If I Were In Charge: Stop Requiring Specific Donations For Spiritual Participation

July 13, 2011

Being willing to give away what we have is essential.  Christ told us that we need to be willing to impart of our possessions and to have charity towards others.  Zakat (almsgiving) is one of the fundamental Five Pillars of Islam.  Dana (generosity or giving) in Buddhism is essential to purify oneself and is one of the three main steps for laypeople to follow.  Almsgiving is fundamental in Hinduism and Judaism.  There are also many non-religious people and organizations who compassionately give away that which they have.  Charity is essential to our personal development as individuals.

Religious organizations also have actual financial needs.  There are buildings to build, teaching supplies for members, housing and living expenses for full-time leaders, proselyting expenses, etc.  Different organizations handle this in different ways.  Buddha taught his monks a principle similar to Christ’s “traveling without purse or script”, where monks perform daily alms rounds with an empty bowl, relying on villagers to give them some food for that day.  Many Christian organizations pass around a collections plate (although you can now often click a “Pay here” link on their website).  There are a number of Islamic charity organizations to which Muslims can donate to fulfill their personal responsibilities.  Some groups build up reserves, while other churches donate their surplus at the end of each year and rely on faith that God will help them cover the next year’s expenses.

So, it is a symbiotic relationship – religious organizations need donations and people have a need to give.  It has been like this for millennia and will continue in the future.  While the need is the same, each group goes about it differently.  Some faiths have suggested donation amounts.  Some emphasize giving, whether it is to charity or for humanitarian aid or to a formal church.  And the majority of the time, the ultimate amount is really up to a person themselves – between them and God, between them and Allah, or between them and their conscience.

One way the LDS Church is somewhat unique in this regard is how formalized this is.  We have an exact amount required – 10% to the LDS Church – in ADDITION to any other giving we might give for fast offerings, missionary funds, or to any other charitable organization.  We are expected to sit down once a year to give an accounting of how much we have given.  And our participation is contingent upon giving “enough”.

The principle is understandable.  Tithing is a principle of the LDS Church.  To be a fully active member one must pay a full tithing.  But the practical effects can be questionable.  Some examples of limitations on things of eternal significance based on money:

  • Unless an otherwise worthy man pays enough, he cannot use his priesthood to confirm his 8-year-old daughter when she is baptized
  • Unless an otherwise worthy woman pays enough, she cannot see her son get married in the temple.
  • Unless an otherwise worthy person pays enough, he or she will never be chosen for any leadership position at the local level or higher.
  • Unless an otherwise worthy couple pays enough, they can never be sealed in the temple.
  • Etc

Again, these are understandable and allowable rules of any organization, but I can think of very few other faiths that limit someone’s participation in religion unless a specific amount of money is paid.  Perhaps the closest example I can think of is the old Catholic practice of indulgences, where specific eternal rewards were granted through specific amounts of donations.

As I mentioned at the top of the post – charity is essential.  We gain personally from it, it reduces our fixation on material things, we gain merit and karma and blessings, we aid those less fortunate than us, we are truly blessed by giving.

For many people, requiring specific donations for spiritual participation is a sacred molehill.  I would stop that.

I would still encourage people to donate at least 10% of their income, but I wouldn’t make participation contingent upon a specific amount of donation to the LDS Church.  If someone felt they could only donate 5% one year, great.  I would be thankful for that and would still welcome them with full fellowship.  If someone gave the Church 6% and another charity 6%, that would be fine too.  If someone wanted to give even more than 10%, perfect.

I would think this because, at the end of the day, charity should be between a person, God and their own conscience and someone should NOT miss out on participation because of a financial requirement.  They should be able to be sealed, or see their kids get sealed, or confirm their children using their priesthood, or help serve others –  no matter how much money they have donated.

Some people may claim that the Church wouldn’t receive as much money if the requirement weren’t in place.  Perhaps.  But this depends on what the Church is doing with the money.  There are many organizations with no “requirement” for giving to which people still donate because they agree with that group’s goals.  If the Church were open about its finances and people agreed with the areas to which the donations are going, perhaps they would get even MORE.  For example, if I knew that the Church was giving a large proportion of my donation away to humanitarian needs, with very low overhead due to volunteer labor, I would be inclined to give even more than what I currently do.  But full financial transparency is the topic for another post.

Giving is important.  It is important for the needy around us.  It is important for any religious organization.  And, most importantly,  it is essential for our own development of character.  Having suggested donation amounts is also important, as guidelines can help us in life.  But, I don’t think someone’s religious participation should be contingent on giving a specific amount of money.

Questions:

  • Do you have examples of any other religious organizations which only allow members to receive certain blessings if they give a certain amount of money?
  • Does it seem reasonable to not allow a man to exercise his priesthood to confirm his child if he is not a full tithe payer?
  • Do you think donations would go up or down without this requirement?
  • Are you in favor of or against this proposal?

——————————–

NOTE: This post is part of a series.  To see the other posts in their series, click here

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

112 Responses to If I Were In Charge: Stop Requiring Specific Donations For Spiritual Participation

  1. james on July 13, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    It’s essentially putting a price on the ability to enjoy the temple, that which offers the highest blessings to members. Tithing as a concept, yes! Tithing as a requirement for those things you have mentioned, no! In fact, doing so lessens or pollutes meaning of those things bound to the act of giving, and lessens the meaning of the donation as well. It could be perceived as coerced or forced, but shouldn’t donations be of a willing heart? Donations would certainly go down, but insinuating that the law and the level of revenues the church receives is tied to this principle diminishes the meaning all around.

    I would even feel better about it in every regard if I didn’t have the accounting at the end of the year. If every penny I donated was not tracked and recorded and then thrown back in front of me at the end of the year, I would feel better about my donations. I could go even further… let the church track my donations if they must, and certainly the tax benefit I still want to claim, but let’s donate to the HQ and keep it out of local leaders hands. Let’s sit in front of the bishop at years end with no “statement” in between us and just declare our donations as full or otherwise while looking each other in the eye and shaking hands.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 18

  2. Jeff Spector on July 13, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    I have two problems with the ideas in this post.

    Problem #1 – We are commanded to give 10% of our increase, not a specific amount. We are the sole judge of that. When tithing settlement comes around, the Bishop asks, “Is this a full tithe?” He doesn’t ask to see your paycheck, W2, income tax form. You are free to pay what your think amounts to your increase and declare your own tithing faithfulness. No specific amounts are mentioned. We’ve heard the gross vs net issue discussed, but it is really up to us to decide.

    Problem #2 – “Unless an otherwise worthy man pays enough, he cannot…..”
    Unless an otherwise worthy man is faithful to his wife…., “Unless an otherwise worthy man with a drinking problem….. “who beats his wife,” “is dishonest….” So, if paying tithing is not that importsnt to determine worthiness, which one is more important? What if the person just wants to spend the money on himself? Is he still worthy in every other way?

    BTW, most Jewish synagogues require a membership fee to belong. You can attend services without paying, but nothing else is open to you. That fee is usually more than most people pay in tithing. Plus they ask for other donations as well.

    Donations are voluntary. We get blessed for being obedient. There is a price to be paid for everything.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 18

  3. Jared L. on July 13, 2011 at 3:03 PM

    I would argue that Tithing specifically has little or nothing to do with charity. Tithing is a principle of humility and shows God where we stand on our perspective of worldliness.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 10

  4. Cowboy on July 13, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    I don’t have a general problem with the concept of tithing, though the law of sacrifice (animal sacrifice) is a good neutral way God to put your money where his mouth is. God has no use for your money, so why put it coercively into the corruptable hands of a mortal institution? Put it on the alter and set it ablaze! God gets the satisfaction of an offering, and I get the satisfaction of knowing this matter was strictly between me and God.

    Still, the main issue I take is on the culture practice of tithing “income” rather than “increase/interest”. As budgetary consideration, a person would never have to choose between paying the mortgage and paying tithing if the principle were adhered to according to the teachings of the early brethren. Of course, I can understand why the Church doesn’t. If we assume that the average wage earner at best only enjoys 5 – 10% discretionary income on their after-tax wages, well you can imagine how that might effect the corporation.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 10

  5. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Jeff:

    Thanks for the feedback. I didn’t know specifically about a synagogue fee. I’d be interested in knowing what the practical differences are between someone who “does” and someone who “doesn’t” pay that fee.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  6. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    Jeff:

    I also agree that we have get blessings for being obedient. As a disclaimer, I have been a full tithe payer my whole life and have been very blessed my whole life. I also plan on paying tithing the rest of my life. So, for me, tithing isn’t hard.

    The point of this post is NOT about tithing as a principle, as I think there is merit in the idea. The point is whether we should specifically link religious things to a specific amount or percentage of money. Maybe it’s ok, maybe it’s not, maybe different opinions are fine.

    In my opinion, the Church doesn’t really need the money – they have billions in assets. The Church exists to serve man and help us. If we want to shortchange giving, we are shortchanging ourselves as we don’t get the blessings as you mentioned. But I think it’s more personal.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  7. shawty on July 13, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I am less inclined to worry about this one because there is a loophole. Send a check to LDS HQ once a year for $10. Tell bishop you pay a full tithe. Problem solved for $10 / year.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 5

  8. RickH on July 13, 2011 at 3:21 PM

    Some interesting points. I rather like the idea of drastically re-vamping tithing settlement. As ward executive secretary, I would not be at all upset if tithing settlement went away entirely :)

    I do know many (or even most?) other religions do charge for things beyond typical weekly services. Weddings and funerals, for example, often have fees associated (for the preacher, the building, etc.) But I had always been proud of the fact that we don’t charge for any of that. This post made me look at that slightly differently. We DO charge for most (if not all) of those things, but the charge is not up-front. I imagine if I were to add up the amount I’d have to pay to attend my child’s wedding – even if I only started paying, say 6 months in advance – the cost would be pretty significant.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  9. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Jared L:

    I think the principle is not being attached to our possessions. And I don’t know that our donations necessarily HAVE to go to an organization to “count”.

    From Matthew 19:21 – Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

    He didn’t say to donate it to the temple, or to give it to the apostles out preaching the gospel, or anywhere really religious. He said to give it to the poor.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  10. Paul on July 13, 2011 at 3:37 PM

    Great Post! This is something that I have thought about often. I also believe that gifts (monetary donations) should be given from the heart, without participation doled out based on the percentage.

    I would also go a step further, and allow the local wards and branches to determine their own budgets that make sense for their local needs and then send the rest on to Salt Lake. As it is, each ward (at least in the mormon corridor) generates hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly in tithing and the church allows less that $10/member back to the local ward to use for their activities, etc. And now in addition to every member a missionary, every member is a janitor.

    In the early days of the this church, “increase” in terms of tithing was defined as the excess AFTER meeting their needs. It makes me crazy to hear stories in church where families go without proper food, clothing or other essential needs to pay tithing and call it great faith. As the scriptures tell us, the person that doesn’t provide for his own house is an infidel (1 Tim. 5:8)

    Like the original post, I would love to know how the tithing donations are spent. In reading the church’s limited occasional accounting of humanitariam spending, I am saddened that I don’t see anywhere close to even a couple of percent going to humanitarian giving. I believe it was an earlier if I were in charge that talked about the church ‘tithing’ all their businesses. Perhaps they do, but the humanitarian aid still seems appalling, based on the multi-billions of cash the church must have in order to build billion dollar plus city centers and not go to the credit markets to fund it.

    I like James comments and the OP and agree. To require members from much poorer economies who are bearly putting food on the table and keeping their family fed to pay 10% in order to be sealed or perform ordinances is very difficult for me to stomach. Like the widows mite, these families give up a huge portion compared to me paying my tithing living in well-fed and well-compensated America.

