Abrahamic Concubinage as an Inter-Tribal Function


Note: This is a GEMTAM chapter modified for publication on the LDS Anarchy blog. It contains more information than what is found in that chapter.

The Encyclopædia Brittannica, Eleventh Edition, says the following in its entry on concubinage:

CONCUBINAGE (Lat. concubina, a concubine; from con-, with, and cubare, to lie), the state of a man and woman cohabiting as married persons without the full sanctions of legal marriage. In early historical times, when marriage laws had scarcely advanced beyond the purely customary stage, the concubine was definitely recognized as a sort of inferior wife, differing from those of the first rank mainly by the absence of permanent guarantees. The history of Abraham’s family shows us clearly that the concubine might be dismissed at any time, and her children were liable to be cast off equally summarily with gifts, in order to leave the inheritance free for the wife’s sons (Genesis xxi 9 ff., xxv. 5 ff.).

The Roman law recognized two classes of legal marriage: (1) with the definite public ceremonies of confarreatio or coemptio, and (2) without any public form whatever and resting merely on the affectio maritalis, i.e. the fixed intention of taking a particular woman as a permanent spouse.1 Next to these strictly lawful marriages came concubinage as a recognized legal status, so long as the two parties were not married and had no other concubines. It differed from the formless marriage in the absence (1) of affectio maritalis, and therefore (2) of full conjugal rights. For instance, the concubine was not raised, like the wife, to her husband’s rank, nor were her children legitimate, though they enjoyed legal rights forbidden to mere bastards, e.g. the father was bound to maintain them and to leave them (in the absence of legitimate children) one-sixth of his property; moreover, they might be fully legitimated by the subsequent marriage of their parents.

In the East, the emperor Leo the Philosopher (d. 911) insisted on formal marriage as the only legal status; but in the Western Empire concubinage was still recognized even by the Christian emperors. The early Christians had naturally preferred the formless marriage of the Roman law as being free from all taint of pagan idolatry; and the ecclesiastical authorities recognized concubinage also. The first council of Toledo (398) bids the faithful restrict himself “to a single wife or concubine, as it shall please him”;2 and there is a similar canon of the Roman synod held by Pope Eugenius II. in 826. Even as late as the Roman councils of 1052 and 1063, the suspension from communion of laymen who had a wife and a concubine at the same time implies that mere concubinage was tolerated. It was also recognized by many early civil codes. In Germany “left-handed” or “morganatic” marriages were allowed by the Salic law between nobles and women of lower rank. In different states of Spain the laws of the later middle ages recognized concubinage under the name of barragania, the contract being lifelong, the woman obtaining by it a right to maintenance during life, and sometimes also to part of the succession, and the sons ranking as nobles if their father was a noble. In Iceland, the concubine was recognized in addition to the lawful wife, though it was forbidden that they should dwell in the same house. The Norwegian law of the later middle ages provided definitely that in default of legitimate sons, the kingdom should descend to illegitimates. In the Danish code of Valdemar II., which was in force from 1280 to 1683, it was provided that a concubine kept openly for three years shall thereby become a legal wife; this was the custom of hand vesten, the “handfasting” of the English and Scottish borders, which appears in Scott’s Monastery. In Scotland, the laws of William the Lion (d. 1214) speak of concubinage as a recognized institution; and, in the same century, the great Enlish legist Bracton treats the “concubina legitima” as entitled to certain rights.3 There seems to have been at times a pardonable confusion between some quasi-legitimate unions and those marriages by mere word of mouth, without ecclesiastical or other ceremonies, which the church, after some natural hesitation, pronounced to be valid.4 Another and more serious confusion between concubinage and marriage was caused by the gradual enforcement of clerical celibacy (see CELIBACY). During the bitter conflict between laws which forbade sacerdotal marriages and long custom which had permitted them, it was natural that the legislators and the ascetic party generally should studiously speak of the priests’ wives as concubines, and do all in their power to reduce them to this position. This very naturally resulted in a too frequent substitution of clerical concubinage for marriage; and the resultant evils form one of the commonest themes of complaint in church councils of the later middle ages.5 Concubinage in general was struck at by the concordat between the Pope Leo X. and Francis I. of France in 1516; and the council of Trent, while insisting on far more stringent conditions for lawful marriage than those which had prevailed in the middle ages, imposed at last heavy ecclesiastical penalties on concubinage and appealed to the secular arm for help against contumacious offenders (Sessio xxiv. Cap. 8).

