We still live a law of Moses. We live that which is preparatory, rather than the fulness, and we ever will be living that which is preparatory that until we have Zion in its fulness.
Is tithing part of the fulness of the gospel? Well, it is part of the current practices of the church. But it is a preparatory law, given when the Saints failed to live the law of consecration. One day it will not only be gone, it will be gone for good. And consecration will take its place.
Our gospel practices are meant to keep us out of trouble. We have not learned to hear, we only see through a glass darkly, and so the simplest most guarded version of God’s commandments are laid out before us both as a protection and as a test.
If you had a child who was deaf or blind you would be likely to give them safeguards designed to prevent them from accidentally falling into disaster that they could not perceive. That would likely to be a major point of emphasis – basic disaster prevention – as they have not all their physical senses. If they will heed your counsel they will stay out of disaster.
That is, more or less our position.
We join the church, or grow up in it, but we are mostly unseeing. It takes time for us to really start hearing and rightly discerning that inspiration that comes from God.
And even then, we make many, many mistakes as we begin to wake up and learn to listen. These mistakes are mostly founded in our own lack of obedience.
But why would I say we now have the “most guarded” version of God’s commandments. Well, that is no surprise. We are blind, and so God is trying to prevent disasters. Right now we have a commandment “Thou shalt not kill”. If one day we as a church have learned to see and hear as clearly as Nephi, then we will understand the principle so perfectly that we could have known to have slain Laban as Nephi did upon nothing more than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.
But as things stand, God could not trust us with such commandments from him. We cannot hear him well enough and in time some among us would lose their souls by slaying wicked men contrary to the desires and allowances of God.
By saying we have the most guarded version of God’s commandments am I advocating lenience in our obedience? Absolutely not, for they are still his commandments to us. They are a test of our obedience and we are far too lax in our obedience to God’s commandments. I am not saying we should not obey. I am saying that they are rote commandments given to us second hand because we cannot hear for ourselves. It is like the difference between being the babysitter with a list of rules from Mom and Dad and being at home with Mom and Dad telling you what you need to do. It is still the same parents giving the direction and disobedience brings trouble in either situation. I am not advocating lenience in our obedience to the commandments in any way. It is strict obedience that it is required.
Of course the main commandment, the big one, so to speak, is that whatever God requires is right, whether it be “thou shalt not kill” as he requires of his saints in this day, or “thou shalt utterly destroy” which he required of ancient Israel.
When we someday find that we are learning to see in truth and learning to hear in truth, surely God will give us much, much more. When we have moved past the point where the main issue God needs to worry about with us is no longer basic disaster prevention, will he not teach us and raise us up in the way we should go, just as we do with out own children?
D&C 59:3 Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion, who have obeyed my gospel; for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth, and it shall bring forth in its strength.
4 And they shall also be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time—they that are faithful and diligent before me.
We have a great deal left to learn, and we are ill prepared for the task. Joseph Smith explained “If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.”
And there is danger in our ignorance. We must learn to grow into the principle of revelation. Our path begins with a revelation: a testimony of the truth. It ends with revelation, for to know God is to have eternal life. When we do not grow into the spirit of revelation for ourselves, then we miss the point of the gift of the Holy Ghost and we are in danger, for inspiration through the Holy Ghost is the only real safety. The Holy Ghost can help us escape from our own false traditions, and bring us to God instead.
Joseph Smith said “I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.” (Jan. 20, 1844.) DHC 6:183-185.