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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Tithing And Responsibility » Tithing And Responsibility

Tithing And Responsibility

Christian J - March 19, 2013

A court has ruled that paying back taxes is a higher priority than paying tithing – for one LDS businessman. I expect, for many, this will be viewed as an outrageous breach in the fabric of religious freedom. However, when does paying tithing become irresponsible?

If the choice is taxes or tithing?
consumer/student loan debt or tithing?
child support or tithing?
medical bills or tithing?
If you’re receiving Church assistance to make ends meet should you also be paying 10%?

Of course, many will say that tithing is a privilege and that taking it away from people (as an institutional rule) would be depriving them of blessings. The problem I see, is we know the blessings of tithing do not always come in the form of money. Maybe the greater blessing for you at this moment is to get yourself right financially.

48 Comments »

  1. Actually, as to your last point, I have often heard counsel that people who have income should be encouraged to pay tithing, even if their income is not sufficient to meet all their needs and they are receiving church assistance.

    Comment by Mark B. — March 19, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

  2. Tithing was not intended to be a hard choice. Either give the Lord money or starve to death. That’s not what the Lord had in mind. Income, increase, THAT’S what should be tithed. Income isn’t money received for labor. Income is money KEPT after expenses. So you make $5000 a month, it isn’t the $5000 that should be tithed. It should be the $1000 you keep extra after expenses. THAT’S your income.

    Comment by Dan — March 19, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

  3. Mark, I’ve heard that counsel as well. I guess the faith-promoting explanation is – it gives them the opportunity to exercise faith in the law. But it seems sort of redundant to me.

    Dan, I’ve heard that is how the CoC counsels their members to tithe. So, if you’re in debt, pay that off first. I have to admit, it makes more sense to me.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 19, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  4. I’m interested what others think here. I’m struggling with tithing. I hear stories from the pulpit that go something like this: “We didn’t have enough money to feed our children, but we paid our tithes and it all worked out.” Morally, isn’t our primary responsibility to feed our children? Or purchase medicines, or pay the rent, or… Should we really give to a fabulously wealthy church first before we feed our children? Would the Lord truly have our children go hungry (or not have a roof over our head)?

    Comment by Lulubelle — March 19, 2013 @ 1:14 pm

  5. Mark B. is correct. The counsel of church leaders that I have always heard is to pay tithing first, regardless of other commitments or issues. This is contrary of course to what Dan is suggesting, and it does sometimes require hard choices, but it also shows faith, and in my experience, that faith is rewarded.

    Ultimately, however, everyone has to make their own decision on this issue, and no one should look down on anyone else’s decisions on how they pay their tithing.

    Comment by MCQ — March 19, 2013 @ 8:08 pm

  6. BTW, I think the court ruling was correct, in that the businessman was under a court order to pay back taxes and could only deduct “necessary” expenses before doing so. The court didn’t rule that the businessman couldn’t pay tithing, it just ruled that he couldn’t deduct tithing as a “necessary” expense before paying his court ordered tax payments.

    I think most people would not agree with the opposite result: that tithing is a “necessary expense” rather than a voluntary contribuion. Of course it’s voluntary, and the court was correct to characterize it that way. The businessman’s attempt to argue that it was necessary was his attempt to make sure his tithing was paid prior to his tax obligation, which is fine, but if the court had agreed with him it would have been a strange result and a bad precedent.

    Comment by MCQ — March 19, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

  7. Tithing-first proponents do abound, of course, but that’s to be expected; representatives of the IRS would no doubt encourage everyone to pay their tax liability first, the bank would appreciate first dibs on your wages for that mortgage payment and so on.

    I side with Dan in that I don’t believe tithing was ever intended to be the Abrahamic sacrifice some make it out to be. If this were the case, then clearly the wealthy and those that live within their means are getting the short end of the stick by never having to decide between dinner and tithing.

    Comment by Peter LLC — March 20, 2013 @ 5:32 am

  8. I agree with you guys, common sense should prevail. When I was younger, I drove myself nuts trying to obey this law perfectly.

    Now, I believe the spirit is more important than the letter of the law of tithing and, while I still pay a full tithing, it’s not as big a deal as it used to be if I mess up. Or it gets paid next payday.