    Agreed, don’t make specific contributions a requirement for enjoying the blessings of participation.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 10

  11. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    #7 shawty:

    While that is certainly possible, I consider it dishonest and it’s not really the point of this post.

    The post is NOT how to give away less money (as I personally think it’s an important principle), but in the idea of not linking religious rites or ordinances to giving a specific amount of money.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  12. Alex on July 13, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    James, I already pay my donations directly to Church HQ and am mailed receipts for each donation, but my ward financial clerk and bishop do not have that info. At tithing settlement, I can just tell my bishop that I’m a full tithe payer.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  13. Alex on July 13, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    It also makes life easier for the financial clerks in the ward, who always seemed to have a hard time linking me with my donations in the past.
    On the other hand, if everyone did this, then we’d have to have even more paid Church employees.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  14. Ray on July 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    If you haven’t already, do some research on the financial condition of the Church for the first 3/4 of its existence. The first period is not pretty – not at all.

    The emphasis on tithing is the primary, if not only, substantial difference. Take away the “benefits” and I have no doubt whatsoever the donations would plummet – and I think the financial condition of many other denominations supports that conclusion.

    I’m not saying I agree with all of the things that are tied to the payment of tithing, but, from a practical perspective, it’s hard to argue against actual history.

    Oh, and counting the total worth of non-liquid assets as an argument to lessen the donations that fund the building and maintenance of those assets because of the wealth of the organization that owns those assets isn’t a sound argument, imo. Arguing that we don’t need that many assets is plausible, but I believe simply calculating their worth in a discussion like this simply isn’t sound.

    I’m not sure how many people realize how much in liquid assets is needed to build and maintain the non-liquid assets owned by the Church without incurring debt – and I really like the idea that the Church isn’t in debt. That lesson goes WAY back to the financial crisis in the earliest days of the Church, which caused some of the most bitter consequences in the early days of the Church. Being self-sufficient as an organization is important, historically, for the Church leaders, imo.

    Finally, I hope we never go back to unequal budgets for different wards and branches. I’ve lived in rich and poor wards before the change to equal budgets, and that situation is about as far from Zion as it is possible to get in some ways.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  15. brian johnston on July 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Coin operated priesthood power?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  16. Ron Madson on July 13, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    Tithes/offerings/ sacrifice makes sense. The policy that one must pay their tithes to the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop in order to gain access to saving ordinances? That is another question.
    There are faiths where men of God teach the law of tithing and consider the members of their faith full tithe payers/keeping the full law of tithe whether the $ is paid directly to the church corporation or Red Cross or whatever charity. They do not require the money be filtered through their hands before extending the blessings of heaven by the same hands.
    But then again, they are even more odd because most of those faiths provide total transparency as to the funds they collect, and waste, I mean contribute, a much higher percentage to direct charitable relief.
    How do they expect to ever reach the stature of the Vatican with such unenlightened approaches to money matters and not marketing the saving ordinances?
    The other problems with some of these Christian faiths is that while they quote Malachi they also quote and live by the spending laws of the OT as well where God tells them to keep the offerings local for local needs and a full one-third directly to the poor and widow in their community–thus further depleting their financial empire building by using it up on many who should learn the eternal, scripturally sound principle of SELF-reliance as taught by King Mosiah or was it Ayn Rand? I get those confused. Either way, their methods of casting their bread on water to the undeserving, unwashed, lazy masses leaves them with very little capital to work with long-term—to someday spend on those in need…so we have an inspired business plan that would merit a Triple A rating grade from Harvard Business school while they would not even be considered for admission. Losers.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 9

  17. anita on July 13, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    re Jewish synagogue dues, you might be interested in this take on it:

    http://joi.org/bloglinks/It's%20time%20for%20a%20change%20to%20synagogue%20dues.htm

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  18. Will on July 13, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Kinda like “from each according to his ability, to each according to their need”. Now where did I hear that? The Communist Manifesto, that’s right.

    Keep going Mike on this moral relativism and you could justify all of God’s commandments.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  19. Ron Madson on July 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM

    #11, Mike S,
    You use the word “dishonest” in responding to Shawty (#7). Who is she being “dishonest to”? I think the answer to that question is highly relevant and I am not assuming I know the answer.
    But the admonition is to not cheat “God” or, in other words, to not be dishonest to Him. I agree. Being “honest” is relational in the end. In relation to whom. And does the relationship merit full integrity? When one gives of his substance–tithe or even more and God opens the windows of heaven then that relationship is personal and powerful. Have we substituted an intermediary? And if so does that intermediary respond with equal integrity? When we substitute an intermediary and they say tithing funds are used or not used for such and such, do we trust that intermediaries integrity? Perhaps. That is why at the end of each year after declaring my tithing worthiness, I send a written request for an accounting of expenditures as promised by the intermediary I sustain–who said I/we are entitled to such information —each in the relationship asking for accountability so that our Common Consent remains strong and unbroken and most importantly, honest. So here is that statement that I quote in my written request that I suggest Shawty use so that she too can learn to be honest:

    REPORTER (2002 Olympic interview)

    IN MY COUNTRY, THE…WE SAY THE PEOPLE’S CHURCHES, THE PROTESTANTS, THE CATHOLICS, THEY PUBLISH ALL THEIR BUDGETS, TO ALL THE PUBLIC.

    HINCKLEY:

    YEAH. YEAH.

    REPORTER:

    WHY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOUR CHURCH?

    HINCKLEY:

    WELL, WE SIMPLY THINK THAT THE…THAT INFORMATION BELONGS TO THOSE WHO MADE THE CONTRIBUTION, AND NOT TO THE WORLD. THAT’S THE ONLY THING. YES.

    This is “wonderful”–a two way accountable, honest relationship where we honestly report what we give and they honestly account and report to us what they spend it on. Awesome

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  20. Will on July 13, 2011 at 6:05 PM

    I am less inclined to worry about this one because there is a loophole. Send a check to LDS HQ once a year for $10. Tell bishop you pay a full tithe. Problem solved for $10 / year”

    Agree with Mike on this one, you could put this in the dictionary as an example of what dishonesty is!

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  21. Ron Madson on July 13, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    Will #20 let’s agree that Shawty’s example is dishonest. Using “loopholes” are dishonest, are they not? So, given your well tuned moral compass, let’s say as an attorney a client gives me $100,000 to only be used in trust and as represented for x, y or z non-profit purposes. But I take that money and invest it on a side profit business, make a nice profit and then use the “profit” money for A, B and C profit investments. Then when the client discovers that I have made a huge investment and asks if I used his entrusted $ for that huge investment I tell him that none of his investment was used for that profit investment. Am I dishonest in so stating?

    Or does honesty only involve the little people misrepresentations? The little people “loopholing”? The little people “laundering money”? I wonder how that works? Please explain?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 12

  22. Will on July 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    Ron,

    What are you rambling about? If you are saying the church is mis-using their funds you are dead wrong. They are one of the more financially responsible organizations in the world. I wish our Government were run the same way. We wouldn’t be bankrupt.

    The church uses monies donated for fast offerings and humanitarian aid to assist the needy; and, they use tithing funds for general operations and hopefully for investments.

    So what is your point?

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 6

  23. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 13, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    Well, on the road, glad I logged in.

    I know Jewish congregations where if you don’t pay your membership dues, you don’t get to participate in the open bar after services. Heard someone speculate on how that would affect sacrament meeting attendence if we did something similar.

    I do know that in the European socialist democracies, members are counseled that they define tithing, and that it is understood that it is paid on income, not on taxable income (if your tax rate is over 70%, a tax on quasi-gross would be a third of your remaining 30%. As it is, few people calculate their pension fund benefits or social security matching payments into their salaries to calculate thier income for tithing purposes).

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  24. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    #18 Will: Keep going Mike on this moral relativism and you could justify all of God’s commandments.

    I don’t really see the “moral relativism” that you are talking about. Perhaps the best example of what I am talking about is the Bible. God gave commandments to the Jews. As time passed, layer upon layer was added to these basic commandments. Some things were cultural practices transformed into gospel practices. Something were people “out-gospeling” each other. Hence, a simple commandment such as “Honor the Sabbath” turned into a long list of rules, all supported by the church authorities of the time.

    When Christ came along, He suggested that perhaps things had become a bit out-of-control. The essence of the gospel – Love God, love your fellowman. He broke conventions. He healed people on the Sabbath. He talked about pulling oxen out of mires. He disregarded the “ad-on’s” people had well-meaningly given.

    It’s the same thing with this series. I obviously don’t claim to have the authority of Christ, but have we done the same thing. Have we taken the principle of modesty and transformed it into how many earrings we have, or what color shirt we wear.

    That’s all this is about – looking at practices that are NOT the core of the gospel that might be interfering with the core message, and reevaluating whether we might change them.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  25. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 13, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    but let’s donate to the HQ and keep it out of local leaders hands that is an option that many take. Especially those who are uncomfortable disclosing their income levels.

    — Jeff Spector — excellent comments.

    — Ray — glad to read your comments as well.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  26. Ron Madson on July 13, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    #22, Will you say “they are the more financially responsible organizations in the world.”

    Great. In the world of investments/transactional law the first and most major indicator of “financially responsibility” is complete transparency and brutally honest disclosures.

    So, let’s just start with that principle. What grade would you give the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop?

    Then once we have the full disclosure and complete transparency then we can rate the rest of the indicators of “financial responsbility”—until then there is no more guarantee that they are financially responsible then they were in Kirtland with “sacred” funds.

    BTW, there are major red flags from the information we do have, but that would be threadjacking more than what I have.

    If they are so financially responsible and transparent then any distrust or disinformation could be easily remedied. Until then I maintain that lack of transparency and full disclosure is a breeding environment for corruption and deceit.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 11

  27. Ray on July 13, 2011 at 8:21 PM

    Ron, as I said to Alice, please don’t put words in my mouth – especially through a sarcastic, misdirected rant.

    I know quite a few Protestant congregations that are heavily in debt right now and are struggling just to make the payments on their buildings – largely because I have lots of Protestant friends, and quite a few of them deal with the finances of their churches in one way or another. Yes, they are contributing to the poor and needy – and I applaud them sincerely for that. They also are making interest payments to already wealthy people and corporations – and I don’t like that at all. I didn’t say “all”; I said “many”; and I stand by that statement.

    I never said the LDS Church is perfect in this regard – and I said it is plausible to have a discussion about whether all of the non-liquid assets are necessary. I just don’t want the Church to be in debt, and it takes an enormous amount of money to build and maintain our non-liquid assets.

    That’s pretty much all I said that caused your sarcastic diatribe, so please don’t put words in my mouth.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 5

  28. Bro. Jones on July 13, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Question to those folks who send donations straight to LDS HQ: could you please tell me more about the process? Do you use regular tithing slips and then just send them with a check to 50 East N Temple St?

    I had a significant disagreement with a bishop in a former ward who could not understand that because my wife and I were paying off major school debts, we were not in fact “rich” even though at the time we were both working and had a fairly high household income. The only reason he knew about the income at all was from tithing documentation. If I could completely bypass the local process, I’d be quite fine with that.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  29. Howard on July 13, 2011 at 8:33 PM

    The rate of Temple building is declining. The rate of shopping mall and urban renewal is climbing (you might as well do something with the abundance). The rate of helping the world’s most needy is from what we can tell remaining level at about $13Million/yr vs perhaps $6Billion/yr in tithing receipts.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  30. Keri Brooks on July 13, 2011 at 8:58 PM

    Bro. Jones (#28) – Info on paying to Salt Lake can be found here: http://mormonlifehacker.com/2010/07/pay-your-tithing-online.html

    I started doing it a year or so ago, and it’s really convenient. I use online bill pay directly out of my bank account, so I never have to write a check. Tithing with a click of a button.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  31. Wilcox on July 13, 2011 at 10:43 PM

    Ray:

    If you haven’t already, do some research on the financial condition of the Church for the first 3/4 of its existence. The first period is not pretty – not at all.

