Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?

(Previous Entry: The Opposite of Fear)

We Latter-day Saints have become so accustomed these days to having false doctrine preached at us in church that we barely even blink anymore when we hear it.

Last week in my local sacrament meeting, both speakers gave talks on the same topic, the law of tithing, and both promoted views that were not only not found in God's word, but were actually outright perversions of the law.

It would be unfair to blame the speakers 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)
If we are going to correctly observe God's law of tithing -and make no mistake, it is most certainly a law- perhaps it's time we clear our minds of the detritus that has accumulated from decades of secondhand information, and get the straight skinny directly from the Lord himself. After all, how can we say we understand a law if we haven't even read it?

First, some background: On December 7, 1836, Bishop Edward Partridge and his counselors officially defined tithing as 2 percent of the net worth of each member of the church, after deducting debts. This money was put to covering the operating expenses of the Church, and it appears to have been adequate for a time. Still, this was man's law, not God's. Apparently no one in the young Church had thought to ask God about it yet, so He had not weighed in on the matter.

Two years later, when the Church was eight years old, some 15,000 converts had already emigrated from their homes and gathered to Missouri, the new Zion.  Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who constituted the First Presidency at the time, were spending all their time dealing with and settling this huge flow of immigrants, to the exclusion of being able to provide a living for their own families. Things were at a point where Joseph and Sidney must either be compensated for their time, or they were both going to have to stop what they were doing and go out and get a real job. On May 12th the two men took the matter before the High Council of the Church. George W. Robinson recorded the minutes:
The Presidency laid before the High Council their situation as to maintaining their families in the situation and relation they stood to the Church, spending as they have for eight years their time, talents, and property in the service of the Church and now reduced as it were to absolute beggary and still were detained in the service of the Church. It now [had] become necessary that something should be done for their support, either by the Church or else they must do it themselves of their own labors. If the Church said, "Help yourselves," they would thank them and immediately do so, but if the Church said, "Serve us," then some provisions must be made for them. (Scott Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, Pg 182.)
The High Council voted eleven to one (George Hinkle vigorously opposed "a salaried ministry") to further contract the two men for their services, being careful to note that the money was "not for preaching or for receiving the word of God by revelation, neither for instructing the Saints in righteousness," but for work in the "printing establishment, in translating the ancient records, &c, &c." (ibid.)

Richard S. Van Wagoner, in his biography of Sidney Rigdon, further explains:
After negotiations, they agreed to offer Rigdon and Smith an annual contract of $1,100 apiece, more than three times what the average worker of the day could earn. Ebenezer Robinson, the High Council's clerk, later wrote that "when it was noised abroad that the Council had taken such a step, the members of the Church, almost to a man, lifted their voices against it. The expression of disapprobation was so strong and emphatic that at the next meeting of the High Council, the resolution voting them a salary was rescinded." (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, Pg 230.)
What the High Council did instead was offer the men 80 acres for their families to live on. So now Joseph and Sidney had some ground under them, but no walking around money. Maybe if they had asked for a more reasonable salary to begin with, there might not have been such an outcry. (Frankly, I blame Rigdon for the overreach. That just sounds like Sidney Rigdon to me.)

Anyway, the Church had been growing faster than anyone had anticipated, so it was past time to get the Lord's opinion on how to handle the financial end of things. Even though Bishop Partridge had declared tithing to be 2 percent of net, Partridge was not authorized to set doctrine; only God could do that. So in July of 1838,  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.

But let's get to that later. Before we look at how much we are expected to pay in tithing, let's jump to number 2 and look at what tithing funds are intended to be spent on.  Broken down, they are really quite simple:

1. The building of the Lord's house.
2. The laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood.
3. The debts of the Presidency of the Church.

You'll notice there's nothing in there about helping the poor, earthquake relief, or any humanitarian aid.  Charitable giving is something we are definitely commanded to do, but believe it or not, charitable giving is something that is separate from tithing. The purpose of tithing, in a nutshell, is to pay for the costs of managing Church affairs. Every faithful member is expected to shoulder his share of those costs.  If done correctly, paying tithing is painless, and should leave plenty left over for charity. If done according to the dictates of man, it can be quite difficult, and charity often gets left behind.

You'll also notice when reading the law of tithing that it contains no mention of any blessings accruing to those who comply with the law, although verse 6 does contain something that looks a bit like a curse upon those who fail to observe it.

And here's something you might find curious.  For all this talk we keep hearing about tithing being a commandment, no form of that word appears anywhere in this section. Why do you suppose that is?  The attentive reader will also notice that the words "obey" and "obedience" don't appear within the law of tithing, either. Everywhere else in scripture where we are given a commandment, it's pretty clear that what we are being given is a commandment, isn't it? So why not here?

Could it be that The law of Tithing is not what the Lord would normally consider a commandment? Oh, it's very clearly an obligation, make no mistake about that. We are told that if we fail to observe the law of tithing (in this instance, at least, the Lord uses words such as "observe" and "keep" in lieu of obey), we won't have a Zion society. So what is the law of tithing if it isn't a commandment?

Well, it's a law.

Confused yet? That's probably because most of us have come to attribute 21st century meanings to 19th century words, and when we think of laws we often think of them the way we do man-made decrees; statutes we are ordered to obey. The meaning of this other kind of law -the law God introduces- is often related to cause and effect.

Now of course there is often some overlap when discussing laws and commandments, but they are not precisely synonymous. Commandments often operate on some direct spiritual motivation; that is, they need no set of instructions to be complied with.  Their execution is self evident.

When Jesus said, "if you love me, keep my commandments," we understand His meaning right away. We love him, therefore we desire to follow his wishes. Implicit also in that statement is that those who don't love Jesus probably won't obey his commandments. They wouldn't be motivated to. Either way, they are called co-mandments, not demand-ments. A tyrant may demand something of you, but God asks his disciples to "come" with him, which is the reason for the suffix "co-" which implies we come willingly, we are co-operating with his will, rather than as unwilling subjects of a tyrant who forces compliance to his demands.  To the person who is truly born again in Christ, the desire to keep the commandments is inherent in the conversion.  Following the will of Christ is something you find you want to do, and which therefore comes easily. As a rule, you usually don't have to have a commandment explained to you.

For example, when Jesus said, "a new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another," his followers did not then require any detailed set of instructions about how love operates.  Once you experience the unconditional love of the spirit, you don't need to be told how to be compassionate or charitable; you are motivated to act by the pure love of Christ.

Once the Holy Ghost has filled your heart with mercy (the scriptures say it's your bowels that are filled, but I'm going to go with heart), then as you come across someone who is hungry, you'll feed him, if you see someone thirsty, you'll give him drink, if you see someone naked, you'll clothe him, and so on. You are motivated on a spiritual plane to act. You don't need a list of rules explaining how mercy works.

On the other hand, the use of the word "law" in section 119 has little to do with a command to pay our tithes. It is not about obeying a law.  Section 119 is concerned with explaining how and in what manner the tithes are to be obtained, and to what purposes they are to be spent. In that sense, the law is procedural, by dictionary definition it is "a rule of direction."

Before God revealed His law of tithing, members of the church were quite willing to tithe, they just didn't know how, they didn't understand the proper procedure. Section 119 spelled it out for them. It provided the rule of direction as to how it was to be accomplished, both as to receiving and disbursing. That is what is meant by the law of tithing: it refers to procedural law, the process of obtaining and disbursing the tithes; it has almost nothing to do with obedience.

This is not to say that the law of tithing need not be observed. The Lord is very clear that it is to be strictly kept, at least by those who wish to become worthy to abide in Zion.  But human nature being what it is, actually keeping the law as it was given has constantly been a challenge; and not so much for the members as for the leaders of the Church, who have constantly been caught tampering with it.

There are a few places in the D&C where tithing is briefly mentioned (64:23, 97:11-12, and 85:3), but if you're looking for the actual Law of Tithing, you will only find that in section 119. That is the Law of Tithing in its totality. We know so because in verses 3 and 4 the Lord tells us this will be the beginning of the tithing of His people, and that it will be "a standing law" unto us forever. So whatever you believe about tithing, if it's not in there, it's not part of the law. 

Painless Payments
In the first verse, the Lord announces the first part of the tithe. It is for all the surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop. That would have been a surprisingly easy term to comply with, as the early Saints understood the meaning of the word "surplus" to be any property they had which they didn't really need or have use for. If Brother Zeke was raising chickens, he got to keep all the chickens his family could eat for the year, plus enough to barter for other necessities, along with as many eggs as his family could consume or trade or sell for other necessities.  If he had extra hens and eggs beyond his family's needs, that was Zeke's surplus, and those went to the bishop for his tithe. These were chickens Zeke would barely miss, and the Lord made it that easy to part with his property on purpose. Tithing is not a test. It is meant to be practical, to accomplish a purpose. Paying it was not intended to be hard for anyone.

There was nothing new and unusual about this method of tithing. Joseph Smith clarified certain aspects of the law, as it has often been misunderstood. For instance, in Genesis 14 of the King James Version, we are left with the impression that Abram paid one tenth of all his possessions. That would have been a lot for Melchizedek to carry back, because Abram had a lot of posessions.

Yet in Joseph Smith's newer translation, we find that "Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need. (JST Genesis 14:39) Still a lot, but now we see it's not a tenth of everything. Abram gave only a tenth of his surplus. God has never required his people to "pay him first," or to give to the Church before meeting the needs of our families. God's law has always been extremely fair. But men always seem  eager to tweak God's law to their advantage.

Joseph Smith had not even been in his grave a month before the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued an edict declaring that instead of giving of their surplus, the Saints were to henceforth give "a tenth of all their property and money...and then let them continue to pay a tenth of their income from that time forth." There was no exemption for those who had already given all their surplus. The new rule was a tenth of everything right off the top.

And note that the twelve didn't pretend this change represented a revelation from God; they just needed more money, and issued a decree to get it. They arbitrarily changed the definition of tithing just because they wanted to. Apparently some people don't understand the meaning of "a standing law forever."  Oh well. The Prophet was dead. New Management, New Rules.

And guess what? Two weeks after that announcement, the Twelve voted to exempt themselves from any obligation to pay tithing at all, not even a tiny bit on their surplus. God's "standing law forever" had only been in place for six years, and already it was being eroded by those charged with administering it.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that the number of members who bothered to pay any tithing at all soon fell dramatically.  Over the next few years all manner of punishments were tried and proposed against delinquent tithe payers, from fines to excommunications. Official and semi-official decrees as to what and how much constituted a full tithe were constantly in flux, and always skewed to favor Church leaders over the rank and file

By the time the Saints had settled in Utah, all talk of surplus had vanished from the dialogue. New converts were expected to turn over ten percent of all their property at the time of their baptism, then another ten percent upon arriving in Utah, and ten percent more every year thereafter. General authorities had either misread the Lord's words in Section 119, or were simply lying outright when they taught that tithing was "one tenth of all we possess at the start, and then ever after one tenth..." (Journal of Discourses 15:308, 15:359, and 16:157).  The result of this anarchy was that it wasn't long before less actual tithing was being collected per capita. According to historian Michael Quinn:
Otherwise faithful Mormons withered before an overwhelming tithing obligation. Young told the October 1875 general conference that neither he nor anyone else "had ever paid their tithing as it was revealed and understood by him in the Doctrine and Covenants."
You can say that again. You have to wonder how much better compliance would be if the leaders simply showed the members that true tithing doesn't have to be a sacrifice; it's supposed to be simple and easy.

If we are to fully understand the law of tithing as given by the Lord, we are going to have to shed our modern notions about the meanings of words such as "surplus," "interest," and "income" and instead examine the meaning of those words as understood by most Mormons at the time the revelation on tithing was given. As it happens, Noah Webster published the first dictionary of the American language in 1828, and the meaning of the words as commonly understood by the Saints in that day can be found by looking up those definitions.

Plus, Plus Plus, Equals Over-Plus
Webster defines "surplus" as "that which remains when use is satisfied; excess beyond what is prescribed or wanted."

In the largely agrarian society of the early Saints, that might be additional chickens, cattle, apples, or anything over and above what a person might require for his family's needs. The early Saints would have been surprised at the modern assumption that tithing should be paid before you pay anything else, because in order to pay from your surplus, you have to wait and see what you have left over. That's why the Lord specifically states that tithing is to be paid annually. In the Missouri-Nauvoo period, you would have to get your bills taken care of first, otherwise you would have no idea what your surplus was going to be. Surplus is that which is left over after all other expenses have been taken care of.

The word Surplus is also defined in Webster's 1828 as being synonymous with the word "overplus," a word seldom used anymore but which happened to be the term to describe tithing used by John Corrill, one of the scribes who had been enlisted by Joseph Smith to write an early history of the Church. (Corrill's fascinating book, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, published in 1839, has been hard to come by until quite recently. You can now find it reprinted in its entirety in The Joseph Smith Papers, Volume 2:The Histories).  Here is how Corrill explained tithing among the early Saints:
If a man gives for the benefit of the Church, it is considered a voluntary offering. Yet the law requires or enjoins a consecration of the overplus, after reserving for himself and family to carry on his business.(Emphasis mine.)
 Common sense would tell us that the suffixes "plus" in the words surplus and overplus would mean something like "in addition to," or "above and beyond," but you would be surprised how many Mormons will look at verse one in section 119 and remain convinced it means the early Saints were to give up everything they owned. Never underestimate the effectiveness of the indoctrination you received in Primary.
We see in verse four of God's law of tithing that after giving this initial surplus, "those who have thus been tithed shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually." Well, that's an unusual word in that context, at least by modern standards. Not sure about the meaning of the term "interest" to the early Latter-day Saints? The pertinent definitions provided by Webster's 1828 inform us that it is a "share; portion; part; any surplus advantage." There's that word surplus again. It turns out that Interest is practically synonymous with surplus. As is also the meaning of increase.

Not sure what is meant by "surplus advantage"? For the definition of advantage we find "Benefit; gain; profit" also "Interest; increase;" and look, there's overplus again.  But wait. Back up. Doesn't "gain" mean the same as earnings or wages? So in modern times when we are paid wages we have gain, right? Aren't we then supposed to tithe ten percent of our wages, since our wages represent a gain?

Nope. Not so fast. The meaning of Gain as it pertains to a person has always been akin to what profit would be to a business. The money coming in to a business might consist entirely of what it gets for selling its products, or sales revenue. But all that revenue does not give an accurate picture of how much money the business has actually gained, because a lot of that money has to go back out to cover expenses.  What is left over after expenses constitutes how much money the business actually ends up with. That is the profit. Only when the business sees the profit left over has it experienced any gain.

Similarly, your wages or earnings have always been defined as compensation for your time and labor. It is an even trade of value for value. It is not gain. There is no "gain" accrued when you receive your wages. You are simply being evenly compensated, which means given even value. Everything is still in equal balance when you got paid. You made an even exchange of your time in exchange for their money. There is no gain or overage involved in that transaction. There is no gain because there is no increase involved. Only after you have met your expenses can you enjoy your gain which is the money you get to use as you wish, to buy what you want, to save for some future purchase, or even to fritter away. 

Still with me? Gain, Increase, and Interest are all synonymous with what you have left of your wages after providing for your needs.  After you have provided for your needs, you get to use the rest of your money to satisfy your wants. (By the way, being able to tell the difference between what you need, and what you merely desire, is the mark of a mature adult. If you can honestly differentiate between the two, congratulations, you're all grown up.)

Today we might call this surplus our "discretionary income," the money we have left over after our fixed costs have been met and our basic living expenses covered. That's why complying with God's law is easy. Tithing isn't ten percent of everything you have. It's more like ten percent of ten percent. Who can't contribute ten percent of their discretionary income to help pay the costs of running a Church?

Well, actually, some people can't. That would be those who have no discretionary income, no surplus whatsoever; for whom everything they take in is immediately required just to survive.  Unlike the way many believe today, the Lord never intended for the sick, the crippled, and the widowed to give what they did not have. Section 119 verse 3 tells us "and after that, those who have thus been tithed" (i.e. those who had a surplus to begin with) "shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually." That isn't everybody.

Only those who had already possessed tithe-able surplus were expected to continue to tithe ten percent of their additional surplus at the end of each subsequent year. The truly destitute have no surplus, so they are not expected to tithe. God is not a monster. Your Sunday School teacher may insist that tithing be paid before the rent and food, but the scriptures don't teach that. The scriptures teach "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Do you see how simple the Lord made it for us to provide for the administrative costs of the Church? When the institutional Church is operating properly and within its defined boundaries, it shouldn't require a massive sacrifice from the members. The law of tithing, as given to us by the Lord, is a simple law; it is only when we turn it into something difficult and complicated that we begin to see it as a challenge or a sacrifice.

And there's the rub. Keeping the Church operating within the bounds outlined within the law has always been the challenge, hasn't it? That's why God makes it the responsibility of the members to hold the leader's feet to the fire so they don't succumb to their own human natures. Remember, it was the members who vetoed the plan to allow Joseph and Sidney to take home three times the the wage of the average worker of that day. If the members had taken the attitude we do today, "well, they are the leaders, and we have no right to question them," then an injustice would have occurred, and the sacred tithes of the members would have been misappropriated.

Joseph Smith had to abide by the veto of the members who had contributed the funds even though he was the guy who started the whole dang church in the first place!  Everyone understood he was in charge, didn't they? Yet even The Prophet Joseph Smith could not do whatever he wanted. He had to ask permission from the members, and then he was at risk of being told no.

D&C 119 informs us that the law of tithing is specifically intended to pay the debts of the First Presidency, so we should see that is accomplished. But how are those debts defined? It has been an open secret that the general authorities of the Church receive a very comfortable salary, although it is often described as a "stipend" or "modest living allowance." As the ones who are covering the costs of these allowances, the tithe payers should be aware of how much money that actually comes to.  But that information is hidden from us by the very men who receive those salaries,  in direct violation of the Lord's word on the subject.

