Can you be a good Mormon and want to be a millionaire?

“Can you be a good Mormon and want to be a millionaire?”

This question, or something very much like it, was posed in my Sunday School class last week. I think the very question says something interesting about the asker, but since my short answer (“No”) would not have gone over terribly well, and my longer and more justified answer would’ve taken over the lesson, I thought a blog entry might be a good place to explore the issue.

In looking at all the topical guide references to “riches,” I can’t find a single one that talks about earthly wealth in a positive way. Some may be considered neutral, such as (1 Kgs. 10: 23 , 2 Chr. 9: 22) “Solomon exceeded all . . . for riches,” and so forth. But the vast majority seem pretty pejorative.

What’s the big deal?

The scripture about not serving two masters (Luke 16: 9, 11, 13) is particularly potent. Mammon of course literally means “riches” of the earthly, temporal kind. The story of the rich young, would be disciple (Luke 18: 22-27) re-emphasizes the point.* Earthly riches and the kingdom of God just can’t seem to go together; they’re like repelling magnetic poles.

The greatest contempt in the scriptures is the love, desire, and seeking for riches. Powerful passages include: D&C 56: 16 (those who don’t give to the poor will say “my soul is not saved.”), D&C 68: 31 (the Lord condemns greed), D&C 6: 7 (don’t seek them, eternal riches are more important anyway), 3 Ne. 6: 12, 15 (seeking wealth is the cause of their great iniquity), Alma 7: 6 (setting hearts upon riches equates with idolatry), Mosiah 12: 29 (riches equated with whoredoms), Jacob 2 (very abominable sin is seeking riches and pridefully keeping them).

In fairness to my Sunday School class, the members were pretty good about emphasizing this point – that “The love of money is the root of all evil” (emphasis added, generally by those seeking to justify wealth). We’re generally good about understanding we shouldn’t seek it – certainly not with pride or to have more than someone else – but is there still a way to be good and be rich? Maybe our question is “Can I be a millionaire and a good Latter-day Saint?”

Is it OK to have money?

Gordon B. Hinckley shared this Brigham Young Quote:

Brigham Young went on to say on that occasion:

It is our duty to preach the gospel, gather Israel, pay our tithing, and build temples. The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and his people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty and all manner of persecution, and be true. It my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth. [Nibley, Brigham Young, p. 128]

To which I can hear many of you say, “Hasten the day.” Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled – Gordon B. Hinckley

It seems that whether we like it or not, whether or not it is “OK,” the saints are going to have money. So given that we have it, but that desiring it (saying “Hasten the day” or with Tevye, “May the Lord smite me with [this curse]”) is bad, what should we do?

“Surely, you’re not suggesting I give everything I own away?” This seems to be the natural question asked incredulously when ever someone mentions taking the scriptures on riches seriously (i.e. Jacob and King Benjamin’s sermons in addition to the New Testament passages). I think that the story of the rich young would-be disciple is instructive. He didn’t ask that question; he knew the answer, he just didn’t like it. After telling us that we have no excuse to deny the beggar (especially if we blame the victim), King Benjamin counsels us to do all things in “wisdom and order.” While this is a wise balancing point, I have never met a Latter-day Saint who was ever at risk for giving too much of their money to the poor. King Benjamin’s remarks lead me think that it is theoretically possible, but in my practical experience, I have never witnessed it.

In that vein, I am suggesting that we give away every material possession. I suggest that we give it to the Lord and put our trust in Him to take care of us as He promised. While there is no earthly institution authorized to receive this consecration, that does not obviate our responsibility to live that law. We can consecrate all our earthly possessions and even our selves, now, to God and then act as faithful stewards in dispensing them as He sees fit. Does He want us to give a double fast offering? He’ll let us know (maybe He has). Does He want me to spend enough money to feed several families on college tuition? In my case, yes. Does He want us to buy a million-dollar home? I’d be surprised, but I’m not going to tell God what He can and can’t do with His money. But the point is that it is His. Consecration is simply acknowledging that and being honest with His stuff. If I want to be a good Latter-day Saint, I can’t be a millionaire – God’s the millionaire. But if I’m the steward, I better use it as He would have me use it.

