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At Kirtland, Ohio, February 9, 1831, Joseph Smith received the following revelation:
- If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments.
- And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken.
- And inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and his counselors, two of the elders, or high priests, such as he shall appoint or has appointed and set apart for that purpose.
- And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies concerning the consecration of the properties of my church, that they cannot be taken from the church, agreeable to my commandments, every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, as much as is sufficient for himself and family.
- And again, if there shall be properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support after this first consecration, which is a residue to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who has need may be amply supplied and receive according to his wants.
- Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high council of the church, and the bishop and his council;
- And for the purpose of purchasing lands for the public benefit of the church, and building houses of worship, and building up of the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed—
- That my covenant people may be gathered in one in that day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people (Doctrine and Covenants 42:29-36).
Thus, the pattern of the United Order is simply this--each member consecrates all his property to the Bishop of the Church. He then states his needs and desires for himself and his family. He is given property and resources according to those reasonable needs and wants (his stewardship). This becomes his own private property--it is not communal ownership. Excess property is used by the church for the public benefit.
The United Order is unlike socialism and unlike capitalism:
- United order principles include care for the poor, equality, consecration, stewardship, storehouses, and moral motivation. These principles are clearly different from those that guide modern capitalism with its emphasis on efficiency, and principles of socialism that limit agency to promote equality.
- Lucas and Woodworth point out that property is privately owned in the united order. Property is publicly held in socialism. Membership in united orders is voluntary, while, in socialism, the state can mandate. United orders are organized from the bottom up with no conflict between workers and owners because they are the same. Socialism functions from the top down with the focus on the goals of the organization rather than the elevation of the individual. Finally, Lucas and Woodworth point out that neither socialism nor capitalism is based entirely on united order principles—but if a choice is mandatory, capitalism is preferred because it preserves the principle of stewardship. 
The United Order has always been God's plan for His children on earth in order to provide for the poor and encourage unity and love:
- The law of consecration concerns the consecration of all one's time, talents, and substance to the building of the Kingdom of God. In the spirit of this law members of the New Testament Church renounced the practice of "serving Mammon" and lived with common ownership of all their substance.
- And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common (Acts 4:32).
- In 251 A.D. Cyprian looked back with nostalgia at the time when the early saints lived with everything in common, and complained that the Christians of his day were for the most part unwilling to even pay tithes. 
The scriptures give several examples of societies living the United Order. The City of Enoch was taken up into heaven because of the righteousness of its inhabitants. The citizens of the City of Enoch lived the laws of the United Order:
- And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them (Moses 7:18).
The Book of Mormon peoples lived the United Order after they were visited by the resurrected Christ and He organized His Church among them:
- And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them, and every man did deal justly one with another.
- And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift (4 Nephi 1:2, 3).
The Latter-day Saints made several attempts to establish the United Order, but all eventually failed, because the people could not set aside pride and greed.
- “But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them;
- And are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom;
- And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself” (Doctrine and Covenants 105:1–5).
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expect Zion to be established in Missouri, which will be called New Jerusalem during the Millennium. The United Order will be practiced in Zion and will be the economy of Christ everywhere on earth during the Millennium.
- Review of Working toward Zion: Principles of the United Order for the Modern World by James W. Lucas and Warner P. Woodworth, Reviewed By: Lindon J. Robison Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1998, Pp. 138–40.
- FairLDS:Restoring the Ancient Church, chapter 5.