(One of the many things I liked about presidential candidate Ron Paul is that he understood the meaning of "servant." When he announced his candidacy he declared that if elected, he would accept a yearly salary of only $39,500 because that represented the median salary of the average American. I have no idea what the median yearly salary of the average Latter-day Saint is, but I'd venture to guess it's even less than that. I also don't know how much money our servant Thomas Monson is given to live on, because he won't tell us, but don't you think it shouldn't be much more than the average yearly earnings of the people who provide that salary? I do. What do you want to bet Monson's "modest allowance" is closer to the salary of  the President of the United States than it is to your own?)

Almost from the beginning in the Church, general authorities were loaning themselves large amounts of money out of the tithing fund for their private use. As reported by historian Thomas Alexander, "By March 1899 outstanding loans totaled $115,000, much of which, one authority said, would never be repaid 'in this life'..." (Mormonism In Transition, Pg 100.)  Stake Presidents were granted $300-$500 salaries cryptically labeled "travel costs" from tithing funds that poorer Mormons were struggling to provide them with.

But what about those promised blessings? Doesn't the Lord through Malachi promise to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon all the faithful Latter-day Saints who unquestioningly pay their tithes on time?

Well no. Malachi wasn't talking to the tithe payers. He was talking to the priests who had been collecting money for the poor and were keeping most of it for themselves.

It is a testament to our willingness for self-indoctrination that so many Latter-day Saints constantly quote the verse in Chapter 3 that asks "will a man rob God?" and assume the Lord is rebuking the people for withholding payment. When you read the previous chapters and verses you will see that Malachi, as God's mouthpiece, is accusing the Church leaders of embezzling. The tithes had already been paid by the people; they were simply being held up by the leadership. To paraphrase the famous words of King Solomon, "So what else is new?" (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

It can be confusing to some people why God would be angry at the priests for keeping the tithes to themselves, since the people's tithes were the very thing the Levite Priests were granted for their livelihood. It was the job of the Priest to run the temple, and tithes contributed by the people were the way in which the priests were to be compensated. It was all on the up and up. It therefore makes little sense to some people to see the priests accused of keeping the tithes for themselves when paying the priests was the very purpose of the tithes in the first place.

But the key words here are "tithes and offerings." As it turns out, there were two tithes that went to compensate the priests: first, everything that grew out of the earth was tithed for their support.  There was also a second tithe, known as the cattle tithe, that was to be shared between the priests and the offerer. It's likely that the priests were taking more than their share of the meat from these offerings, and selling some of that meat for personal gain.  And there was yet a third tithe, the annual tithe levied for the relief of the poor, and it was the theft of that tithe that seems to have gotten God and Malachi to come unglued. "Will a man rob God? Well You have robbed me, even this whole nation!"

In other words, the priest class had been robbing the whole nation by keeping for themselves the offerings that had been contributed by the people that were intended for the poor. By extension that was tantamount to robbing God himself, as God identifies himself in scripture with the poor and lowly.

Why did the priests find it necessary to embezzle? Silly question, for if we extrapolate forward 400 years to the time of Christ, it's obvious the priest class was by then completely corrupt. But to give the priests in Malachi's day some benefit of the doubt, scholars suggest it was normal human nature for these men to be worried they might some day have to do without if they failed to keep extra stores in reserve.  Others, pointing to Matthew 23 and Luke 11, suggest the priests had simply lost the sense of proportion with regard to what was important in religious observance.

Nevertheless, God used Malachi as his spokesman to promise these wayward priests that if they would stop hoarding the offerings and bring all those tithes into the storehouse to be properly distributed among the needy, He, God, would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon the priests; blessings so abundant they might never have to fear shortages again.  Try it my way, says the Lord, and see if things don't start to work for you.

The Problem With Overpaying
One of the unintended consequences of giving too much of our substance to the Church, is that afterwards we often have little left over to give to the Lord.

But hold on. Haven't we always been taught that this is the Lord's money and that when we tithe to the Church we are in fact giving it to the Lord?

We may have been taught that by someone, but we weren't taught it by God. Nowhere in the Law of Tithing is there any suggestion that by building a temple, or laying the foundations of Zion, or paying the debts of the First Presidency, we are giving that money back to the Lord. We were given the law of tithing because Joseph Smith asked God how it was to be done and the Lord told him. The law does not refer to the money or property as belonging to God. It is earmarked to pay the expenses of the Church.

If you want to give directly to the Lord, the scriptures tell us in several places how best to go about doing that:
"I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me. Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:35,36, 40)
 "When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)
Paying a tithe in support of the Church has its place. But is it any more important than giving an offering to the Lord? There is only one way to give directly to the Lord, and that is by demonstrating compassion for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

The tragedy in all this is that by overpaying tithing most of our lives, we Mormons have talked ourselves into believing that our duty has been fulfilled.  And yet our tithes to the corporate Church do next to nothing in assisting the poor and needy among us. A simple reading of the law in section 119 shows us that the care of the poor and the needy was never the purpose of tithing in the first place.  In addition to the small donation the Lord requires us to tithe for the support of Church management, we are still required to provide a generous offering to the poor, but how often are we admonished from the pulpit about remembering our fast offerings?

I'm afraid that in the minds of most members of the Church, the fast offering is an afterthought, something less important than "paying a full tithe."  We are taught from our youth the lies about the payment of tithing being like purchasing fire insurance to keep us out of the fiery furnaces of hell, and we believe it without question, along with stories of how the Lord will bless us when we pay our tithing, or how sacrificing to give money to the Church is the way we demonstrate our devotion to God.

Yet the scriptures teach us that to the extent such blessings accrue, they arrive as a reward for helping those in need, not by paying tithes to Salt Lake. We have come to see things exactly backwards. We give much more than is required to the Priests of Levi, But when approached on the street by someone who is truly in need, we clutch our money tight to our bosoms.

We tend to focus much, much more on our obligation to the Corporate Church than we do to our neighbors, even those living within our own wards.  If the Lord himself were to speak at your next sacrament meeting, where do you think he would suggest the bulk of your discretionary spending be sent? Where do you feel it is most needed?

There may have been a time when the Church truly needed additional tithes to meet its expenses, but that day is far behind us now. It seems to me that today the "church" side -the community of believers made up of individuals- is in much greater need of assistance than the corporate side. In times like these when so many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing increasing hardship, don't you think God would want us to be focusing as much attention on the needs of our neighbors as we do on the debts of the Presidency?

Why don't we hear the bishop announcing the opportunity to take part in a Fast Offering settlement at the end of the year? For that matter, why do we even still hold tithing settlement? Tithing settlement is an anachronism that has outlived its purpose, unless that purpose is intended as an opportunity to interrogate the members and instill unnecessary guilt and fear. What other reason is there to attend one of these meetings? Even those who believe they are required to contribute the full 10 percent of their earnings usually have already taken care of that on a monthly basis. So why an annual tithing "settlement" come December?

Settle Down There, Hombre
The original purpose for a tithing settlement can be found in that word "settlement." In the old days, many of those who could pay their tithing either monthly or quarterly in cash did so. But let's say Brother Zeke the chicken farmer had a bountiful year. His hens hatched hundreds of baby chicks, and his cows gave birth to 10 calves.  Some of those chicks grew to adulthood and were eaten at the dinner table, others were sold so that Zeke could provide other necessities for his family ("man shall not live by chicken alone"). When the end of the year rolled around, Zeke found himself with a surplus of let's say 60 laying hens over and above what his family needed to thrive, and an increase of ten cows over what he started with in January.

So Zeke would contact the bishop and arrange a time to give the bishop six of those surplus hens, and one of the calves. In this way Zeke would "settle" his tithing with the bishop, as would any other farmer who had tithing "in kind" (which means payment in something other than money). It would then be the job of the bishop to find a buyer and convert that livestock into cash to be forwarded to Salt Lake. In those days bishops were allowed to keep ten percent of all the money they collected before sending the rest to Church headquarters. It was only fair, as finding buyers and sellers for crops and livestock could be a time-consuming endeavor.

That's how tithing was "settled" back in the day. But since most of us now deal in cash or check, we have no need to have the bishop settle our affairs for us in that manner.  But tithing settlement is still held every December anyway, so go ahead and show up if you want to. Just don't expect the bishop to thank you for bringing any chickens with you, unless they're already cooked and in a bucket with a side of cole slaw.

How To Figure Your Tithing
Some folks, like farmers and ranchers, have either an increase or a decrease in their fortunes each year. If a Utah cattleman owns a thousand cows, and in a given year those cows give birth to a thousand calves, it's easy for the rancher to figure his tithing. He now possesses 2,000 head of cattle. But he does not pay tithing on all 2,000. Only half of those cows in his possession represent his increase or his annual interest, so out of that thousand he sells 100 cows and turns the money over to the bishop.

Easy and painless. He still has 900 more cows than he started out the year with, along with the thousand head he already had. So he was able to fulfill his obligation to the Church and he's still come out way ahead. He can sell some or all of those leftover cattle to support his family, expand his operations, and even donate some beef or cash to the poor. If he's lucky, next year these additional cows will bear more calves, further increasing his own fortune along with the coffers of the Church. If enough Latter-day Saints were to contribute the tiny percentage the Lord actually requires, the Church would have plenty to fund its operations, and the poor among us would be well taken care of because we wouldn't be siphoning so much of our substance off to Church headquarters.

But what about the average guy or gal who labors for a fixed wage? How do you figure your "increase" if your earnings remain pretty much the same? In 1970 the First Presidency issued a statement intended to clarify all that. (Guess what? It didn't.)
 "The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this."
Now, why do you suppose the First Presidency quoted the Lord's use of the word "interest", and then added the comment "which is understood to mean income" right after it?  Understood to mean income by who? I'll tell you who. The people in Joseph Smith's day. That's who.

 But they understood the meaning much differently than you probably do.

If you were raised in the government schools like the last three or four generations of Americans, you probably grew up thinking income means "everything that comes in."  Well, that's what you may think it means, but that is not the meaning of the word either historically, traditionally, or by legal definition.  Income is more properly synonymous with profit. In other words, your income is the money you have for your personal use after your expenses have been deducted, not before. Your income is not your gross earnings or your wages, and it is not your take home pay.  The early Latter-day Saints all understood income to be one's net share or "interest" after deducting the basic expenses required for living.

You can track down the word in Webster's 1828 ("Income" is the gain that proceeds from labor, as opposed to compensation for labor), or you can take as your guide numerous holdings of the U.S. Supreme and appellate Courts, which have made several stabs at clarifying the traditional meaning of what constitutes income for purposes of taxation.  I'm including a couple of definitions below. These cites can appear quite convoluted to those unused to reading case law, and if all this is new to you, you'll have to completely flush from your brain any preconceived idea of what "income" means or you will drown in cognitive dissonance. I'll try to keep it simple, but if you're up to it, you can explore the topic further here and here. Since these short quotes are excerpts from much longer citations, I'll try to give a concise translation as to their contextual meaning:
Whatever may constitute income, therefore, must have the essential feature of gain to the recipient...If there is no gain, there is not income...Congress has taxed income, not compensation. -Conner v. U.S., 303 F Supp. 1187 (1969)  
Translation: Income is not the direct compensation one receives in exchange for labor (i.e. wages); income is the gain one has after expenses.
It is not salaries, wages, or compensation for personal services that are to be included in gains, profits, and income derived from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal services. -Lucas v. Earl, 281 U.S 111 (1930)
Translation: salaries and wages are considered compensation for personal services. They are not gains, profits, or income. Gains, profits, and income are derived from wages. That is, after you have received your wages and deducted your basic expenses from those wages, that money you have left (the gain derived from your wages after expenses) is your actual "income."

Still with me? Okay. So for the purposes of paying tithing, how do you know how much of your earnings count as going toward basic expenses in order to arrive at the proper amount for determining your income, which is the part of your earnings you'll pay tithing on?

Well, that's between you and the Lord. In that 1970 letter from the First Presidency (the most current official pronouncement we have on the topic) we read, "We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly."

That's a wise statement, because only the Lord truly understands your circumstances. Since everyone's situation is different, no one -no bishop, stake president, or general authority- is empowered to tell you how much of your money you should pay tithing on. That's what prayer is for. You make your decision and take it to the Lord for his approval. If you feel right about your decision, you are a full tithe payer as long as you give ten percent of the amount you consider your interest to be. You can fool yourself, but you can't fool the Lord. So be honest with yourself.

I'll tell you how I figure it for our household. At the first of the month I pay my fixed expenses: rent, utilities, phone, and so on.  After that I usually have about six or seven hundred dollars left for the two of us to live on. Most of that will go for groceries, but also gas and sundry other things. Emergency car repair and other unexpected contingencies. Maybe a fast food meal here or there. Whatever.  Essentially, it's everything we have left over after paying our bills.

Some of this "grocery money" I will give away to those in greater need than we are, which may amount to a couple hundred dollars or so a month. You may feel it works better for you to budget a certain amount for charitable giving at the beginning of the month and include that in your upfront expenses, and that's fine. I doubt the Lord cares if the Church gets a little less tithing because you've earmarked a chunk of it to his poorer sons and daughters. But we have decided not to limit ourselves to a set amount for giving, so that comes out of our grocery money as we go along, because, well, it's grocery money for somebody. Besides, I'm afraid that if I were to limit my charitable giving to a set amount, I might find it too easy to make excuses to myself that I've already done my share -the way I used to rationalize passing up the needy because I had already paid so much in tithing.

So as far as money for the needy goes, I hand it out as I come across a need, that way I don't have to think about how much I'm giving up. I'm no angel. I have always had a tendency toward greed. So in making this rule for myself of never passing up an opportunity for giving, I don't have to think about what it's costing me, I just do it.

So that whole pool of leftover money is what I choose to consider my surplus/overplus/increase/interest/income; so if it adds up to say, $700, my share of tithing for the Church would be $70.00.  That's much less a percentage of my wages than I used to give to the institution most of my life, but it is the proper one, as it leaves me plenty left for the Lord's purposes.

Now, most people would count groceries as part of their basic living expenses, and of course they are, but I don't bother creating a separate budget for groceries. Too complicated. After all, if I wanted to become Pharisaical about it (or obsessive compulsive-take your pick) I could start nitpicking about what it really costs to provide my basic needs.  When you get right down to it, I could survive on flour and corn meal, or even locusts and honey, which would increase my titheable surplus, therefore making me an A-Plus First Rate Tithe Payer Guy, but it would make for an unhappy quality of life.

So I just pay my bills upfront like a responsible adult, then I try to make the rest of my money last as long as I can until it's gone. So lumping my grocery money in with the rest of my walking around money and calling it all surplus is my way of choosing easy. Knowing that we're going to be needing most of what we have left for food keeps me from doing anything stupid with it.

You can probably tell that if I were to deduct gas, groceries, and necessities upfront, I would probably have little or no surplus at all. On the other hand, I could have counted my monthly internet fee as discretionary, so it works itself out. There may be areas in which you can find a surplus you hadn't thought of. Think of what your family needs to actually survive, and those bills you absolutely have to pay each month, and count everything else as your interest.  Some people spend more than I might think they need to on clothes, for instance, but maybe they justify it because they need to wear better clothes to work than I do.  Some of what you might call legitimate expenses might seem extravagant to me, but that's why I'm not your judge.

Here in California it's quite easy for some folks to spend close to two hundred dollars on their cable and internet services if they were to buy the whole package. If that's you, you might remove that from the "expenses" column and count that money as part of your discretionary surplus, and therefore money you would tithe against.

Then again, you may feel having cable with all the premium channels is a basic necessity of life. It's your call. If you can justify that to God, fine with me. He's the only one you have to answer to. Even still, recognizing that your $200 cable addiction is not quite a necessity doesn't mean you will have to live without it. It simply means you should maybe count $20.00 of that toward your tithing.

Many married couples cannot agree on what constitutes expenses vs. interest, so don't ask me to figure it out for you. Take it to the Lord in prayer and ask him what he would have you do. If you are a full tithe payer in the eyes of the Lord, that makes you a full tithe payer, period.

My Testimony Of Tithing
As a teenager and young adult growing up in the church, I had a powerful testimony of tithing. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that as I continued to faithfully donate ten percent of my gross earnings to the Church, the Lord would continue to bless me with a job I liked and could advance in. And it seemed to be working out.

Looking back, I now recognize that it wasn't really the law of tithing I had a testimony of, since I had never even read the thing. What I really had was the testimony of a movie.

In Seminary we were shown a Church film, "The Windows of Heaven" which told the story of Lorenzo Snow's speaking tour to St. George and environs in the year 1899.  The Church was experiencing deep financial trouble; tithing receipts were way down and the deficit was out of control. On the wagon trip to St. George, President Snow's party frequently passed dead and dying cattle along the way. There had been a severe drought in the area, and along with the weight of the Church's financial problems, President Snow was burdened with concerns about how the Church could possibly manage to assist these poor people in their time of trouble, since the Church itself was dead broke and deeply in debt.

Arriving at the St. George chapel old, weak, and frail, President Snow was helped to the stand and began to give his talk. Suddenly, right in the middle of a sentence, he paused and looked at the back of the chapel as if in a trance.  He was silent for a very long time, just staring straight ahead. When he finally resumed speaking, he straightened up and spoke in a mighty voice of authority, calling the congregation to repentance for their failures in paying their tithing, and then dramatically declared:
"... observe this law fully and honestly from now on; you may go ahead and plow your lands, plant your seed, and I promise you in the name of the Lord that in due time clouds will gather, the latter rains from heaven will descend, your lands will be watered, and the rivers and ditches will be filled, and you will yet reap a harvest this very season!"
Then followed a montage of Saints faithfully paying their tithes of crops and chickens to the local bishop. Within weeks, rain clouds formed and the windows of heaven literally opened and poured down rain, rain, and more rain! Water filled ditches, resevoirs, ponds, and creeks. The farmer's land was redeemed! The crops were saved! The drought was finally over, and there was much rejoicing.