* Handy Nibley refrence on the “Eye of a Needle” not being a Jerusalem gate:

The disciples marveled greatly at this, for they had never heard of that convenient postern gate, invented by an obliging nineteenth-century minister for the comfort of his well-heeled congregation—the ancient sources knew nothing of that gate, and neither did the baffled apostles. That is another “para-scripture.”  (Approaching Zion, Deseret Book, p. 168-170)

and a lighter reference: http://snltranscripts.jt.org/96/96cheyward.phtml

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34 Responses

  1. In looking at all the topical guide references to “riches,” I can’t find a single one that talks about earthly wealth in a positive way.

    Try D&C 38:39.

    Can you be a good Mormon and want to be a millionaire?

    Probably instead of “a millionaire” you mean something about being ridiculously wealthy. I would just point out that this question is a bit dated given that being a millionaire does not make you especially rich depending on where you live and what your circumstances are (financial obligations going forward). I personally would not retire today with only a million dollars (in my circumstances, not placing a judgment on anyone else) as this would be financially irresponsible and would not leave me self-sufficient.

  2. Jacob J,

    Let’s look at D&C 38:39:

    And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.

    I see the “richest of all people” corresponding with the “riches of eternity,” as opposed to the “riches of the earth.” In other words, if you seek for what God wants to give you, He will give you the riches of eternity. He also MAY give you some earthly riches (how much it does not say), but beware of pride (which can come from not recognizing God’s hand in one’s life, regardless of how wealthy one is).

  3. Brent,

    I love that SNL clip, by the way.

  4. Dennis,

    It seems fairly obvious that both eternal and earthly riches are being referred to in D&C 38:39. I agree that “richest of all people” goes with “for ye shall have the riches of eternity.”

    Do you agree with me that the first line “it is the will of the Father to give [the riches you seek] unto you” goes with “the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride”? If so, these verses directly say it is okay to seek for riches and it is even the will of the Father to give them.

  5. Jacob J,

    Yes, I agree with what you’re saying. Still, this verse ought to be tempered, especially considering the warning, with a strong dose of Jacob 2. I imagine you’d probably agree.

  6. Sure, I’d agree with that. I just thought since brentm wasn’t finding a single positive reference to riches I would jump in to help out.

  7. Nice quote by Brother Brigham. Interestingly (or perhaps ironically, I’m not sure which), he was a millionaire, or at least a very wealthy fellow, when he said that. (I don’t mention that to disagree with your overall point, only to kibbitz.)

  8. The D&C 38:39 quote was addressed by Nibley in some work or other and he noted that wealth is the Lord’s to give, but that it must be as a people, not as individuals. Inequality is blasted all over the scriptures. Even the scripture that everyone points to as making it ok to seek after riches, Jacob 2:17-19, says that we are to distribute this wealth to others so that they may be as wealthy as we are. D&C 79:20 says that it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another and this is the reason that the whole world dwells in sin!

  9. theradicalmormon,

    I believe your D&C reference is wrong. I don’t remember where that is, but it’s not D&C 79 (I read this very uneventful section this morning).

  10. Jacob J: You’re right, billionaire is probably the new millionaire, and I’m sure the ward member I’m quoting meant it as you and I use it “ridiculously wealthy” or more than most. However, I think my comments about the ownership of the money work regardless of the amount.

    Dennis, Rad Mormon was probably referring to Doctrine and Covenants 49:20 and is probably using one of those fancy keyboards with a number pad that has the 7 and 4 right next to each other….

    Jacob J – I do appreciate the help, but I think I’ll still stand by my original assessment. I might allow this as a neutral scripture, but given that we consider our afflictions blessings to be gloried in (see also my most recent fast and testimony where trials were extolled as blessings) it seems that just because the Lord allows us to receive something, it doesn’t mean it is a “positive” thing. Given Hinckley’s quoting of Young it seems that this is one of those blessings that function just like a curse (again <a link=”http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof”Teyve, “May the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!” to which Elder Oaks notes, that such a wish granted might spoil ‘some vast eternal plan”). So the Lord promising wealth doesn’t strike me as positive. He’s also promised great tribulations among other things.

    I don’t think D&C 38:39 should be automatically interpreted as God giving permission to seek wealth. An “If-then” statement from God can refer equally to things we shouldn’t seek as to things we should (Best example God to Cain.