    The emphasis on tithing is the primary, if not only, substantial difference.

    Actually, I would argue that tithing might have helped, but it was hardly the “only” substantial difference. It was curtailing a building program that more closely resembled “if you build it, they will come” mentality than anything else. Tanner put a quick kibosh on that, but his handling of church finances had much less to do with tithing than it did with corporate finance.

    That said, you seem quick to wash away the “redefinition” which mostly came from Snow once he took the reins and tried to bring the church out of the financial difficulties he saw Woodruff and his compatriots deal with most of their days.

    Most church members, today, take that for granted. They assume the flat 10% tax we charge today is the “divine” definition, but it’s something the early Saints would have largely scoffed at.

    In fact, if we were to apply the OT discussions on tithing, we’d be left with a drastically different church structure – and I think we’re too quick to assume that the current structure is the “one true and living” structure. Perhaps it’s worth exploring in its entirety, even if it is slightly a threadjack.

    Elsewhere, I agree that “Shawty’s” definition of tithing may or may not be dishonest. We don’t really know. We’re quick to assume that the $10 tithing must mean something dishonest, but how do you know what Shawty’s increase was or wasn’t based off that statement alone?

    Now, back to Mike’s main point and linking the payment of tithing specifically with participation in salvatory ordinances… I’m inclined to state that it’s a fairly recent construct. Tithing simply isn’t discussed in any detail in the Book of Mormon, and it’s discussion in the D&C is quite limited. Somehow, the modern LDS church has managed to up the significance of tithing to something required for participation in saving ordinances.

    In fact, Christ provided 2 of the only 3 tithing reverences in the Book of Mormon, and each time he referred to the Book of Malachi. The problem is, we simply do not understand the what the Book of Malachi is stating. All we seem to care about are the “windows” of heaven opening and receiving something for our giving… and, even that is grossly misunderstood. The only exposition I’ve seen on the subject that seems to make sense is this treatise on OT tithing and, not surprisingly, it meshes quite nicely with D&C 119 when applied to the larger picture of Mormon doctrine.

    With this in view, what’s better: a Church that has the balance sheet and income statement of a Fortune-100 company, global brand recognition, investment fund managers on its payroll and multi-billion dollar for-profit business investments, but absolutely zero transparency, or a Church that has the balance sheet and income statement of a small business, most giving and donations off the balance sheets (because the members are doing the majority of the investments on their own) but 100% transparency?

    In any case, I think Mike is spot on that linking salvation to financial donations is little more than “indulgences” by another name. You might not be paying for a “Get Out of Purgatory for $100″ pass, but you’re paying for access to live passes.

    Does anyone know the historical nature of this? When was “tithing” officially added to the Temple Recommend and questions of “worthiness”? I know it wasn’t anywhere on anybody’s radar, from the best of my memory until at least 1900, but the details are a little vague in my memory right now.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 11

  32. Mike S on July 13, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    #28 Bro Jones

    Here is a link to pay tithing directly to Church Headquarters.

    At the end of the year, your local ward/branch will merely get a note that you paid something for tithing, but it does NOT actually give an amount for donations. You could give $1.00 or $10 million and the local clerk will get the same information.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  33. Wilcox on July 13, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Ray:

    I never said the LDS Church is perfect in this regard – and I said it is plausible to have a discussion about whether all of the non-liquid assets are necessary. I just don’t want the Church to be in debt, and it takes an enormous amount of money to build and maintain our non-liquid assets.

    I think our worship of “non-liquid assets” is likewise unnecessary. By worship I’m not trying to denigrate anyone, but I do think we’re way too attached to the multi-million dollar chapels we attend each Sunday. That article I linked, previously, discusses some of the purposes of “tithing” and the focus is to maintain a small income stream, not a large one which facilitates the emphasis we’ve placed on building buildings as a metric of our faith’s growth.

    Hinckley was incredibly proud of the growth of the church and frequently referenced chapel or temple construction as the main growth indicators. Any way you cut it, it’s a “man made” metric that has absolutely no bearing on spiritual growth, but we tend to gravitate toward measurable statistics (the Church, today, loves measurable statistics) and away from the immeasurables, the intangibles.

    As a sidebar, I see nothing wrong with Ron’s sarcasm. If anything, we need more of it… we need to get and keep this discourse open at all levels of the Church.

    I take Hinckley’s comment that Mike shared above as incredibly misleading at best, and dishonest at worst. He stated, in a public interview, with a member of the media, that the Church “… SIMPLY THINK[s] THAT THE…THAT INFORMATION BELONGS TO THOSE WHO MADE THE CONTRIBUTION, AND NOT TO THE WORLD.”

    So, I make a contribution, many (if not most) on this thread likewise make contributions… why are NONE of us allowed “that information”? Ask any leader and you’ll either get laughed at or say that that is “sacred” or “private” information. So either no one believes what Hinckley said, or it was simply a way for Hinckley to diffuse the situation…

    If I were the reporter, I would have asked a strong follow-up question to that about why the average member isn’t – still – allowed access to that information.

    Sorry for the treadjack… but Ron is entitled to his sarcasm when average members (like Will, above) call Shawty out for “dishonesty” but come no where close to applying the same standard to the Church ™ at large.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  34. anon on July 14, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    I don’t like this idea. Tithing isn’t about charity. It is about learning to consecrate to the Lord.
    If I can’t give 10%, I don’t think I am very committed to the Lord. I want to be 100% committed.
    Recently when my husband got a calling we decided we needed a second car so he could do the calling. He asked me how we would be able to afford it. I told him we’d be willing to give it all, what’s a few hundred dollars per month.
    Plus, we now have a 2nd car. :)
    Anyway, that is my take on it.
    Also, I love tithing settlement. I don’t ever get to see the bishop. I think it is a nice thing to sit down with the bishop for a little chat.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 7

  35. MoHoHawaii on July 14, 2011 at 1:25 AM

    I have a relative who is famous in my extended family for his lack of personal and civic generosity. I don’t think he has ever, in his whole life, voluntarily donated to a charity or cause. He pays a full tithe, however. (Although I can imagine his definition of “increase” being a creative one.) I can’t see tithing in his case as being a voluntary donation. It would be more accurate to call it the price of admission.

    Fixed donation levels are a big part of the unique concept of “worthiness” in LDS culture, which is similar to honor in other shame-based cultures. Honor maintains a person’s right to remain in society. Losing honor (becoming unworthy) has social consequences. Dishonor is determined by the group; it is not decided by the individual in these cultures.

    For a long time I’ve thought of tithing and temple worthiness as elements of an honor/shame system, but I really like the OP’s suggestion that tithing can be thought of as the implementation of a two-tiered membership system, like Internet dating sites. Anyone can join for free, but to actually do anything you need to pay. Like the dating sites the actual fee isn’t disclosed until the value of the service has been established. (“Hi, we’re from the CoJSoLDS and we’d like 10 to 12% of your annual income for life. Do you have a few minutes to talk to us?”) :- )

    Finally, on the issue of transparency, the Church’s government-mandated financial statements in Great Britain and Canada are of great interest to anyone who knows how to read these things. An analysis of these statements would make a good follow-up post, Mike. I found them to be quite interesting.

    Anyway, this was an interesting post. I also think tithing status should not affect privilege level.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  36. James on July 14, 2011 at 2:31 AM

    Anon,

    You make the mistake of conflating the Lord and the Church. A person can be fully committed to the Lord on the principle of tithing without necessarily being fully committed to giving those funds to the Church.

    Let me give you an example. Firstly, if we look at the sparse references to tithing in the scriptures what are its primary purposes? Often times a purpose is not mentioned, but the times when there is some sort of reference it will be to taking care of the poor, and to building houses of worship and the like. So a person could look at the Church and reason that if it has 3 BILLION dollars sitting around to rebuild downtown SLC, then maybe that person might conclude that his or her money going should be consecrated to the Lord in other ways, like going directly to charity since the church obviously has more money that it needs to fulfill its purposes of caring for the poor and building houses of worship.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  37. hawkgrrrl on July 14, 2011 at 4:15 AM

    Personally I believe in paying tithing and being willing to let go of our possessions. But I do agree that it has a whiff of selling indulgences, especially since members call it “fire insurance” as a joke(it’s a slippery slope anyway). However, Ray is right in saying that tithing donations would plummet without any perceived consequences for non-payment, and it is, IMO, an indicator of both belief and worthiness whether one pays.

    The genius of the current system is in the self-declaration. The bishop doesn’t get to say what an individual’s “full” tithe is. So in essence, we still each make the call on whether or not we are “worthy.” I think most members take that very seriously. The other aspect that is ingenious is the church welfare program. I always felt that what we really get for the 10% is insurance against future financial ruin. There will always be food on the table and the bills will be paid. The insurance analogy rings truer to me than the indulgences analogy.

    If you really want to talk about selling indulgences, consider scientology. Audits are extremely expensive no matter what you make (same cost if you are unemployed), and if you can’t pay for them, you pretty much aren’t participating at all. You stop being able to see thestrals – no wait, that’s Harry Potter. But you get the point.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  38. Howard on July 14, 2011 at 6:13 AM

    So tithing is “welfare insurance” to make sure members will always have food on the table and the bills paid what if you happened to be born in a poor rural third world nation without the ability to earn or pay? Too bad? Are we still telling ourselves they weren’t as valiant as we were in the preexistence?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  39. hawkgrrrl on July 14, 2011 at 6:33 AM

    So by your logic, Howard, until world poverty is eradicated, we should not plan for our own individual needs? Good thinking. Let me know how that works out for you.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  40. Howard on July 14, 2011 at 6:45 AM

    Let’s see, what have I said in the past? Slow church building while increasing funding for well managed efficient projects to provide food water vaccines and sanitation for those actually dying of malnutrition thirst or disease and those who are close to it. Nope that’s not my logic but maybe it makes you feel better to pretend it was.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  41. Stephen M (Ethesis) from near Lubbock on July 14, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    I do think we’re way too attached to the multi-million dollar chapels we attend each Sunday. For what it is worth, have you done any comparison of buildings with other denominations? A major criticism of the LDS Church from the outside is that we spend so little on our buildings and they are so spartan.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  42. Bro. Jones on July 14, 2011 at 7:10 AM

    #37: I used to think there was some element of “fire insurance” in tithing, or at least that by demonstrating my commitment to the Church and my local ward that I would be helped out if I was in a time of need. But that’s not always the case.

    To flesh out my #28 above: a couple of years ago my wife and I were both working and were pulling in well over six figures. However, we were also paying off massive debts incurred during 8 years of education, along with paying for a (very modest) house that we bought during the housing bubble but had to move out of when we got new jobs. We were blessed to be paying all our bills, a full tithe, and starting to save a bit on the side–and then my wife (finally) got pregnant.

    It was a difficult pregnancy, and she soon realized she would have to quit her job. This represented a 75% drop in our annual income. Even by slashing our spending, we ran out of our savings within a couple months and were only saved by the extreme generosity of family members (including several I didn’t think we could count on).

    I met with my bishop early in this whole thing, and said, “I’m not asking for any help right now, I just want to know if there would be any help available in some kind of nightmare worst-case scenario (I lose my job, become disabled, whole family dies and leaves their estates to Lindsay Lohan, etc.).” He became extremely angry and accused me of exploiting Church resources. Later when we moved out of that ward and I asked the EQ for help, he made the same accusation and demanded to know 1) why I didn’t have more savings, and 2) how I could dare ask the ward for moving help when I had not served others in that capacity (never mind that I’d helped in at least a half-dozen moves).

