With the “Mormon Moment” having subsided, and with all that was made of “Mormon Wealth” during the recent presidential campaign, I submit the following.
To the sincere and well intentioned, the source and substance of the philosophy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pertaining to the pursuit of material wealth, security and independence is worth exploring. As recorded in three of the four Gospels, words of Jesus are translated similarly to the following, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
While scholars debate the translation of the words from Greek or perhaps the more original Aramaic (wherein the word gamla can be translated as camel or rope) into English, most Christians agree that, though difficult, it is not impossible for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God if he puts God’s work first. It is noteworthy that Jesus taught rich and poor alike “...seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, [then he added] and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt 6:33)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that “...he that has eternal life is [truly] rich,” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:7) and believe as the Apostle Paul wrote, “...the love of money [not money itself] is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). An additional scripture in the Book of Mormon describes how obtaining material wealth can be acceptable to God. It is found in Jacob, chapter two, verses eighteen and nineteen:
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ [committed to live the teachings of Christ to the best of your ability] ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good – to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and afflicted. (Jacob 2:18-19)
Latter- day Saints join many other people of faith who believe that, to be acceptable to God and receive God’s blessings, the condition and intent of the heart and mind are vitally important.
While it is safe to say most Latter-day Saints do not pursue material riches far beyond their needs, they are among the most industrious, generous and charitable givers on this planet. With serving and giving to others as a primary reason for living and working, theirs is a substantive perspective on the matter. For Mormons, obtaining material wealth is the consequence of their pursuit of a greater purpose, rather than the goal itself.
Robert J. Bazyk is a Mormon and guest contributor to HartfordFAVS.