    To top it off, He concludes D&C 38:39 with a warning. In essence saying “If you seek wealth, you may get it, but be careful it has destroyed better people then you” or something to that effect. In fairness, what I probably should have said is “I do not find any references that extol earthly wealth as a good in and of itself that should be sought for by man with positive results.” As the Radical Mormon points out, the scripture most cited for seeking riches isn’t about seeking riches, it’s about seeking to clothe the naked.

    As a parallel point consider what Jacob teaches in 2 Nephi 9:28-30. He warns about both learning and riches, but while the former is considered “good, if they harken unto the counsels of God” he never says that riches are good given any condition. He only says, later in life, that the righteous who do seek riches seek them specifically to “to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

    I suppose that this could be interpreted as a need to set up a large retirement account so you’ll never be a naked old person, but again, I leave it to the Lord to give the interpretation and revelation of our stewardship with His money.

  11. brentm,

    While I agree with many of your sentiments here, I think the gymnastics on D&C 38 don’t quite clear the pommel horse. That verse includes the phrase “which it is the will of the Father to give unto you” in reference to riches, which seems to exclude your interpretation that the the riches spoken of are a curse disguised as a blessing. Of course I would agree with BofM Jacob that we should seek riches to do good.

    I would just add that virtually no one would be foolish enough to say we should not seek to be comfortable, safe, and secure. Money is just an especially liquid representation of our ability to make ourselves comfortable, safe, and secure. Sometimes the anti-wealth rhetoric strikes me as internally inconsistent, asking me to care a lot about feeding and clothing and liberating other people while simultaneously saying I shouldn’t seek those things for myself. I understand the gospel to be teaching me that I should want and work for everyone (including myself) to be rich. You’ll notice that the church today has enormous wealth and it has not distributed it evenly among all the people of the earth.

    I know your post says we should consecrate it to the Lord and then have him tell us what to do with it, and this certainly a good concept I agree with. However, in a significant way, this answer dodges the really fundamental and difficult question about what expenditures are acceptable by saying “whatever God says” without the ability to define what that is. This ambiguity doesn’t stop the post from implying that God probably doesn’t want you to have a certain size house though, so it has the luxurious position of casting judgment upon those with a certain level of wealth, but giving itself an out from criticism by providing the caveat that God can do whatever he wants. If I assume that God runs his own church and try to model my finances after how the church seems to manage their finances, it seems to suggest a lot of cash in the bank is okay.

  12. On my mission and in my hometown I encountered very poor people who were ungrateful, greedy, and very much turned away from God.

    I’ve wondered what that could be about. I’ve concluded that most of these poor people have much of their sustenance provided for them via entitlements. Perhaps that is a form of ‘richness’ that is unconsidered.

    How rich is someone who grows up with a full lunchbox daily, has a heated car ride to school in the winter, visits the doctor always when sick (despite relative burden), is protected from crime and bullying, has a modest computer with games, and a modest tv with movies, and occasionally goes to theme parks or national parks?

    I’m not referring to the poor in America anymore, in fact I’ve just defined the typical middle class lifestyle. This lifestyle could be defined as modest. Rich means having bigger/more/fancier I guess. Maybe the rich v. middle class would develop less restraint visavis instant gratification. Maybe the rich would have so much so available as to forgot care or concern.

    Still, I submit that condemning that lifestyle is only barely differentiable from condemning the ‘freedom from want’ lifestyle whose institution is the central objective of most major political movements.

    Hence, with bellies full and backs clothed, are we not as rich as we need to be? It is ironic that we are so concerned with billionaires, because they are few, and they spiritual lives are theirs to sort out. We are many, so maybe we should be concerned with our spirituality.

  13. I would submit that it is irrelevant how much money you have, but what you do with it (and perhaps also how you got it). Jacob 2:18 spells out the sequence: Seek the kingdom of God first. Then it implies that after finding the kingdom of God you may not even want to seek riches anymore.

    If, in the end you have obtained the kingdom of God and still seek for riches, it will be to bless others, not to puff yourself up. That is where the text Brigham Young spoke of comes into play.

    But the original question was: Is it wrong to want to be rich? The answer lies in why you want to be rich. If it is so you can retire to a life of leisure, then yes, it is wrong to want to be rich. I heard Steven R. Covey say in Dallas that retirement was a false doctrine invented by the devil.