    I realize that this was one particular leader, this was his own opinion, blah blah. All I’m saying is that anyone paying tithing and offerings should do it as a mark of obedience–if you see it as any kind of guarantee of future support, find a better backup plan.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  43. Bro. Jones on July 14, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Just to emphasize that this isn’t necessarily a widespread problem: we’re back on our financial feet, moved yet again (hopefully the last time) to another state, and while in this ward were able to build a new house. I was scarred from the last ward experience, so I was too embarrassed to ask for moving help–and shucks, we have some money now, so I didn’t mind paying.

    People in our new ward were pretty openly hurt that we hadn’t asked for help. “What in the world do you pay tithing for if we can’t save you some money on things like this?” asked the EQ president. :)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  44. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    The last number of comments represent one of my big issues with tithing. Because of how things are structured and have been presented to us in the past, there is a mindset of quid pro quo. “If you pay your tithing, we’ll save you some money on moving” or the fire insurance model “If you pay your tithing, we’ll help you if things go bad.” It is fine, but I think there is a much higher level of giving.

    In Buddhism, for example, the attribute of dana is developed. This represents giving or generosity. And ideally this is “unattached and unconditional generosity, giving and letting go”. It is giving without seeking anything in return as a representation that all that we have is ultimately fleeting and clinging to material things is ultimately misguided. Similar ideals are taught in the Bhagavad Gita in Hinduism.

    So, to me, the act of giving IN AND OF ITSELF is the most important and is the essence fo this post. If we pay tithing because the Church might help us, or because the EQ can help us move, or because it is the only way we can see our daughter married, or because we otherwise can’t ordain our son, it cheapens the purity of giving for the sake of giving.

    I still think we should give, and it can be in many ways. We could buy a more humble house than we could afford. We could buy a more humble car. We could voluntarily wear less expensive clothes. We could change our whole attitude. We should give to our neighbors. We should give to our church.

    As far as tithing, I do NOT think the Church should do away with the principle. However, I do think we should change the quid prop quo nature of tithing, where we have to pay a certain specified percentage to get specific blessings. To me, it cheapens giving.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  45. Jeff Spector on July 14, 2011 at 8:05 AM

    There seems to be a misconception here: (which I know is not true)

    – You shouldn’t be paying tihting to get in to the temple
    – you shouldn’t be paying tithing to get help moving
    – you shouldn’t be paying tithing to get welfare if you need it
    – you shouldn’t be paying tithing expecting anything in return.

    It is the cynical person who equates tithing and other offerings with the “price of admission.”

    It is expected to be a “free will offering” just like any other donation.

    I’ve never seen the “price list.”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  46. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 8:26 AM

    Perhaps it’s a misconception. Perhaps there really ISN’T a price list and this post is misguided.

    If that’s true, try this simple experiment:

    – Go to your bishop for a temple recommend interview (to see your child’s wedding, to be able to ordain your child, or just to go yourself)

    – When asked if you are a full tithe payer, tell him that you give MORE than 10% of your money away – a few % as tithing, but the majority marked as for fast offering or humanitarian aid, and even some to “non-LDS” charities

    – See if he gives you a recommend. See if it doesn’t really matter what you give away, as long as at least 10% if to the Church.

    Maybe it’s just semantics, but it seems to be that the “principle” of giving away is not the most important thing – it’s the recipient.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  47. Jeff Spector on July 14, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    “When asked if you are a full tithe payer”

    I just say “Yes”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  48. Ron Madson on July 14, 2011 at 8:57 AM

    #37 and #42,
    I think the statement by Hawkgrrl that “The 10% is insurance against future financial ruin” is worth exploring–the reality and implications of such beliefs. To add even more to the insurance model approach, President Hinckley stated in his last tithing address in GC that those that tithed would not be burned when Jesus comes again. (I will link it when I have time to find it).

    Tithing was the topic in my HP lesson this past Sunday. THese two statements above were trotted out. It was also stated that in order for the tithing to be considered “paid” by the Lord it must be paid through our church, or to be more to point, through the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. My question, was, if a person, such as BIll Gates, pays half of all that he has to the very least of the least and/or others of other faiths pay a generous tithe/offerings then if the money does not filter first through said corporation then are the blessings of tithing as promised by Malachi lost to him and more to the point will he and others not paying through our 501 3 C going to be burned at his coming?

    Or are we “burned” to death and/or lose the blessings of heaven/temporal protection if we are card carrying member that do not pay through the corporation? In other words, the destroying angels and/or protecting angels check out our temple recommend bar codes before deciding whether we merit protection and/or death by burning?

    So are the blessings, temporal and spiritual only related to paying through the church/corporation or are they universal. And if the later, then what do we gain spiritually and/or practically by paying through the church vis a vis sending a tithe/offerings directly to the very least and bypassing the church/corporation?

    THe answer to this last question informs me as to the “why” we must pay through to the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. What exactly do I gain that others who pay tithes/offerings elsewhere do not have?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  49. Will on July 14, 2011 at 8:59 AM

    Mike S.

    When Malachi said we need to pay “tithes AND offerings” to avoid robbing God, he meant both. Tithe means tenth, it is it’s synonym; thus, it is 10 percent. An offering, on the other hand, is the best you can do. 

    With this said, trying to change the definition of tithe is moral relativism.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  50. Ray on July 14, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    Catching up:

    #31 – “you seem quick to wash away the “redefinition” which mostly came from Snow once he took the reins and tried to bring the church out of the financial difficulties he saw Woodruff and his compatriots deal with most of their days.”

    Not at all (didn’t address that at all) – and nothing I have said implies that. I have made the same point about the varying definitions of tithing over the millenia in multiple posts and comments over the years. I made a very narrow point here – and I didn’t imply anything else.

    That’s my problem, mostly: Assumptions that lead people to read more into comments than are there. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a parser by nature, so I don’t like saying, in essence, “That’s not what I actually said in my comment.” If I mis-speak, I’ll admit it openly; in this case, I’ve re-read what I wrote, and I didn’t mis-speak.

    #33 – I agree completely, except for the description of lavish meetinghouses (which isn’t accurate compared to other denominations) – which is why Ron’s sarcasm is misplaced when applied to what I actually wrote.

    #41 – Stephen already made the point about the churches. Oh, well.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  51. Ray on July 14, 2011 at 9:06 AM

    #48 – Fwiw, Ron, I really HATE calling tithing “fire insurance” – because of the focus of the motivation and the sledgehammer it provides. I understand the scriptural origin, but I really hate it – and I have said that openly and pretty bluntly in meetings of all kinds at multiple levels in the Church.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  52. Ron Madson on July 14, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    SPeaking of temporal blessings, when I was a BP in Las Vegas I met with a sister who had been inactive for a very long time. She wanted to return to full activity. I challenged her to pay tithing. She did that week. Literally just days after paying her first tithing ever she hit a very, very large jackpot. She shared his wonderful story in FT meeting.

    Meanwhile I had others in the ward who always paid tithing that lost everything/financial ruin. Go figure. Their “stories” were not told from the pulpit.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  53. Bro. Jones on July 14, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    #44 and #45: I agree completely. I was simply telling my story to illustrate the possibility that ward leaders can misunderstand or misuse information gained from tithing receipts. I would hope that the hand of fellowship and service would be extended to any member, regardless of tithing status or income.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  54. Ron Madson on July 14, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    #44 and #51,
    Ray, you and I agree on the whole “pay or be burned” approach–it may be scriptural but I/we do not have to like anymore then when our teacher last Sunday told the story of that infamous couple that lied about their offerings in the NT and died on the spot. Fear/compulsion is not only, imo, a lesser law but in fact invalidates one’s priesthood and that is why I would take issue with Mike S in #44 only as to the extent that he said that using the fire insurance or you will get things as the motivator for tithing is fine. I personally do not find it even “fine.” Any “fear” or compulsion in the least degree is unrighteous dominion, imo. That is why Mike S is on to something once again in examining to what degree we link saving ordinances and having eternal families to tithes and offerings. It is worth examining and considering–even if we just consider allowing mothers to attend their daughter’s weddings and having the sealing ordinances the same day but seperate

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  55. Ron Madson on July 14, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I want to thank Mike S. of taking on this and other subjects. To do so is IMO sustaining the church and church leaders.
    This is why I consider such dissent/challenges to church policies (as some did as to the priesthood ban when it was not popular) as in reality sustaining those who lead the church. There is a fear out there that drives us to the blogs or alternate forums, and that is the fear of raising dissent in our faith community when we see things that do not square with what we perceive is just/merciful or maybe even dishonest. I/we could be wrong on a lot of things but we are individual intelligences and a church or faith only exists by Common Consent. If we are wrong in dissent/protest then give us further light and knowledge, but do not in the least degree suppress us with fear and ad hominen arguments. That only invalidates one’s priesthood.

    To dissent to my church’s use of funds (less then 2% of what we give used for the least/direct charitable relief while malls/etc. are arising), lack of transparency is in my thinking a form of sustaining the church leaders. Whereas, to ignore such things is NOT sustaining. I know it appears backwards. But consider King Lear’s three daughters. Was really in the end sustained and loved their father? Goneril, Reagan or Cordelia.

    In the words of MLK, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

    It would be way too easy to just walk away and resign in protest. I/we owe it to our faith community to give our voice individually and collectively. that is how I see it now.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  56. Will on July 14, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    “To do so is IMO sustaining the church and church leaders.”

    What an eye-watering pant load. Only someone on the left could twist reality that much. Nice rationalization.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  57. Irony on July 14, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    @ #41 and @ #50:

    I don’t get the whole comparison to other churches building programs. Seriously – some of the big mega-churches build one “chapel” every 10 years and it costs them $30 million for some lavish facility. Certainly that’s exorbitant, but we’d be hard pressed to find another church that builds chapels at the rate we do.

    The LDS church has an aggressive – by all standards – building program that built 400 chapels every year during it’s heyday (and at least as recently as 2007), at the approximate cost of $2-$3 million per chapel.

    Are you really arguing that this is even remotely similar to that one building the mega-church builds down the road? Are we really comparing one $30 million building program every 10 years or so (which are probably more rare than we’d like to admit) to a $1+ billion annual building program – and that’s only for chapels, with no talk at all of temples in that calculation?

    Have you really thought that through and what in your minds makes the one bad, and ours great/good/better?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  58. Irony on July 14, 2011 at 10:39 AM

    Ron:

    “THe answer to this last question informs me as to the “why” we must pay through to the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. What exactly do I gain that others who pay tithes/offerings elsewhere do not have?”

    Because the Church says so, that’s why. Giving isn’t giving unless it first gets filtered through the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop and then winds it’s way through the various investment accounts the Corporation has set up to earn interest on our donations.

    Giving to a local non-profit food bank? Out of the question. Giving to a nationwide organization that passes on $0.88 of every $1.00 donated? Out of the question. Giving to the local women’s shelter? Nope.

    Giving to the Corporation (Church) to never know again when, where or how that money is being spent? Now you’re on to something.

    P.S. By all standards but our own (America/North America), our chapels are lavish. To those poor dingbats in Central or South America, or Africa, or most of Asia… to them our chapels are extremely lavish. They may not meet your definition – but what does when we’re accustomed to a per capita income that most of the world cannot fathom? Arguably the bulk of the world’s population would have a jaw dropping moment if we told them that hundreds thousands of these buildings exist in Utah alone.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  59. Ray on July 14, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    “hundreds thousands of these buildings exist in Utah alone.”

    I understand and appreciate differences of opinion about how many churches we need to have (seriously, I do), and I also understand that the building plan has been agressive, but let’s be close to accurate, at least.

    Utah still has a population below or near 2,000,000, I believe. (Too lazy to get an exact figure.) If there were 100,000 LDS chapels in Utah and 2,000,000 citizens (and even 75% of them were Mormon), that would be 15 people meeting in each building.

