Literary DCGD #14: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

Eliza R. Snow

What does it mean to consecrate? What are the kinds of things we must do, the attitudes and priorities we must have when we consecrate all that we have and that we are to the Lord?

Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine lesson 14 explores the Law of Consecration, focusing on these attitudes and priorities and little on the practical effects of those attitudes. I believe that when we actually do live the law of consecration, our actions will be more like the ideal described by Eliza R. Snow in her poetic description of the Relief Society:

The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

by Eliza R. Snow


It is an institution form’d to bless
The poor, the widow, and the fatherless—
To clothe the naked and the hungry feed,
And in the holy paths of virtue lead.


To seek out sorrow, grief, and mute despair,
And light the lamp of hope eternal there—
To try the strength of consolation’s art,
By breathing comfort to the mourning heart.


To chase the clouds that shade the aspect, where
Distress presides; and wake up pleasures there—
With open heart extend the friendly hand,
To hail the stranger from a distant land.


To stamp a vetoing impress on each move
That virtue’s present dictates disapprove—
To put the tattler’s coinage scandal down,
And make corruption feel its with’ring frown.


To give instruction where instruction’s voice
Will gaurd the feet and make the heart rejoice—
To turn the wayward from their recklessness,
And lead them in the ways of happiness.


It is an Order, fitted and design’d.
To meet the wants of body and of mind—
To seek the wretched in their lone abode—
Supply their wants, and raise their hearts to God.

Times and Seasons, 1 July 1842


I’m not sure that I want to suggest that the Relief Society is the perfect representation of the Law of Consecration. But I do think that, like with the Church in general, performing the tasks represented above is what living the law of consecration is about, because consecrating ourselves to the Lord, means that we will spend our time blessing the lives of others.

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