This movie made quite an impression on my young mind, as it was designed to. The clear message of the film was that anything that may have been going wrong in my life at the time could probably be traced to the fact that I hadn't been faithful enough about paying a full tithe on every dollar I brought in. I was further made to understand that if I were to remain a full tithepayer from then on, the Lord would bless me and I would know nothing but success in life from then on out. All I had to do was never forget to pay my indulgences.

I took the message of that film as it was meant to be taken; that if I did my part I would reap great material rewards.  I believed this with all my heart, and on my mission I bore repeated testimony to the incredible benefits that attached to being obedient to the law of tithing. If there was anything I had a testimony of, it was this tithing thing. It was almost my trademark. I was still motivated by the message of this film years later, long after things fell apart for me financially. For years and years I continued to believe wholeheartedly that I would receive bounteous blessings for paying my tithing, even when those blessings never seemed to come.

I had misunderstood the message of the film, you see. Or rather, the film was deliberately crafted to convey promises of blessings that neither the Lord nor Lorenzo Snow had ever made.

The film was an incredible inspiration to me. But what the film did not do was tell the whole truth. As Jay Bell writes in his piece The Windows of Heaven Revisited, "an interesting mixture of fact and fiction characterizes the faith-promoting focus of the film."

First off, the viewer is given the distinct impression when watching this film that it was somehow the faithlessness of the members that was to blame for the Church being in such dire financial straits. In reality, most of the fault was the result of poor management decisions within the Church leadership at Salt Lake. A good part of the problem, of course, was that the United States government had seized temple square and everything owned by the Church valued above $50,000. But even without the government's "help," the Church hierarchy, prior to Lorenzo Snow taking office, had created more than their share of problems that were now putting the very survival of the Church in jeopardy. Jay Bell reports:
First, the Church had overspent itself for some time. Wilford Woodruff, anxious to complete the Salt Lake Temple in his lifetime, had spent $1 million to complete the $4 million edifice in 1893. Educational and civic responsibilities also drained the budget. The Church was supporting Young College in Logan, Brigham Young Academy in Provo, and the Latter-day Saint College in Salt Lake. The national depression from 1893 through the latter half of the decade had increased the number of Saints in dire need of welfare. Furthermore, the Church invested heavily in local power, mining, sugar, and salt companies, trying to stimulate regional employment. According to Michael Quinn, the primary cause of the Church's indebtedness was "massive losses in the Church's interlocked mining, sugar, real estate, banking, and investment firms." As early as 1893, the Church began borrowing to meet its obligations, first from stake presidents and eventually from such "outside" institutions as Wells Fargo & Co., and National Union Bank.
Second, the Church maintained little fiscal supervision. Snow had been alarmed, on assuming the presidency, to discover that no budgetary controls existed. Decisions about using Church funds were made ad hoc on an as-needed basis. (Journal of Mormon History, Volume 20, No. 1, 1994)
Third, tithing receipts were down, and they had been down ever since the Quorum had changed the rules without authorization from God back in August 1844, when they announced the requirement of a tenth of all one's posessions at baptism, another tenth of all possessions upon arriving in Utah, and a perpetual tenth every year thereafter. Many members contributed only as much as they could afford, and a good number just gave up and stopped trying altogether. And of course, there was that little practice of the Brethren "borrowing" tithing funds for their personal use. The Church was in need of a tithing reformation, and Lorenzo Snow was the right guy at the right time.

Snow cancelled the requirement to give a tenth of one's property at baptism. Henceforth, tithing would consist of one tenth of one's annual income (and yes, everyone at the time knew what "income" meant). Tithing receipts immediately and dramatically increased. He instituted strict controls and oversight to eliminate tithing being justified to increase allowances to members of the quorum.

Of course, none of that was mentioned in the movie. An actual liberty taken by the movie was the idea that Lorenzo Snow called the people of St.George to repentance for slacking off on their tithing payments. On the contrary, according to newspaper accounts, "his remarks were mainly eulogistic of the people of this section of the country of their tithes and offerings, giving them the name of being the best tithe-payers and most faithful stake in the Church." (ibid, pg 63)

And though he did speak about tithing, Snow exhibited no dramatic revelation received in the middle of his talk, and he did not promise rain if the people would pay their tithing. In fact, contrary to the main message of the movie, there was no connection made whatsoever between the drought and tithing. Good thing, too, because it would have been embarrassing. There was a little bit of rain here and there over the next three years, but the drought cycle didn't end in St. George until three years later.

Nothing President Snow said in his talk concerned promises or blessings or windows opening or rain coming down or rivers being filled or harvests being reaped. His remarks all centered on what the Lord had said in Section 119: that unless the Saints were willing to properly observe the law of tithing, they would not be found worthy to be a Zion people. Snow stressed this point over and over in all his speaking engagements throughout his tour of Southern Utah, and again in Idaho and along the Wasatch Front after he returned home.

If parents would teach their children to pay tithing, he promised, "then we will have a people prepared to go to Jackson county." He declared that the Christ was coming soon but that the Church congregation would "not hear the voice of God until we pay [a] full tithing and return to Jackson County." Lorenzo Snow clearly understood the meaning of the law of tithing, even if those who commissioned the film about him did not.

So I had been tricked. Once again a movie "based on a true story" had manipulated me into believing something that simply wasn't so.

I understand dramatic license, but was it necessary to change the very moral of the story? Rather than be upfront about how Lorenzo Snow had cleaned up the financial abuses coming out of Salt Lake that had contributed to the deficit, and showing how he motivated the Saints to become re-enthused about the proper payment of tithes, the 20th century Church leaders who oversaw the production of this movie felt it necessary to get the audience to come to a completely false conclusion. It was the old "Blessing Bait & Switch," the presumption those in power seem to have that we will only come around if they can sell us on the idea that there is something in it for us.

Why is it, I wonder, that Church leaders seem to think we have to be bribed with the promise of future blessings to get us to observe this law in its simplicity? Isn't it enough that God gives us His instructions? Are we children, who must be coddled and coaxed with promises of toys and candy in order to get us to do the right thing?

There was, of course, a very good reason why the Church rushed this film into production when it did. In 1961 the LDS Church found itself once again on the very brink of bankruptcy, this time due to another rash of foolish "investments." The only thing that would save the Church now was more tithing money coming in; lots of it, and fast. What better way to raise the needed funds than to schedule church-wide showings of a movie designed to inspire the membership to open their wallets and purses like never before?

But instead of telling the story straight, which would have been inspiring on its own merits, the Brethren wanted to make sure the members were given a promise the Lord himself never gave: if you support us, you will be rewarded.

I wonder why it is that in every talk I hear about tithing from the Brethren, the speaker seems to think I won't respond unless he dangles a carrot in front of me? They constantly promise us blessings if we pay our tithing, and lately they have been hinting that if we pay more than a tenth we can expect even more blessings.  Almost every time I hear a talk about tithing, the speaker is fudging or prevaricating in order to entice me into obedience. And if you don't think some of the Brethren are above lying outright in order misrepresent the law of tithing, then I suggest you take a look at this piece. Scroll down to Appendix B to follow Apostle Jeffrey Holland's deliberate attempts at subterfuge.

I don't know about you, but for me, simply having the desire to do the Lord's will is enticement enough. I shouldn't have to be bribed and babied along. No wonder there is a groundswell of cynicism within the church about all this. And if you scratch an ex-Mormon, you'll likely find endless tales of deprivation and broken promises beneath.

Time For Another Tithing Reformation?
Lorenzo Snow hated debt and he hated that the Church was in debt. He himself bore no responsibility for the Church's former years of profligacy, but he was the first to admit that Church leadership as a whole was largely accountable for the current mess. Snow presided over the cleanup at Church headquarters, initiating what has been called a Tithing Reformation. As the members recommitted to doing their part, Snow made sure the books were transparent. The members were given a full accounting every April as to what their tithes were being used for, so they could voice approval and give their consent as required by D&C sections 26 and 104.

This practice of financial transparency continued until the late 1950's, when First Counselor Henry Moyle's reckless and embarrassing spending spree brought the Church once again to the brink of bankruptcy. (Tellingly, it was only when it was discovered that there might not be enough money on hand to make payroll that the Twelve suddenly pricked up their ears and started paying attention.)

Ever since that close call, the leadership in Salt Lake has stubbornly refused to provide financial accountability to the members, hiding behind the excuse that, this being the Lord's money, it should be of no concern to the meek and lowly members how the Lord decides to spend it.  For over half a century, and in direct defiance of God's clear instructions, the leadership of the Church has kept the membership -the very people who provided the tithes in the first place- completely in the dark as to how those tithes were used. Those who have control of the funds remain accountable only to themselves.

But Church funds are not the special province of the leaders, they belong to the church community as a whole. They are only held in trust by the leaders, who have been specifically directed not to keep the Church's financial dealings secret from the members. As Paul Toscano, former Associate Editor at the Ensign Magazine wrote way back in 1991:
We are likely to be told that if we believe our leaders are called of God then why don’t we trust them with the church’s wealth? This question, however, can be turned around: If we are the people of God, why can’t we be trusted with an accounting? Trust, I suspect, is not the real issue here. The issue is control. Church leaders are like many of our parents and their generation who believe that their children should know little or nothing about the family’s finances. The problem with this view is that our leaders are not our parents. We have heavenly parents. Our leaders are our elder siblings, who, it seems, are tempted to generate policies that tend to lull many of their more compliant brothers and sisters into complacency, inexperience, and unhealthy dependency. (From "Silver and Gold Have I None," Chapter Six of The Sanctity of Dissent.)
A growing number of members are now beginning to wonder if it is not past time for another Tithing Reformation.

But if we are to have such a reformation, the Church is going to need a leader like Lorenzo Snow to clean house. Good luck finding one. Today there does not seem to be anyone numbered among the Twelve who possesses Snow's caliber of character and leadership.  By and large, those running the Church today are descended from the legacy of Eldon Tanner, who took over Church finances and brought with him a team of corporate lawyers and managers whose experiences in the the world of corporate finance have been credited with turning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into one of the most successful institutions on earth, religious or otherwise. But if you're looking for another Lorenzo Snow in this group, you may have to look harder. Maybe there's someone coming up through the ranks of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, I don't know.

When we hear about tithing these days, we don't hear the things Lorenzo Snow taught about God's divine law. What we hear from this bunch usually consists of lectures on how we little people need to work harder and contribute more of our share. Meanwhile, much of what we have already donated has been given over to "investments," with the profits derived therefrom used to build lavish hotels and shopping centers -hardly what one would think of as appropriate venues for a church. We watch as the men called to serve us are driven about in limousines provided by our tithes, with full time chauffeurs paid for with our tithes, yet when we complain that we don't have enough gas money to get ourselves to work, our concerns are dismissed with admonishments to have more faith and pay more tithes so that the Lord will bless us with abundance as he has blessed them.

A growing number of Saints are beginning to ask themselves if it is appropriate to continue to tithe for the support of servants who refuse to be accountable to the people they serve.  They wonder if it might not be more appropriate at this time to tithe directly to the Lord, rather than to the institutional Church.

These are valid questions, and ones to which I don't have answers. It seems clear from a reading of section 119 that the tithes are to be given to the Church, but on the other hand, if the tithes are not being used as intended, has the law been nullified? Are we then free to give our tithes where we feel they will be put to better and more responsible use?  In addition to being a procedural law, section 119 also appears to be a covenant. If the leaders have broken the everlasting covenant as the Book of Mormon prophets foretold they would (Mormon 8:38 for one example), maybe now all bets are off.

Let's look at the scoreboard. While it's true that our tithes continue to be used for the construction of temples around the world, many of the temples already finished are not being used to capacity. Reports are that there are not enough visitors in some temples to hold regularly scheduled sessions. And then there is the catch-22 that bars members not current on their payments from entering the temple. (Not a policy based on doctrine, by the way, but only a whim once expressed by John Taylor that morphed over the decades into an ironclad rule.) As fewer members elect to provide the amount of tithes the modern leaders insist upon, there will be fewer members attending the temples, and thus less need for more temples to be built.

As for  tithes being used for "the laying of the foundation of Zion," it's anybody's guess whether that is still held up as a priority. Once again, we would know if only the leaders provided us with a yearly report.  What we do know is that members living in other countries are now instructed not to gather to Zion, even though the imperative to do so is a primary article of our faith.

There is not much question about whether some of our tithes go to "pay the debts of the presidency of [the] Church." From all appearances, the tithes appear to cover that, and then some.

I personally know several devout members who continue to recognize the importance of paying a faithful tithe, but do not feel compelled to deliver those tithes to the corporate Church at this time. They choose instead to disburse their tithes where they feel that money will do the most good. That might mean giving directly to individuals in need, or it might be given to a food bank or other group that is directly involved with assisting those less fortunate.

Certainly Latter-day Saints can contribute as much as they desire to the Fast Offering fund, but even there we have reason to wonder if any funds contributed to the Church for a specific purpose will end up where the giver intended. By now most of us are aware of the disclaimer at the bottom of the new donation slips that notifies the giver that the Church reserves the right to put your money to whatever use the Corporate side of the Church decides.

If you prefer your tithes end up in the hands of fellow Latter-day Saints, I have been hearing good things about the Liahona Children's Foundation. One of my friends is heavily involved with this outfit, and he does a lot of good through it.

I find it unfortunate that large numbers of Latter-day Saints have stopped tithing completely, either to the Church or to anyone else, due to their frustration with current Church policy. That's why I applaud those who still feel a desire to pay a tenth to the Lord in whatever way they choose. My wife and I have been the recipients of some of these newly directed tithes, and, as I documented in my previous post, I felt no shame in accepting them with gratitude and thanksgiving.

We have never personally met any of the people who gave us that assistance. Every single one of them was unknown to us; strangers, every one. But at the time those much needed funds were delivered into my hands, I was privileged to feel an indescribable, palpable connection of the spirit between these givers and myself that at the time I was unable to put my finger on, or adequately understand. I think I can explain it now.

When we join together in the service of each other, sometimes we will be the givers, and other times receivers. But even as strangers, if we lift each other up, we become part of a renewed community of one in Christ. The way Paul the Apostle described it was that we were now "no more strangers and foreigners."  I now know how to describe what that feeling was that connected me and Connie to those distant brothers and sisters who raised us up in their love. It felt like Zion.
Related Posts:

How to Calculate What You Owe in Tithing

Of Alms and Offerings

When Tithing Settlement Goes Horribly Wrong

Next: "City Creek: How Did We Come To This?"

Update, December 14, 2012:
In light of the controversy stirred up by reader Weston Krogstadt, who objects in the comment section below to my use of a certain photograph, another reader has kindly provided a "corrected" version of that picture. I trust this revised photo will meet with Brother Krogstadt's approval.

Update January 30, 2013: For those seeking a worthy cause to contribute to, my friend Ryan Fisk has provided this video featuring a loving LDS family who could use a few bucks to accomplish something good for five orphaned sisters. I've kicked in a few bucks. If this project touches your heart, maybe you'd like to assist too. 

The website where you can donate is here:

Update May 10, 2013: I was recently asked to participate on a panel to discuss the the topic of tithing for the Mormon Stories Sunday School. As it turned out, the moderator, Jared Anderson, had forgotten to push the record button, and since it was too late for a redo (the podcast had to get out before that Sunday's scheduled lesson for church), Jared and Bonnie Flint went to the mike and recapped the discussion. Hard to believe I'm saying this, since I do like the sound of my own voice, but their summary of the discussion turned out better than the discussion itself. As far as I'm concerned, it's the definitive historical and theological last word on the subject, and everyone who wishes an understanding of tithing from biblical times onward owes it to themselves not to miss this. Here's the link:



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Anonymous said...

DPer here:

Jon, that's a very compassionate observation and could very well be true--

I should not have focused on this person, but I am concerned about a growing 'movement' of radical fanatics with a propensity for violence among the LDS.

Approving of the past decade of wars (and more) has not helped the LDS community (or the majority who support the wars) get closer to Zion--

Anonymous said...

oops, DPer here; I responded down below. I should not have focused on this person--

but I feel sobered by the consequences spiritually to the LDS 'faith community' from over a decade of supporting unrighteous wars in the middle east--

and unquestioningly supporting a warmongering Mormon for president--

I am afraid that many will suffer for this travesty--

and yet . . . I believe God will sort it all out--

one of my family members commented to me recently that there does seem to be an extremism developing among Mormons--

that condones violence in the name of 'defending the faith'--

and this person seems to epitomize that--

so, yes, I am concerned--

but focusing on it is probably not the wisest or healthiest thing to do--

so I will say no more--

Anonymous said...

I appreciate what you have to say, Shawn--

I agree with you--

and I don't even eat pork.



My concern goes even deeper for the members of the church (and others) in other countries who live in poverty--

Shawn said...

yeah i realize that there are much deeper items of concern than what our particular ward is eating for christmas party dinner. i just used that example because it's lighthearted and something my geographically close brothers and sisters can relate to. there are so so many things that could be done with the money than what is being done with it! beautifying slc is important. it's important to put on a good show for people who may want to get to know jesus by way of the lds church. but plain and simple and clean is also beautiful. a plain and simple and clean slc would be a lot less expensive than the extravagant vbway it's being done. and that would leave money that could be used to beautify other places like portugal where i was a missionary. the people in my branch (including the cigarette smoking branch president) humbly saved and saved so they could take a long bus ride to spain to do baptisms for the dead. those wonderful folks will never get to enjoy most of what the church buys. and yeah i know it's not my calling/responsiblity/whatever to dictate where the money goes, but just because it's extra money and not 'tithing' money that doesn't mean the stewards should just blow it on whatever they think would be fun to buy. if there's nothing to be ashamed of then open up and show what it is the money is buying.

Anonymous said...