    I would guess that each building in Utah holds an average at least two congregations, which means probably an average of at least 800 members of record. That gives us 1,875 LDS Church meetinghouses in Utah – using conservative population estimates.

    That number might be way off – but it is exponentially closer than “hundreds of thousands”.

    Finally, “those poor dingbats”???? Wow.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  60. Zo on July 14, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    One of the problems I see with tithing is how it’s been defined by leading authorities in the church. From Marvin J. Ashton stating that we should use money as a way to achieve eternal happiness, to James E. Talmage saying that tithing resulted in blessings in the form of “coin of this realm,” to Marion G. Romney stating that it was little more than “fire insurance.” All of these statements – and many, many more – all suggest that we give tithing in order to (a) get rich or (b) avoid the burning fire.

    Add these thoughts to today’s understanding that tithing (paid only to the church) is required for participation in many ordinances which LDS state are eternal in nature, and it’s no wonder tithing and donations and giving gets lost on us.

    “First of all, it is obedience to God: there is no need to elaborate on this any further.

    The second important point is that, through tithing, Israelites expressed their thankfulness to God Who provided for them all those earthly goods that they needed to sustain their lives. Tithe was a token of that appreciation.

    The third and important point is that tithing was a vehicle of sharing. This sharing was demonstrated at two levels. Firstly, sharing between the Israelites who received their inheritance from God (the life sustaining land) and those who did not posses such inheritance, the Levites, the strangers and the poor. If we examine the figures, the number of Israelites versus the number of Levites and the percentage that the Israelites were to give to the Levites (one third of 10%) we will find that each would end up with an equal share. This is the principle that was observed in the distribution of manna: one who gathered much had nothing left over and the one who gathered little had no lack.

    The second level of sharing was the community sharing, where people would come together with their families and neighbours and share in the atmosphere of joy and celebration before the Lord.

    It is worth observing that tithing was not a vehicle to ‘build the kingdom’ or to ‘save the souls’ or to support some other ‘godly’ project.”

    Daymon Smith noted this in one of his books:

    “Rarely does your money feed the hungry, clothe the poor, or provide for other non-religious forms not published by the Church Office Building or sent forth from the COB.”

    “By the time the money comes back from the COB, the Church has generously tithed to the needy from its multibillion dollar revenue stream something on the order of one percent, often in used, tattered clothing and rice and wheat and so on…For all its bluster and public relations about humanitarian aid, The Corporation, in other words doesn’t follow its own rule of tithing.”

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  61. Irony on July 14, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Ray:

    Don’t jump too far out of your seat.

    I had written hundreds, meant to change it to thousands and erase the “hundreds”. So it should simply read “thousands”.

    Likewise, dingbats was referring to our propensity to sweep under the rug their concerns… we think a $3 million chapel is merely “spartan”, when to them it’s the epitome of luxury. But we don’t really care about them, so they are dingbats.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  62. jmb275 on July 14, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    I think mostly I’m in agreement with Mike S.

    Re Jeff and Hawkgrrrl
    From the church’s website

    To fulfill this commandment, Church members give one-tenth of their income to the Lord through His Church.

    Now, I currently hold a TR and I do NOT pay 10% of my income (can’t afford it). Nevertheless, while naysayers may point out the technicality in D&C 119 of “interest annually” it is CLEAR in this church from statements and policy that “interest” is interpreted as income. So while I think we CAN have a TR and not pay 10% of our income (usually by answering the TR interview question appropriately thus eliminating further questioning), the standing policy is 10% of our income, which is much more narrowly defined. I think it’s wishful thinking to claim that it’s not a prescribed amount. Sure the dollar amount isn’t specified but there’s only so many ways to interpret “10% of one’s income.”

    My feel for those who tend to point out the technicalities of church policy in order to defend, bypass, or otherwise skirt a sticking point is that they haven’t lived in Utah (or at least not long enough). In Utah, the passing definition, and common understanding of tithing is that one pays 10% of one’s gross income. Period. I agree this could be cultural in part, but it is regularly taught from pulpits, and has strong roots in the language of GC talks and other church policies.

    Re Hawkgrrrl

    However, Ray is right in saying that tithing donations would plummet without any perceived consequences for non-payment, and it is, IMO, an indicator of both belief and worthiness whether one pays.

    I do think tithing donations would plummet as Ray indicated…however, I’m not convinced this is entirely bad. Ray pointed out the first 3/4 of our history, but I would argue that this church was much more in harmony with its own principles and nearer to Christ’s directives then. So which is more important? I know the church needs money to survive, but the church DID survive (albeit with heartache) without attaching consequences to monetary donations.

    Re Mike S
    Good post again. But I am a bit disappointed you didn’t talk about the doctrinal significance of tithing. In your other posts you explicitly discussed why your change would be a policy change, not a doctrinal one. I think that point merits discussion. To me, the point of tithing (charitable donation) is largely lost in our church in the current implementation largely due to a TR interview question and the rather strict (IMHO) interpretation of “interest” as “income.”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  63. Brad on July 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Mike S, I agree with your sentiment completely. But I just wanted to clarify, are you sure a priesthood holder can’t confirm a child if he isn’t a full tithe payer? I don’t think the tithing question comes into play, but I could be wrong.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  64. jmb275 on July 14, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Re Jeff
    I guess this is just a matter of perspective, and I don’t consider myself cynical:

    It is the cynical person who equates tithing and other offerings with the “price of admission”…It is expected to be a “free will offering” just like any other donation.

    That’s just it though, it’s NOT a “free will offering.” This is what religions do best, tie soteriological consequences to actions one does in this life. But many, including our own church, go beyond that and tie spiritual blessings WITHIN THE CHURCH to specific actions that IT deems appropriate (including monetary donations). In our church, one must pay to get our highest blessings. That is, rather than give freely of the highest blessings we have to offer in our church, we reserve them for those who meet a series of requirements (one of which is a monetary donation). It is most certainly a PART of the price of admission (along with beliefs, meeting a worthiness standard, etc.)

    You hold someone’s salvation in the balance and tell them they must pay money to you. And then you call it a “free will donation.” To me it’s the cynical person who requires such a thing. Something about gentle persuasion, bearing one’s cross and following Jesus, etc. is lost in the process.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  65. Howard on July 14, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Regarding 61 The Church has more than 17,000 buildings worldwide. http://www.kvoa.com/news/mormon-church-building-construction-going-green/

    For reference the Washington D.C. temple was dedicated in 1974 and cost $15Million. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_D.C._Temple

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  66. Ron Madson on July 14, 2011 at 12:16 PM

    #33 Wilcox hit on something that I thing is worth noting again in this thread pertaining to buildings/structures which is:”

    “Any way you cut it, it’s a “man made” metric that has absolutely no bearing on spiritual growth, but we tend to gravitate toward measurable statistics (the Church, today, loves measurable statistics) and away from the immeasurables, the intangibles.”

    This is what happens to us gentiles when we attempt to run the church…a church, any church which is only a means to an end and not the end itself–the Kingdom of God. We gentiles manage and seek to control and measure our success in another metric then what I believe Jesus measured His Kingdom during this ministry. (two mission presidents in a row that I was a counselor with told me that the missionary department has done studies and that there is a dollar figure equated for each North American convert–$3,000 and that is why “they” are more valuable in moving the kingdom forward then the converts in 3rd world countries). We are the fulfillment of 3 Nephi 16. If I make that faith assumption then I must also own the warnings and admonitions/prophecies of the whole chapter as well as Mormon 8—“why have ye polluted the Holy Church of God” by doing such and such and ignoring such and such.

    That is why our language matters as Daymon Smiith so brilliantly taught us in his Correlation series and also his Book of Mammon which I just finished reading. How we define, how we link things, how we speak to each other from which we as a gentiles create policies of CONTROL–or try to control each other in a multitude of ways.

    Zo mentioned Daymon’s Book of Mammon. IMO, only a very spiritual and believing person could write such a book. I am of the opinion that it would be of great service in advancing us from a corporation to a church and eventually “the” kingdom by reading and comprehending what he has to say in that book and then introspectively considering how we as a gentiles might reconsider how we have packaged, communicated and “sold” our inheritance as warned in 3 Nephi 16 and Mormon 8.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  67. Keri Brooks on July 14, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    “In Utah, the passing definition, and common understanding of tithing is that one pays 10% of one’s gross income. Period. I agree this could be cultural in part, but it is regularly taught from pulpits, and has strong roots in the language of GC talks and other church policies.”

    I’m in the SF Bay Area, and just a few weeks ago we had the tithing lesson in RS. During the lesson, the teacher asked the class whether the 10% was on gross or net. The class immediately and confidently responded that it was on gross, and the teacher indicated that that was the correct answer. I raised my hand and asked for a source on that, since I had been taught that gross vs. net was a personal decision between an individual and the Lord. I got jumped on by the whole room with the snide “Do you want gross blessings or net blessings?” and insinuations that I was selfish. (I didn’t disclose whether I tithe on gross or net; it’s none of their business, but merely by asking the question they made assumptions.)

    For what it’s worth, this is a small inner-city working class ward. I’ve lived in the ward for a few months and I’m one of the only ward members with a white-collar job. The people are generally nice to me, but I do feel some resentment from them.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  68. John Mansfield on July 14, 2011 at 1:17 PM

    “Do you have examples of any other religious organizations which only allow members to receive certain blessings if they give a certain amount of money?”

    There’s the half shekel temple tax specified in Exodus 30:14-15. Also, Herman Wouk in his non-fiction This is My God wrote that Jews will pay dues to be members of a synagogue so that they will have a place to participate in Rosh Hashanah.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  69. Jeff Spector on July 14, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I see the fact that so many here are whining about having to pay tithing and calling it a “price of admission” that their issue may be more of their love of money than anything else.

    And we know what “root” that is……

    I gladly pay my tithing. I have no real complaints about it.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  70. Brad on July 14, 2011 at 1:28 PM

    #67 Keri:

    I’m in the SF Bay Area, and just a few weeks ago we had the tithing lesson in RS. During the lesson, the teacher asked the class whether the 10% was on gross or net. The class immediately and confidently responded that it was on gross, and the teacher indicated that that was the correct answer. I raised my hand and asked for a source on that, since I had been taught that gross vs. net was a personal decision between an individual and the Lord. I got jumped on by the whole room with the snide “Do you want gross blessings or net blessings?” and insinuations that I was selfish. (I didn’t disclose whether I tithe on gross or net; it’s none of their business, but merely by asking the question they made assumptions.)

    I am so tired of hearing this. It hasn’t changed since I got the same answer in a BYU student ward almost 20 years ago. It is an honest question. If so much of our activity in the church depends on faithful tithe paying, it should be clearly defined. Why hasn’t it?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  71. John Mansfield on July 14, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Try googling “synagogue dues.” Somewhat interesting results.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  72. John Mansfield on July 14, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Googling “synagogue dues” turns up some interesting results.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  73. Badger on July 14, 2011 at 2:09 PM

    Jeff at #47: “When asked if you are a full tithe payer”

    I just say “Yes”

    I like this comment, and the same approach can be used with other standard interview questions. It seems perfectly appropriate to me for Jeff to assume and accept responsibility for his own understanding and practice of tithing. He is a mature adult, and clearly committed to the Church. The answer allows gives the interviewer the basis he needs to carry out his responsibility, and move the interview on to the next topic.

    I think it’s a service to all concerned to give this sort of answer when appropriate. Unnecessarily “humble” or deferential language may sometimes appear to an interviewer as uneasiness, a guilty conscience, or being troubled. Resulting follow-up questions are at best a waste of time, and at worst the raw material for a bad interview experience. Why bother if there’s no real issue?