  14. Sorry, the test Brigham Young spoke of, not text.

  15. Jacob J-

    I can certainly assent to most of your corrections as well. For example, I don’t think the scriptural admonitions imply that we should go poor, naked or hungry so that others don’t have to. I see nothing wrong in including ourselves or our families in the category of righteous ends for wealth. Nor do I think that money in the bank is an evil. Further, I am not suggesting that we pray for trials, insecurity, poverty or other afflictions and I think that those who do are, for the most part, foolishly stupid. I am not saying that poverty=righteousness and riches=evil. In fact, one of the defining features of Zion is a lack of poor among them (although I’m quite sure this isn’t because they kicked all the poor outside of the city limits).

    I think the crux of our disagreement might be in the idea that money might allow us “to make ourselves comfortable, safe, and secure.” I strongly disagree, not with having wealth, but thinking that wealth give us the power to provide for our own comfort safety or security. I think that’s the precise attitude that the scriptures and prophets are arguing against and can lead people to trust in riches as opposed to God. (And of course in America we have the interesting twist of putting “In God is our trust” on our money!)

    I would also likely reverse your reasoning on the consecration as a dodge issue. You say:

    I know your post says we should consecrate it to the Lord and then have him tell us what to do with it, and this certainly a good concept I agree with. However, in a significant way, this answer dodges the really fundamental and difficult question about what expenditures are acceptable by saying “whatever God says” without the ability to define what that is.

    I would maintain that asking the question “what expenditures are acceptable?” dodges the really fundamental and often difficult question of “what does God want me to do in this situation?” The former may be a type of red herring, looking for precise rules and guidelines for exactly how greedy we can be and get away with it rather then doing the more difficult work of staying in open communion with God.

    I like how you suggest the church as a model. I’ve been very inspired at how the church uses money. A few observations:
    1) They strove to follow thisand similar injunctions against debt
    2) They are very concerned about the widow’s mite and see the money that the church has as sacred funds, consecrated to God and thus having additional responsibilities to seek His will concerning them
    3) They are thrifty and stuff (but I don’t have time to link to a good reference on that, I trust you’ll trust me)
    and finally, 4) They spend money unthriftially when needed. As a prime example, sending a transgressing missionary home immediately rather then waiting for a good sale on plane tickets…
    I don’t think that 4 is inconsistent with 1-3, but it does illustrate that it’s not about the money in the end.

  16. brentm,

    I am glad we are able to agree on so much. Really, I think there is substantial agreement in our overall positions. That said, I think you have correctly identified a major disagreement. You said:

    I strongly disagree, not with having wealth, but thinking that wealth give us the power to provide for our own comfort safety or security.

    I think it is just a demonstrable fact that wealth does provide comfort and security. I am surprised you would argue that. I would have thought the disagreement would be about whether we should seek wealth to make ourselves comfortable and secure. However, I see from your first paragraph that you are okay with including ourselves as righteous ends for the expenditure of wealth, so it seems we agree on that aspect. I’ll admit I’m not positively sure what you strongly disagree with in the quote above.

    I don’t think the question of what expenditures are acceptable can reasonably be called a red herring. After all, it is just as easy to answer this question by staying in open communion with God as it is to answer your proposed question about “what God wants me to do in this situation?” In fact, I think you have created a distinction without a difference since spending money is “something I do in a given situation.”

    But all of that misses the point of my real concern. The post tries to have it both ways by saying only God knows what we should do (so stay in communication) while at the same time saying that God probably doesn’t want us to have a million dollar home. The sentiment is widespread and is articulated regularly in the bloggernacle. However, I think it is misguided, so let me take that example on specifically to illustrate my point. Owning a home outright is one of the best and wisest investments a person can make. First, it covers one of our most basic needs (shelter) and locks it in securely against most kinds of financial hardship (personal or societal). A home is a very stable investment against many kinds of financial risk, including inflation, which is always threatening most other kinds of investments. As long as I need to be stockpiling money (as the church counsels me to do) it seems entirely reasonable and even wise to invest a good amount of it in a large home. In addition to being a prudent investment, it gives me the ability to house extended family should they fall on hard times (also in accordance with church counsel that we should be prepared to help family through financial hardship). I know lots and lots of people who have had occasion to use their homes in this way. So, to me, owning a million dollar home is almost an ideal way to follow the church’s financial counsel.