AUTHORITES.–Besides those quoted in the notes, the reader may consult with advantage Du Cange’s Glossarium, s.v. Concubina, the article “Concubinat” in Wetzer and Welte’s Kirchenlexikon (2nd ed., Freiburg i/B., 1884), and Dr H. C. Lea’s History of Sacerdotal Celibacy (3rd ed., London, 1907).

(G. G. Co.)

1 The difference between English and Scottish law, which once made “Gretna Green marriages” so frequent, is due to the fact that Scotland adopted the Roman law (which on this particular point was followed by the whole medieval church).

2 Gratian, in the 12th century, tried to explain this away by assuming that concubinage here referred to meant a formless marriage; but in 398 a church council can scarcely so have misused the technical terms of the then current civil law (Gratian, Decretum, pars i. dist. xxiv. c. 4).

3 Bracton, De Legibus, lib. iii. tract. ii. c. 28, § 1, and lib. iv. tract. vi. c. 8, § 4.

4 F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, Hist. of English Law, 2nd ed. vol. ii. p. 370. In the case of Richard de Anesty, decided by papal rescript in 1143, “a marriage solemnly celebrated in church, a marriage of which a child had been born, was set aside as null in favour of an earlier marriage constituted by a mere exchange of consenting words” (ibid. p. 367; cf. the similar decretal of Alexander III. on p. 371). The great medieval canon lawyer Lyndwood illustrates the difficulty of distinguishing, even as late as the middle of the 15th century, between concubinage and a clandestine, though legal, marriage. He falls back on the definition of an earlier canonist that if the woman eats out of the same dish with the man, and if he takes her to church, she may be presumed to be his wife; if, however, he sends her to draw water and dresses her in vile clothing, she is probably a concubine (Provinciale, ed. Oxon. 1679, p. 10, s.v. concubinarios).

5 It may be gathered from the Dominican C. L. Richard’s Analysis Conciliorum (vol. ii., 1778) that there were more than 110 such complaints in councils and synods between the years 1009 and 1528. Dr Rashdall (Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages, vol. ii. p. 691, note) points out that a master of the university of Prague, in 1499, complained openly to the authorities against a bachelor for assaulting his concubine.

The above write-up adequately shows the differences between a wife and a concubine.  On the one hand there was the wife, who had permanent guarantees.  The marriage contract or covenant she entered into bound her exclusively and permanently to her husband, the only way out being through death or divorce.  The wife received an inheritance and held rights to the husband’s rank or titles, as did the children she bore him.  So, for example, if he was a king,  she became a queen and the children she bore him became princes and princesses who also held rights to an inheritance.

On the other hand, the concubine’s marriage covenant had no permanent guarantees.  She was bound to her husband exclusively and temporarily and held no rights to an inheritance nor to any of his titles, nor did any the children she bore him.  Her marriage contract, being of a temporary nature, could have a stipulated duration of time after which it would end or a stipulated manner by which it could end, such as at the discretion of her husband or herself, and when it ended she was sent away with her children.

The husband leaves his tribe

It is impossible to comprehend Abrahamic concubinage without an understanding of the context of the ancient world, which was tribalism, meaning that the ancients lived in tribes.  Moses wrote:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

If there was a man who lived in one tribe and a woman who lived in a different one and the man desired to marry her, he was, per this standard, to leave his tribe and take up residence in his wife’s.  The woman was always to stay with her tribe, under the protection of her tribesmen, her father and her brothers when marrying a man from a different tribe.

No interfaith marriages

Husbands and wives were also to be of the same religious background.  Paul wrote, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14.)  Interfaith marriages, then, were prohibited by the Lord because such permanent unions would tend to turn the believing spouse’s heart away from Him.  This was especially detrimental in the case of a believing husband and a non-believing wife, for the husband would leave his believing tribe and would be immersed in the unbelieving tribe of his wife.  The marrying of believing husbands to only believing wives would make gospel tribes somewhat insular, or set apart, from the tribes of the world, for they would end up taking wives and husbands only from other gospel tribes.