Well Rock, I'm convinced enough to start paying tithing from my surplus funds. Thank you for putting together this article. As I pondered the situation, it occurred to me that, despite the scriptural guidance on tithing, the current leadership will never revisit their unofficial "10% of gross" definition, because that could mean a 50-90% drop in tithing revenue.

The church would have to rethink its whole "corporate" strategy. It might have to recognise that its financial approach needs to be more of a common-consent-style exercise of petitioning the members for funds for extraordinary expenses.

Well done.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Agreed, Jim. As the membership begins to follow the true law of tithing, the leaders may have to start living within their means. That would mean a curtailment of the widespread use of credit cards as documented by Daymon Smith in "The Book of Mammon" and cutting back on some of those fancy restaurant meals they have been treating themselves to. Maybe even have to start buying their own cars.

Until we return to an annual report as required by the Lord in the D&C, the only thing that's going to curb these excesses is when they start seeing a lot less money coming in.

Anonymous said...

Be forewarned -- if you donate using the official tithing slip, the money may be used however the Church wants to use it, even if you select "other" and specify where you want it used. That's the purpose for the new legalese at the bottom of the slip. And yes, that means tithing may be spent on a mall, or even in the mall, if the guys in charge think it is befitting the building of the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

It just astounds me how anyone can believe that 'true' prophets and 'true' Discipes of Christ could 'ever' in their wildest dreams take money from the Church, let alone expect/take money from widows & single mothers who are struggling and going without, and then these leaders go use it for their own groceries, let alone on 'dinner out at a restaurant, let alone expensive ones, or use it to buy themselves a nice car or anything else they may need?

How can able bodied men, let alone 'righteous' men, expect widows & the fatherless and the poor to support them? They can't, righteous men would never do such things. But unrighteous men would and have done such things since the days of Brigham Young.

Why is it so hard to see this apostasy? Why are people so resistant of standing on their own 2 feet for their own salvation and depending directly on God for truth and not on men to lead them?

This 'tithing' issue is only the tip of the iceberg.

How can anyone fall for the Church's demand for unquestioning blind obedience (and it is 'blind' when they don't answer for their use of the money or anything else they do), and yet these same members refuse to listen to true prophet's 'commands' to do just the opposite, to question & 'prove all things' and persons before we follow anyone or anything?

True prophets never say "just trust me, I'm inspired & always right and I can't lead you astray or fall."

But false prophets almost always expect such unquestioning obedience.

Christ taught us the 'Golden Rule' which is the basis of everything and every true religion or principle. Would you really go down the street to some struggling poor family or some single mom with 4 kids who has to work, and expect them to buy you a car or pay for your dinner, let alone out at a restaurant?

How would you feel if you were them and church leaders knocked on your door & asked you for that money directly for such things.

Where is common sense?

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
How do we know that those 10 highest paid were General Authorities? I couldn't get that from the figures. Couldn't they be church employees?

Steven Lester said...

The real problem here is that all of you are not seeing reality for what it is. You write as if the Church is something divinely inspired and directed on the macro-level, when it is not. You are angry because the men you worship are not acting worship-worthily, which disappoints you and which shakes the sand upon which your faith is based. In short, the Church has declared Itself as being something that it is not, when you can see that it is the opposite of what it advertises it self to be, and since the Church is so much a part of the definition of your faith, and it is false, you twist in the wind between what the books and your hearts say are right and what you see before you, and you are rebelling against the imbalance.. The fruit of your tree of light tastes really pretty sour. The fruit looked white, but when you bit into it, the taste was sweet at first, but the powerful aftertaste nearly caused you to faint.

As I said above, and which everybody ignored, The Church is a Corporation and The Corporation is the President, and the Corporation is a BUSINESS, period. Its product is salvation and its price is obedience and the money of Mammon, for it is the creation of Mammon. It says all the right words which you demand of it and in exchange you give it your hearts and minds. That is the contract between you, as now exists between the members and leaders/officers, and the gap between you and they is, so far, unbreachable. They have fulfilled their part of the bargain. Now you fulfill yours. And when I say "it" I mean the President. And when I say "they" I mean the President. Because HE is the Church, not God. Would God run this Corporation in the way it is run? If not, then somebody else is running IT differently, and that person is the Corporation which is only ONE man, who is the President.

Why do any of you expect a Corporation to act in any other way? Why?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

After receiving an email clarifying Paul's position at the Ensign, I have corrected my error in the original post above. Here is an excerpt from Paul's response to me:

"I believe my title was "Associate Editor" at the Ensign, where I worked for a short period in 1972-1973: frankly I can't remember when I started and quit. I remember that I was on the [BYU] faculty of the Department of Communications briefly, with the duty of supervising the student publications--The Daily Universe, Monday Magazine, and the Banyan Yearbook staffs. I also taught communications basic courses. This was in 1972, after I got my masters degree in English...I commuted from Provo to Salt Lake City every day and worked at the Ensign in a building (now demolished) located on the northeast corner of 1st South and State Street. Later we moved into the new Church Office Building on the 23rd floor...I quit in the Spring or summer of 1973 and went to Washington DC during the Watergate hearings to get a job in the government. I eventually found a job in the department of economic development, but I decided not to take it and returned to Provo, where I got a job as an editor in the Department of Educational development co-authoring textbooks with faculty members. My office was under the BYU stadium.

"After my excommunication, my name was purged from the Ensign index so that my name cannot be found nor the article seared by my name."

For those unfamiliar with Paul Toscano's place in modern LDS history, this article on in Wikipedia will give a brief introduction:


Paul continues to blog occasionally on matters of interest to Latter-day Saints. Two recent pieces I recommend in particular are "The New Mormonism" wherein Toscano provides a brief outline of the several ways the LDS Church has reinvented itself since 1820:


And his Epistle of Paul to the Mormons which he describes as an attempt to "defend my remaining, idiosyncratic Mormon beliefs. I do so because I don’t want my critiques of corporate Mormonism to be dismissed as the product of disbelief." That piece can be found here:


Long time readers of this blog, Pure Mormonism, will recall that I am an unabashed admirer of Brother Toscano. His valiant and principled stands in the face of overwhelming persecution were influential in my own awakening to the discovery that the religion of my youth had been hijacked by certain persons who should have been preserving it in its purity. Somehow Mormonism has been transformed from a religion that once valued the individual and emphasized personal salvation into today's authoritarian borg-like entity that insists on conformity and blind obedience, and places "brand loyalty" and public image over the core fundamentals taught by both the Savior and our founding prophet.

Jon said...

Steven, Like I said, the church is just like any other organization that is monopolized, any organization that has a monopoly will eventually become bloated with bureaucracy and not function very well. Since the church claims to be the only way to gain salvation it is a virtual monopoly. Similar to governments who claim to be the only way that the people will remain safe from criminals, terrorists, etc. Both become bloated and underachieving (to say the least).

This is a human condition. As shown by the shock experiment and the jail experiment.

Anonymous said...

it's not about common sense; it's about the human fear of being cast out--

When a person questions, he or she may lose their community, sometimes even their family--

most LDS have a huge investment in the heritage of being LDS--

some of *us* have expended tremendous amounts of time, heartache, blood (even), money, etc.--

to 'build the kingdom'--

when *we* begin to learn about the apostasy, we have to be cautious about how we respond--

knee-jerk reactions can cause instant dismissal from those who are insecure or unrighteously dominating--

recently in my ward a very 'go along to get along' member who is a 'sold' Mormon told a friend of mine, "don't question ___________ (a leader); he has disfellowshipped people before for less"--

this person was very open about his concerns, but he has chosen to be silent, because he doesn't want to be cast out--

Who does? It is important to be 'wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove'--

I study all of this as much as I can, and I concentrate on the Book of Mormon and on my own spiritual well-being; am I being accountable to Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father for my own life and stewardship--

and let those who have usurped power unrighteously reap their own rewards--


Anonymous said...


This is LDSDPer--

I haven't worshipped men for a long time; I think when I was young I idolized some of them--

but it's been a very long time.

The problem that *I* have is that I believe in faith communities; I believe that people who have faith communities can have better lives and more productive lives and stay on a moral path better--

Also, I have had experiences that have made the Book of Mormon (and a few other things, including temple worship) something that is really significant to me, something I don't choose to do without/live without--

I have, for a long time, seen a huge discrepancy between what is in the Book of Mormon and what is going on in 'the church'--

and learning about it just confirms what I feel--

it's actually a huge relief to learn about it--

so, then, what does a person do? Live in two worlds. Pretend obeisance to the corporation (I have struggled with the persona of Thomas S. Monson since I was a child, for some strange reason--or a young person; I was no longer a child when he became a general authority)--

and then live, privately, the way I feel pleases God?

Yes, I do that--

I see no point in baring my heart/soul to the entire world or even ward--

I believe in Jesus Christ; I can't deny Jesus Christ; if I did, I would be in peril--

Thomas S. Monson and the church corporation is in some strange other world (won't go so far as to say 'netherworld', but I wonder)--

in my mind. I try to teach my children to live in both worlds--

I haven't found a better one; I never promised them a rose garden; I taught them from their youth that being in the world would be a dangerous thing--

I look for good when I can find it; I think some of those men really try hard--

I think that some of them in the past (and perhaps even now) are trying to fight against it, but it's a beast, as all of Babylon is--

Don't ridicule those of us who don't want to be completely estranged from it, because of the good we have found--

I know Catholics (friends and family) who have had similar experiences with Catholicism; they don't leave it, because they are able to work within the ridiculousness of it--

and still keep their souls--

Toni said...

This is the most comical and entertaining comment thread I have read on here. I almost got tears from laughing when whatsisname called the blogger, "You lying piece of rat shit." It got even better from there on out. Oh, I'm glad you keep Weston for the comic relief we need on occasion.

Toni said...

Well, now I feel more soberly inclined toward our foul-mouthed raging maniacal friend. It did not occur to me that he was acting out of a heart and soul that had been cut to shreds by some past and fearsome wounds. It sounds like he should be added to my prayer list. Perhaps any so inclined ought to pray that his painful wounds are healed. Poor soul.

Gary Hunt said...


I appreciate your comments. I think the problem is as you have stated, that many of us have based our religious belief systems upon the "arm of flesh", which includes people (imperfect humans) and earthly organizations (churches, governments etc... run by people). We should base our religious beliefs, if Christian, upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I personally believe that the Gospel includes all truth, not just what we categorize as religious. I believe that there are universal truths which are common to all religious and non-religious belief

The difficulty we have is detaching ourselves from false belief systems. This can be very painful and even destructive if we are not prepared for major changes in our lives. The best preparation I have found is to not rely on others to do our thinking for us. We need to weigh the information available and draw our own conclusions, then ask God directly. No middle man!

By the way, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and wish all a happy new year!

Anonymous said...


I agree with you. For Christians, the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be the basis for all we believe & accept. It amazes me how all the LDS I know profess to be Christians and yet do not believe in many of the teachings of Christ, in fact they live contrary to Christ's teachings.

The LDS Church today seems to be one of the most 'un'Christlike Churches of all, teaching many things actually 'contrary' to Christ's teachings, but few ever pick up on it because LDS are deceived into blindly believing that their leaders or their President of the Church can't lead them astray (which is totally false and was just the false desperate teaching of the adulterous Wilford Woodruff to get LDS to follow him in ending the whoredom of polygamy in action (but not belief, for the LDS Church still preaches & promises the whoredom of polygamy in the next life.)

But few LDS ever test that philosophy out (that the Church can't fall or led them astray) to easily find out how false it is) So most LDS just follow blindly whatever the Church does or says and thus never detect the errors, especially the many vile false doctrines contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

All the while the LDS read & study the BoM which is their constant proof and warning that the Church can & did quickly does go into apostasy in almost every instance in history.)

The doctrines of the Church are so opposite what Christ taught that when Christ returns I doubt most LDS will recognize him or his Gospel, for they have lived & believed such different (& evil) doctrines for so long.

Those who want to live according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ quickly learn that there is no Church on earth today that totally follows Christ, they are all false and in apostasy. One must just receive truth and revelation directly from God today along with studying the holy scriptures that we already have, the Bible, BoM & the original D&C (135 edition).

I don't believe we will ever be ready for Christ's return or Zion or Exaltation while we allow ourselves to be deceived and led by the false prophets in the LDS Church, which Christ and Joseph Smith and many other ancient Prophets warned us about.

From what I can tell, Joseph Smith was the last true Prophet to walk the earth and led a Church. Hopefully there are other true prophets around us today that teach humble groups of people as did Alma in the BoM, after he learned that the Church in his day had apostatized too.

It would be great to find a true Prophet today, who really taught and lived by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous 10:20 AM:

I agree with what you say. I think there are some very good people in the Church who live the Gospel. However I think the majority may be good people who have "outsourced" their thinking. Even Brigham Young said something to the effect that if the members didn't go to the Lord and asked if what the leaders were teaching them was correct or not and get a witness of the Holy Ghost they didn't have enough faith to make it (to the Celestial Kingdom).

Probably 10-12 years ago I did a concentrated effort to find out the origins of the "the prophet won't lead the Church astray" concept. What I found was interesting. It started with Brigham Young who said, something to the effect, that he doubted that the Lord would allow the Church to be lead astray by it leaders if the priesthood was found doing it's duty. Wilford Woodruff left off the part about if the priesthood was found doing it's duty!

I think that omitting a key portion of a principle is one of the ways a doctrine become corrupted. Many times I think these omissions are not intentional but occur because we may not understand the key element or think that it is simply not important. Then later someone (sorry I don't recall who right off hand said it) added "even if the prophet asks you yo do something wrong you should do it and the Lord would bless you".

A number of years ago I stopped worrying too much about the condition of the collective Church.This is my personal opinion. I believe that we are not "saved" or "exalted" collectively. I believe it occurs individually, based upon our personal, one-on-one relationship with the Lord. However it does help to have an associations with other like minded individuals, which I refer to as the remnant.

Anonymous said...

Yes Gary,

I believe that most of the LDS are very good, honorable and sincere people who do alot of wonderful good things & much service but have just allowed themselves to be deceived by the craftiness of men and false prophets and the philosophies of men, because they are not truly living according to the teachings of Christ, if they were they'd detect such errors. I don't know any LDS or leaders who are really living according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ or who really believe in all of Christ's teachings and I have been LDS my whole life.

Joseph Smith warned us in D&C 76 that we will lose our place in the Celestial Kingdom and have to go to the Terrestrial Kingdom at best, if we allow ourselves to be thus deceived by false prophet's craftiness, despite how good or nice we may otherwise be.

So, it is not good enough to just be good, honorable, kind people, we must gain the Holy Spirit and be able to see past all the falsehoods and deceptions around us, especially in the Church.

I was aware that BY started that idea (that we can't be lead astray) but he, as you said, included that little caveat that if we are 'righteous', meaning have the Spirit, then we can't be led astray, (which is true for we will then detect any false doctrine by prophets).

But Wilford Woodruff conveniently & I believe purposefully, left out that little clause, (for I believe he knew he was doing evil by living polygamy and other things) and most active LDS & leaders have fell for that false doctrine ever since, along with the other false doctrine that you mentioned, that we should follow the Prophet even if he is wrong, and we will still be blessed. Nothing could be father from the truth and more satanic and damning than that teaching, but it does sound great to the mortal mind, cause it's must easier than having to have the 'personal responsibility' to learn, determine and follow truth ourselves.

While Joseph Smith, like ancient prophets, continually warned the Saints of the very real possibility and provability that prophets would fall or be false and thus lead them astray and to continually watch out for it.

The LDS will have no leg to stand on for they had the Book of Mormon which warned them over & over about the Holy Church of God falling into complete apostasy in the last days and about false prophets and false doctrines that would arise in it and that everyone in the Church would fall for such things, except a rare few.

The problem with staying in the Church is that if we support false prophets by giving them our money or supporting their organization, we will be held accountable for supporting evil men or at least 'appearing' to support them. For 'silence is support'.

Whereas if we speak up for right and try to awake others as we are commanded and truly live the Gospel, we won't stay in the Church and we can then help lead others to see the light. If we stay in the Church we only help encourage our friends and family and others to stay deceived and support evil.

Plus, any money we give to false prophets and unrighteous leaders and an apostate Church is probably not going to go where God wants it to go, to the poor & needy and we will be held accountable for that.

So I don't see how we can go along with & support an apostate Church & leaders and think we are on Christ's side or expect to still achieve the Celestial Kingdom, anymore than Alma could have stayed in the apostate Church in his day.

Gary Hunt said...

I started studying the Law of Tithing, in detail, about 4-5 years ago. I discovered many of the same sources that Rock used in this article. I also used to believe we should pay on our gross salary or income. We did and we always struggled to make ends meet.

One day, in the early 1980's my mother gave me a copy an article out of Industry Week magazine. It showed that government spending at all levels was 61.3% of the national net income! This number really shocked me! Add 10% tithing you get 71.3%. This was my first inkling that something was not right. Now you might say that we don't pay that much in taxes but we do if not more now, because we are taxed continually at many levels.

Many years ago I remember reading an article by an economist, in which he used the example of the average loaf of bread, at the time being about $1.00. That's why I know it was many years ago. He traced the loaf of bread's tax history. He started at the grocery store and figured out what percentage of the $1.00 was taxes. He then went back and did the same thing at the bakery, then the flour mill, then the farmer etc.... I hope you get the picture. He estimated that about two-thirds of the cost was taxes! Know imagine if you did that with everything we purchase. These are the hidden taxes.

My opinion is that our tithe should be 10% of our interest/ increase annually. In my opinion the Lord mean excess beyond our needs, when he is talking about what we should pay on. What we choose to pay beyond what the Lord has asked of us should be categorized as offerings.