    I think our rhetoric about wealth tends to create the pride President Benson warned about of the poorer looking pridefully up at the wealthier. We feel justified in casting aspersions on those with a bigger house than our own, etc. But, in the end, a lot of the things being decried seem to me to fit the counsel we have been given fairly well.

    All of that said, the main thrust of your post seems to be about the fact that we should do our best to spend our wealth in the ways that God wants us to, considering ourselves stewards over our money rather than owners of it. I think those are very good points to make. My apologies for this comment being too long. I’ll likely just give you the final word here since I have already droned on far too long.

  17. Brent,

    Do you mean wealth as in income or savings?

    I’ve read most (but not all) of the comments, but here’s my two cents:

    I think we are in the wrong if we have more than is necessary for our daily sustenance while our neighbors do not. I think that a true Christian will contribute all but what he needs for him and his family (and some in store for a rainy day) to help the poor and further the Lord’s work, both locally and globally.

    That said, the bigger the income, the better. That means more money to contribute and consecrate for service. There is nothing wrong with seeking to expand my income from 20,000 a year to a million a year, if I do so in the Christian framework above. Let’s say I make 100,000 a year. Let’s say I set aside 50,000 a year for my personal and family needs. I contribute the rest to the Lord’s work and the help the poor. Let’s say I want to expand my income to 1 million a year, but not with any intentions of living a more comfortable life, but only to be able to contribute 950,000 to the Lord’s work and to help the poor (with true motives, of course, and not for self-aggrandizement). This desire and pursuit is a righteous one. Would you agree?

  18. Jeff–
    Or, we could be content with $50,000 a year and let the Lord distribute the other $950,000 as he sees fit.

  19. Jacob,
    You’re logic and justifications are intelligent and correct. I’m surprised that Brent and Dennis don’t see the “hate the rich” class warfare that is so prevalent in society trickling into their statements. You are absolutely right according to the scriptures you quoted and especially stated in Jacob 2 that it is ok to seek riches, as long as you first seek to obtain the kingdom of God and use those riches to do good. You are also right that that kind of attitude stems from jealousy and the pride that President Benson warned us against.
    There is also a clear misinterpretation of the quote by Brigham Young. Brent, you act like the second sentence just stops after “get rich.” His biggest fear was not that we would just get rich, but that we might forget God, wax fat, etc. Without the riches, we wouldn’t be so successful in fulfilling our duty that he said is ours, which is to “preach the gospel, gather Israel, pay our tithing, and build temples.” He’s not warning us against getting rich, he’s warning us against forgetting God as a result of our riches. Indeed, in my humble opinion, it’s just as easy to forget God in poverty. I too, like Zsorensen, have seen the hardheartedness of some who have struggled in poverty and are more ungrateful, greedy, and envious than the rich, who people often stereotype as having those characteristics. As a whole, Americans are the most generous and charitable people on earth. Their personal donations combined were more than any single government to the people of Indonesia after the mass tsunami a few years back. How many of those donations came from so called evil rich people? Furthermore, how would the thousands of humanitarian projects be funded without tithing dollars from hard working members, many of whom probably wanted to get rich? On the contrary, Matthew, according to your statement, you seem to assume that you can sit back passively and watch the Lord work his miracles without us doing our part. Sure if someone only makes $50,000 a year and is content, that’s fine. But the Lord does not work like the American Government, printing money out of thin air to serve his purposes. He uses us. We are instruments in his hands, and our wealth is also an instrument in his hands. He has asked a 10% tithing from us, and beyond that he has given us the right to use our money as we see fit. However we will answer someday for whether or not we were wise stewards over the talents that He gave us.
    John Huntsman is one of the wealthiest men in America. He started from absolute poverty and worked extremely hard and got rich. There is no doubt that he worked with the intention of getting rich. Think of what 10% of his billions has done for the church. Think of how many thousands of lives his Cancer Institute has saved. Yet he also lives very comfortably. I’m sure he could downsize his house and own less material things and still live comfortably, but who are we to judge a man by what he has gained in this life? Was he not a “good Mormon” for wanting to be a millionaire? Indeed he was. My mission president was also extremely wealthy and he left everything to do the work of the Lord. He is one of the most humble people and hardest working people I’ve ever met. We are instruments in the Lord’s hands. I firmly believe that the Lord wants us to be a wealthy people, as well as a humble people, so that we can use the resources of this world to help His children. That doesn’t mean everyone must desire to be wealthy, and we can be good members in poverty and wealth, but again, you can be a good Mormon, in fact are arguably even a better Mormon, if you want to get rich. At least better than those who sit back and criticize others for wanting to get rich.