    As a not-too-confident young man, I saw giving a straightforward “yes” answer in an interview as a sort of Mormon counterpart to jury nullification: obviously nobody could stop me if I was determined, but I “just knew” I wasn’t supposed to. That may have been a correct cultural perception, but the practical outcome was some very long chats with my bishop about topics of no consequence to either of us. He was right that something was bothering me, but it never crossed my mind to just say “look, Bishop, there’s only one thing I think we need to talk about here.” I don’t know how he found the time to go through the whole list with every kid in the ward.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  74. Ray on July 14, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    There has been a clear definition given: 10% of income – and “income” is defined by the individual. Seriously, that’s the definition of every single “official” statement I’ve ever read and heard from General Conference. We aren’t required to provide tax statements; we pay whatever we believe should be paid.

    We members really screw things like this up too often.

    As a counter-example:

    In my HPG there are at least four former Bishops (six, I think), one of whom is a former Stake President and our current Patriarch. In the lesson mentioned above, the consensus, with NO disagreement from anyone, was that net or gross is up to the individual. It was stated that clearly, and not one person disagreed. One person even said he paid on whatever money ended up in his checkbook prior to personal bills – that he is a small business owner, has to factor in his business expenses before he gets paid
    and, thus, his income and tithing vary radically each month (including some months where he pays nothing in tithing because he gets no net income). Nobody said a word in disagreement or correction.

    I know it’s different from ward to ward, and I know there’s a too-common idea the more one pays the more blessed / righteous they are. Howgwash.

    I also know I am fortunate to live in my current ward – but it’s like that in many wards and not like that in many others. Ime, the general tone of the ward on issues like this is set by the local leadership – and, while there are too many detail-Nazis in the Church, there are lots who aren’t. In this case, “The Church” has defined it as vaguely as they can – but “the church” doesn’t accept that in too many cases.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  75. Ray on July 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    Howgwash AND hogwash, both. :D

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  76. James on July 14, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Re: Jeff #69

    That was kind of a nasty thing to say. You didn’t even address JMB’s thoughtful response. You just dismissed him. Actually, it’s worse than that: you don’t just dismiss him, you insinuate that he loves money more than God, and therefore, by virtue of the fact that he loves money, is himself evil. I’m hoping that you’re just being facetious and it’s not coming though all that well, but it would nonetheless be really nice to see a substantive response to JMB.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  77. Jake on July 14, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I like this post a lot. I have found some really interesting comments as well about paying tithing in general.

    I have always struggled with tithing being a temple recommend question, as it seems to say that unless you are paying to the church the ordinances of salvation are deprived from you. I think this by itself doesn’t bug me as some have said above its a sign of sacrifice even if its artificial. But when people in church go on about the Catholic church and its indulgences, or how they thought if you gave money you could pay your way through purgatory I get the feeling of double standards as it just seems a bit similar to paying tithing to go to the temple. If you don’t pay you won’t get the blessings of the temple in this life, but will have to wait, so if you pay it will speed up the process of salvation just as they thought paying for indulgences sped up the process of salvation for them.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  78. Jeff Spector on July 14, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    James,

    “Actually, it’s worse than that: you don’t just dismiss him, you insinuate that he loves money more than God”

    It wasn’t directed at JMB, whom I admire greatly. It was a comment to the multitude.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  79. Mai Li on July 14, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Wow #68! If there is an award for most sanctimonious and self-righteous remark on a blog, you are certainly in the running.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  80. Mai Li on July 14, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    oops! I meant 69.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  81. Rigel Hawthorne on July 14, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    When we moved to our current building, it was a small building from the 70s with no cultural hall and a nursery that met in a trailer behind the building. It still had the original orange carpet in the chapel. The rectangular box-kite type lamps dangled from the chapel ceiling. The young women met in the foyer with a curved partition giving them a bit of separation from the traffic. Our ward parties were held in a community center that was rented.

    Now we have had the benefit of an expansion/remodel from what some commenters are referring to as an overzealous building program. They finally replaced the orange carpet, but the dated lamp cases remain. Like most buildings, every inch of our building gets used, used and often abused. I am grateful for the building program. The number of individual lives who are touched by the spirit or fellowship of the church throughout the physical life of a meetinghouse facility is enormous. We can have more fellowshipping activities as there is no need to coordinate a rented hall. Because the church no longer asks for contributions to building funds in addition to tithing (as was done in the 70s), we can donate what we personally would have contributed toward the building fund to other charities. If those donations drive my tithing (official AND before God’s eyes) over 10%, then I count it as a blessing to be able to give more freely. Tithing is an accounting that can be cut and dry. Questions such as are you honest in ALL your dealings is much harder to truly reflect on for your two years between recommends and answer with the answer you should give. I vote for keeping tithing the way it is.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  82. Howard on July 14, 2011 at 6:48 PM

    Rigel I don’t think the expansion and remodel of 70s buildings is what they mean by an overzealous building program.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  83. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    #55 Ron: This is why I consider such dissent/challenges to church policies (as some did as to the priesthood ban when it was not popular) as in reality sustaining those who lead the church. There is a fear out there that drives us to the blogs or alternate forums, and that is the fear of raising dissent in our faith community when we see things that do not square with what we perceive is just/merciful or maybe even dishonest.

    This is the point of the series. I really hope to accomplish three goals with these posts:

    1) Do I really think that the Church is going to change anything because of any of these posts? Absolutely not. But if someone somewhere in leadership at least considers any of these topics, even if they don’t agree or do anything different, that’s worth something.

    2) To let people know they are not alone. There are many things with which people in the Church disagree – and they are different for each person. Some someone it may be this issue, for someone else it may be a tattoo.

    If all we hear is the official and correlated version of things, we may feel that we are “out there” or “alone” just because we have a differing opinion. This can potentially lead to someone feeling like they “don’t belong”, even to the point of leaving the good for a molehill.

    That’s simply not true. There are many people in the Church who have the same questions and concerns as you. You can’t talk about them at Church, but you can here.

    3) Questioning assumptions. I am inclined to ask “why” in life. Sometimes there is a good answer, sometimes it appears to be smoke and mirrors. For example, why is the current form of garments considered so sacred when they have already been changed to much? Why does the number of earrings someone has matter to anything? Why does someone have to pay a fixed percentage to a specific organization to see their son get married?

    These are all questions I have. And I get a lot out of everyone’s answers.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  84. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:30 PM

    jmb: But I am a bit disappointed you didn’t talk about the doctrinal significance of tithing. In your other posts you explicitly discussed why your change would be a policy change, not a doctrinal one.

    You are correct – I didn’t explicitly discuss that. It was somewhat implicit, and I’ve tried to clarify in some of the subsequent comments, but I could have done better.

    I still think the doctrine of tithing (ie. giving away 10%) is valid. It is found in essentially all religions, and many non-religious people have the same concept. But as people have mentioned, the higher law is to give it away with no expectation of anything in return.

    The policy of requiring a specific amount (10%) of income (or increase as some describe) in order to receive specific blessings lessens the doctrine, in my opinion.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  85. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    #63 Brad:

    According to the 2010 CHI, section 20.1.2 (available online at lds.org):

    Only a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is worthy to hold a temple recommend may act as voice in confirming a person a member of the Church…

    A bishop may allow a father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to name and bless his children even if the father is not fully temple worthy. Likewise, a bishop may allow a father who is a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to baptize his children or to ordain his sons to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. A Melchizedek Priesthood holder in similar circumstances may be allowed to stand in the circle for the confirmation of his children, for the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood on his sons, or for the setting apart of his wife or children. However, he may not act as voice.

    So, as far as the question, the answer is NO, you cannot confirm your child unless you pay the required 10%.

    Different bishops interpret this differently. Some bishops may overlook this. However, there are a number of reports where people have had to go back and get “current” on back-tithing for 6 or 12 months when that is the only thing that is otherwise keeping them from being “temple worthy”.

    In that case, it is hard to see it differently from how it was presented in the original post.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  86. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:44 PM

    #70 Brad: If so much of our activity in the church depends on faithful tithe paying, it should be clearly defined. Why hasn’t it?

    Ultimately, it is up to an individual and God. Period.

    I do think that the current “non-definition” actually nets them more money through “wiggle-room”, however. There are many circumstances where paying on “gross” might be hard to do. In a European country, where taxes can eat up 50-60+% of someone’s gross, giving 10% of gross involves a very high portion of someones net income, and essentially ALL of their discretionary income. So, saints there can pay on “net” under the current policy.

    However, in many areas of the United States (as mentioned above) and other parts of the world, the assumption allowed to continue is that “gross” is the only correct way to pay tithing. So people pay on gross.

    If the Church clarified things, imagine what might happen. Saying “gross” was the only correct way would make a significant hardship in places like Europe, so many would likely just not pay at all, or else would be considered “non-temple-worthy”. Saying “net” was the correct way would potentially lead to a drop in tithing revenues as many of the people currently paying on gross would likely start paying on net.

    So, it is to their advantage to leave the official policy undefined yet continue the unofficial policy that it is gross.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  87. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:52 PM

    #72 Badger: I like this comment, and the same approach can be used with other standard interview questions. It seems perfectly appropriate to me for Jeff to assume and accept responsibility for his own understanding and practice of tithing. He is a mature adult, and clearly committed to the Church.

    I, too, like Jeff’s comment. It is between him and God. And I also agree that Jeff is a very responsible and thoughtful person.

    I would actually narrow the entire interview down to one statement and one question:

    “We appreciate all of the time, effort and resources you give to the Lord’s church. We also appreciate your desire to also serve Him in the temple. As you know, the temple is for active members who support the goals of the Church. It is not for perfect people, but for those who are continuing to work towards perfecting themselves. It is for people who are trying to follow the doctrines and guidelines of the Church. If you have any questions about specific doctrines or guidelines, please feel free to ask me.”

    “If not, do you consider yourself worthy to hold a temple recommend and enter the House of the Lord?”

    And that would be all.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  88. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Regarding the comments about Jeff (comment #69), I know he didn’t mean it the way people have interpreted it. I have had my own disagreements with him over time, but he is actually a very thoughtful and respectful person. Sarcasm just doesn’t come across well in writing.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  89. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 8:00 PM

    #80 Rigel: If those donations drive my tithing (official AND before God’s eyes) over 10%, then I count it as a blessing to be able to give more freely. Tithing is an accounting that can be cut and dry. Questions such as are you honest in ALL your dealings is much harder to truly reflect on for your two years between recommends and answer with the answer you should give.

    I completely agree that 10% should just be a start where we are able. I just don’t think that our participation in various things should be contingent on it.

    And regarding honesty, it is a difficult issue. I was teaching EQ a few years back and gave an example of someone I knew here in SLC (stake president, etc) who specifically underpaid someone who did some work for him by the exact amount it would cost to go to small claims court to recover the full amount. It was blatantly dishonest.

    When I presented this to the Elders (the vast majority of whom I know had temple recommends), at least half of the class didn’t see a problem with this. They said that honesty in business is different from honesty in life. They said that everyone was doing it, and that if you didn’t do it, you would go out of business.

    I was shocked. I told them that I didn’t really have anything to add at that point, so I basically just ended the class early.

    To me, that is much worse than what percentage of money some gave to the Church.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  90. anon on July 14, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I am happy to pay my tithing. It seems to me like a very clear, easy (if you are in the habit) commandment. It has never felt like paying for ordinances.
    I realize that there are people who try to shape up and scramble to get a recommend just to perform a baptism or go to a temple wedding (my BIL is one), but for those of us who take our commitment seriously, tithing is a simple, basic way to show our commitment to the Lord and to building his kingdom here on earth.
    I don’t see a need to track the spending because it isn’t MY money. It is the Lord’s.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  91. Mike S on July 14, 2011 at 8:32 PM

    #89 anon: I realize that there are people who try to shape up and scramble to get a recommend just to perform a baptism or go to a temple wedding (my BIL is one), but for those of us who take our commitment seriously, tithing is a simple, basic way to show our commitment to the Lord and to building his kingdom here on earth.