I personally think that we should be cautious about paying "extra tithing". The Lord tell us to not go beyond the mark. I know of some people who pay extra tithing (pay ahead) thinking that their income would increase proportionately, or in other words they could purchase more blessings. My point is, we cannot buy blessing or have an attitude that we should pay more "just to be sure"! If we have one of these attitudes we are doing what we do for the wrong reason.

I believe the bottom line is that tithing is between us and the Lord. Each of us has to come to an understanding with the Lord. This is true of all things. It is our birthright to have direct communication with the Lord. Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we are communicating with the Lord and not some other spirit.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous 12:53 PM:

I think you may have misunderstood what I said in my first paragraph. Re-read it and I think you will come to the conclusion that we agree. The thing I think we probably don't agree on is that even though there are good reasons for some to leave, I think there is a place in the Lords's plan for some to stay in the Church even though they full well know the problems you mention. There is an essay by Albert J. Nock called "Isaiah's Job". It describes better than I ever could the idea of a remnant. After you read it let me know what you think.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Here's that link to "Isaiah's Job." It's an excellent piece, and, I think, describes the role of many of the readers here:


Anonymous said...

I will read that essay, thanks to both of you for the link.

Gary, I knew we agreed on those things, sorry if I wasn't clear enough that I agreed with you, I just don't see how being a part of the Church once you wake up to the truth can be a good thing. It would be like staying a part of any other apostate church or religion out there.

I am just too disgusted with the evil I see happening locally and generally all over in the Church & how it is so accepted by everyone, especially leaders, to want to be a part of it.

But I will read "Isaiah's Job" and try to see that perspective.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous 8:22 PM:

I re-read my comments and realized that I could have communicated more clearly. I also re-read your comments and realized that I should have spent more time thinking about and understanding what you were saying.

I too have a lot of frustration with what I see going on at all levels of the Church in addition to what I have personally experienced, and what my family and friends have gone through. Yes it is evil.

Steven Lester said...

As you all may know, I believe firmly in the Near Death Experience (NDE). I have read more than 2000 of the reports that survivors have written and I am impressed by the similarities that exist between them, although there is no possible chance of collusion between any of the reporters, representing cultures and religions from around the world. Women report these experiences at least 3 to 1 to males.

Jesus is there, often. So, we know, at least, that He exists. He must be very busy. Of the thousands of reports that I have read, only one was from a self-described LDS. Even her description mentioned nothing about three levels of heaven, key ceremonies to get past gates, or any kind of setting-apart of members to be rulers over everybody else. In fact, over there, there isn't any religion at all. None mention anything about a Holy Sprit, although there are angels which perform his stated functions in the Bible and the BofM. None have ever shown that Temple attendance or the sealing and swearing that take place inside mean anything at all. Joseph Smith, who is said to have done more for the world than anybody else save for Jesus Himself, is evidently away somewhere far from the general proceedings, because he has yet to show up at all, not even in the one or two LDS experiences. Indeed, except for the requirement of loving everybody and everything everywhere, Christianity and the redemption itself means nothing nor is it ever called for to prevent any kind of damnation to a Hell. There is only a child/parent relationship where that day's school experience and its lessons are discussed and then the child is released to play for a while and relax until the next school day and time comes around. In short, the NDE and Joseph Smith do not jive, and I'll bet that after he fell out of the window and said his Masonic cry for help, he found himself in the tunnel and went to the light, had his life review, found out what was really true about himself and everybody else who ever touched his life, and then went his way to whatever his existence held for him to do next, not caring or worrying about where he had been before.

So, except for the love requirement and the realizing of what we truly are (a glorious spirit housed in an ape body and often subject to its ape desires), not only is LDS doctrine false, but so is every religious doctrine ever to exist false, from the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians to the present day. This is why you can not put new wine in old wineskins. It never works for long, folks. Don't even try, and a lot of what I've been reading in this blog is just that. I need empirical truth, but that's just me.

Anonymous said...


I too believe in NDE's, having had one myself. But I believe people have experiences & things shown them 'according to their level of understanding of truth', things familiar & that make sense to them, even though it may not be totally correct.

So not all things may jive when comparing NDE's. Like some people see angels with wings and others see angels w/o wings, etc.

But in all this religious confusion and apostasy today, I agree that we need to revert back to our belief in Christ and his teachings about 'love'. We need to look at & test all things & persons by 'Christlike love', if we are ever going to not be deceived.

Joseph Smith, was quoted as saying that only those who have 'perfect love' will not be deceived. That is a pretty tall order if we want to make it. But Christ did commanded us to be perfect, and he said that we will know who his true disciples are because they will possess Christlike love.

If we don't have this Charity, this Christlike love, nothing else we do in life will matter much, for we will be nothing and can't achieve Exaltation without possessing this love. But sadly it seems that this kind of love is so rare that it's almost impossible to find anyone who possesses such love or even believes in it anymore.

I doubt there has ever been any 'leader' of the Church since Joseph who has possessed such love and been a true disciple of Christ. I have never heard of one. I can't even find a member who has or believes in such Christlike love. But I know there must be a few souls out there who do.

Inspire said...

I'm in the middle of reading a book about an LDS man who had a few NDE's, and his story goes hand-in-hand with what you would expect the afterlife to look like from a TBM perspective. I have no reason to doubt his experience any more than I would doubt the 2000 that you have reviewed. This leads me to believe that the afterlife is largely a place of our own making. If we adhere to the "law" of obedience or whatnot, then much like Javert in Les Miserables, it will keep us spinning in unresolvable circles. If, though, as you say, we cling to love, forgiveness and acceptance, then my guess is the eternities will be a peaceful place.

You have used your research into NDE's as a foundation for your beliefs. I think this is a logical approach, as it provides some "empirical" evidence for you to consider. Personally, I have done the same thing with the Book of Mormon. (Not the Church, not Joseph Smith, not Brigham Young.... the B of M only). This has been a difficult task, in that the book has been polluted to a large extent (by the Bible and its inherited corruption, by the changes the Corporation made, by our false assumptions applied to the doctrines, by how we even look at the text, etc.) Putting it to the test outside of these influences (to the extent possible) has produced a picture which I would argue resembles the one you have produced to a large degree. I would consider my results the very definition of "empirical" since they have been based purely on my observations and experience. Granted, my conclusion is way out of sync with the typical Mormon and what is taught at the pulpit, but I also hold out hope that my fellow LDS's will eventually come to the same discovery.

Bryan Peifer said...

So what you're saying is that Weston is like a kinda maybe Saul of Tarsus, where he thinks he is fighting in the name of God? I'm not saying this is Weston, but the attitude of taking up a sword to "slay" all those who he judges (by his imperfect judgement) to be an enemy, reminds me of the scripture from John 16 which states,

16:1 “I have told you all these things so that you will not fall away.
16:2 They will put you out of the synagogue, yet a time is coming when
the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.
16:3 They will do these things because they have not known the Father or me.

Lets keep in mind that when we hear another brother or sister express their opinion about church policy, it is not their place to determine if that brother or sister is friend or foe.

If you read the history on the early church, at first glance there was not a whole lot distinguishing the difference between Judaism and Christianity because many Christians were still living the law of Moses in combination with their newly discovered faith. The stoning of Stephen was the catalyst in driving the Jerusalem church abroad, thereby helping to spread Christianity. Damascus, where Saul was heading, was a jurisdiction in which he had no authority, but he got his orders from the high priest in Jerusalem, because Judaism was present in Damascus. Why am I telling this story? He had no civil authority, but had orders from the high priest to seek out the offenders, if any. If found, these Christians were not to be taken back because of civil disobedience, but because they were considered apostates who needed to be done away with.

The Savior himself was considered to be an apostate from the religion of Judaism. He was after all, a Son of The Law. Because he bucked the system and questioned their man made policies, he became a target.

Beware that you don't judge that which is good to be evil or that which is evil to be good.

Thank you all, and have a Wunderbar New Years.

Anonymous said...


Your comment about *us* not being saved as a collective is profound--


Steve, I respect your beliefs; I just wanted you to know that many of us who remain in the church don't do so, because we have been brainwashed (many of us have already worked out much of what we read here from Rock many years ago), but because we need and want a faith community--and, yes, waking up is always painful (politically as well)--

however hard it is--

As for NDEs, I won't go into that; I don't doubt them, but I have to believe they are a highly personal experience; I would like to hear about the experiences Bhuddists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims have--

I know that Jesus Christ has many names--

Inspire, I feel the same way about the Book of Mormon; I have studied it backwards, forwards and in languages besides English--

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous 10:40 am:

Your comments on love brought something to mind that I have learned recently. I was reading an article by an (agnostic) columnist who's articles I like to read. He said that we look at the word perfect incorrectly. If you look up the word perfect in an etymological dictionary the first definition you run into is the word complete. To me that puts the word perfect in a different light than what I had always been taught. So when you say perfect (complete) love, it is a love that is not conditional as some leaders in the Church teach.

Part of 1 John 4:12 says "If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that clarification Gary. I do believe that Christlike 'perfect' love is 'unconditional everlasting love', the kind that never gives up or ends.

And I believe it's most vital we have such love for our spouse 1st, before we can have it for anyone else. For it seems marriage is the hardest place for most people to maintain such love. Hardly anyone believes in unconditional love and commitment in marriage anymore.

If we can maintain such perfect love for our spouse, especially if they aren't easy to love or don't love us, then we are probably well on our way to becoming perfect.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gary. Yes, I believe there is much evil going on everywhere in this Church, from the top to the bottom.

I believe the LDS are just as deceived to follow false prophets today and yesterday in the LDS Church, just as much as the FLDS are deceived to follow Warren Jeffs.

In fact, I believe many of our early leaders have probably done much worse things than even Warren Jeffs has, yet most LDS still fall for them & follow what they say.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous 7:12 PM:

So true.

Gary Hunt said...

Anonymous (LDSDPer--):

I think our whole culture is programmed to think collectively. Individuality is discouraged in the institutions that dominate our society. These institutions such as education, religions, entertainment, news media etc... teach us that the individual is supposed to sacrifice itself for the good of the collective/ institution. This is the philosophy some have termed "Pagan Fatalism." A good example of this is the stereotypical example of the young virgin being thrown into the volcano to appease the gods so that the tribe will have good crops in the coming growing season.

This programming is very difficult to overcome. I have been trying to overcome this programming for many years and have to stop myself and question if my beliefs and actions are influenced by this programming or by my own thoughts and conclusions. There is a very good book which deals with institutional thinking. It is called "Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival" by Butler Schaffer. It's available on Amazon.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Steven Lester's comment on Near Death Experiences put me in mind of one of the books I own that I wish I had never wasted my money on. It was called "Embarrassed By The Light" and was an attempt to denigrate Betty Eadie's fine account of her own NDE. Aside from the obvious rudeness of trashing another person's testimony, the book was nothing more than one member of the church attempting to impose his own view of what is properly doctrinal.

According to this author, because Betty's experience did not fit his view of heaven, she must be fabricating her story. I felt it unfortunate that the author had such a rigid view of what heaven must be like that he could not appreciate the things Betty was able to teach us all. It was a nasty, mean-spirited screed posing as a corrective. The story Betty Eadie related was uplifting. This book was not.

I think it was instructive that when I experienced the long-awaited Baptism of Fire, there was nothing in that experience that had anything to do with "Mormonism." I believe my religion exists to point me to this experience, but the Baptism of Fire supersedes dogma and Religion. Like Steven implies, I don't believe there will be anything resembling the LDS Church in heaven, although I know many latter day Saints who believe it will. Such an organization isn't necessary in the eternities. The entire idea seems silly.

Steven Lester said...

Thank you all for your loving reactions to what I wrote above. To that person who had the NDE, I can only say that I envy you tremendously, even though you had to die first to achieve it. I know that love is basic, but because I am autistic I haven't any in my heart to feel, much less give. My great hope is that after I die and I am freed from this ape brain wherein I presently inhabit (some would say where I am presently imprisoned) I'll be able to both love and receive love without feeling an instant suspicion and the fear of being touched in any way. It prevents me from ever feeling lonely, though, thankfully.

It is, therefore, frustrating to read about your many accomplishments theologically, from your studies and your experiences. I admire you all tremendously. I admire Rock the most, which is why I stay with the blog in spite of what I've just said. I fear seeing Jesus because I fear all of that emotion that always accompanies that meeting. Everybody is always crying, crying, crying; there is too much emotion for me to handle. That is why I'm afraid of Jesus (or of the hug Rock keeps promising to give me should we ever meet). After I die, I hope He will just leave me alone. Imagine how diminished I will feel should I find myself actually in the presence of perfection itself, or completeness, if you will. No way! But you guys look forward to it, as well you should.

I love reading this blog very much, indeed!

Anonymous said...

thank you--

I've been fighting collectivism for years myself, in my own thinking and in the discussions I have with others.

As much as I love the Book of Mormon, one of the reasons I know it's a valid 'history' is the story of Laban and Nephi--

there Nephi states that Laban had to die for the greater good--

Laban may have been a 'rotter', but that has always bothered me--


And as it turned out, Nephi's descendants were destroyed anyway--

Thank you; I'll look at that book--

*We* LDS (I use the asterisks when I can remember to show that I know that I cannot speak for others, but I have observed this phenomenon) tend to collectivize in our speech, manners, behaviors, beliefs, culture, etc.


Anonymous said...



What a corrupt culture has arisen from this . . . "value system" which cradled *us* Mormons--

*I* believe there will be a powerful and probably painful awakening among those LDS who 'wake up' to discover that there will be no church as *we* know it now when Jesus comes--and certainly not in heaven--

Anonymous said...


I'm the Anon who had that NDE experience. And the most profound thing I returned with is how much love there is in heaven and how it's the most vital thing here in this life. It is so thick in the air there it's like you can slice it with a knife. It's like the thick humidity in the air of Florida or Hawaii, only it's love. You just never want to leave. I didn't want to come back, but I had more to do here, so He convinced me to return.

The Lord said that we will be judged on the 'desire' of our hearts, and that those 'who keep the commandments or those who 'seek' (desire) to do so' (having real sincerity) will be healed, blessed and make it.

So if all you can do right now is 'desire' to have such love you are so much farther than most all people, and I believe all will be well with you in the next life and you will be blessed with that love and you will feel so differently there. But you probably already possess such love and don't realize it, or you couldn't desire more of it.

Love is just the feeling we get when we have the Holy Spirit residing in us. If you have the 'desire' to have more of it (as you do) then you already have alot of it. It takes love to want more love. It takes the Spirit to want more of it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Hey Everybody! Group hug for Steven Lester!

Anonymous said...

Steven, you aren't the only one who is afraid to 'see' Jesus--

afraid of feeling like a rock or a piece of dirt--

The thing is I have had a profound, personal experience with Jesus (probably similar to Rock's, but personal and unique)--

so I don't know why I feel that way--

but it's not unusual to feel that way--

or to be wary of affection from others; some of *us* without anything on the autism spectrum have learned to be wary of mortal affection--

it's, well, it's mortal and limited, unlike the completely perfect affection God has for *us*--

Probably the most common 'feeling' *I* as an LDS have is typified by what Jeremiah said (I think it was Jeremiah) about his unclean lips, how he had unclean lips, and he lived among a people with unclean lips--

I feel that all the time--

kind of a despair about being human--

especially as I've come to see what a mess 'somebody' made of the church a few generations ago--

weston krogstadt said...

Thanks for all the comments about me. I got a kick out of them, it's kind of funny reading comments from a bunch of dishonest girlie-men who have just run face to face into a real man with real actual testicles dangling from the crotch. Yes that picture is me. Yes I AM for real. The only reason I seem odd to you folks is you are a bunch of dishonest sackless liars who lie your way through life. Believe it or not, there are men out there who tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth all day long. You have no testicles or even the beginings of testicular fetal formations on your hairless crotches. What I am trying to say is; you are not real men, and you desperately need to grow a pair of testicles. Especially you Rock, you fricking hermaphrodite. I did clean up my Bio a little after reading your comments. Thanks. Check out my awesome blog: mormon-hatershow.blogspot.com

weston krogstadt said...

What I can't comment now?

Jon said...


Did your father beat you as a child? What kind of childhood trauma did you experience? Were you raped? Did you beat other children?

A true man is willing to confront his past and overcome the psychological baggage that trauma had on you. I truly encourage you to step up to the plate and be a true man and see a psychologist that can help you overcome the horrible trauma you experienced as a child.

weston krogstadt said...


Jon said...

Weston: Below the comment section push "Load more..." and you will see all your Christlike comments and see how you are showing everyone how you had some sort of childhood trauma as a child.

Anonymous said...

Weston, I'm glad you're back. I was hoping that you
didn't go and do something crazy.

You say, "...there are men out there who tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth all day long."

I ask you, and I quote Daphnie's british mother on the show Frazier, "Who?......Really, Who?!!

You definitely keep things lively!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, it's in the episode "Fraternal Schwinns". A really funny episode.

Anonymous said...

Sorry again. It' Frasier, Season 10, Episode 16.

Steven Lester said...

Well, at least your grammer is polished. I would suspect that while in High School, your English teacher tried to steer you toward a writing career, but your anger stood in the way. Your anger gives you strength, I know, but it also scares others around you, which precludes them from hurting you or from laughing at you, for whatever reason. Laughter is the worst thing a person can do to you, because it diminishes you in your own eyes, because you know that what they are laughing at is true, whether it is or not, but it is also you, so how to remain you and still avoid the laughter? Get angry, and scare them into silence. We should not laugh at you, I think.

The child within you was just like the rest of us when born. What happened to it? What messages did it receive that corrupted its innocence? Any that maligned you were false, and they are false today. Can't we be friends, Weston, on this blog, if we promise not to laugh at you any more? Then you won't be angry at us any longer either, because there would be no need for it.

Amy Waterman McIntyre said...

Mr. Krogstadt,
I am the only daughter of Rock Waterman. I spent my entire life up until the age of 20 living under the same roof with my father, and in those years I knew him to be a kind, loving, and decent man. It was only after reading your comment above that I learn, after all these years, that the man who raised me was actually half female.