    What really bothers me is how young families are beating the heck out of themselves over tithing. They’ll consider themselves mortal sinners if they choose to buy milk or pay their rent instead of paying their tithing. I SO don’t believe God is happy with that.

    But I think God is a laid back kind of guy, who smiles more than He frowns and is ALWAYS on our side (I’m always on my kids’ side, too, but sometimes I have to ask “what the hell were you thinkin’”). Boy, does it torque a lot of hides when I say that in Sunday School. The “works over faith” crowd start yelling all at once.

    Comment by annegb — March 22, 2013 @ 11:00 am

  9. Forme, paying tithing first “just works”. It is a matter of faith. I have prepaid tithing when I did not have enough money to pay a debt and received a check in the mail the next week ten times the amount I paid tithing on which allowed me to pay the debt.

    Glenn

    Comment by Glenn Thigpen — March 25, 2013 @ 8:01 pm

  10. Glenn, that has been my experience too. I don’t always have the faith to pay tithing first, but when I do, it is rewarded.

    Comment by MCQ — March 25, 2013 @ 10:25 pm

  11. Greg, MCQ,

    Your personal experiences are important. I’ve heard many others that are similar. I have little doubt that God may decide to take care of us in those ways.

    But, I worry about making that the official teaching on the topic of tithing. There’s already a “prosperity gospel” problem in the Church and when we attach financial benefits to gospel principles (even financial laws)it can be a dangerous mix.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 26, 2013 @ 10:34 am

  12. CJ, don’t kid yourself. It is the official teaching. But you’re wrong to put it the way you do. There’s a spiritual benefit to gospel principles that is way more important than any financial incentive you could ever come up with, but there’s no way to read Malachi without seeing a temporal promise:

    Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

    And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.

    And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

    That’s not the only scripture on that point, but it’s the most famous. We have been given promises, CJ. And the Lord does deliver on those promises. Not always in the way you want or expect, but he does deliver. And we can’t just read those promises out of the scriptures just because we worry about how they might be misinterpreted.

    Comment by MCQ — March 26, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

  13. M, I’m specifically referring to the belief that the blessings of tithing are always financial. And if that is the official position of the Church, then I have no problem saying that its misguided and even false. But I don’t think that’s the Church’s position, nor is it the message I hear when I take the whole of scripture into account.

    Specifically, we have to deal with accounts like in Habakkuk that present a picture of financial devastation where God is still fulfilling his promise to care for us:

    Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
    though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
    though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
    yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
    The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

    We also have to deal with many other narratives throughout scripture (John the Baptist, Abinadi, Moroni, Joseph Smith)where following God appears to have worked out terribly wrong if we only take into account the temporal world. And then of course we have to deal with Jesus – who teaches repeatedly that financial gain is a liability to us spiritually.

    So, I believe in a God that keeps promises and covenants, but I don’t claim to know exactly what that will look like for each of us.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 27, 2013 @ 7:09 am

  14. I don’t think we’re told that all financial gain is a liability, just that being wealthy is.

    And I think your examples are inapplicable to the principle we are discussing. We don’t know much about Abinadi’s life, for example, outside of the specific story about his death. There is no evidence that he didn’t have a perfectly wonderful temporal existence until he was called to testify to the king which resulted in his death.

    Similar things could be said of the others you mention, and I think they would be the first to testify that they were blessed and preserved temporally as well as spiritually, until such time as they were asked to seal their testimonies with their blood. But those are rare occasions, and you can’t use those to extrapolate a lesson that applies to people generally.

    There’s no question that we will be tested sometimes, and that sometimes those tests will be financial or temporal setbacks. We are not promised ease and wealth. But we are promised that the Lord will bring us through such challenges as we are given and we will be blessed for enduring them well.

    Comment by MCQ — March 27, 2013 @ 11:33 am

  15. I don’t think we’re told that all financial gain is a liability, just that being wealthy is.

    So, what does that say to American Mormons – a little less than half of the membership and in the top 1% of the world’s income bracket? (hint hint: we are wealthy) Especially when we consider that 10% of an American income is much much less of a faith test and sacrifice than much of the rest of the world, who are asked to pay .10 of their daily dollar.