Concubines did things in reverse

Concubinage worked differently than normal, permanent marriage unions.  A concubine did not remain with her tribe, but left it to live with the tribe of her husband.  After her concubinage contract had ended, she was to leave her husband’s tribe with her children and return to her own.  Also, a concubine could be an unbeliever from one of the tribes of the earth, meaning one of the non-gospel Gentile tribes in the surrounding area.  Because her union was only temporary and she came to live among the believer’s tribe, it was less likely that she would have influence enough over the husband to turn his heart from the Lord.

The union of Abraham and Hagar is the prime example of this.  Hagar was an Egyptian slave possibly acquired as Pharaoh’s gift to Sarah when Abraham and Sarah were sojourning in Egypt.  She was not, therefore, of their religion and tribe.  So Abraham took Hagar to wife as his concubine, not as his wife.  Some time after she had given birth to a male child (Ishmael), her concubinage contract was ended and she was sent away with her son.  Ishmael eventually ended up marrying an Egyptian woman.

Benefits of concubinage

A concubine would bring many benefits to the tribe of her husband.  Being from a different tribe, she would bring with her different customs and ways of doing things, which would enrich his tribe and give them knowledge concerning her own.  She also would learn the customs of her husband’s tribe.  Specifically, she would learn their language, their arts and academics, their tribal organization and politics, their talents and industry, their religion and all their other customs.  And she would be totally immersed in a gospel culture, dwelling among a gospel tribe, so it would be more likely that she would convert to their religion, than that she would convert them to her religion.  If she or any of her children did end up converting to the Lord while residing within the gospel tribe, after her contract ended she would be sent back to her tribe as the perfect tribal missionary, as one who was already fully aware of all the ways of her non-gospel tribe, having grown up in it.

Concubines would also bring great benefits to their original tribes.  Upon her return, a concubine could teach her people all of what she learned while living among her husband’s tribe, including the language and religion of her husband.  In this way, she becomes an ambassador of peace between the two tribes, having lived in both for an extended period and knowing the customs and ways and languages of both.  This would do much for inter-tribal relations, allowing two foreign tribes to more easily interact with each other without any misunderstandings.  What is true for her would also be true for her children, who were raised in their father’s tribe and would now be living in their mother’s.  Each would be immensely benefited by the experience and become natural tribal ambassadors, having allegiances in both tribes.

Concubines could marry afterward

After returning to her tribe, a concubine would be free to contract marriage as a wife to a fellow tribesman or to someone of another people, while remaining among her own kind.  As a tribeswoman by birth, she would be entitled to an inheritance in her tribe.  If she was sent away with gifts from her husband, these would also benefit her people.

Genetic diversity and tribal missionary work

Another benefit, and a main one at that, would be the introduction of genetic diversity among the various tribes practicing concubinage.  A woman from a foreign tribe that became a concubine in a gospel tribe, would end up mixing her tribe’s genetic code (though her) with the genetic code of her husband’s tribe.  If she became a concubine of more than one husband of the new tribe, she would introduce even more genetic diversity into her children.  Then, when the concubinage contract(s) ended, she would take her children, the product of her and the new tribe, back to her old tribe, where these children could then pass on this genetic diversity through marriage into their mother’s tribe.

Without concubinage, gospel tribes become too insular, marrying only among themselves and not generating much genetic diversity.  Also, tribal missionary work becomes more difficult, for it is much easier to send tribal missionaries to a foreign tribe that has had concubines who have already lived in the missionaries’ tribe, who can put in a good word for the missionaries and open other doors, allowing the gospel to go forth unimpeded.

Tribal missionaries that spent much time in foreign tribes, preaching the gospel, could enter into concubinage contracts with women of that tribe for the duration that the missionaries were there.  This would allow the missionaries to marry non-believers without the danger of being unequally yoked in a permanent union.  If the concubine ended up converting to the Lord, the missionary could end the concubinage contract and either leave her there as a new ambassador of the gospel or arrange to bring her to his own tribe as a permanent wife. Whatever they decided to do, the children that came from these unions would create greater genetic diversity for whichever tribe they ended up in.