It just goes to prove you can spend most of your life thinking you know someone, and really never have a clue. I am in your debt, sir.

Anonymous said...

@weston krogstadt--

LDSDPer here--

I am a woman, and I find your comments above really nauseating--


and offensive. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ don't talk like that. A Christlike man would never speak that way. Why the anatomy talk? Why the body talk? There is something very wrong in the heart of a person who can use that kind of language. It is highly offensive to the spirit and to the spirits of some of *us* who visit this blog.
I am sure Rock would prefer me to ignore you, but as a woman I find your comments very Godless.

You call people terrible names. You talk about body parts that shouldn't be talked about in any conversation, much less one about pure religion.

Shame on you!

Again, Rock, I apologize. I am a mother and a grandmother, and if any of my progeny were to use that kind of language I would wash his/her mouth out with soap.

JR said...

I am glad to find like minded members. Thanks for this information. Like some mentioned, I keep my opinions to myself. I have tried, in the past, to gently tell people of the very things about the church the same as you have done in this article. I have also been trying to fight the culture mentality, but Arizona is almost like Utah in the members way of thinking (I was raised in Texas and New Mexico). When we moved to the small Arizona town where my husband was born and raised (to take care of his parents) I actually had non-LDS people tell me that I am not like the other Mormons in town, that I was cool. Made me feel good. I have been shunned, talked about, back stabbed, accused of teaching false doctrine while Primary President (released after 6 months), and on and on.
So I keep attending church, pay tithes when we have the money, keep to myself, won't accept any calling, etc. When we had money (before I lost my job due to not knowing the right people to keep it) we helped people like the guy in the photo. Now that we are almost destitute I doubt the church will help me and my family. I won't even ask. I never knew Pres. Hinckley made those remarks about destitute people - now I know why Romney said what he said about the poor.
Keep up the good work in keeping us informed!

Anonymous said...

Interesting article. Some of it suffers from some questionable research though. The interpretation of the Lords instruction in Malachi is a good example. Upon reading, it is obvious the Lord is speaking to the people and not just the priests. he begins by addressing the priests in chapter 2, but by the time we get to chapter 3 he has turned his attention to the people generally. He even promises that bringing the tithes will result in successful vineyards and pest free crops. As the priests were full-time servants they did not have vineyards and fields, so the Lord is obviously addressing the people.

Meili T. Tark said...

I recently read your posting about giving money and always being taken care of by the Lord. A while ago I believed in the same principle. I began giving my money freely with the idea that it would come back to me. Only it didn't come back to me, at least not in dollar amounts and not right away.

A few months ago, I felt prompted by the Lord to leave my husband. He was abusive. I love him dearly and feel like this move will prompt him to examine himself and change his ways. If I didn't believe that, I would not have been able to leave him. I love him a lot.

I trusted the Lord that I would be taken care of and so far I have. I have no income whatsoever and am unable to receive financial assistance from the government because I'm unwilling to turn my husband into the Department of Recovery Services. I am down to spare change and only then that is because my daughter gave me her spare change (she's 9). I need help.

I feel like I need to ask for help, so that's what I'm doing. I don't expect anything from you except I was hoping you could put a word in for me on your blog. I have posted a page on my blog explaining my situation and what sort of help I need, but I don't get a lot of traffic. I thought if you could link to my page explaining my situation from your blog, that would be a big help. The link to the page is: http://www.rosefromarock.com/donations/.

Thank you for your blog. I love your articles and the history research you have done. You have inspired me many times. If you feel you can help in this way, I would be very grateful. Thanks again.


My new blog: http://www.rosefromarock.com/

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Meili, I am prepared to send you a small donation, but I do not see that you have provided any simple way for those wishing to help to do so.

Do you have an email address that can be accessed through Paypal? How can people contact you directly?

If you live in Utah, you might want to let my readers know where. I'm sure many people would be willing and able to help you out with the coats and blankets your children are in immediate need of. There are probably people living near you who can help with some of the needs on your list. Please let us know your approximate location.

The small amount I'm able to send you will not sustain you, I'm afraid. I applaud your reluctance to get the government involved in actions against your husband, but if you do not at least hint to him about the possibility, I doubt you've given him any motivation to do his duty toward you.

If you harbor hopes that by leaving him, he will change and return, statistics don't bear you out, but I wish you luck. Please provide us better contact information, and know that my prayers are with you.

Gary Hunt said...

A thought to consider:

Mosiah 4:24

24 And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give.

I think we misunderstand what the Lord requires of us in these type of situations. I believe the Lord does not require us to give away our last dollar to help someone else when we do not have sufficient for our and our family's own day to day needs. He just requires us to say in our hearts..."but if I had I would give".

There are exceptions to this rule, such as, the Old Testament story of the widow and her son giving their last meal to the prophet. She was guided by the Holy Ghost to do this and was blessed. Again, this is the exception.

weston krogstadt said...

I came here to try and read all of the wonderful things said about me but I can't. Ever time I click on "Load More" it just says "Loading . . . " forever and never changes.

weston krogstadt said...

Come on Rock. Do you see how successful a post would be about me now? You could call it: "Weston Krogstadt, A Mormon With Testicular Fortitude: Why Don't We Have What He Does?

Gaybob Spongebath said...

Well, that's a shame.

Gary Hunt said...


I have the same problem with my computer at work. So you are not alone. I don't have any problems with the computer at home and my phone. Does anyone know how to fix it?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It seems to work for me to just click on the word "Loading" as it's trying to load. Don't have to wait for it to finish.

Meili T. Tark said...

Thank you for your kindness, Rock. My email address for paypal donation is mybusinessonlyaccount at yahoo dot com. And I live in Provo, Utah and can make arrangements with anyone wanted to donate things to us. Just send an email through the contact form on my blog.

As for my husband, I do not think he will change for any other reason than the assurances of the Lord. When I look at the situation in a logical, reasonable way, I get discouraged because it would take a miracle for him to change. But the Lord keeps assuring me that my husband can and will change, and so I trust Him. When you trust the Lord, you can trust anybody, even your husband :).

Anonymous said...


Thanks for bringing up that scripture, glad to see the BoM again be so clear about tithing and how we help the poor, but not before taking care of our own family.

It will come in handy when discussing tithing with LDS friends & family. Once again we see the Church teaching things contrary to the BoM, telling people to pay tithing 1st before paying their basic bills.

Steven Lester said...

It is amazing what Weston will write just to be noticed. He is truly a Skinhead for Jesus.

Anonymous said...

My buddy met a guy at a diner one night and they got chatting. This guy told my friend he thought he knew his Dad and made up a few vague facts to show it. He also said he had no place to stay that night so my friend invited him over. The next morning my friends truck was gone. The truth is you have to be careful, so to what extent are people responsible to help one another when clear perils exist. It seems Charity needs to be mixed with a good dose of caution and realism these days. What would be an appropriate balance?

Anonymous said...

What I found most interesting was this quote:

“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."

In the original article it reads the same, but has one line more which should have been included in the quote: "The Lord will not abandon you." This was intentionally omitted.

Zoom out even more: The article from which this quote was taken is talking about a family in El Salvador who want to be full tithe payers but are worried about having the money to do so. The above quote is their Bishop's advice to them.

This quote is not from the General Authority with the $6000 dollar suit telling everyone to pay tithing regardless of circumstance. This is the testimony of a Bishop from El Salvador to people of El Salvador, teaching them the blessing of tithing.

This is a beautiful story. It raises questions about the Bishop: Did he come from similar circumstances as these people he is now counseling? What has he experienced that makes him able to say something so bold?

Unfortunately, an out-of-context quote was removed with careful precision in order to promote the agenda of the author and completely eliminate the real meaning of the story. Why misrepresent such powerful words and render them so cold and lifeless?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

If you got the impression I was quoting a general authority, you read more into my use of that quote than was intended. I included a link to the Ensign article in hopes the readers would read it for themselves.

Read in context, it cannot be denied that the sentiment promulgated by the entire article, that tithing should be paid to the Church regardless of what hardship it puts on the family, is clearly endorsed by the Ensign, and by extension the institutional Church which approves all content in that magazine. More to the point, it serves to confirm an unsupportable belief currently held by a large majority of Saints, and reaffirms in the minds of the readers that it is doctrinal when in fact it is not.

That the Ensign would include that bishop's advice in a story as an example of wise counsel, speaks to the reality that the institutional Church openly advocates that view.

The line you berate me for leaving out, the bishop's promise to the family that "the Lord will not abandon you" is not doctrinal either, but I did not think including it made any difference as to the context. I suppose I could have included that line, or even quoted the entire story, but it would only have served to further my case that these sorts of promises are not promises a bishop is authorized to make.

My reason for including that paragraph in my piece, as opposed to any number of similar examples that get passed around these days, was that it was the most recent one I had seen. Nearly everyone can attest it's not the first time they've heard such "counsel." It is also indicative of the kind of false doctrine that continues to be preached by bishops, stake presidents, sacrament meeting speakers, and sometimes even apostles (see my link to Jeffrey Holland's conference talk).

The real question you might want to ask about that Ensign article is this: Was that bishop's counsel doctrinal? And if not, why is the Ensign publishing it as a faith promoting story? Did you forget to read the result of that bishop's counsel to the man that he should pay his tithing even if it meant his family would not have enough to eat? The man returned the next day and brought his tithing to his bishop.

THAT was the whole point of the story! That the right thing to do was to obey his bishop who told him to bring in his tithing even if it meant the loss of his family's shelter, protection, and sustenance!

If you want to talk "context" perhaps the author can tell us how the story ended. Was the man able to pay his rent after all? Did he have enough for electricity? Was he able to feed his family? If so, how?

And if by some miracle the needs of this man's family were taken care of, doesn't this story serve to give others false hope?

We don't know. What we clearly get from the piece is the message the Ensign intended to convey: that paying tithing should come FIRST, no matter what. And that goes against the Law of Tithing and all the counsel of the prophets regarding it.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It's important to be attuned to the spirit. I have picked up hitchhikers who need a ride, but I have passed some by when I got the prompt to keep going.

AV said...

Anon. 5:23

That was not a beautiful story. It was a very sad story of how corrupt leaders are leading people astray and causing them to suffer, now and in eternity.

The Bishop in the story is just wrong, no matter why he said what he said to that family. Truth doesn't change, the scriptures are clear, we are not to give tithing or offerings before taking care of the needs of our own 1st.

You cannot receive blessings for doing wrong, no matter how sincere you may be. We only receive consequences for not following Christ's laws, which hopefully will wake us up that we are doing something wrong.

The promise that Bishop made to the family 'that the Lord would provide' is not always, or even usually, true in these circumstances. The Lord may not provide extra, in order to help the family begin to question the counsel they are following. The Lord usually lets us suffer when we follow the erroneous advice of others, including leaders.

Just because more quotes and story was left out doesn't change the meaning of what Rock was showing us. As Rock said, even after reading the whole story you see even more so how wrong that Bishop was.

Also, just because the article wasn't written by or the counsel didn't come from a G.A., doesn't mean the Church isn't held accountable for printing such a message. I would say most members and leaders believe this same thing. For that isn't the only church leader to teach such a message, it is what I would say I have heard most of my life and what 'most' if not all church leaders would tell people.

And such counsel & doctrine is completely false and those leaders will be held accountable for teaching such and for the suffering of people they duped into giving more than they should & thus their family suffered, and also for leading others astray spiritually.

Jon said...

The bane of subscribing to comments in Pure Mormonism. Never ending spam e-mail.

Rock have you thought of putting a filter on your website so we don't have to receive so many spam e-mails?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh my, do you get those too? I thought they were only making it into my email box.

The Blogspot spam filter does a pretty good job of filtering out the spam from getting into the comment section, but I thought it was sending those things to my email box as a courtesy. What a shame if everyone gets them.

I have avoided placing an additional filter that requires people to type in the fuzzy words and letters because that discourages people from commenting when they have to cross that additional obstacle. Guess I'll have to consider it.

Some of these spams amuse me, like the one that read "Great articles! I just wish they were longer!"

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Brian Johnson said...

Alan...When I was an active member of the church and after I got x'd and went to the other true kingdom church thingy I always had a hard time paying tithing something just didn't seem right with that they were always asking for money it seemed all about the money I read everything on the whole internet one time for a month about tithing and I just felt I wasn't getting answers, i decided to just pay my tithing to poor people, I pray about who I give my money to the Lord sends people to me that need help, I am an auto mechanic, so I help alot and I love and I am blessed for it but thats not why I do it, I do it because it is my duty and I am able to. This post just put the law of tithing in the spot light for me your explanation of the Malachi chapter just knocked me right off the couch and into the fire, and boy I am on fire now. I love you Alan I love what you do, I love the spirit you possess and how you explain things and I wish and pray and hope to God that somehow someday I can be surrounded by people of your calibur and strength, Thank you so much.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you, Brian. Those kind words were particularly encouraging at this time.

Jon said...


You can do other things besides fuzzy words. There are some filters that are as simple as unchecking a check box.

Bryan Peifer said...

Last year after some prayer and thought and pondering and this and that and whatever, I approached my love, my sweetheart and said, "Honey...we need to talk." Now, to a guy, that means, oh no, what did I do now? To a women, well...I'm not so sure, but we talked about the issue of tithing. This year, I'm in charge of the receipts for gas, groceries and other essential things and she lets me know each month what we spend on mortgage, utilities, school loan and other monthly essentials. I comb through the grocery receipts checking for essentials and non essentials, and to budget she is more on top of our bank account, (thanks to the internet).

We feel good, very good about what we are doing. It's actually brought our efforts closer together for the benefit of our family.

Since this conversation with everyone, I've been involved in some pretty intense study on the subject of tithe. My gosh! How did it ever evolve into what system we have today. I'm convinced that what we have today was another borrow from the protestant religions, just like our Sunday School program. If you ever study the law of tithing and how Israel had it first setup, it was a practical way of taking care of, the Levites, Priests, the poor, the widow and the foreigner in your locations. We are so far off the mark

Yesterday, my son, daughter and I went to church. My wife stayed home a slept. She said, "it felt so good just to get up and get breakfast, and then go right back to sleep." Bless her, she does so much for us. She said something that sounded so uncorrelated. She said, "you know it's not the going to church that makes the person good or bad, it's what's in the heart. Something that someone in the group said they had a NDE. They talked of desire. That is right. We are being here tested as to the desires of our heart and to school and shape those desires to the Lords. When we are free and choose for ourselves, it is then that we are revealed for who we really are. No institution on earth can change men and women for the better, it must come from the desires within us.

Anonymous said...

about the article in the Ensign on tithing--


I seem to remember that towards the end the family said that they needed to get help from the bishop's storehouse and that there were times when they were hungry.

My spouse and I both read it; the article disturbed us, maybe because the people we know who have gotten storehouse help usually have to eat quite unnutritious foods. Much of the fresh stuff is spoiled, for example. I've heard that recently from two people I know who have gotten church help.

So, that is a complication.

Bryan Peifer said...

Dear LDSDPer,

What I remember when I was out of work for close to a year was the kindness and love that came from a relief society president. She had grown up in a family in need and remembers having to go through the humiliation that sometimes accompanied having to get help. The new bishop that was called to our ward was a by the book, don't think for yourself type and my wife and I felt like we were being scrutinized (because we were now that I think of it) to see if we were "worthy" and full tithe payers. This was the first time in our lives we had ever had to go to the church for assistance. He made you feel like he was doing you a favor. If his purpose was to make you never to want to go on assistance again, he accomplished his goal. Little did I know at that time that someone was accumulating interest on ours and everyone else's tithes and investing in business ventures.

Anyway, those who have suffered through humiliation and have been in need understand what it is like and do not stand in judgement. Lets also just say, that at the same time, the Lord was also jolting me out of a mindset that had been formed by years of propaganda.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that leaders should not step in front of others to receive a kickback from church coffers.
I do not agree with the following statement:
...widows and single mothers, who 'never' should have to work and who always should be completely supported by men ...
I think that there is great value, for self and for offspring, in providing for one's own needs insofar as it is possible. I know of several women who find that they are a better parent because they work. The decision to work, and how much, should be left up to the indivdiual (male or female.)

Anonymous said...

AV, I obeyed the law of tithing the traditional way for over 45 years (since I was eight). I didn't get the promised blessings, even though I fully believed the propaganda. I went hungry many a time. I had not enough money to go around many a time.

My finances have gone up and down, with no connection to payment of tithing - my payment of tithing was constant (except for two or three times in my life). Now, I have zero income of my own. If the traditional law was a true natural/spiritual law, I would have my own house, plenty of food, and no worries about how to pay bills.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That would be doable, Jon. Can you provide me a link? I don't see anyplace in Blogspot help that addresses it.

Gary Hunt said...

Brian and LDSDPer,

I think the problems we experience with the Church have more to do with the individual personalities we deal with than with how the Church's programs, in theory, are supposed to run.

I had two times in my adult life that I had been out of work for almost a year. We held on as long as we could, doing odd jobs etc..., but eventually we had to ask for help. Also, I have served in callings where I was able to see how some Bishops dealt with those in need.

My experience has been a mixed bag. I saw that some leaders were very kind and loving, some were very business like and some were very judgmental. In fact the most extreme Bishop was one who could not understand how people could get themselves into these situations and thought it was his job to protect the Lord's money! Of course he was very well off.

As far as rotten produce is concerned, my experience, doing assignments and volunteering at a couple of Bishop's Storehouses, is that it depends on how it is managed. At one storehouse the manager was very wise and made sure he didn't order too much produce. He didn't want it to go bad. At the other storehouse the manager usually ordered too much and it would go bad.

