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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Pay it Forward, Can You Pay Too Much Tithing? » Pay it Forward, Can You Pay Too Much Tithing?

Pay it Forward, Can You Pay Too Much Tithing?

Don - May 13, 2006

Tithing is one of the more interesting commandments.  It is one we always use as an example of being able to live a commandment "perfectly".  It’s simple, figure out what your increase annually is and pay 10%.

Ok, maybe that part isn’t so simple, but I’m not here to discuss that aspect of tithing.  I don’t care if it’s wages, gross, net, include gifts, inflation, what’s an increase, etc.

I once had a Stake President that challenged us to pay tithing based on how much we wanted to earn.  The premise is simple, you want to make more, pay more now and let the Lord bless you.

I have some thoughts about this.  Once I pay more than 10% it isn’t really tithing anymore, it’s a contribution.  I make contributions to the church all the time, temple fund, missionary, PEF, and Fast offering.  It appears to me that if I pay more than 10% then I’m making a contribution to the tithing fund of the church.  The same as if I pay 5% into the tithing fund, it’s a contribution – unless I’m a full tithe payer then it’s not considered a contribution it’s considered tithing.

I always try and cheat on my tithing!  Since this Stake President’s challenge many years ago I have tried to pay more than 10%.  Does it work?  Sometimes….sometimes my business ventures have succeeded and made money…sometimes they haven’t and we’ve lost a bunch of money.  At the end of the year I can honestly say that my tithing contribution and my income have never matched up "right."

I’ve thought maybe what I should do is wait until the end of the year, let the accountant do his thing and tell me how good/bad I did and pay my 10% based on his figures.  Or I could pay a little each month and then make a year end adjustment. Or I could continue to overpay….maybe I should put the overpayments into a more specific catagory.  Would it be more effective in the PEF or Fast Offering.

I’m not complaining, I realize I get blessings, tons of them, obviously however, not all are directly income oriented.  In my mind I can’t "afford" not to contribute.  Should I change where my contribution goes, when I pay it, or just pretend everything is ok?  Does anyone else go thru these types of mental qymnastics just for paying tithing?  What’s going on with my mind?

18 Comments »

  1. Yes, you’re going crazy.

    I say pay 10% as tithing (and whatever other contributions), don’t expect anything, and be grateful when you get blessings.

    Comment by Rusty — May 13, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

  2. I think it may be different for someone whose paycheck isn’t variable (or those who have defined pay scales) than it would be for someone who has business income like yourself, Don. Is paying more than a current 10% a leap of faith or is it counting your chickens? Hmmmm…

    In our case, I know exactly how much 10% is going to be, I bump it up to a nice round figure and pay anything above that into offerings. We rotate categories for offerings each time we pay, unless the Bishop solicits extra donations for the ward mission fund or fast offerings.

    Comment by Téa — May 14, 2006 @ 1:55 am

  3. At the end of the year I can honestly say that my tithing contribution and my income have never matched up “right.”

    I’ve thought maybe what I should do is wait until the end of the year, let the accountant do his thing and tell me how good/bad I did and pay my 10% based on his figures. Or I could pay a little each month and then make a year end adjustment.

    Thats how I always paid taxes when I was working for myself … except the Church doesn’t give you a refund if you’ve paid too much.

    I don’t think that tithing and God are a black box, and the Old Testament is very firm on not paying more or less. Interesting stuff in there.

    Glad to see you thinking.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — May 14, 2006 @ 9:35 am

  4. This is going to sound harsh, but this sounds like one of those Robert Kirby “Nazi Mormon” things…like if the church teaches that you aren’t supposed to date until you’re 16, then it’s even better to wait until you’re 21; or if the WofW prohibits coffee and tea, then it also prohibits anything with even trace amounts of caffeine, like chocolate.

    I’ve heard the “pay on what you want your income to be” idea before, and I think it’s based on a false premise – that tithing is some kind of magic trick to guarantee prosperity. It also seems to put forth the idea that paying tithing itself isn’t “enough,” because if you REALLY had faith you’d pay more.

    And anybody (even a stake president) who suggests paying MORE than what the scriptures define as tithing, into tithing, is dabbling in false doctrine about what tithing is.

    Comment by Ann — May 14, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  5. ” It also seems to put forth the idea that paying tithing itself isn’t “enough,” because if you REALLY had faith you’d pay more.”

    To be honest, this isn’t that far off the mark of true doctrine. That other people should judge you for this is wrong. However, tithing is actually a lesser law. Ideally we should be giving everything we have.

