requirement that he may make of us, that we shall then live together as one great family; our interest will be a general, a common interest. Why can we not so live in this world? (DBY, 181).

Will the time ever come that we can commence and organize this people as a family? It will. Do we know how? Yes. … Do you think we will ever be one? When we get home to our Father and God, will we not wish to be in the family? Will it not be our highest ambition and desire to be reckoned as the sons of the living God, as the daughters of the Almighty, with a right to the household, and the faith that belongs to the household, heirs of the Father, his goods, his wealth, his power, his excellency, his knowledge and wisdom? (DBY, 179).

And when this people become one, it will be one in the Lord. They will not look alike. We will not all have grey, blue, or black eyes. Our features will differ one from another, and in our acts, dispositions, and efforts to accumulate, distribute, and dispose of our time, talents, wealth and whatever the Lord gives to us, in our journey through life, we will differ just as much as in our features. The point that the Lord wishes to bring us to is to obey his counsel and observe his word. Then every one will be dictated so that we can act as a family (DBY, 180).

We want to see a community organized in which every person will be industrious, faithful and prudent (DBY, 180).

Never want a thing you cannot get, live within your means (DBY, 180).

When the Lord gave the revelation instructing us in our duty as to consecrating what we have, if the people then could have understood things precisely as they are, and had obeyed that revelation, it would have been neither more nor less than yielding up that which is not their own, to him to whom it belongs. And so it is now (DBY, 178).

The Lord has declared it to be his will that his people enter into covenant, even as Enoch and his people did, which of necessity must be before we shall have the privilege of building the Center Stake of Zion, for the power and glory of God will be there, and none but the pure in heart will be able to live and enjoy it (DBY, 178).

There is another revelation [probably Doctrine and Covenants 42] … stating that it is the duty of all people who go to Zion to consecrate all their property to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This revelation … was one of the first commandments or revelations given to this people after they had the privilege of organizing themselves as a Church, as a body, as the Kingdom of God on the earth. I observed then, and I now think, that it will be one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understand, of their own free will and choice, and esteem it as a pleasure, a privilege, and a blessing unto them to observe and keep most holy (DBY, 179).

There is any amount of property, and gold and silver in the earth and on the earth, and the Lord gives to this one and that one—the wicked as well as the righteous—to see what they will do with it, but it all belongs to him. He has handed over a goodly portion to this people. … But it is not ours, and all we have to do is to try and find out what the Lord wants us to do with what we have in our possession, and then go and do it. If we step beyond this, or to the right or to the left, we step into an illegitimate train of business. Our legitimate business is to do what the Lord wants us to do with that which he bestows upon us and dispose of it just as he dictates, whether it is to give all, one-tenth, or the surplus (DNW, 23 Apr. 1873, 4).

How long have we got to live before we find out that we have nothing to consecrate to the Lord—that all belongs to the Father in heaven; that these mountains are His; the valleys, the timber, the water, the soil; in fine, the earth and its fulness? [see D&C 104:14–18, 55] (DNW, 20 June 1855, 5).

Where then is the sacrifice this people have ever made? There is no such thing. They have only exchanged a worse condition for a better one, every time they have been moved; they have exchanged ignorance for knowledge, and inexperience for its opposite (DNW, 24 Aug. 1854, 1).

Suppose we were called to leave what we have now, shall we call it a sacrifice? Shame on the man who would so call it; for it is the very means of adding to him knowledge, understanding, power, and glory, and prepares him to receive crowns, kingdoms, thrones, and principalities, and to be crowned in glory with the Gods of eternity. Short of this we can never receive that which we are looking for (DNW, 3 Aug. 1854, 2).

I will tell you what to do in order to gain your exaltation, which you cannot obtain except you take this course. If your affections are placed upon anything so as to hinder you in the least from dedicating them to the Lord, make a dedication of that thing in the first place, that the dedication of the whole may be complete (DNW, 5 Jan. 1854, 2).

What hinders this people from being as holy as the church of Enoch? I can tell you the reason in a few words. It is because you will not cultivate the disposition to be so: this comprehends the whole. If my heart is not fully given up to this work, I will give my time, my talents, my hands, and my possessions, until my heart consents to be subject; I will make my hands labour in the cause of God, until my heart bows in submission to it (DNW, 5 Jan. 1854, 2).

I have now told you what course to pursue to obtain an exaltation. The Lord must be first and foremost in our affections; the building up of his cause and kingdom demands our first consideration (DNW, 5 Jan. 1854, 2).

Suggestions for Study

Paying tithing allows us to participate in the Lord’s work by returning a portion of that which belongs to Him.

  • Identify each sentence in which President Young used the term “one-tenth,” and then list all that he included in our tithing obligations. What constitutes tithing and who should pay it? (See also D&C 119:3–4.)

  • Why did President Young say that he had nothing to give? (See also Mosiah 2:19–24; D&C 104:14–18, 55.) What is the source of all that we enjoy, including that which we pay in tithing? What then should be our attitude about the other nine-tenths of the Lord’s possessions that He has entrusted to our care? (See also Jacob 2:17–19.) How does this attitude help us understand Malachi 3:8–12?

  • Read carefully 2 Chronicles 31:5–6. When did these people pay their tithes? What should be our attitude about paying tithes?

Our responsibility is to pay tithing and to sustain those who are responsible for the tithing funds.

  • What did President Young mean when he said that the Lord “requires one-tenth part of … my whole system”? In what ways can you “devote one-tenth of yourself” to building God’s kingdom? How have you been blessed when you have donated your time and talents to building God’s kingdom in addition to paying tithing?

  • What consequences are mentioned by President Young for failing to pay one’s tithing? How does failing to pay tithing affect both the Lord’s Church and the individual member?

  • What did President Young say that tithing is used for? Who is responsible for disbursing the tithing funds? (See also D&C 120.) What was President Young’s attitude about questioning those who are responsible for the disbursement of tithing funds?

Consecration is a willingness to give all and an acknowledgment that all we have belongs to our Father in Heaven.

  • What does it mean for the “community of Latter-day Saints” to become “one great family of heaven” and to be “heirs of the Father”?

  • Why is the law of consecration “one of the last revelations which the people will receive into their hearts and understand, of their own free will and choice, and esteem it as a pleasure, a privilege, and a blessing unto them to observe and keep most holy”?

  • Why does the Lord put property into our possession? What is our responsibility as stewards of God’s possessions? (See also D&C 3:2; Jacob 4:14.) According to President Young, what is “our legitimate business” regarding tithing and consecration? How can trying to do too much be as wrong as doing too little?

  • What must we consecrate if we expect to receive all that God has? Why? (See also D&C 84:38.) In what specific ways can you consecrate all that you have and are to our Father in Heaven? How will this bless you, your family, fellow Church members, and others with whom you associate?