  20. John Galt,

    I’m surprised that Brent and Dennis don’t see the “hate the rich” class warfare that is so prevalent in society trickling into their statements.

    I won’t speak for Brent, but I’ll simply invite you to read what I’ve written again and then point out to me how exactly ”hate the rich’ class warfare” is trickling into my two very brief and largely unimpressive comments.

    Regarding this, though, I will say that, of course, there is a problem with pride from the poor. My worry though, John, is regarding Latter-day Saints who love money and who use this kind of rhetoric (invoking someone like President Benson) to distract themselves from asking themselves if they are greedy. This is simply an opinion of mine. You might disagree with some of the details of what Brent is saying, but perhaps the take home message for some people could be a deeper reflection regarding their motives. Am I REALLY seeking the kingdom first? Neither rich nor poor can get out of that question by focusing attention on the pride of those OTHER people.

    We are instruments in the Lord’s hands. I firmly believe that the Lord wants us to be a wealthy people, as well as a humble people, so that we can use the resources of this world to help His children. That doesn’t mean everyone must desire to be wealthy, and we can be good members in poverty and wealth, but again, you can be a good Mormon, in fact are arguably even a better Mormon, if you want to get rich.

    I am very troubled by your last statement for several reasons. (You do cushion it with an “arguably,” but the fact that you even say it suggests it’s something you’re open to, perhaps revealing a deeper belief of yours.) First, it places emphasis in the wrong place (on wealth and not motive). Second, it assumes that God would prefer for everyone to be wealthy if only they were righteous enough. Third, it assumes, I think, that wealth acquisition is the primary way of building up the kingdom. From my experience, this idea is a popular one from one-dimensional wealthy men (usually) in the Church who undervalue non-economical spiritual gifts and contributions. There are all sorts of people who do a much better job of building up the kingdom because they choose to spend more time at home and, to a lesser extent, with their church callings or volunteering in the community, than they do working for more money. The church needs more of these people, in my opinion.

    You are right, though; we are instruments in the Lord’s hands. Are you OK with not being a rich one, if that’s what God wants? Is it conceivable to you how God might actually want some people to be not be rich?

    There is a problem if we think, “As long as I’m rich, God, I’ll be happy doing whatever you want…” There certainly are pride problems with those who are poor, but there is a unique sense of prideful entitlement from certain wealthy (or wannabe wealthy) Latter-day Saints. I would never judge an individual person in this regard, but this is a trend that I think is accurate.

  21. Who is John Galt?

  22. Joe,

    Who is John Galt?

    The person who wrote the comment before my last one. That’s all I know.

  23. No, Dennis, I think it’s more complicated than that…

  24. OK … ?

  25. Dennis,
    You are absolutely right. I should have said section 49:20 which says:

    20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.

  26. It should be noted that the Lord tells us in two separate sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that we should not seek for riches. In D&C 6:7 he says:

    7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom, and behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.

    And then in D&C 11:7 he says the exact same thing:

    7 Seek not for riches but for wisdom; and, behold, the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto you, and then shall you be made rich. Behold, he that hath eternal life is rich.

    Brigham Young once said that the mind of a covetous man is not fit to be written on by the pen of revelation. Mammon and the Lord cannot be served together. That the pursuit of earthly riches and eternal riches are mutually exclusive activities is spoken of with a fair amount of clarity in the scriptures.

  27. John Galt is the biggest joke to come out of the addled brain of Ayn Rand.

  28. Ah, after reading this, it all makes sense.

  29. Well, whoever John Galt is- I tend to see things in the same light.

    In my mind it’s really very simple:

    It depends entirely on WHY the person wants to be a millionaire.

    That’s the true question that needs to be answered: what is their TRUE desire?

