Where exactly on the earth will the righteous members of the Church be living the United Order or The Law of Consecration before the Savior’s second coming? Thanks gramps.
I need to answer this in two parts. First we’ll separately define the “Law of Consecration” and the “United Order”. Then we can talk about the Saints living either of them prior to the Second Coming.
The Law of Consecration is an eternal principle. The Guide to the Scriptures defines it thusly:
A divine principle whereby men and women voluntarily dedicate their time, talents, and material wealth to the establishment and building up of God’s kingdom.
This is described in more detail in D&C Section 42. Therefore, everything we have should be used in some way to build up the Kingdom of God both in Heaven and on Earth — even if it means spending money on raising your children up unto the Lord.
The United Order was a formal system with specific methodology and requirements that sought to implement the Law of Consecration on a large scale as a cooperative venture. In D&C Section 104, the Lord provided additional guidance on how the Law of Consecration was to be formally implemented as the United Order.
While they are two separate ideas, they were prescribed to work hand-in-hand with each other much like monetary policy and the economy. The link between the United Order and the Law of Consecration, as well as the Law of the Gospel become more obvious as we look at the specific covenant entered into upon entering the Order:
We will not take the name of Deity in vain, nor speak lightly of his character, or of sacred things. We will pray with our families morning and evening and also attend to secret prayer. We will observe and keep the Word of Wisdom, according to the spirit and the meaning thereof. We will treat our families with due kindness and affection, and set before them an example worthy of imitation. In our families and intercourse with all persons, we will refrain from being contentious or quarrelsome, and we will cease to speak evil of each other, and will cultivate a spirit of charity towards all. We consider it our duty to keep from acting selfishly or from covetous motives, and will seek the interest of each other and the salvation of all mankind. We will observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, in accordance with the revelations. . . . In our apparel and deportment we will not pattern after nor encourage foolish and extravagant fashions. . . . We will be simple in our dress and manner of living, using proper economy and prudence in the management of all intrusted to our care. . . . We will honestly and diligently labor and devote ourselves and all we have to the “order” and to the building of the kingdom of God. [Comprehensive History of the Church, 4:485–86 ]
I know from personal experience that many now strive to live the Law on an individual basis. The Order, however, has yet to be fully practiced and properly followed in this dispensation.
The United Order was practiced briefly under Joseph Smith, but was abandoned after a brief time. It was practiced again under Pres. Brigham Young for a more extended period, but was eventually abandoned due to many forces both from within and from without. While the goals were similar, the administration of these systems were somewhat different. The specifics of these are beyond the scope of this response. So I’ll forebear. The end of the story was that the Saints were not prepared to live it in either case.
Your question seems to ask whether we are going to be living either one prior to the Second Coming. As for the Order I know of no prophecy that says that the system must be successfully implemented prior to the Second Coming. However, there are some that could easily be interpreted as saying so.
We are living in the era just preceding the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told to so prepare and live that we can be … independent of every other creature beneath the celestial kingdom [see D&C 78:14]. That is what we are to do. …
… The final thing that we are to do is to be able and willing to consecrate all that we have to the building up of the kingdom of God, to care for our fellow men. When we do this we’ll be ready for the coming of the Messiah. (Marion G. Romney, General Conference, Apr. 1975).
With such statements, it is difficult to separate when the Law or the Order is being discussed. I personally tend to think that when we obey the Law as individuals, the Order will become a natural social intercourse. So the two may be considered one when discussing the Second Coming.
We as Latter-day Saints still believe that all we have comes from the Lord. And all we have should be used to build up His Kingdom. It is this understanding and attitude that is part of what makes us Saints.
In fact, the meaning of “consecrate” means to dedicate, make holy, or become righteous. The definition of “saint” has changed over the centuries. But the etymology can be traced back to mean “One who dedicates himself to a holy cause or to become more righteous”. So, to truly be a Latter-day Saint requires that we follow the Law of Consecration. We must live the Law of the Gospel. We must live up to each and every covenant that the Lord requires of his Saints.
We must believe it now, and we must certainly believe it then. Those who do so in spirit and in practice will be spared during His coming.