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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7 Comments

  1. Here’s more context for the post:

    The law of consecration existed in the primitive church

    And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:32-37.)

    But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. (Acts 5:1-11.)

    Men were appointed to provide for the widows in the church

    And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:1-4.)

    Before talking of the business of taking care of widows (in chapter 5), Paul first starts talking about the qualifications of a bishop (in chapter 3)

    This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7.)

  2. Regarding providing for families

    And again, thus saith the Lord unto you, O ye elders of my church, who have given your names that you might know his will concerning you—behold, I say unto you, that it is the duty of the church to assist in supporting the families of those, and also to support the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world to proclaim the gospel unto the world. Wherefore, I, the Lord, give unto you this commandment, that ye obtain places for your families, inasmuch as your brethren are willing to open their hearts. And let all such as can obtain places for their families, and support of the church for them, not fail to go into the world, whether to the east or to the west, or to the north, or to the south. Let them ask and they shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto them, and be made known from on high, even by the Comforter, whither they shall go.

    And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown; and let him labor in the church. (D&C 75:23-28.)

    Notice that the Lord does not say, “Every man is obliged to provide for his family,” but that “every man who is obliged to provide for his own family” needs to provide for it. In other words, not every man is obliged to provide for his family. In the case of missionaries, the church is obliged to both assist to support and also to support the missionary’s family while the man is on his mission. So, the man’s family is put up in some member’s place (for nobody in this church is to be homeless), and this is accounted as assistance in supporting the man’s family; and the church also supports the man’s family by providing food or whatnot, so that they survive while he’s on his mission. Again, it is the church, not the missionary, who is obliged to provide this assistance and support to his own family while he’s on his mission. As for those men who do not go on missions, or who cannot find a place for their families, these men are not condemned for not being able to go on a preaching mission, but are to labor in the local church. Nevertheless, the obligation to provide for their family does not automatically come from merely having a family, for if such were the case, then the missionaries who go out would still have such an obligation, would they not? No, the obligation to provide for one’s own family exists only when the man has the means of providing for them. If the man doesn’t have the means to provide for them, then the man is poor, and the poor are provided for by the church:

    And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor. (D&C 83:6.)

    All of this shows that the guilt trip put upon the men of this church by the saints and leadership for any inability on their part to provide for their family is not consistent with revealed scriptural principles and thus is morally wrong.

  3. D&C 83 was given in the context of consecration

    The revelation mentions inheritances:

    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. (D&C 83:1-3.)

    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. (D&C 83:4-5.)

    Inheritances pertain to one’s church-given stewardship property and were given by consecration only:

    It is the duty of the Lord’s clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; and also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances. It is contrary to the will and commandment of God that those who receive not their inheritance by consecration, agreeable to his law, which he has given, that he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, should have their names enrolled with the people of God. (D&C 85:1-3.)

    And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering, whose mouth shall utter words, eternal words; while his bowels shall be a fountain of truth, to set in order the house of God, and to arrange by lot the inheritances of the saints whose names are found, and the names of their fathers, and of their children, enrolled in the book of the law of God; while that man, who was called of God and appointed, that putteth forth his hand to steady the ark of God, shall fall by the shaft of death, like as a tree that is smitten by the vivid shaft of lightning. And all they who are not found written in the book of remembrance shall find none inheritance in that day, but they shall be cut asunder, and their portion shall be appointed them among unbelievers, where are wailing and gnashing of teeth. (D&C 85:7-9.)

    The application of these “law of consecration and stewardship of properties” scriptures to mean that if a man does not provide for his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel, even if he has no means to provide for them, is a perversion. The poor are never condemned merely for being poor.

  4. D&C 56 and 54 were given in the context of the law of consecration and stewardship of properties

    The former heading of D&C 56 read:

    Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, June 1831. HC 1: 186–188. Ezra Thayre, who had been appointed to travel to Missouri with Thomas B. Marsh (52: 22), was unable to start on his mission when the latter was ready. Elder Thayre was not ready to depart on his journey because of his involvement in the problems at Thompson, Ohio. See heading to Section 54. The Lord answered the Prophet’s inquiry on the matter by giving this revelation.

    The former heading of D&C 54 read:

    Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Newel Knight, at Kirtland, Ohio, June 1831. HC 1: 180–181. Members of the Church in the branch at Thompson, Ohio, were divided on questions having to do with the consecration of properties. Selfishness and greed were manifest, and Leman Copley had broken his covenant to consecrate his large farm as a place of inheritance for the saints arriving from Colesville, New York. Ezra Thayre was also involved in the controversy. As a consequence, Newel Knight (president of the branch at Thompson) and other elders had come to the Prophet asking how to proceed. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received this revelation. See also Section 56, which is a continuation of the matter.

  5. Mosiah 4:14-23 was given in the context of the rich (who have a surplus) administering of their substance, not the poor

    And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—but I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God. For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy. And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another. And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done. I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him; and now, I say these things unto those who are rich as pertaining to the things of this world. (Mosiah 4:14-23.)

    After saying these words, king Benjamin then addressed the poor:

    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. (Mosiah 4:24.)

  6. Seek a living, not obtain a living

    When God commanded the saints living in Thompson to travel to Missouri, He gave them the command to seek a living like unto men. If they obtained a living, wonderful! They could now support themselves. But if not, then they would be accounted as poor men or as beggars. The commandment to men is always to seek, not to obtain, because God knows that not every man who seeks in this world finds. God promises that with the exercise of faith, all those who seek shall eventually find, whether in this life or the next. If God should command His saints to obtain (and not merely to seek) and they aren’t able to, then the saints would come under condemnation and their faith would fail. It is not the intention of God to condemn his saints for matters beyond their control, therefore, they are merely to continue seeking in faith and to wait patiently for the Lord to “prepare a place” for them:

    Wherefore, go to now and flee the land, lest your enemies come upon you; and take your journey, and appoint whom you will to be your leader, and to pay moneys for you. And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites. And after you have done journeying, behold, I say unto you, seek ye a living like unto men, until I prepare a place for you. (D&C 54:7-9.)

  7. Thank you.


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