    I’m guessing we could meet in the middle somewhere on this. I’m just not comfortable with rhetoric that paints financial gain as having anything to do with personal righteousness.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 28, 2013 @ 8:28 am

  16. Then you don’t believe the scriptures, because that promise is there. Repeatedly

    Look, I understand your discomfort. But I don’t think the problem is in the promises God has made, it’s in the way we look at them. He doesn’t promise wealth to anyone necessarily. Wealth is the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of luck and sometimes just plain old being born in the right family.

    The problem comes when we try to draw conclusions about ourselves or other people based on financial situations. That’s not our place and it results in a lot of mistaken conclusions.

    Comment by MCQ — March 28, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  17. Look, I understand your discomfort. But I don’t think the problem is in the promises God has made, it’s in the way we look at them. He doesn’t promise wealth to anyone necessarily. Wealth is the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of luck and sometimes just plain old being born in the right family.

    Common ground – achieved.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 28, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

  18. Then you don’t believe the scriptures, because that promise is there. Repeatedly

    BTW, my discomfort is not a result of bleeding heart liberalism – it comes from my reading of the 4 gospels and my personal interaction with some extremely poor individuals who possessed a godliness that I had never encountered in my cooshy suburban upbringing. Not to mention my time as an unemployed father of 2 , when I felt closer to God than I ever had before or since. (maybe TMI)

    So ya, I think the scriptures are much more complicated than – follow God and prosper in the land.

    Comment by CJ Douglass — March 28, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  19. I’m with you CJ, on all counts.

    Comment by MCQ — March 28, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  20. I love the stories about paying tithing and getting just the amount you needed in the mail, miraculously. I don’t doubt those stories, but for everyone of them, I’ll bet there are 10 stories where the person paid the tithing, and continued to watch their debts increase. I paid tithing faithfully for 8 straight years during my college years, when I was just married and having kids. We lived in a too-small apartment the whole time. The kids missed out on activities that required money. NEVER a family vacation. At the end of those 8 years, we were close to 10,000 grand in credit card debt, which was mostly racked up with medical expenses and the need to buy groceries and get vehicles fixed from time to time. I worked my butt off with a full-time job, and growing family WHILE I was a full-time grad student. I paid tithing on the gross! At the end, 10,000 in the red. Where was MY miracle money?

    But, things are better now. Finally. It almost tore my marriage apart (the living conditions, not the tithe-paying). And we still pay tithing. Yep. We still pay it.

    Pay it because God says so, not because you think you’ll find miracle money.

    Comment by john — April 5, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

  21. Per my comment above, I meant 10 grand…not 10,000 grand. It wasn’t THAT bad.

    Comment by john — April 5, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

  22. John, the promise is not that we’ll be rich or the Lord will pay off our debts. Where does it say that? The promise is essentially that the Lord will provide opportunites so that we won’t starve. I think you answered your own question when you said “things are better now.” How do you think that happened? Was it all just you? I know a lot of people for whom things didn’t get better, but none of those were paying tithing.

    Comment by MCQ — April 5, 2013 @ 2:56 pm

  23. Malachi is always the scripture of choice to thump people with on tithing. But the Savior mentions tithing only three times in the New Testament and each time it’s in association with hypocrites.
    There are Old Testament principles he brings forward for us to continue to observe, but it certainly doesn’t appear to me that tithing was one of the ones he considered important in the New Testament.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 9, 2013 @ 11:18 pm

  24. Jeff, I’ve seen that argument outside the Mormon tradition, but despite more than five years reading the Bloggernacle, this is the first time I remember seeing that argument within the church. I’m curious how you reconcile 3 Nephi 24 and our belief in continuing revelation with that argument.