    Comment by Jettboy — May 14, 2006 @ 10:50 am

  6. My first observation is that you honor the commandment to pay tithing, that you have a testimony of this holy principle. Would that all members felt as possitive and acted as obedient as you do.

    My second observation is that you appear to want and/or expect something in return, i.e., purchasing blessings. It’s like you believe extra payment ought to yield dividends somehow, like a return expected from a stock market purchase. Am I misreading that?

    Comment by LDS Patriot — May 14, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

  7. Ann, thanks, good thoughts that I hadn’t considered.

    LDS Patriot, I guess I kind of do consider it purchasing blessings and expect dividends. Two reasons why: 1st the D&C says all blessings are predicated on keeping the law associated with it. So if I pay I get blessed, it’s the law. 2nd isn’t that probably the biggest reason we keep any commandment…we expect a blessing or a dividend?

    If I didn’t get blessed for keeping the commandments then why do it? Because I want to become like Jesus? Yes, but isn’t that a blessing?

    I know obedience is the first law of heaven, but obedience for obedience’s sake seems shallow to me.

    Obviously attitude has to be mixed in with obedience, but expecting a blessing I don’t think is wrong.

    Comment by Don — May 14, 2006 @ 4:39 pm

  8. A slight twist on that was related to me by a member whose house I lived in at the beginning of my mission. His dad used to work out how much money he needed that week and would pay his tithing as if he’d just received it, and apparently he always would.

    Comment by Fraggle — May 14, 2006 @ 4:46 pm

  9. Expecting blessings is completely fine. But where it gets to be problematic is when you assign which blessings came from which commandments you obeyed. Who says you’re right? Then what happens is you start blaming God for not blessing you for obeying a certain commandment. Not a good idea.

    And who says “obedience is the first law of heaven”? Isn’t that a folk doctrine?

    Comment by Rusty — May 14, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

  10. This is just a few steps down the road from Robert Tilton and his vows of faith. Promise God (or his agent, Jailbird Bob) that you’ll send X dollars a month, and just wait for the megabucks to come rolling in.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 15, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  11. Rusty, you’re right assigning blessings based on particular commandments makes a mess of things. I said before that not all the blessing I receive from tithing have anything to do directly with money…I just get blessings.

    And Joseph Smith said Obedience is the first law of heaven. He’s the one that started a lot of the LDS folk doctrine.

    Comment by don — May 15, 2006 @ 1:10 pm

  12. Do you want to reference that?

    Comment by Rusty — May 15, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

  13. I think tithing has to be a stirct 10% of your increase. So I pay perpetually “behind” a month, after all statements have come in (just today, I mailed tithing for april’s increase)

    any more you’d like to give is not a tithe. It’s not a tenth. It’s an offering. Pick a fund, any fund, and give!

    But if you are financially blessed, maybe it wasn’t for your generocity. Maybe it was for your temple attendance or your chastity! Or if you ask me, the Lord sends you extra money to test what you do about it. do you go “wow, all mine, thanks!” or “what a repsonsibility- who should I bless with this?”

    Comment by cchrissyy — May 15, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  14. Amen Rusty (#1). Amen Cchrissyy.

    This bugs me. If a person wants to pay more than 10%, by all means do it, but don’t lump it all into tithing. Take the overage and apply it to fast offerings, BofM publication, perpetual education, etc. etc. Putting it all in tithing doesn’t make much sense. Sure, put the 10% there, but beyond that, allocate to something else. Cchrissyy is right, I think.

    That’s my two Lincolns.

    Comment by David J — May 16, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  15. If I didn’t get blessed for keeping the commandments then why do it?

    Um, I don’t know, for helping other people be happy or for other wholly selfless reasons?

    Comment by David J — May 16, 2006 @ 8:36 pm

  16. My sister-in-law had a really interesting response to the question:

    If I didn’t get blessed for keeping the commandments then why do it?

    Because I want eternal life.

    Comment by Ann — May 17, 2006 @ 7:19 pm

  17. Mark B. my husband mentioned something very similar, that anyone who is sooo eager to make more money without effort will likely end up being part of a fraud investigation–either as a perp or a victim.

    Comment by Téa — May 23, 2006 @ 2:00 am

  18. Did you know that there is a Hebrew word that unites two words together, tithe and oppress. NIV translates the word into EXTORTION. Can you find it? What does it mean? Don’t you love a good quiz.

    Comment by Stephen — July 15, 2006 @ 11:41 am

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