  30. Dennis – I owe you an apology. I did rush through reading the comments and misinterpreted what you wrote, and therefore my comment should not have been directed at you. Please accept my apology. As for my last statement, I was probably too hasty there too, so allow me to explain myself a little better. My reasoning for believing that the Lord wants us to be a wealthy people is because of past examples of righteous societies we read of in the scriptures. Take the Nephites after Christ comes to the Americas for example. They were righteous, and there were no poor among them (i.e., they were wealthy). Of course it is unfortunate that after four generations they became prideful and fell away, but it seems that little is ever said about the other three that did not. For it was those generations that “had become exceedingly rich, because of their prosperity in Christ,” and “there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” Of course I’m not saying that you need to be wealthy to be happy, but only that the Lord blesses a people with wealth, among other greater spiritual blessings, when they keep his commandments. Maybe I should have emphasized more the motive (keeping the commandments) over the blessing (prosperity). And yes, I do believe that the Lord desires us all to be wealthy if we were all righteous enough. He created this earth for us to take care of and also to enjoy. Why would he not want us to enjoy the creations that come from it? If we are to understand that Zion is blessed with no poor among them and that the Lord wants us to build up Zion on earth, then the Lord wants there to be no poor among us (or again, to say the opposite, for us to be wealthy).

    Next, by stating the great contributions rich men have made to building up the church, I am not disregarding those greater contributions made by others. That just wasn’t relevant to the current post. That was your choice to make the assumption that I didn’t appreciate their contributions simply because I highlighted others’ monetary contributions. Frankly, I think that assumption you made does show a bit of that anti-rich attitude that I brought up in the first place, stating that, “The idea is a popular one from one-dimensional wealthy men (usually) in the Church who undervalue non-economical spiritual gifts and contributions.” Or maybe I just haven’t been a member long enough because I don’t really see it as a popular belief among anyone. But I strongly agree with you that great contributions can be made to the Lord’s work that are of no monetary value. Being a considerably poor person myself, I’m glad that is the case and hope the Lord sees my contributions worthy in His sight. And yes, I am ok with being poor or rich, whatever God wants of me.

    Last, Dennis, thanks for hitting some good highlights from the amazing session of conference we just had. I think Elder Hales’ talk is especially relevant to our this discussion.

    Brady – I’m interested to hear why you feel that way and what you know about Ayn Rand. Not because I want to get into an argument about it, only because I’m curious to know your reason for calling her addled, and why you think John Galt is a joke. Personally, I believe we will be hearing a lot more from “John Galt minded” individuals as this country accelerates on its path to socialism. I pray that they will be heard and can make a difference while there is still time.

  31. John Galt,

    Apology accepted. I’m glad to see how you’ve clarified your argument. I think an important point is whether we say the Lord wants “us” to be wealthy or whether he wants “me” to be wealthy. Your entire first paragraph focuses on the former, which is the way it should be.

  32. This is fairly simple to me:

    Money (wealth, etc.) is not a construct of the eternities. It is a construct of a fallen world filled with mortal men and women.

    As such, the possession of money (wealth, etc.) is of no true value or positive eternal consequence.

    Therefore, seeking the possession of money (wealth, etc.) is of no true value or positive eternal consequence.

    I have to ask myself – does the Lord need members of the church to be wealthy to further His ends?

    Nah.

  33. John Galt,

    Plenty of others have done a more than adequate job of picking Rand apart to my satisfaction that I won’t rehash their work. Here’s a good example: http://scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=386.

    Suffice it to say, there is no room for Christianity in Ayn Rand’s objectivism. A God who sacrifices himself for the undeserving humanity that is saved not by their own merits, but by His, is everything that Ayn Rand rejects. The arrogant sort of self-sufficiency that she portrays in her characters completely defies King Benjamin’s reminder that we are no more than the dust of the earth and are completely reliant on the Lord.

    There are certainly virtues to hard work and responsibility and we can’t get around that (nor should we want to). The thing that Rand cannot seem to grasp is that a person might be both compassionate and hard working, merciful and responsible. Not to mention humble.

    I also reject the notion that “no poor among them” means wealthy in any sense that the word “wealthy” has come to take in our modern society. Every indication I can get from the description of a Zion society, including those that have practiced the law of consecration, is that all people have sufficient for their needs because of the charity (and not necessarily the industry that Rand so highly praises) of the community of which they are a part and to which they contribute.

  34. […] don’t end on a happy note as to the fate of the Nephites.) It’s like we can’t (or shouldn’t) handle prosperity, yet we still attract it. It’s a lesson we keep failing, after which we […]

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