    Comment by Amy T — July 10, 2013 @ 6:33 am

  25. I’m also curious what you mean by “thumping” people with Malachi.

    Comment by MCQ — July 10, 2013 @ 8:48 am

  26. In his fulfillment of the Old Law, Christ often made no mention of the many archaic practices of the Old Testament which were no longer necessary. But sometimes he made an effort to prove a point (the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath). In regards to tithing, it seems to me he’s also making a point – mentioned only in the context of hypocrisy, no promised blessings for heeding this law, and regarding the forceful and intense admonition of Malachi, our Savior is silent.
    In the four gospels the Savior spent much time teaching people the things important for them to know. Over the course of his three year ministry it seems if tithing were important he would have presented it in a positive way.
    One may rightfully say that the Bible is true as far as it is translated correctly. It seems a stretch, however, to think the doctrine of tithing would have been excised from the four gospels if it was originally there. Plainly stated divine approval in the New Testament for tithing would have been embraced with open arms by the church.
    But it’s not there, and so Malachi is periodically pulled out and dusted off. And people are thumped on the head with an Old Testament reminder of something not reinforced or taught in the New Testament.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 10, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  27. That makes perfect sense now, Jeff, and if all we had to rely on were the New Testament, then it would be perfectly correct to believe that tithing is not necessary, or at least that it need not be a priority for us.

    But of course there are numerous things we do in this dispensation that Christ did not mention at all during his ministry. It seems to me that there would be no need for prophets and continuing revelation if all that we needed to know and do were contained in the New Testament, but we have the Book of Mormon and D&C and PoGP for a reason, as well as the words of our current prophet and apostles. Given that, do you really have any reason to dispute the basis of tithing?

    Comment by MCQ — July 10, 2013 @ 4:34 pm

  28. I might consider the commandment “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and say, hmmm, how should I go about doing that? And then I might say, well…this program of home teaching, which seems to be a monthly duty and chore…I could actually approach it from the standpoint of “loving my neighbor”. It could then become more meaningful to me, using a program as a means to follow the Savior’s commandment.

    But to answer your questions, I believe the New Testament gospels must be the source of doctrine. Our Savior took three years to patiently and lovingly teach the important truths to his apostles and disciples. His words, from His mouth, must trump anything else. Any admonition, counsel or directive at odds with what He told us in these pages should be disputed by anyone who considers themselves his disciple.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 10, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

  29. And you think anything he didn’t say is at odds with his words? That seems strange. How is tithing at odds with his words? And do you accept his words in the Book of Mormon as part of his gospel? What about his words in the Doctrine and Covenants?

    Comment by MCQ — July 11, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  30. I have come to realize a very important principle. It’s not about how much we are willing to sacrifice to God. It’s about how much we are willing to receive from him. Father actually asks (not commands) just one thing of us – That we accept his love. And if we will just do that one thing, then the rest comes automatically. And “the rest” is not a Talmud size list. It’s as simple as we were told in Mark: We will gladly love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. And we will gladly love our neighbor as ourselves. And finally, we will gladly accept his son as our Savior.
    That desire comes as a natural consequence of accepting his love. Why? Because once you truly and sincerely do that, all doubt flees. It is almost incomprehensible that he could love you that much. You step beyond faith into knowledge. And amazingly, if he asks you to do something, he is still only asking because you could say no. And yet if you did, that amazing, unconditional love would not diminish in the least. But his love overwhelms you with its pure, caring sincerity. It’s almost not fair because it is virtually irresistible. You are astonished. It bowls you over. There are not adjectives sufficient to describe it. And when you feel it, you know that love is the source of Father’s power. Because with your free will undiminished in any way, you gladly agree to anything he asks you. His love is totally without guile and compassionate beyond all understanding. You trust him completely and without question because of that brilliant, pure love. And so when he asks you (not commands you) you are in awe. It is the deepest, most profound honor; it moves you to tears, and you are thrilled to say yes.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 11, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  31. So that’s a yes to my question then? Sorry I’m not understanding where in all that you answered me.

    Comment by MCQ — July 11, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

  32. It’s confusing, because first you said:

    Our Savior took three years to patiently and lovingly teach the important truths to his apostles and disciples. His words, from His mouth, must trump anything else. Any admonition, counsel or directive at odds with what He told us in these pages should be disputed by anyone who considers themselves his disciple

    .

    But now you are saying that all we have to do is accept God’s love. Pardon me, but isn’t that inconsistent with Christ’s words?

