What “if any provide not for his own” is really talking about

The gospel allows for the creation of a marital steward “bishop”

…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. (D&C 42:32; see verses 30-39.)

It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; that every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him. For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. (D&C 104:11-13.)

Under the law of consecration and stewardship, all stewardships were to be disbursed by the church to the men of the church.  In the case of married men, these stewardships were to be disbursed to the husbands, and not to their wives.  Each stewardship was to be sufficiently large to maintain both the man and his wife and children.  The husbands, working their stewardships, were responsible to maintain their wives and children out of it, and whatever surplus resulted from it at the end of the year, beyond the needs of the husband and his wife and children, was then to be consecrated to the church bishop, for use by the church bishop to maintain widows, orphans and the poor and also to give out further stewardships.

When a man received a stewardship from the church by this law, he essentially became the bishop of his wife and children, with the accompanying responsibility to provide for the temporal salvation of his family through the stewardship (inheritance) he received from the church.  Doctrine and Covenants section 83 was given in the context of this law (the law of consecration and stewardships):

Verily, thus saith the Lord, in addition to the laws of the church concerning women and children, those who belong to the church, who have lost their husbands or fathers: Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church. And if they are not faithful they shall not have fellowship in the church; yet they may remain upon their inheritances according to the laws of the land.

All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age. And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritances.

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. (D&C 86:1-6.)

So, when a church husband died, his church stewardship fell into the hands of his wife and children, as their inheritance, whether they were members or not.  (Of course, he may have put it in his will to dispose of the stewardship in some other way upon his death.)  But while he was alive, his wife had a claim upon him for maintenance, and not upon the church bishop.  This maintenance claim, though, only came through the law of consecration and stewardship.

Once a child became an adult, the father was to give him an inheritance, via his stewardship, if he could.  If not, then the child was to go to the church bishop for help.  Again, these laws only applied to the law of consecration and stewardship.

When a man died, if he was poor, his wife, being a widow, and his children, being orphans, had to be provided for by the church bishop.  These laws, which operate under the law of consecration and stewardship, were exactly what the following scripture was talking about:

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8.)

The context of the scripture, found in 1 Timothy 5:1-16, is a list of instructions concerning the church and its responsibility to take care of widows.  In other words, these words concern the disbursal of church funds, not family funds.  A church bishop was responsible to use the church funds to provide for widows, orphans and poor of his own congregation, and a steward bishop (the husband who received church property as a stewardship) was responsible to use the church property to provide for those of his own house.  If they did not fulfill this responsibility (having no excuse, for the funds or property were there), they would be guilty of denying the faith.

These scriptures do not condemn any man who is poor, who is incapable of providing the basic necessities of life for himself, for his wife or for his children, due to unemployment, illness, or any other number of valid reasons.  Poverty is never equated in the scriptures as wickedness.  In fact, the poor have claim on the church for maintenance, as well as the widows and orphans.

The only time the poor are condemned is when they receive a stewardship (church property) according to the law of consecration and stewardship, and then refuse to work it.  Here is one of the scriptures that condemns such men:

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! (D&C 56:17.)

The husband was to work the stewardship with the goal of creating a surplus at the end of the year, from which to consecrate to the church for the poor.  A man that didn’t work the stewardship, or that worked only enough to support his family, was a greedy sinner.  Greedy, because he wanted to keep the surplus for himself, like the Gentiles do, or because he didn’t want to work, at all, and would rather just let the church bishop support him when he went at the end of the year and reported that not only was there no surplus this year, but he took a loss and needed church help.  This is the meaning of this scripture, and it is all given in the context of the law of consecration and stewardship.

Another scripture along the same lines is:

And the inhabitants of Zion also shall remember their labors, inasmuch as they are appointed to labor, in all faithfulness; for the idler shall be had in remembrance before the Lord. Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them; and their children are also growing up in wickedness; they also seek not earnestly the riches of eternity, but their eyes are full of greediness. (D&C 68:30-31.)

Now, I mention these things here because there is a perverse doctrine in the church and in the world at large that a man has a marriage responsibility to provide for and maintain his wife and children, and that if he cannot provide sufficiently for them, or at all, that he is a sinner.  But this is simply the perversion of the above scriptural principles, for no man is commanded to maintain his wife and children.  When a man covenants to take a wife, his part of the marriage covenant does not include a maintenance provision.  Why not?  Because all men are commanded to take a wife, even the poor.

The poor are never to be condemned for their poverty.  (See Mosiah 4:16-26.)  Poverty does not equate to wickedness in the Lord’s gospel.  In fact, the gospel is specifically for the poor.  Were there a commandment to maintain a wife, then none of the poor would be able to comply with the commandment to marry.

The responsibility to maintain a wife and children only shows up when the law of consecration and stewardship is on the scene, when a man has been provided, by the church, with a stewardship, from which to maintain his family.  This law and responsibility actually helps the man develop his masculinity, because it requires him to use wisdom in the management of the properties.

Whenever the law of consecration and stewardship of properties is not in effect, the following gospel principle is in play:

And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. (Alma 34:28-29.)

And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—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. (Mosiah 4:26.)

And if it turns out that you yourself are among the poor, then the following gospel principle applies:

And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give. And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless, otherwise ye are condemned; and your condemnation is just for ye covet that which ye have not received. (Mosiah 4:24-25.)

Note: The above post was written in or around the year 2014, and was kept unpublished because I felt it was useless to release the information, since it contradicted the current teachings of the church leadership, as well as current societal sensibilities, and thus no one would believe it, nor would anyone act on it. Releasing the information would have no effect on the status quo, whatsoever. The poor or needy men who had no means to sustain their families would continue to be looked down upon as sinners by the church leadership and by all those who surrounded them, even if I published it. I had no power to correct the leadership, nor was I authorized to even make the attempt. Nor did I want to put the leadership in a bad light. So I left the teaching unpublished for the last five years, thinking that no good would come of releasing the teaching, and that I would just leave it up to the Josephite to make the correction when he came out of his box. But yesterday it dawned on me that perhaps some good could come of it, after all, in the form of taking the false weight of guilt off of the shoulders of the men in this church who, for whatever reason, have not been able to find a job or other financial means sufficient to support their families, and who are made to feel like they are sinners. They are not sinners. Trying to get ahead financially, and not having success at it, or not having sufficient success at it to support one’s family, is not a sin. So, to correct that erroneous idea, I am now releasing the teaching. And if turns out that the leadership chokes on it, well, then let them choke.

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