Concubines must go back

A concubine whose marriage contract does not end and who is not sent back to her father’s tribe defeats the whole purpose of concubinage.  The benefits that come from concubinage—benefits for both her, her children, her husband’s tribe and her father’s tribe—come only when the concubine and her children return to live with the tribe she originated from.  Not receiving an inheritance in her husband’s tribe is necessary, in order that she return from whence she comes.  Otherwise, concubinage is merely a method for the exploitation of women—having the benefits of a wife, without any associated responsibilities.

Abrahamic concubinage as revealed to Joseph Smith

A concubine is a noble, honorable calling and title, that accomplishes a great deal of good for two whole tribes.  Only when viewed in this manner, under tribal filters, does concubinage make any sense.

When Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord concerning how it was that the ancients were justified in having many wives and concubines, he was given the revelation found in D&C 132.  This revelation, for the most part, only speaks of wives.  The reason is because it was the purpose of the Lord that Joseph and the saints establish themselves into two bona-fide, fully functioning tribes of Israel using the principle of plural marriage.  The revelation ends with an enigmatic carrot on a stick:

And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this suffice for the present. (D&C 132:66)

The only thing that the Lord says about concubines in this revelation is that the ancients were justified in receiving them and that it was accounted to them as righteousness and not sin.  But there is no indication that Joseph was supposed to start contracting concubines, only that more would be revealed later.

Tribal formation first, concubinage second

It makes sense that the Lord wouldn’t get into all the details of the doctrine and practice of concubines at this point because concubinage serves an inter-tribal function and the saints had not, yet, even formed themselves into one gospel tribe.  The intention of the Lord was to have the saints form themselves first into two gospel tribes, a tribe of Ephraim and a tribe of Manasseh and then, and only then, were they to start entering into concubine arrangements with the tribes of the earth.  This would serve to counteract the insular nature of the two gospel tribes, who would marry among themselves, in believer-only marriages.

A commandment to practice concubinage

Although the Lord did not go into detail concerning concubines, there is enough in the revelation and in the Bible for modern, gospel-based tribes organized according to the Gospel-based, Multihusband-Multiwife, Tribal Anarchy Model to enter into concubinage contracts if they see fit.  In fact, the Lord gives a commandment that these things be done in the revelation itself:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand whereby I, the Lord, justified my servants…as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines—behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter [of having many wives and concubines]. Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law [concerning having many wives and concubines] revealed unto them must obey the same. (D&C 132:1-3)

So, once a gospel tribe is established using plural marriage, the Lord expects it to begin entering into concubinage contracts with the tribes of the earth, in order that the purposes, promises and prophecies of the Lord may be fulfilled about the people of the Lord becoming the salt and leaven of the earth.  The Savior said:

The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (Matthew 13:33)

Through converted concubines, returned back from whence they come, entire tribes will be converted.  Concubinage, then, is a true principle of the gospel and one which any gospel-based tribe may justifiably embrace.

Concubinage and wife contracts are equally impermanent

All covenants, contracts…that are not…sealed…as well for time and for all eternity…are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D&C 132:7)

This scripture shows that a marriage contract between a husband and a wife and a marriage contract between a husband and a concubine are similarly temporary.  The only difference is that one is intended to last a little bit longer than the other.  The wife’s contract has an end at death, while the concubine’s contract has an end sometime during mortality, but neither in reality are permanent contracts.

It is the sealing power that will vicariously seal all such impermanent marriage contracts, including concubinage contracts, making them all permanent unions in the afterlife.  Because of this, it is not correct to speak of a concubine as “a sort of inferior wife.”  She is every bit as much a wife as any other and will be sealed to her husband permanently after her death just as every other wife will be, and she will inherit the same reward as a wife will in the eternities.