    Comment by MCQ — July 11, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

  33. You’re right, in the context of these replies it doesn’t flow very well. But to sum up: God doesn’t need our sacrifice or our money. He is omnipotent. We have nothing to give him that he doesn’t already have.
    Many people worship out of duty, out of fear of punishment. I don’t believe he wants that sort of relationship with us. So, first, just accept his love. If you truly do, it will change your life in ways I cannot even begin to explain. And then everything you do will be purely because you want to return that love, to love him back as much as he loves you. But the list is not long. It doesn’t need to be. What kind of place would the world be if we just loved God, loved our neighbor and accepted Christ as our Savior?
    We are his children. He knows our hearts. And he loves us, unconditionally, profoundly and eternally. But what about The Book of Mormon? What about the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price? What about this talk, this lesson? How do I reconcile my opinion with all of those other things?
    I don’t. We make it far too difficult and complicated. It’s just you, Father, the Savior and the Holy Spirit. Ask them. They will tell you.
    That’s the message; the whole message, in its simplicity, in its entirety.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 12, 2013 @ 12:17 am

  34. There are two points you miss, Jeff. First, the New Testament was written mostly be people who only had Christ’s teachings second hand, and either way weren’t written down until years later.

    Secondly, much of what is taught there pertained to their world and culture. Unless you’re restricting your reading to only the four Gospels, the NT is all about specific advice to specific congregations. Not every word applies perfectly today. And if you are only taking the Gospels, you are twisting epistles meant to testify of the divinity of Christ’s life into full doctrinal treatises.

    The other thing you miss, and most people do, is that all the other commandments which you despise are directly linked to the core of loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Tithing? Caring for the poor and providing facilities to teach the Gospel. Word of Wisdom? Taking care of our mortal stewardship which God had given us and freeing us to serve more effectively in His kingdom. Chastity? Being careful of the messages we send to others, respecting our stewardships, learning to focus on what is most important.

    The problem I’m guessing you really have isn’t with the principles properly applied, but when people take the principles too far, and lose sight of their purpose in order to follow an exacting list of do and don’t's. All obedience to the commandments is meant to be sanctified to love of God, others, and ourselves. That certainly doesn’t make the commandments obsolete.

    Comment by SilverRain — July 12, 2013 @ 5:05 am

  35. Exactly right SilverRain.

    Jeff, I have heard speeches like these as a missionary from Evangelical Christians who were convinced that nothing but the NT was required reading and nothing can or should be added to it. They insisted that accepting Christ was all that one needed to do and that anything beyond that was a waste of time and unnecessary or even blasphemy. I can’t believe you have come here in order to weary our ears with that fundamentalist message. If that’s your philosophy, good luck to you, but Mormons have heard that idea since the very beginning of our church and have always found it wanting. Go spend your time on a site where that tired doctrine is interesting and welcome. It’s not here.

    Comment by MCQ — July 12, 2013 @ 9:54 am

  36. I have no allegiance to evangelical Christianity. I’m not trying to win anyone over to any particular religion. I don’t necessarily think differences of opinion should end conversations. However, it’s your website and I have been invited to leave.
    You need to do what you believe is right. And if that truly makes you happy, then you should continue on that path. Because one thing I hope we can agree on is that God wants us to be happy.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 12, 2013 @ 1:30 pm

  37. We can certainly agree on that.

    You don’t have to leave, Jeff. As long as you understand that this is a Mormon blog and advocating doctrines that are in direct conflict with and antithetical to Church teachings is not appropriate. I’m pretty liberal on such issues but I find fundamentalist doctrines particularly grating because of my long, repetitive encounters with them as a missionary. there’s no logic whatsoever involved in that doctrine and it’s internally inconsistent because it rejects all scripture but the NT, while simultanneously advocating a process of salvation that is found nowhere in that volume. It tries my patience. But please, feel free to stay as long as you understand the purpose of this site.