    This proves my point. Do you think your BIL truly benefited and developed an attitude of generosity because of this, or did he just give the Church some money for the exact reason this post is about – the indulgence model?

    People like you (and many on here) would STILL give a full tithing to the Church if it was taught as a principle yet not REQUIRED for anything. You would still give to the Lord, and so would I.

    Perhaps the Church would lose money from people like your BIL, but what is more important – getting money from people for a specific blessing or getting people to appreciate giving in and of itself, regardless of whether the Church will or won’t give you something specific back?

    I would argue that the higher and more profound concept is to unlink the two.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  92. anon on July 15, 2011 at 12:26 AM

    Without his periodic repentance for an event, he would never/rarely pay tithing, refrain from alcohol, refrain from porn, or go to church. By having a standard and expecting him to live up to it gives him a chance to actually sometimes choose to live up to it.
    I guess I’m in the Joseph Smith camp. “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  93. Seth on July 15, 2011 at 3:28 AM

    Little late to the ballgame here, but wanted to add a few things:

    (A) Does anyone know how tithing became the unofficial metric for actually judging whether someone is worthy or not? Or, how about when was tithing added to the list of temple recommend questions? I think it was in the Heber J. Grant era, but I don’t fully remember. I do know that Mike’s #86 is much more closely aligned to the original protocol than the now nearly-20 questions.

    (b) Rigel: rehabbing/retrofitting a chapel that’s obviously dated is hardly the same thing as building 400+ new chapels every year. The latter would be a lot closer fit to an “overzealous building program” than retooling a dated chapel.

    (c) Will: why did you suggest that any form of dissent implies that one cannot sustain his or her leaders?

    (d) Ray: who would you say has more sway inside the church: the “detail-Nazis” or those more willing to grant leniency to personal decisions?

    (e) Jeff (69): I don’t know if anyone in this thread is really arguing against paying tithing (maybe I missed something). So it might be easy to sarcastically suggest that those discussing Mike’s point are merely swayed by the “love of money”, but the OP has a fair question: why is tithing a requisite for an otherwise worthy [an 1828 synonym to "worthy" is "deserving", FWIW] member to participate in whatever ordinance is at question?

    If the answer is yes, then are we confident that our modern definition of “tithing” is historically accurate and sanctioned by God? If so, how/why?

    I do find it interesting that, in the early days before tithing became part of the “worthiness factor”, early bishops and stake presidents were allowed to take some small stipends from local tithing receipts.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  94. Jeff Spector on July 15, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    Sarcasm is always easy. Understanding it is not.

    If people are not concerned about paying 10% of their increase in tithing to the Church, then what are we talking about?

    Please keep in mind, the $1.00 full tithe is equivalent to the $1,000,000 full tithe in the eyes of the Lord.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  95. Rigel Hawthorne on July 15, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Howard “I don’t think the expansion and remodel of 70s buildings is what they mean by an overzealous building program.”

    Maybe not, but doesn’t it come down to the same bottom line? Our ward had growth that needed building to address. Aren’t other new buildings being built for the same reason? I know it is harder to believe in the intermountain west that a new chapel is needed every block, but I would wonder if those beneficiaries of those new buildings would feel the same sort of stress we did before they got their new building.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  96. jmb275 on July 15, 2011 at 11:35 AM

    Re Jeff

    If people are not concerned about paying 10% of their increase in tithing to the Church, then what are we talking about?

    Well, I think this is the misunderstanding. Like Mike, you, and every other faithful church member I think tithing, as a principle, is extremely important. I absolutely think that learning to part with our temporal possessions is very important to our spirituality. For me, it’s the attachment of qualification for full TR status that bothers me (that’s what the entire OP is about). My read on JS is that it was not intended that tithing would become a prerequisite for receiving full blessings. My feeling is that this is a hold-over from a time period when we had no money and needed to get members to help us out of the situation. We could modify that (perhaps 5% to the church and 5% to “other charities”) but it has now become one of the defining characteristics of Mormonism and is given the full prophetic authority in its current implementation that it probably does NOT deserve (being in harmony with Mike’s intention to only make policy changes).

    Though I of course will not question your sincerity or commitment (I know you better than that), I have to wonder if you wouldn’t perhaps gain more from your charitable donations if you had to work more, care more, think about it more, and if there weren’t any benefits/consequences associated with it. If you had to find the charity, read their financial report, find the evidence of your dollars at work, and surrender your money without any repercussions, etc. To me, the ONLY reason a charitable donation means anything at all is if it requires sacrifice. Money REPRESENTS a sacrifice of my time (which I hold much dearer than money) and hence in some ways suffices. For me, since I can’t afford to pay on my gross or net income (literally I would not be able to make it) I try to make up for it by helping people move, fulfilling my calling, etc.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  97. jmb275 on July 15, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    One last thing:
    At least for me, my first thought when considering the option of ceasing to pay tithing is losing my temple recommend. Since I don’t directly associate any particular blessings with the payment of tithing, seeing it more of an avenue for personal spiritual growth, there would be no reason for me to pay to the church as opposed to the Red Cross…except for my TR status (and I do love the temple).

    This is what raises red flags for me. I know I’m not paying tithing for the right reasons. I’d rather give my money to another charity (in part because I agree with Mike on the purchasing of shopping malls and the lack of commensurate charity work), but I can’t and still maintain my TR status. This makes it feel like an admission price for me and really stunts spiritual growth rather than enabling it.

    I can’t help but feel that I’m not unique in this feeling, though clearly not in the majority.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  98. Jeff Spector on July 15, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    I give 10% to the church and plenty of money to other charities. So what then, is the problem?

    It seems like some people want to punish the Church because they do not really believe we are commanded to tithe 10% to the Lord’s Church.

    No one is restricted from giving to other charities. Just seems like some want to “rob God” because they do not trust the Church with their money. If that’s it, let’s admit that.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  99. Ray on July 15, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    Jeff, I can afford to pay 10% of my net to the Church and still pay my bills – barely. I can do so only by cutting out many of the “non-essential” meetings and activities that occur in my ward and stake. I literally have no money left over for any other charitible giving, except for tiny amounts, occasionally.

    You know I love the concept of tithing. You know I’m a fully active, TR-holding, leadership-position-holding member of the Church. You know I respect you greatly – and yet, I have a problem with the wording of your last comment. (#97) It simply isn’t that black and white for many, many people – and you are very fortunate to be in the financial situation you describe.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  100. Ron Madson on July 15, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Ray, I really appreciate your comment. I am in a professional position where I know innumerable good, honest people that are suffering a great deal and have sunk or are sinking fast and yet they give and give and yet temporally, emotionally and spiritually they are hurting. I have empathy for their situation and never would judge as you would not their situation. Then they would not dare ask for help–the whole self-reliance thing being drilled into them. Charity sometimes floweth up while judgment rolleth down as some see it.
    I am currently reading Compton’s latest book “Fire and the Sword” and tithing was addressed by the saints and at first the book states that tithing was defined as 2% and that it was progressive in that those who were subsisting did not pay tithing in that they had no “increase” while those with more paid more. DC 119 can and has been interpreted different ways (“increase being what you have after essential survival needs)
    So
    First, how we define tithing should IMO remain personal but we as a church have decided on a POLICY (not doctrine IMO) to define it (monetize it etc) and
    Second, linking it to saving ordinances is IMO another POLICY decision and what to link it to–attend wedding of daughter, baptize son?, TR?, etc.
    Finally, it is simply not black and white. Heaven knows that there are many many Rays out there who will and do give their last dime to help others and 10% for many of us who have degrees of abundance it is just a starting point (but until there is transparency from the Church my offerings beyond tithing go to reputable/transparent charities)-, but much of what I write/comment has to do with those that are literally being crushed by policies (not doctrine IMO) as to how to define tithing and what to link it to.
    This thread is about speculation and “What I would do” or MIke S would do if he/we were in charge.
    Me, I would make it progressive and not cut into the bone and marrow of those that struggle. No “increase” until very essential needs are taken care of being deducted (yes, I can hear it now well it will be abused–but better to get less to the Church corp. then risk abusing the children and families who are being crushed financially–and damnit I trust the people–Mormons will give and give of their real “increase”). I actually find Elder Pratt’s talk on tithing very problematic. We hear of these anecdotal stories of those that go without food and basics and the check arrives in the mail, but we never hear of the hundreds/thousands where they are left in increasing poverty and increasing fear of losing their salvation or feeding their children. That is simply not zion and a formula for failure.
    I will not threadjack but what tithing was in the OT, was in the NT (barely mentioned) and what we define it now is not the same thing.
    I personally find the policies of today oppressive and IMO the God I believe in would not approve of our grinding the face of our own poor with our current policy definitions. The stories that need to be told but can’t be in our correlated world are those of the literally starving and dying member children in third world countries (900 a year estimated) from malnutrition or those crushed and demoralized here. I would not dare in good conscience judge anyone who does not march to current policies because of the crush of poverty. I do have sentiments as to those that use their “doctrine” and exalting of current policies (pay on gross, define it how I define it) to condemn others. And to suggest they know it is God’s will that such and such be paid and that current policy is God’s will. They/we do not know that for sure anymore then we “knew” it was God’s will that our policy of banning blacks from the priesthood was God’s will. That is how I see it. Sorry if it offends those who have it made financially.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 7

  101. Mike S on July 15, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Ron:

    I agree with your comment. I see two issues relating to this:

    1) If correct payment of tithing is so vital to being able to see your son get married, perhaps a definition of what it actually means makes some sense. Could it mean “increase” as originally defined? Could it mean on what is left over after essentials are paid for? Could it mean on gross? Could it mean on net? The guidance from the leadership is vague, and nature abhors a vacuum. So local members and leadership fill in saying “It has to be on gross” or whatever. It is vague.

    2) And, if there’s nothing to hide. I think a lot of people would stop bitching about it if the Church actually tells us where it goes. It’s not that hard to do. As is, things don’t pass the “smell” test. We are building multi-billion dollar malls, hundred million dollar hotels, millions in land purchases around commercial downtown SLC, etc. Give an accounting. It would shut us up, or at least give us something else to complain about :-)

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  102. Jeff Spector on July 15, 2011 at 2:53 PM

    Ray,

    I understand and I certainly meant no disrespect to anyone by my comment. Yes, I am fortunate and that is why I can and am willing to give.

    But, even if not, I have no problem giving my full 10% to the Church as well as my other offerings. I know that part of my fast offering goes to helping both church members and non-church members alike in times of need. So, while I donate to the American Red Cross such as for the Joplin tornado relief, should I have been unable, I also know that a portion of my Fast offering goes to rendering assistance to them anyway.

    I realize that for some, it is not enough, but for me, I trust that it is. And I supplement that where I can.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  103. Jeff Spector on July 15, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Mike S.

    “If correct payment of tithing is so vital…”

    I don’t understand why we keep going over this. It is what you say it is. Period. You know what the standard is and how you define it is your business. The arguments about 10% of gross versus net are only made by people who don’t wish to studying it in their minds, pray and get an answer. They want someone else to tell them.

    “It would shut us up, or at least give us something else to complain about :-)”

    the latter……

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  104. CD-Host on July 16, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    Thought I’d jump in on the synagogue dues issue….

    The old structure for synagogues was that the synagogues had patrons. Wealthy people bought political and social influence by sitting on the synagogue board, or marrying sons or daughters to rabbis. Since Jews didn’t control states this was a church / business unity very like the middle ages Catholic system of bishops being 2nd son of noble households.

    That got brought over to the USA and started to fall apart. So instead what synagogues started doing was having dues for everyone with different levels of prestige based on how high you paid. The synagogue board was still controlled by big donors but there was whole class of low-medium donations.