I think the inconsistencies cause the problems we all experience. I believe that those leaders who are humble and rely on the Lord's inspiration are the ones who we have good experiences with. The leaders who are prideful are the ones who we have the most problems with. My experience has been that we have too many of the prideful type. In fact I think it has become the rule and not the exception. If you try to get situations corrected you are labeled a "trouble maker." The Church leader is always right and the rank and file members who "complain" have "lost the spirit and are on the road to apostasy" if they don't do as they are told and be happy about it!

Jon said...

Rock, I'm not sure how to go about it. I'm more familiar with wordpress which is easier to work with. If I have time to explore it more I'll let you know.

Joseph P said...

Rock, this issue is a source of significant tension between my wife and me. She is very conventional in her faith and her approach to living the gospel, and very much prefers doing what leaders say than figuring thing out for herself. She read your article, but was unconvinced. She went searching for quotes from apostles and prophets that would support your interpretation of the law and "increase" and "income," etc. And what she found was this from the new Teachings of Lorenzo Snow manual: I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one-tenth of their income as a tithing.18

[Tithing] is not a difficult law. … If a man receives ten dollars, his tithing is one dollar; if he receives one hundred, his tithing is ten. … It is very easy to comprehend.19

No matter my earnestness in wanting to pay according to the D&C, I can't compete with statements like that from a man she considers holy. She admits the theory of prophetic fallibility, but doesn't really believe it. How do you answer these statements from Snow, whom you admired in this post for his "tithing reformation?"

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, I've got that manual around here somewhere, but I can't seem to lay hands on it. I would be very interested in confirming whether that quote did indeed come from Snow, because the meaning of "income" in his day did not mean the equivalent of "gross receipts" as we often think it does today. If he did actually say those very words, I will be surprised. And disappointed.

More likely that is a quote that has been inserted by someone else, which Church leaders have been known to do ever since Brigham Young ordered Willard Richards to doctor the official church history after Joseph Smith's death. I won't be satisfied until I can trace the provenance of that one.

Regardless of what any Church leaders say (and that includes prophets when they are not directly quoting God)the definition of tithing can be interpreted only as what God himself said it was in section 119, which is 10 percent of one's INTEREST, and he said that is to be contributed annually for a reason. Interest can only be determined AFTER expenses have been deducted.

The First Presidency was correct in declaring that no one is authorized to make any statement other than that which was issued by the Lord.

Joseph P said...

The purported provenance, according to the footnote, is Deseret Semi-Weekly News, July 28, 1899, 10. The previous paragraph (footnote 18) was from the Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 28.

AV said...

Part 1


I am a woman and I would recommend you help your wife study about the life of Lorenzo Snow, especially about how he treated his wives in polygamy, running around after young women, it was all so abusive, lonely and completely disrespectful for the wives and their needs & rights of companionship, exclusive true love and financial support and help with children, etc, etc.

Christ taught that the basis for all true doctrine, laws & prophets is the 'Golden Rule', "Do unto others..". That is how we judge true prophets from false ones. Lorenzo Snow and other leaders & men who lived polygamy would not want to be treated the way they treated their wives. Those men would never put up with polygamy the other way around and faithfully sit home alone each night for years while their one wife is out with multiple other men getting all her needs met, with men she enjoyed and loved far better then him.

Few women can find out the truth about Lorenzo Snow and the other leaders who lived polygamy and still consider them 'holy'.

If she won't study it on her own, then you do it and tell her what he did, it should really get her thinking, if not outraged, unless she won't believe or listen to you.

Ask her how she would feel if you did the same as Lorenzo did to his wives. If she says she would be ok with polygamy then I don't know what to tell you to say to a woman who has such little self respect for herself. ... But maybe tell her 'you' have too much love & respect for her to ever treat her that way and run around with & marry other women & that you know God would never want you to.

I would also read her Joseph Smith's quotes about how abusive and horrible polygamy is to women and what a whoredom it always is and was throughout history. If you need a great compilation of his quotes against polygamy I could send you some, just let me know.

AV said...

Part 2


But especially read her the following quote, real slow, where Joseph warns the Relief Society sisters that they will be damned if they fall for polygamy or for even a Prophet who comes preaching or practicing it. Ask her what she would have thought if she had been sitting there in that Nauvoo Relief Society that day in 1842 listening to this warning from Joseph. Here it is, it's one of Joseph's best:

"At the 3rd meeting of the Relief Society held on March 30, 1842, Emma Smith, President, read an epistle prepared for the sisters. In early 1842 rumors circulated that certain unnamed men had 'debauched the innocent' stating they had authority from church leaders."

"A knowledge of some such things having come to our ears, we improve this favorable opportunity, wherein so goodly a number of you may be inform'd that no such authority ever has, ever can, or ever will be given to any man, and if any man has been guilty of any such thing, let him be treated with utter contempt, and let the curse of God fall on his head, and let him be turned out of society as unworthy of a place among men, and denounced as the blackest and the most unprincipled wretch; and finally let him be damned!

We have been informed that some unprincipled men, whose names we will not mention at present, have been guilty of such crimes... we therefore warn you, and forewarn you, in the name of the Lord, to check and destroy any faith that any innocent person may have in any such character; for we do not want any one to believe any thing as coming from us, contrary to the old established morals and virtues and scriptural laws, regulating the habits, customs and conduct of society; and all persons pretending to be authoriz'd by us, or having any permit, or sanction from us, are and will be liars and base imposters, and you are authoriz'd on the very first intimation of the kind, to denounce them as such, and shun them as the flying fiery serpent, whether they are Prophets, Seers, or Revelators; Patriarchs, Twelve Apostles, Elders, Priests, Mayors, Generals, City Councillors, Aldermen, Marshalls, Police, Lord Mayors, or the Devil, are alike culpable and shall be damned for such evil practices; and if you yourselves adhere to anything of the kind, you also shall be damned."

Signed by Joseph Smith
The Epistle was recorded on Sept. 28, 1842 mtg. Found in the Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book. at josephsmithpapers.org
Also quoted in part in the book "Biography of Sidney Rigdon", Richard Van Wagoner, p. 292.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I may have been to hasty in referring to Lorenzo Snow as heroic; I of course was not considering his involvement in polygamy. AV is correct that he, like many of his generation, were less than considerate of his several wives (although he would have thought he was doing just fine.) So thank you, AV, for that reminder.

My praise for Lorenzo Snow was focused on his recognition that the former leaders were responsible to a great extent for the financial trouble the Church had now found itself in. And I was impressed that in his public exhortations he did not promise the people nebulous blessings would accrue if they paid their tithing as we have been led to believe. Unlike many Church leaders today, he stuck pretty close to what the Lord said in section 119.

Lorenzo Snow should be credited with cleaning up a number of financial abuses, but I was perhaps a little to laudatory of him. In his desperation to get the Church out of debt, one of the mistakes he made was was selling bonds to the Eastern bankers, using promises of future tithing receipts as collateral, thereby literally selling the church into bondage. As documented by Daymon Smith in his book "The Book of Mammon" and touched on in my next post "City Creek: How Did We Come To This?" that particular action is one of the slippery slope events that led us to our present dilemma.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Joseph P,
From the information you give regarding footnote 19, that seems to be some kind of mashup attributing something to Snow that he may not have been the author of. I'm unable to find that source, the Deseret Semi-Weekly news online; that's probably going to require digging in the stacks in some library in Utah which I don't have access to.

Anyway, it's interesting that the manual would combine that quote with an actual conference talk in a veiled attempt to pass them both off as being spoken at the same time by the same guy. The heavy use of ellipses should be a clue to your wife that something was being left out.

It is unfortunate that your wife would make a frenzied search for any obscure quote from Church sources that would validate her own erroneous beliefs over the organic word of God contained in the original revelation. But that seems to be par for the course among many members today. We need look no further than the Word of Wisdom to see how the traditions in the church have superseded and become seen as the authority while the actual revelation is largely ignored.

Joseph P said...

Thank you for your thoughtful replies, AV and Rock. This story ends with she and I on different sides of the mountain. She simply will not (cannot?) conclude that generations of prophets have steered us wrong on this matter. She'll go a step further and cite more recent talks that say the word of living prophets trumps that of dead ones, and she'll say that it is the role of the 1P and Q12 to interpret scripture--so they get to say what D&C 119 means, not me or not us. The real dilemma then becomes how to move forward with our relationship and religious practice when we see tithes so differently.

Jon said...

I just be cordial. If the wife wants to pay 10% on gross then that is what I'll pay. My relationship with her is more important than temporal affairs. I talk to her about my differing beliefs and she is OK with it. Sometimes I think it would be easier just to believe everything, but I suppose that is not life. I'm coming from an atheist logical belief and an emotional agnostic belief, fyi. The gospel is awesome but all I really know is that I love my wife and kids. Dang those red pills!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well Joseph, you can take solace in the fact that most of us were once just as stubborn; it's the result of years of indoctrination in false teachings. If her mind is trapped in the belief that the leaders can never lead the church astray, you may wish to ask her find the place in scripture where the Lord made that statement.

You may wish to remind her that we have been admonished that only statements of the First Presidency are to be accepted as doctrinal on any topic, and the current statement of the FP on tithing is the one issued in 1970. No general authority, no conference talk, no magazine article is permitted to override that official statement. As the statement itself warns regarding the Lord's law in section 119, no one is authorized to make any statement other than this.

No matter what 20th century definition one wishes to apply to the word "income" the fact remains that that word is not found anywhere in the Lord's law of tithing. If she is truly interested in knowing God's will, your wife owes it to herself to get an understanding of the meaning of "increase" as understood in 1838 and over a hundred years after that. Suggest to her that she parse every word in every verse until she fully understands it, and continue to remind her that the official position of the Church is that no one is authorized to make any statement other than what is found there, no matter their title or station or calling in the Church.

Then keep praying. She'll wake up one day. We all do.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Correction: The word used in section 119 is "interest" not increase (though in the 19th century the two were virtually synonymous). Tithing is paid annually on one's interest, and as the most recent official statement of the church on the subject of tithing declares, no one is authorized to interpret it any other way.

And if your wife is such a stickler, ask her why she doesn't pay her tithing annually since that is the only way the Lord instructs it to be done?

Anonymous said...


If that is the case and you feel she can't be swayed in her thinking at this time, then I would let the matter drop entirely. Let her know she means more to you than believing the same as you. You should probably never bring it up again.

Joseph Smith taught that we shouldn't let the Church or the unacceptance of the Gospel by one spouse, get in the way of having a good marriage. The Gospel is to help keep marriages together, not to break them up. He did not want anyone leaving their spouse just because they wouldn't accept the Gospel or join the Church.

You can & should still love your wife and put her needs, desires & wishes 1st above your own, unless her wishes are evil (and I probably wouldn't say paying tithing to an apostate church is actually evil, so she could still be considered a full tithe payer, maybe she only would have to pay her half to get her recommend).

But you can still have a wonderful marriage even if you don't agree on religion, IF you put her happiness & wishes 1st above your own and serve her needs & wishes daily above your own to prove your love.

Your unconditional christlike true love for her and example will do far more than anything else to teach her to trust your thinking and your beliefs as time goes on.

Eventually she will learn the truth, in this life or the next and then she will make it all up to you. Marriage is more important than what Church you go to, for the Gospel is just there to teach us how to love & serve our spouse especially, and then all others.

But if we break our marriage vows then it won't matter what other good things we do or believe, for keeping our marriage vows to have true love for our spouse is our ticket to Exaltation, no matter how our spouse feels or what they may do or believe in this life.

Your righteousness & true love and faithfulness to her can save her and your children if they ever need saving in the next life. So you needn't worry that she doesn't accept the whole truth now.

Christ's laws against divorce and his teachings about having true everlasting love are far more important than any other aspect of his Gospel or Church.

"If any brother have a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away."

"For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified (saved) by the husband, else were your children unclean, but now are they holy (saved)."
1 Cor. 7:12,14.

The whole aim of life is to save and exalt our spouse and children (if they need saving) by the power of our own valiant righteousness and unconditional true love for them. By striving to do so, we save ourselves.

John Hagler said...

Someone else described this to me and supposedly the wealthy guys in the stake use this to get out of some taxes and get"more thithing" for their dollar. Apparently you can actually give stock options to the church as tithing...and count the full potential value. Now you get the full deduction as tithing and no tax on the total value like you would by cashing them in and then tithing

Joseph P said...

Anonymous, you might overestimate my ability to live up that high ideal. :) You're right, I'm sure, that my marriage and love for her is much more important than the money. It just STINKS so badly to pay a huge chunk to investment accounts with no accountability! I'll pray for the kind of patience you're advocating. Thanks for the thoughtful response.

Anonymous said...

Joseph, I'm trying the same as anyone to live up to those ideas too, they aren't easy most of the time. But I do know it's worth it in the end.

And I agree, having to pay that money totally stinks! But the eternal blessings you will receive for protecting your marriage by doing so is far better than the money.

And if you didn't, things could be alot stinkier. Believe me I know. You don't want to go there.

Anonymous said...

This is late but will say it anyway. We give to charity through work. Once a year we pick the charities that we want to give to, specify how much, and it is taken out of our paycheck before we get paid. We make sure to give to organizations who have very little overhead that way we know our money is going to those in need and not to administration paychecks.
Then we pay tithing on what we have left because that is all we can afford. I have a burning testimony of tithing.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:12,

No one is saying that tithing is not a true principle, when taught correctly, I think we all have a testimony of that.

I personally just believe you are not paying it to a true church, or to the Lord, for he would not want you to give it to a false church who doesn't use it for what it should be used for.

You might as well give your tithing to the 'administration people' in the charities you give to, as to give to the administration of the Church and fund their salaries, malls, & business ventures.

I believe in giving tithing directly to the poor, so we know if got where it should go.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've added another update at the end of the original post, for those seeking a a worthy place to park their offerings.

General Ike said...

Weston, sorry Bro., that attitude ain't coming from the Lord. It might be to your advantage to contemplate where it is coming from...

30 year-old Dad said...

I find your post fascinating. I especially appreciate the information about Lorenzo Snow and all the work he did to restructure the Church's finances. Gives me respect for him as a Prophet, whereas I previously knew very little about him. Very cool.

However, your analysis that tithing should be 10% of salary-minus-living-expenses fell apart for me when I searched the definition of income in the 1828 Webster dictionary. In addition to what you cite above, I found this:

"Income is often used synonymously with revenue, but income is more generally applied to the gain of private persons, and revenue to that of a sovereign or of a state. We speak of the annual income of a gentleman, and the annual revenue of the state."

Now revenue, as you even refer to in your post, is total money coming in, not subtracting any expenses. Therefore, tithing as 10% of income means 10% of total money coming in. This weakens your rationale of subtracting living expenses before calculating tithing. Thoughts?

Gary Hunt said...

30 year-old Dad:

I think you missed one of the major points of the article. In the scripture the Lord says...

D&C 119:4 And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.

Notice that He says interest, not income. Go back to Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary and you will find that the definition of interest is more in line with Bro. Waterman's rationale.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

30 year old Dad,
To add to Gary Hunt's comment above (the Law of Tithing tells us to tithe on our interest -nowhere does the Lord call it "income",) it's worth remembering that it was the 1970 First Presidency statement that said interest is "understood to be 'income.'" The Lord did not say it was understood to be "income," And the First Presidency did not claim He did. Whatever meaning one may ascribe to that word, it is wise to remember the First Presidency were not passing on a new revelation, but merely attempting to clarify the old one. Ultimately, whatever we think the word "income" means is irrelevant, since the Law of tithing does not use that word.

Nevertheless, look again at the meaning of "income" as given in Webster's 1828: "income is more generally applied to the GAIN of private persons..." Now go and look up the meaning of the word "gain" and you will see that it is synonymous with "Profit." "Gain" is used in reference to a private person, while "profit" is used in business. But both words refer to the revenue which is left over AFTER expenses have been deducted.

Remember John Corrill's early description (the earliest explanation we have of how tithing works)? He said it was paid from a person's overplus after expenses had been deducted. That is consistent with what Noah Webster says about income and gain.

There are some who have suggested the word "income" was deliberately inserted in the First Presidency description in order to confuse the Saints of today into thinking they should pay more than they required, since in modern usage that word has come to mean total earnings. I have no comment on the intention of the First Presidency.

But it is worth noting that many of the Brethren of that day, as today, were lawyers who knew and understood that words have meanings, and I am certain that every word in these official declarations are very carefully chosen. (The 1890 Manifesto is an example. It was penned not by Wilford Woodruff, but by attorney Charles Penrose, and intended to be open to interpretation of the hearer.)

Church lawyers knew the legal meaning of the word "income" as it was used prior to 1913. The question is, did they hope some of the members would attribute the more modern usage? I couldn't presume to say. But they wisely added the caveat that it is up to the individual to decide what is a full tithe. That appears to me to be a clue that they were leaving the interpretation to those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

30 year-old Dad said...

I concede that D&C 119 does not use the word "income". However, the OP cites the 1970 statement that equates interest and income and proceeds to argue that the 19th Americans understood income to be profit, citing the 1828 dictionary entry as support. But I see the same dictionary entry gives stronger support for income to be revenue, since it actually uses the word "revenue," whereas the word "gain" seems as ambiguous as "interest". Therefore, my options are to either reject the 1970 statement, which Rock suggests in his comment above, or tithe on my revenue. I feel guided to do the later.

Dorothy said...

Years ago my mom worked at the Church Office Building. During my rebellion I asked, "If we can't drink Coke, why does the Church own stock in it?" She answered that it had been given in trade for tithing. As an investment, it grew money for the Church. I wondered what members were owning stock in Coke and would give it to the Church? I wondered why it wasn't sold and something more "appropriate" purchased instead. However, I was 17 and what did I know about real life?

It was with great interest that I read this article as it echoed what I feel have been inspirations given me in the past year regarding the use of funds for the support of the Brick & Mortar Church as opposed to the support of The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It struck me odd that they had become separate to me. Yet, there it was. I've agonized over it for some time--that the deeper my relationship with the Lord became, the less I fit in with the crowd. However, I am becoming more and more comfortable with the realization that I am just "more peculiar" than most. I no longer feel the need to be fed by others regarding the Word of God and have taken the responsibility of feeding myself, directly from The Source.