    Comment by MCQ — July 12, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

  38. I appreciated your invitation to stay, but when you have to take a parting shot with “I find fundamentalist doctrines particularly grating because of my long, repetitive encounters with them as a missionary. there’s no logic whatsoever involved in that doctrine and it’s internally inconsistent because it rejects all scripture but the NT, while simultaneously advocating a process of salvation that is found nowhere in that volume. It tries my patience.”
    Well, I find that a bit condescending. So, I’m gone. However, I recommend that you read Acts 7 very carefully when you get a chance. The church uses this chapter to show that Christ and Father are separate beings (which I wholeheartedly agree with), but please, reconcile in your own mind what God says about not dwelling in temples made of stone. Oh, and especially take a look at the verses where he tells Israel they spent 40 years in the wilderness worshiping Moloch. If Acts 7 is true, it knocks down the Rameumptom of the D&C, Book of Mormon, P of GP and a fair share of the OT.
    There is much, much more evidence to support my point of view. If people would read the whole OT carefully from Genesis through Malachi, it’s much easier to see. And to see the logic it is necessary to step outside your box for a more objective view.
    However,I still say you need to do what you believe is right and makes you happy. And if your beliefs make you happy, then by all means you should stay with them. I wish you no ill will.
    Bye.

    Comment by Jeff Blackmer — July 16, 2013 @ 5:51 am

  39. Thanks for sticking around long enough to explain this, Jeff. I’ve heard this idea before as well, the insistence that Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7 does away with all need for most of the OT and continuing revelation in one fell swoop. It’s an interesting idea, but an odd one isn’t it? How likely is it that the testimony of one missionary was intended by him or by God to do away with most of the writings of the prophets in the OT and all need for prophets afterward?

    If that were really God’s intent, don’t you think he could have found a more direct way to let us know? And why would it come through Stephen? I love Stephen’s testimony, but he seems an unlikely person to deliver such an earth-shattering idea as the one you are suggesting. Stephen’s stoning was not long after the Savior’s death. If Christ wanted to deliver such important information, wouldn’t he have said it himself, during his misistry? As you said earlier:

    Our Savior took three years to patiently and lovingly teach the important truths to his apostles and disciples. His words, from His mouth, must trump anything else. Any admonition, counsel or directive at odds with what He told us in these pages should be disputed by anyone who considers themselves his disciple.

    If that’s true, then why is such an important idea coming to us after his death, through Stephen? Isn’t that inconsistent?

    Moreover, Stephen’s not the last testimony in the NT. Others who came after him should be ignored, by your logic, shouldn’t they? Isn’t this really just a way for you to ignore scriptural writing that you find inconvenient because it doesn’t support your views?

    To me, the test of whether you should believe something is from God is not whether it came to us during Christ’s ministry or even whether it makes you happy (although that can be a part of the process of “prov[ing] all things, hold[ing] fast that which is good”), it’s more a matter of asking God, and being willing to live with the answer you get, whatever that might be.

    That’s why I believe as I do that modern revelation exists, and that the OT, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants are of God.

    I also, coincidentally, find them to be in perfect harmony with Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7. Stephen did not testify that the prophets in the OT were not important, or that they should be ignored. He said that the fathers of the Jews had persecuted and murdered the prophets, just as the current Jews did to Jesus. This got him killed, but his final testimony is very powerful, as God opened the heavens to him in a final vision.

    That final vision is very which is very similar to the vision granted to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, recorded in D&C 76, showing that modern revelation is consistent with previous revelation, but if you think it isn’t there is always a way to test it.

    Comment by MCQ — July 16, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  40. Our Relief Society lesson this Sunday was about tithing. The teacher is a Molly Mormon type who mostly read the lesson and stuck rigidly to the party line without much sensitivity or insight.

    I fidgeted through the whole lesson—for some reason, hers are the lessons on the infrequent days I make it to Relief Society—-I keep thinking “I can read!” I hate it when they read the lessons.

    My rebellious attitude toward tithing started when the prophet so joyously celebrated that shopping center in Salt Lake. I’m tremendously bothered by our church’s niggling wages to employees. I understand we’re building temples and churches and other necessary expenses for the church, but when our worth is in the billions, outside of all the businesses, I think something’s rotten in Denmark.

    It’s important for me spiritually to contribute to God’s work and I will continue to do so. But a part of me will feel distrust of the system in that regard.

    Comment by annegb — July 22, 2013 @ 8:41 am

  41. I hate it when they read the lessons.

    You and me both. Reading is not teaching.