    And that system worked well till the 1950s when the Protestant attitude about mixing money and church started to bleed over heavily and people thought it was extremely inappropriate for prestige to be given to amoral and immoral people because they donated a lot. Which drove fees an even more egalitarian direction. The move was towards flat dues, with special help for the poor and donation pledges from the rich (like private schools). But… with synagogues having less influence to sell they were having more and more trouble raising money that way, so the flat dues part kept increasing. Lately they’ve been coming down as a huge percentage of the Jewish community has felt comfortable not being a member at all. Many synagogues have moved to a percentage system + fee for services.

    What do dues buy you (generally varies by synagogue) is stuff like:
    a) The right to vote on issues and/or elect board members (some seats may still be reserved)
    b) Sunday School education for children
    c) Ability to have specialized services, marriages, bar mitzvah … generally require having been a member for several years or a large contribution.
    d) ability to have seating during high holy days (Jewish equivalent of Christmas and Easter) + some guest passes
    e) ability to have positions of honor during some services if desired
    f) ability to serve on board or in leadership capacity
    g) access to the rabbis for questions or issues

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  105. Irony on July 16, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    Tithing, today, is – as Ron mentioned – nothing like tithing either in the 1800s or earlier NT or OT times. Tithing has morphed into the 10% it is now only through time, financial hardships and a desire to increase the number of tithe paying members.

    Unlikely enough, when Snow “ended” the previous era’s definition of tithing with the one were more cognizant of today, the number of tithe paying members jumped from around 10% to nearly 25%. It ebbed a little for there, but stayed above 20% for years after Snow’s policy change. No longer were you required to give 10% of your money/goods upon baptism, then 10% of your increase annually, instead it was morphed into only the 10% of your increase (interpreted as income) annually.

    If you think new convert statistics are sinking today, try telling people they have to pay 10% of their net worth upon baptism, then pay 10% of their income annually to a church with no transparency.

    That said, Ron is correct. The church originally asked for only 2% in tithing (Quinn notes in one of his books, from the Missouri bishopric at the time, “Believing that voluntary tithing is better than Forced taxes,” defined tithing as “two cents on the dollar or one fiftieth of what we are worth after deducting what we owe.”)

    There’s a good summary of tithing [LDS historically implemented tithing] over here, but what strikes me regarding all the vacillations in how the Church defined, enforced and taught tithing since the early 1800s, is that it’s anything but the “cut and dry” definition we think it is today. Some (see Jeff’s thoughts above) profess gratitude at being able to pay the flat 10% while implying that those who gripe about it are merely robbing God, or obsessed with the love of money. [Sidebar: Jeff, for the love of Pete, you're statements and judgments on this thread have been disappointing.]

    The historical nature of tithing in the Church shows that many who were “excused” from paying tithing because of their poverty. Think of that! I can’t imagine the load that would be lifted from some shoulders today if the church excused people in poverty from paying tithing, or from having a “jubilee” like John Taylor implemented in 1880 which forgave delinquent tithing.

    For those clamoring for a more progressive church, there are two examples where the church went out of its way to help people in poverty in real, meaningful ways – ways that didn’t guilt members into believing they shouldn’t (or can’t) ask for help because of “self-reliance” teachings.

    Additionally, I am confident that we simply don’t know what it means to “rob God” in the Malachian sense, and especially in the way Jeff uses the phrase. To us, “rob God” simply means not paying into the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop – if our tithes or donations aren’t filtering through the Church, then we’re robbing God. If God is God, though, and if God is God of everyone on earth, then how are donations to other worthy causes “robbing God”, especially when many charities have transparent books and allow all to see where the money is going?

    That said, I can’t recommend this article on tithing in the Old Testament enough. Specifically, it gives an exposition on “robbing God” that we would all do well to read and consider, especially those who think that anyone questioning the Church’s policies on tithing today are either in love with their money or otherwise trying to rob God.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  106. Jeff Spector on July 17, 2011 at 11:18 AM

    One of the aspects of tithing that I find interesting is the difference in giving of one’s goods, like farmers/rancher’s, etc versus giving money.

    For those who were giving of the goods they produced, it was was far easier. If you planted wheat, you could just plant 10% more so that you could “pay” your tithing. Raising cattle? Just have 10% cattle. Seems a bit easier to me.

    With money, the more you get, the more you give. It’s not like you can take a second job just to make 10% more to pay your tithing, You have to pay on that as well.

    I just find, as I’ve stated here, that we all have a bit harder time parting with our money.

    Just as a bit of an answer to Irony, above. God doesn’t need our money. Maybe the Church organization does to continue to function, but certainly, God, himself as no use for it.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  107. Ron Madson on July 17, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Jeff,
    You are correct, imo, we give more now that nearly all tithing is monetized. Moreover, when we gave eggs, livestock, and wheat the goods remained locally (largely perishable) and used for local needs. I too would recommend the articles linked by Irony. And as to “use” of donated money, I would also recommend reading “Book of Mammon: A Book about a Book about the Corporation that Owns the Mormon Church” by Daymon Smith to gain some descriptive insight into how funds are used now as compared to the usage outlined in Deuteronomy by the Lord.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  108. Irony on July 18, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Jeff:

    If you take the time to read the article I asked you to read, you’ll note that I largely agree that tithing isn’t about the money. Scripturally speaking – at least in the OT – the Isrealites donated their tithe to the storehouse only every 3rd year. The other two years they tithed, but their tithes – per the scriptures – were used on celebrations for themselves and their families. In other words, they only donated their tithe to the “storehouse” every 3rd year and that was enough to feed the poor, clothe the naked, help the widows and still provide for the Levites.

    The other two years the people still tithed all of their increase, but they kept that tithe local and used ALL of it in a grand celebration, which no doubt included some of the poor and widows. There is only one tithe – 10% of the Israelite’s income – which he spends on feasting, fellowship and celebration with his family two years out of three, and gives it to the Levites and the poor every third year.

    There’s a huge principle of equality we overlook with tithing [read Proof #1 of that article]. Currently there is no equality between the Levite class in our Church and the average member. The equality, or at least the potential for equality, was done away with when tithing was re-interpreted to mean a flat 10% tithing on all income [Again, refer to Proof #1 for more information].

    I agree with Ron that the beauty of tithing before its monetization is that the goods stayed local and were used quickly because they would otherwise run their shelf life. Now, with money, the $5000/annual tithing the average member pays sits in an interest bearing account for 3 full years before actually getting used. The interest is siphoned off to pay for for-profit projects and the rest is used for its restricted purposes (hopefully).

    In the end, you seem to be agreeing with Mike. God doesn’t need our money. Perhaps he needs our commitment to Him and Him alone, but if so then there is no place to tie salvific ordinances to the actual, quantifiable tithe one pays. The problem I have is with people who suggest that the tithing we understand today is the way it’s (a) always been and (b) that it has any relation to one’s “worthiness”.

    If people in the 1800s could be excused from paying tithing because of their poverty, and if John Taylor could put in place a Jubilee on the 50th anniversary of the Church and forgive any past tithing debts, then there’s no reason why the Church can’t go out of it’s way to help people in need today – via excused tithing – instead of focusing on self-reliance talks, videos, DVDs and the like which are aimed – specifically aimed – at getting people to not ask the Church for monetary help. Then, once they’ve convinced people to not ask the Church for help, they clamor for that 10% tithe at every GC, as well as other donations (see last GC for a couple requests to increase our donations to other line items), claiming that strict adherence to the law will create righteousness and allow the windows of heaven to open and pour out, as Talmage put it, “coin of this realm” as the blessing.

    Perhaps this quote applies to our modern understandings of most things, including tithing:

    “Some have reached provincial conclusions and do not really want to restructure their understandings of things. Some wish to be neither shaken nor expanded by new spiritual data…..most are quite content with a superficial understanding or a general awareness of spiritual things. This condition may reflect either laziness or the busyness incident to the pressing cares of the world.” – Neal A Maxwell.

    I will conclude with modifying one of Joseph Smith’s statements on sin and what is a sin: many call a sin [failure to pay a precise 10% tithing per our 2011 definition] is not a sin.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  109. Jeff Spector on July 18, 2011 at 1:44 PM

    Irony,

    “If you take the time to read the article I asked you to read, you’ll note that I largely agree that tithing isn’t about the money. Scripturally speaking – at least in the OT”

    I did read as much as I could. I suppose we can take verses out of the OT or any other book of scripture and knit together any story we choose.

    But to cut to the chase here. We are now under obligation to tithe 1/10 of our increase to the Church. One can argue, stomp their feet, whatever, but that’s the commandment. We can follow it or not. It is totally up to us how we measure that increase. Has it changed over the years? Yes, it has. Just like the Temple ceremonies, the garments, budgets, meeting times, the hymnbook, the lessons, etc.

    Things change. They changed in the OT, they changed in the NT, the BoM and even what has been given in the D&C.

    That what continuing revelation is all about.

    Otherwise, we still be sacrificing animals at the Temple.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  110. Irony on July 21, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    I suppose we can take verses out of the OT or any other book of scripture and knit together any story we choose. … Otherwise, we still be sacrificing animals at the Temple.

    Clearly, that article is just “tak[ing] verses” to “knit any story we choose…”. Come on, Jeff, that is a patently absurd reading of that link and is, in my experience, the typical LDS answer to anything that contradicts their worldview. Don’t like the story? Just say the author is taking verses out of context and trying to ram the circle in a square peg.

    The problem LDS have with “continuing revelation” is that it’s used as an excuse to justify all sorts of changes. Nothing – and I mean nothing – is too sacred to not be laid on the altar of continuing revelation. Marriage? Done. Tithing? Done. Consecration? Done. Formerly eternal requirements? Done.

    Everything can and will be changed given enough time.

    That said, I think we should have some sort of baseline we return to. We have scriptures for a reason and reference them as the “standard” [def: An idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations] works. If we don’t use them as “standards” and, instead, as mere words on pages that can [and will] be modified, transfigured and changed to adapt our current living conditions, then they are no longer “standard”.

    Continuing revelation is for revealing unknown things [that's what revelation is, after all, revealing the unknown, the secret or hidden]. Meanwhile, we content ourselves to bask in our “continuing revelation” as a way to justify changes that populate the entire spectrum of our [former] beliefs.

    So be it.

    Perhaps another way to look at the scriptures (i.e. standard works) as continuing revelation – continually revealing what we should be doing no matter how hard we try to screw things up, to change the doctrines, the policies, the principles and everything in between. And yet, there they sit, continually revealing that which we forget and want to do away with.

    Just because things “change” doesn’t mean that the change is divine.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  111. Jeff Spector on July 21, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    “Clearly, that article is just “tak[ing] verses” to “knit any story we choose…”. Come on, Jeff, that is a patently absurd reading of that link and is, in my experience, the typical LDS answer to anything that contradicts their worldview.”

    I assume you mean “not.” And yes, just as you have determined that this article has credence based on your view, I am more skeptical based on mine. One does not have to degrade that as an “LDS worldview.” Frankly, it is my opinion based on my own study. Just as your love for it is for you.

    “Continuing revelation is for revealing unknown things [that's what revelation is, after all, revealing the unknown, the secret or hidden].”

    And just where is that among the definitions? Revelation can change anything, just as the Mosaic law was done away with. That’s all over the scriptures as well, but has changed.

    You are begin to sound like a sola scripture type….

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  112. Mike S on July 22, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Irony: Additionally, I am confident that we simply don’t know what it means to “rob God” in the Malachian sense, and especially in the way Jeff uses the phrase. To us, “rob God” simply means not paying into the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop – if our tithes or donations aren’t filtering through the Church, then we’re robbing God. If God is God, though, and if God is God of everyone on earth, then how are donations to other worthy causes “robbing God”, especially when many charities have transparent books and allow all to see where the money is going?

    I like this comment.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

Archives

%d bloggers like this: