Years of Agony Over Tithing

I have asserted many of the points made by Alan Rock Waterman in his incredibly well-written article. Alan has made an enormous clarifying contribution with his words.

I heartily endorse his article as something that constitutes for me the defining understanding of what it means to be a full tithe-payer and fully worthy.

Pure Mormonism: Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?

Joseph put the question to the Lord as to how all this was intended to work, and the answer is what we now know as the law of tithing. This law consists of the entire chapter of D&C 119, and takes up all of seven short verses. You can read the whole thing inside of half a minute. Why don’t you grab your scriptures and do that right now? Or just click here to see it online. Then let’s analyze it together.

The first thing you may notice about the law of tithing is that it concisely addresses two important questions:
1.  How much are members expected to contribute?
2.  What are those contributions to be spent on?

Those who have been conditioned by a lifetime of false propaganda about tithing may have difficulty coming to the realization that a “full tithe” constitutes less than you probably thought it did. A lot less.  There may be some things in life that are difficult to bear, or that constitute a sacrifice, but tithing,when properly understood, should not be one of them. The Lord designed it to be easy, painless, and cheap.

I remember the o as 10% of gross income while I was the HP group leader and had five children in the home. It never occurred to me that 10% of whatever was my decision to make despite the not-so-subtle encouragement at all levels that we should pay 10% of our gross.

That was hard for me during the years of unemployment and under-employment. It would have been wonderful to have encountered the understanding that is mine now about charitable giving, tithing and offerings.

It is my experience that for the most part bishops in tithing settlements are not anal-retentive IRS agents making comparisons regarding your actual amount of tithing paid versus what they believe you might be earning. I know that there may be some “enforcers of the faith” regarding the 10% gross, but the idea that they can “audit” your amounts with a temple recommend as leverage is more than inappropriate, it is flat out wrong.

It would be unfair to blame [members and local leaders] for the misinformation they were spreading. After all, they were only repeating the same myths and assumptions most of us have been taught since childhood, and the teachers and parents who taught them to us did not know any better, either. Some of these false teachings are that tithing is the Lord’s money; that a tithe constitutes ten percent of our total earnings; that we must always make sure to pay tithing first before paying our bills; that tithing money goes to help the poor and needy; that by paying a full tithe God promises to bless us individually; that tithe paying is a commandment that every member of the church is expected to obey regardless of circumstances; and that tithing must be paid before anything else even if it means your children will go hungry.

None of those assumptions can be backed up by scripture, but that latter assumption, perhaps the most insidious and widespread perversion of God’s law currently being promoted from the pulpit, is typified by the following statement which appears in the current issue of The Ensign magazine:

“If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing.” (Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)

Local leaders are told not to do that and I believe that a simple responsive challenge if they try during the interview can elicit a confession that your gross earnings is none of their business and that what you feel is a full tithing is between you and the Lord and not up for eligibility review with an ecclesiastic auditor.

if the leadership concern for family economic well-being genuinely included an understanding that stressed family economics can seriously impact the sense of family and self worth, could we not reasonably expect – or even demand – a direct and open counseling about what paying a full tithing really means – based on what the Lord has said and what is written in scripture?

The failure or reluctance of leadership to drag this truth out of the closet in order to assure families who are torn by self-doubt based on an inability to “afford” the full spiritual validation of the Church is in my opinion quite willful, deliberate in fact.

Such leadership willfulness seems intended to assure the saints that the Church itself is the most important “true” of all truths rather than the immense truth of a living Christ and the truth of the Gospel.

Published by

Arthur Ruger

Married and in a wonderful relationship. Retired Social Worker, Veteran, writer, author, blogger, musician,. Lives in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

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