Concubinage has a heavenly origin

Lastly, concubinage appears to be patterned after a heavenly object (a comet, a planetoid, a planet or a brown dwarf) that enters an insular solar system for a time, causing new planetary birth (the electrical expulsion model of planetary birth) and then after passing through leaves the solar system with an entourage of captured, newly birthed, planetary objects.

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To serve Him is to follow Him; that where He is, the servant may be found


In 3 Nephi 13, Jesus outlines five disciplines that characterize His disciples.  The “disciple” is “one who follows another for the purpose of learning from him,” and the “discipline” is “the instruction imparted to disciples“, and is thus antithetical to doctrine”, which pertains to the doctor.  The latter being more concerned with abstract theory, while the former with practice or exercise.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be

Where I am, there shall also my servant be…” — well where was Jesus to be found?  He was found doing alms, praying, forgiving, fasting, and denying Himself to seek after the kingdom of God.

Doing alms

Jesus said:

Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

In Matthew 6, the Greek for the word “alms” is eleēmosynē, which signifies mercy or pity.  Thus, to “do alms unto the poor” means to do acts of mercy or acts that show mercy towards the poor.  It is often equated with giving money, though it is more than that.  King Benjamin defined “substance” as:

for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind

and thus, doing alms is something more than the giving of money:

I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

Doing alms is about getting in there, getting your hands dirty, going through the dirt with someone – to feed, clothe, visit, and administer to them.  Legal tender doesn’t do these things.  Only people can.  This is doing alms.

Doing these acts openly is itself the reward, and nothing else will follow.  When alms are done anonymously, secretly, or without regard for being seen by others to be doing them – then heavenly Father will render reward for them.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…

…Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

The quickest way for an LDS to practice this discipline would be to stop filling out a donation form when they turn in their tithes/offerings in the envelope to the bishopric.  Those alms are not done in secret because a record is kept and is filed with the State.  It can also be done by connecting with other Christian ministry groups who do alms in the community [food shelters, prison ministry, protesting abortion clinics, etc.], as well as moving on some personal issue that moves your heart.

Prayer

Jesus said:

And when thou prayest thou shalt not do as the hypocrites, for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

There is a common element between doing alms and praying – that of secrecy.  In both cases, that which is done openly to be seen of others carries with it its own reward, while that which is done in secret and seen by no one will be rewarded by our Father in heaven.

A hypokritēs is a stage-actor.  In the ancient Greek dramas, the hypocrite wore his mask [a “person“] and acted out his role, saying the right lines to portray the part.  Hypocrites are playing the part of a pray-er, aren’t saying a prayer at all.

A vain repetition is something that is said so often that it loses any meaning.  However, not all repetition is vain:

And [Jesus] spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying,

There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

A repetition is vain when the right-brain-heart is not broken/softened and the asker is unrighteous.  The prayer is vain because it will profit the pray-er nothing:

For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.

Unless one’s heart has been broken by the guilt of their own guilt before God, all prayer is a vain repetition.  Meaning, if this event has not taken place, the only prayer that is not vain is a prayer for a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  This is because a person with a hard heart:

doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.

Forgiveness

Jesus said:

For, if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

The principle by which the atonement forgives sin is:

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Meaning that sin is not forgiven/punishment withheld because God effectively beat it out of Jesus on the cross or in Gethsemane.  Justice is not satisfied by punishing innocents.

will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother?  I say unto you, Nay.

The gospel [good news] is that Jesus can satisfy just accusers [those judging and condemning sin] and put an end to their demands.  He removes all accusers:

where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The visual imagery of Jesus being:

filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice;

is that for an accuser to obtain [or “get to”] justice, they’ll first have to get through Jesus – who is standing there to present His suffering as evidence on a sinner’s behalf so justice will stop making its demands long enough for an appeal for compassion to be made by Christ.  His suffering was so great — not because that’s how much it takes for God to be happy with the sinners — but because the evidence had to be sufficiently moving to the entire created universe so accusers would stop making their just demands and drop all charges.  And where there is no condemnation [no demands of justice], there is no punishment.

Hell will be full of judgers, condemners, and withholders of forgiveness.  The kingdom of God will be full of those willing to forgo judgment, to withhold condemnation, and to forgive others.