    I can understand people having a bad attitude about the mall, but I have always felt the opposite. I’m happy that our church is able to help keep downtown SLC and the temple area vital and help provide so many jobs as well as just a nice place to shop and spend time. It makes me happy to visit the City Creek mall. Not all the things the church spends money on need necessarily be directly related to charitable activities.

    I’m glad the church is a frugal employer, but I think there are probably some things that go too far. Wages may in fact be too low, and I think the fees the church pays it’s lawyers are pretty miserly as well. No one will cry for them, but they are people just trying to make a decent living, and sometimes working for the church makes that difficult.

    For me, tithing is about me showing my faith and devotion to God. Once I pay it, I’m not overly concerned with how it’s spent, but if anyone imprudently or selfishly misuses the Lord’s money, I expect there will literally be hell to pay.

    Comment by MCQ — July 22, 2013 @ 4:59 pm

  42. Let me say up front that I am not a Mormon.

    But for us, the idea of tithing is not Christian.

    A tithe is a calculation. Christians are not calculated givers…but rather give from the heart. To us, a 10% gift seems pretty chincey.

    And, of course, Jesus showed us what real giving is when he pointed out the widow who gave ALL that she had, while the good religious types were putting in their calculated, measly 10%.

    Thanks.

    Comment by Steve Martin — July 29, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  43. Thanks for stopping by, Steve. I agree with you on the point that we should not be “calculating” when it comes to giving. We should give with an open heart and with the understanding that we must always:

    succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.

    Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—

    But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

    For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?

    And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.

    And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

    And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your bcondemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.

    – Mosiah 4:16-22

    In other words, we should give freely of our substance and ourselves. No one is limited to giving 10%, and in fact Mormons are expected to contribute fast offerings each month in addition to tithing, and to give other amounts and time whenever they see a need, as well as participating in their regular callings at church.

    Tithing is a lower law. It is the bare minimum that anyone might be expected to contribute to the kingdome of God, but it is not the end of God’s expectations of us. As the above quote makes clear, and as Mormons are instructed in their temples, all that we have belongs to God, and we are expected to consecrate all of our substance and ourselves to him.

    Comment by MCQ — July 29, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

  44. Thanks for you thoughts on my comment and the other thoughts you have offered.

    For us, “Christ is the end of the law for anyone who has faith.”

    What ‘we do’…or ‘don’t do’, has absolutely no bearing on his finished work on the Cross for real sinners. We feel so strongly about that finished work on the Cross, that we put one (a cross) on top of our church buildings.It is central for us. Not the ‘law’ (what ‘we do’).

    Comment by Steve Martin — July 29, 2013 @ 9:40 pm

  45. Steve, thanks, we are in agreement on that point in a sense. Mormons are believers in salvation by grace:

    And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.

    And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

    Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

    Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

    Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

    Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.

    And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—

    – 2 Nephi 2:4-10

    In other words, we don’t believe we are saved by obedience to the law. Salvation would be impossible without the grace of God, through the atonement of Christ. But that doesn’t mean we don’t believe in obedience to commandments and repentance. Christ commanded all to repent and follow him. It is impossible to follow him if we are not committed to do the things he asks of us. We believe we will be judged by our works:

    And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

    And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    -Revelation 20:12-13

    That judgment will determine our place in God’s kingdom, but it doesn’t get us there. Only the infinite atonement of Christ can do that.

    Comment by MCQ — July 29, 2013 @ 11:33 pm

  46. “What is it to do the works of the Father?” they asked Jesus.

    “Believe in the one whom the Father has sent.”

    The obedience of works…and the obedience of faith, are two radically different things.

    Christ Jesus is after the latter. Because He already knows what we have done with the former. Failed miserably.

    Comment by Steve Martin — October 30, 2013 @ 4:45 pm

  47. “The obedience of faith” whoa…..extrapolate. I think I love it.

    Comment by annegb — December 12, 2013 @ 10:25 am

  48. JST Romans 13:6-7 suggests we pay tithing AFTER we pay our other debts.

    Comment by ji — March 2, 2014 @ 6:46 pm

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