Fasting

Jesus said:

Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father, who is in secret; and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

Jesus said, “when ye fast,” not “if ye fast,” or “ye should fast.”  It was assumed that His audience was a people who fast.   Again, as was the case with doing alms and praying, fasting is a discipline to be done in secret.  When done openly, fasting carries with it its own reward, but when done so that only the Father in heaven knows it is happening, He will be the one to reward.

Fasting is a part of the teaching of Jesus that:

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Denying the “self” or the “ego” includes going without the food and water the body needs.  It’s saying to the self, “I know there is food within reach, but we’re not doing that right now.  We’re focusing on something more important.  You’ll get your food soon enough.”

Though fasting, in this context, refers to not consuming food or drink for some extended period of time [as a part of the denial of self] it can include Lenten fasts of a certain vice or favorite activity, Ramadan-esque fasts that are only during sunlight hours, or a myriad of others ways the “self” can be denied.

Simplicity

Jesus said:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he looked upon the twelve whom he had chosen, and said unto them: Remember the words which I have spoken. For behold, ye are they whom I have chosen to minister unto this people. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, even so will he clothe you, if ye are not of little faith.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof.

Jesus lists three things we ought to “take no thought for”:

  • Your life [what ye shall eat and what ye shall drink]
  • You body [what ye shall put on]
  • The morrow

As an example of what He means, Jesus teaches that:

  • Fowls of the air do not sow, reap, or gather into barns – yet are feed by Father in heaven.
  • Lilies of the field do not toil or spin – yet are clothed beautifully as they are.
  • Today has enough to devote ourselves to without being anxious for the next day.

The time and energy that taking no thought for food, clothing, and the morrow frees up should then be devoted to the building up of the kingdom of God.  Many reverse the order of “seek ye first…and all these things shall be added…” – thinking that they will work to amass a nice nest-egg/surplus and then really be able to get to work serving in the kingdom of God.  Thinking that they shall obtain riches if they seek them with the intent to do good, but still forgetting that seeking the kingdom of God always comes before there are any riches:

Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you.

But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.

And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good — to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

Anyone can rationalize all they want about how they pay tithing and a generous fast offering and are thus giving enough – so they will save the rest for themselves in the future, but the principle given in the scriptures is one of surplus [meaning anything that is above and beyond what you need to survive].  If you pay a full tithing and a generous fast offering, but still retain one penny of surplus, then you are coveting the drop and will be damned.

Under gospel law, riches [surplus] are never intended to be used by the wealthy [those with the surplus].  It is the intention that riches [surplus] be used by the needy [those who are less than poor, lacking sufficient for their needs] – so that both parties [the rich and the needy] become poor [have sufficient for their needs]. Any attempt to utilize surplus for the benefit of the rich or poor is wickedness.

When Jesus said:

ye have the poor always with you

this was to be the case in Zion, where all are continuously giving of their surplus [thus are scripturally “poor”] and it is only this type of poor [the givers of surplus and those who desire to give of surplus] that are the meek who will inherit the earth.

If the Lord does “prosper the righteous” [by placing wealth into their possession by some miraculous means], it is only because He entrusts that person to distribute the wealth as He would see fit [meaning he/she gives it to the needy, thereby becoming poor again].  If an entire community practices this [and thus there are no needy among them], then a different law for handling a surplus would be required.

There is a reason why Jesus sent out traveling priesthood missionaries without purse [money] or scrip [food], instead relying on the mercies of the world to provide for their needs.  It’s because only the poor are intended to teach and preach the gospel, in order to prove [test or try] the world.  Instead, we have turned things upside-down by calling wealthy men to the positions of leadership.  The priesthood becoming an honor of men, as can only be expected.

Thus there are five disciplines that characterize disciples of Christ:

  • Doing alms in such a way as to not be seen/recognized as doing them
  • Praying in secret, real prayer — not babbling to the sky
  • Judging not, condemning not, and forgiving
  • Fasting in such a way as to not be seen/recognized as denying the self
  • Living simplistically — taking no thought for storing up a surplus, or for getting food, drink, or clothing, or being anxious about the morrow

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