Off topic, a bit: I was once blessed to attend, by mistake, a General YW leadership training in SLC. I was only an Adviser, and my YW Pres was new and she wanted to go and didn't want to go alone...and I loved that kind of stuff! It turns out that the other leaders were much higher up in the ranks, but we didn't care. We were so filled with the Spirit as well as the vision being offered to empower the YW, acknowledge their important contributions and so forth, we were literally on fire on the way home. Imagine our shock when that information finally trickled down to a local level and did not resemble AT ALL what we had been reveling in and eagerly sharing with our girls. It was a huge rift in my understanding of things.

Anyhow, thanks for allowing the ramble. I appreciate the many who have shared their understanding and offered their experiences here.

In His Care,

Meri said...

This blog post was very disturbing to me. I could only read the first few paragraphs, and decided it wasn't worth continuing. It made me feel awful inside which was a clear indicator to me, that it was not filled with truth, it wasn't from God. If it were, I would have instead felt the Spirit and feelings of peace and warmth. At Gospel Doctrine class this Sunday, they shared this scripture from D&C 28:6-7: "And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the head of the church; For I have given him the keys of the mysteries, and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them another in his stead." It might be wise for us to follow that instruction from the Lord.

Inspire said...

Truth is independent of our "feelings." We may have a sentimental response to hearing the truth, but that isn't always going to be joy and peace. This is part of the conditioning we have been taught in the church. "The Spirit = good feelings."

Let me ask you this: what if a person is not inclined to have many "feelings" about things? What if they are more practical or logical, or whatever? Does that mean they don't get to experience the Spirit? Would that be fair of the Lord to exclude them that way?

Isaiah felt terror when he encountered the Spirit. Nephi felt trepidation. "The kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish."

"But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil—yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center."

You might want to consider the possibility that the feelings you are experiencing are the Lord "disturbing" you, and causing you to "tremble and shake." This isn't to say that you are "wicked," but that the fruit that the church has offered you (us) is bitter. I can guarantee that every person who seriously reads this blog and considers the contents have had several "holy crap!" moments when the realization hit them that all was not well in the kingdom. Seeing these things is meant to stir us to repent, or in other words, consider another option.

My guess is that you are on this blog for a reason. You are probably open-minded and wanting to know about our history. This is good, because unlike so many TBM's, you haven't been paralyzed by your rigid thinking. But if you are going to look, then you should at least weigh out the results of what you find. Otherwise, you just become a voyeur and step away from working out your own salvation with "fear and trembling" before the Lord... which in my opinion, is what you are experiencing now. The Lord is not fearful, but the shaking of the devil's kingdom sure can cause us to tremble.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

It's too bad you chose not to continue reading, Meri, then you might be able to tell me what it is about the Lord's Law of tithing that you find so objectionable. As you may have found had you continued, I am very supportive of that law. I believbe it was received through direct revelation.

As we are reminded in the Book of Proverbs 18:13, those who answer a matter before hearsing it "it is a shame and a folly" unto them. In the future you might want to finish hearing what someone has to say before condemning their words outright.

Perhaps you did not notice that the scripture you quoted in D&C 28 was the Lord speaking of Joseph Smith. I can assure you that the piece you object to above was quite supportive of the Prophet, and of the law as received through him. But if you found something in there that was undoctrinal, I wish you would let me know. I'm more than willing to correct any errors or doctrine on this blog, and have done so in the past.

Meri said...

This blog post was very disturbing to me. I could only read the first
few paragraphs, and decided it wasn't worth continuing. It made me
feel awful inside which was a clear indicator to me, that it was not
filled with truth, it wasn't from God. If it were, I would have
instead felt the Spirit and feelings of peace and warmth. At Gospel
Doctrine class this Sunday, they shared this scripture from D&C
28:6-7: "And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head, and at the
head of the church; For I have given him the keys of the mysteries,
and the revelations which are sealed, until I shall appoint unto them
another in his stead." It might be wise for us to follow that
instruction from the Lord.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Meri, you seem to be repeating yourself. Didn't you just write this very same comment on the 18th?

Anonymous said...

Do you have any place where you list all your sources of information? Expecially for things like church history and current tithing usage i.e. "investments". Rachel

Alan Rock Waterman said...

The links to my sources are embedded in the piece itself. Draw your mouse over the words and phrases I have highlighted, and you will be taken to online sources. Other sources are stated parenthetically in the piece, such as books and page numbers.

Anonymous said...

I probably should have been more specific. Sorry.

Here are a few of the quotes from your article that I couldn't find sources for:

"Tellingly, it was only when it was discovered that there might not be enough moeny on hand to make payroll that the twelve suddenly pricked up their ears and started paying attention."

"Not a policy based on doctrine, by the way, but only a whim once expressed by John Taylor that morphed over the decades into ironclad rule."

"And of course, there was that little practice of the Brethren "borrowing" tithing funds for their personal use."

Foolish "investments" in 1961 that caused near bankruptcy.

I may have missed the sources for these, but I didn't see them when reading. I am grateful that you have written this article since it has definitely made me think more and seek for truth.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Ah nuts, you're going to put me to work. Your point is well taken; I did not provide links to those specific statements, most of which I picked up over the years in my reading. So okay, without getting off my duff and looking up actual page numbers, I'll direct you to the general sources for each quote you cite:

"Tellingly, it was only when it was discovered that there might not be enough moeny on hand to make payroll that the twelve suddenly pricked up their ears and started paying attention."

I believe documentation for that can be found in "David O. Mckay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism" by Greg Prince (I forget the name of the co-author). Also the biography of Henry Moyle by Richard Poll. Moyle's family asked Poll to hold off on publishing the book for a few years because of the embarrassment it would cause the family. Poll complied. Moyle was one of these guys who loved the Church, but by "Church" he meant the institution, not the teachings, of which he was incredibly uninterested. He didn't really know or care a lot about the doctrines. He was a lot like N. Eldon Tanner that way, whose conference talks were written by a secretary because, well, he really didn't know the gospel.

"Not a policy based on doctrine, by the way, but only a whim once expressed by John Taylor that morphed over the decades into ironclad rule."

You can find that quoted in a talk by Robert D. Hales here:


[I'm quoting Hales]: "Five days later, Elder John Taylor, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said in a conference that one of the clerks had asked whether any who had not paid their tithing could be baptized for the dead. Elder Taylor then taught: “It is our duty to pay our tithing, one-tenth of all we possess, and then one-tenth of our increase, and a man who has not paid his tithing is unfit to be baptized for his dead."

Now you'll note several things. First, Taylor was not the prophet at the time he made these remarks, so he was not stating a doctrine. Second, his statement was made as a response to a clerk who asked him his opinion on whether a person who had not bothered to pay tithing should be performing baptisms for the dead. I don't have a problem with Taylor's response, as this sacred ordinance would presuppose that anyone willing to perform such an ordinance should, I believe, have been faithful enough to observe the law of tithing in its simplicity.

My problem is that Taylor's offhand remark has been elevated to doctrine in our because well, he later became the president, and his words are given more weight than they deserve. That common sense remark regarding performing baptisms has come to justify not allowing anyone to so much as enter the temple to see a loved one sealed until they have proven their "worthiness" by coughing up several months worth of back payments, and that calculated as 10 percent of gross earnings. There is no revelation from the Lord to justify barring his people from entering the House of the Lord.

Alan Rock Waterman said...


"And of course, there was that little practice of the Brethren "borrowing" tithing funds for their personal use."

That information is contained in the link to the piece by Jay Bell in Dialogue. Also, I believe, you'll find it in "Mormonism In Transition." by Thomas Alexander, and also in Quinn's "The Mormon Hierarchy." Brigham Young was the biggest borrower, and died before paying any of it back.

"Foolish "investments" in 1961 that caused near bankruptcy."

Again, this was Henry Moyle, who believed in building chapels in areas where there were not yet members to fill them. He believed in building chapels first, then counting on the missionaries to find the converts. It didn't work, and the next thing we know, there was not enough money in the bank to cover payroll. McKay relieved Moyle of his administrative duties, which was a great embarrassment to Moyle that he never got over. I discussed the sad tale of Henry Moyle in my piece here:


Moyle's story strikes me as tragic as well as foolish. He is one of the few general authorities of my generation whose name is seldom brought up or celebrated in official histories, because he is so closely associated with policy failure.

Anonymous said...

While it is very well written and researched, there is a blatantly obvious flaw to your logic,

If we will flip back to Doctrine & Covenants 119 and read

Verse 1 says to pay all their surplus, which you covered quite well, and then Verse 2 lays out what the tithes are to be used for, also covered well in your article, Now we get to the verses you seem to be ignoring....

Verse 3 says "And this shall be the BEGINNING of the tithing of my people" (caps added)

Verse 4 then goes on to say "And after that(meaning after they have paid of their surplus), those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a STANDING LAW UNTO THEM FOREVER, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. (caps added)

It's a rather simple law that has blessed my life and the life of my family as we together pay 1/10 of all our income annually. That is, if I gross 40,000 for the year, we pay 4,000 in tithing, and then we also pay other offerings such as fast offerings and temple funds, but that's a story for another day.


The Prophet today is Pres. Thomas S. Monson, all revelations for the running of the church come through him, not through the interpretations of those revelations by one Alan Rock Waterman.

Anonymous said...

What a clever idea. An anti Mormon passing himself off as a Mormon with concerns. Probably a few people are falling for the ruse.

Inspire said...

"Probably a few people are falling for the ruse."

Looks like they're not the only ones.

Anonymous said...

Verse 4 says to pay one-tenth of their 'interest', their surplus, not one-tenth of their income. Huge difference. We are to take care of ourselves and family and then whatever is left over we then are asked to pay one tenth of that.

Follow the Prophet?? Which one? Joseph or Brigham? Christ or Monson? For they teach completely opposite doctrines then each other?

If I follow the LDS Prophet today, I will surely go astray. For he and all others since Brigham Young have supported whoredoms and the vilest of evils.

I only follow Christ and he warned us to beware of the many false prophets in the Church who will come and easily lead us astray if we are not careful.

True prophets teach exactly what Christ taught, they don't teach or support whoredoms and things contrary to Christ and the Book of Mormon, like false prophets do.

We must study the words and teachings of Christ and Joseph Smith if we want to be able to discern false prophets in the Church today.

NJ said...

I am a Mormon and in addition to paying tithing and fast offering I have also, from my meager income, financially helped out those in need. And I have done it a LOT and many of those times have been giving money to beggars and in some instances I have even picked up homeless people off the street and taken them to dinner. Leaving my remark here with my initials rather than as "Anonymous" (no, I'm not any of the previous commenters in this thread) to let people know that not all members are the same and that we need to be very careful when making assertions such as, "If you were honest with yourself you too would admit that you would turn down the beggar."

Mike said...

Mosiah 4:16-26

Al. Rohan said...

Siraj Al Islam said ..................
At first i thank to you for this post ...
"It is I, The Screaming Nephite, The Lone Danite, The Ultimate Alpha Male, The One, The Only, Weston Krogstadt! I am the host and star of the show! I am a valient (sic) defender of the faith. There is no time or room for gray in my life. Let's face it, you either love me or you hate me, you are either good or evil, your inspiration is coming from the Holy Ghost or Satan. Thank goodness you have found my blog!

Anonymous said...

Aren't we supposed to pay tithing on our increase. Increase and Income are two completely different things. Federal Reserve Notes are PRODUCTS created by the Federal Reserve and are instruments of DEBT.

All DEBTS paid with with FRN's still EXIST.

Using a Federal Reserve Note to pay a DEBT discharges the DEBT. It still exists. Just like in a bankruptcy. The DEBT is like the Old Maid in a game of cards it get's passed to someone else.

So how can I be a full tithe payer if I pay my tithing with Federal Reserve Notes? (The Debt Still Exists)

The Lord hates a unjust weight and balance. Proverbs 11:1

Federal Reserve Notes are unjust weights and balances. They are FORM without SUBSTANCE and soon will only be worth the paper they are printed on.

Have you ever looked in the Mirror? You will find your FORM in the mirror. That is YOU in the mirror. That YOU in the mirror is your FORM without substance. Just like the phony money the Federal Reserve prints everyday. Real money has both FORM and SUBSTANCE. Simply put GOLD and Silver.

Debts paid with GOLD and SILVER are LAWFULLY paid and EXTINGUISHED.

Debts paid with Federal Reserve Notes are LEGALLY paid (discharged) and STILL EXIST.

I'm using gold and silver to pay my tithing.


Anonymous said...

What does it profit a man to pay his tithing, even in gold and silver, if those you are paying it to are teaching false doctrine and leading the Church astray, by teaching to pay tithing on income not increase or teaching the poor to give their last dime so the Church now has them dependent on the Church, which makes it easier to control them? Or who are spending the money on big salaries for rich church leaders or malls for the rich, rather than giving most of tithing to the poor as they should, if they were really true prophets.

If you really want to follow God/Christ and secure your salvation, you could give your tithes of 'gold and silver' directly to the single mothers around you, then you will know you are really following Christ and not false prophets.

Paying tithing, even in gold and silver, to false prophets is still wrong and will not save us, anymore than paying in Fed Notes.

raise money for film said...

Those of us who see ourselves as faithful adherents to the Restoration, yet address a percentage of the unscriptural activities of Lds Church administration, would do well to watch our backs. Weston Krogstadt will bitch-slap all of us the path once more to Outer Darkness.

Anonymous said...

The author is on the road to apostasy and doesn't even realize it. Revelation doesn't come from the member up to the Lord or the prophet but from the Lord through His prophet to us.

If the Law of Tithing needs to be clarified, then I'm sure the Lord would direct His servants to let us know.

The post is also filled with many half-truths that lead the reader to a false conclusion.

The wheat and the tares will be allowed to grow together until the end.

Folks, stay away from people like this. False doctrine couched in personal study and more correct understanding that Christ is not where someone who embraces truth should spend their time.

Just look at the title of the website --- arrogance run amok.

Anonymous said...

spot on and true. I wonder what the author and those who support him in his version of the gospel really believe when they raise their arm to the square to sustain the 1st Pres and Q12.

It's sad to see so many LDS folks counsel the Lord and His church regarding doctrine.

Anon 23 said...


You criticize the author and all his research yet all you have to offer if blind obedience and blind faith in men who call themselves prophets.

You have not 'proved all things' by comparing what the so-called prophets of the LDS Church teach by what Christ and the scriptures say, to know if they are true prophets or not. And they do not match, they do not preach the same Gospel, so according to Joseph Smith those 'prophets' must be imposters.

Just because they say they are true prophets and 'God's servants' doesn't mean they really are. They must prove to us they are truly righteous and called of God and following his laws, which they haven't in my book. I don't think any of them are righteous at all. With true prophets like them who needs false prophets?

I recommend you do your own homework and come with proof before you call someone else an apostate. For the scriptures teach we should stay away from people who have 'blind obedience and faith' in whoever calls themselves 'prophets', for that is actually real apostate behavior.

Inspire said...

Anonymous (or should I say "Mr/Mrs Strengthening the Members Committee),
Your fear-mongering phrases like "road to apostasy" don't scare us any more. What does that even mean, anyway? That people who have questions and seek to find answers wherever they can are taking a road that is unacceptable to God? I thought the Lord said to ask and seek. I thought Nephi told us he delighted in PROVING to us that Christ would come. I thought we Gentiles were supposed to be CONVINCED of the truth.

Go ahead, keep tossing condemnations towards your fellow Saints. Keep mingling scriptures with your own philosophies. Keep accusing those seeking the truth of being "arrogant." Keep digging a pit for your neighbor, (there is no harm in this). You might want to look at 1 Ne 14:3 to see what happens, if you continue to walk this "road."

Having said that... folks, I think we should welcome the likes of Anonymous. At least he/she is out here reading the thoughts of those who are seeking. While they may protest now, at some point, they will recognize good for good and evil for evil. After all, "it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves." Perhaps someday, like all of us, they will get it. One can hope, anyway.

Anonymous said...

You aren't a fellow Saint; you are an apostate. You've turned your back to the truth in search of your own wisdom. You don't support the 1st Pres and Q12 as Apostles, Seers and Revelators. You don't understand how the Lord works with revelation. You don't believe the 5th Article of Faith.

You are the people digging the pit for the Saints who get it. You are trying to lead them astray with your half-truths and philosophies of men. You don't understand the Holy Ghost. You don't understand the truth.

Your posts are as fraudulent as the author of this site. Be an agent unto yourself but when your philosophies go against the doctrines of the gospel, it is you who is putting evil for good. It's is you who is being misled by Satan and his minions.

You are like the scripture that tells us arrogant souls believe in their own wisdom yet never coming to an knowledge of the truth. Ever learning the precepts of men.

You've been duped and you arrogantly post that those who don't believe in your philosophies are wrong?

There is no inspiration in preaching falsehoods my friend. Repent and come back to Christ before you seal your fate with the other apostates who thought they knew more than God and Christ.

Inspire said...

I counted 17 accusations there, Mr./Mrs. Anonymous. Well done. So, Let's address them, one by one:

1. How do you know I'm not a fellow Saint? I may have sat by you in church today. I may have smiled while you made that awesome comment in Relief Society or High Priests/Elders quorum. I may have signed the list to bring a dinner to someone who is suffering in the ward or to move someone out. How can you make a bold accusation like that? You don't know me. If you did, we would be friends.

2. How can you say I'm apostate when you don't know my heart? Are you judging my heart? Are you casting the first stone?

3. How do you know that I've turned my back on the truth? Were you there with me the hours, months and years I've spent searching and pondering? How about the time I offered up to the Lord any so-called wisdom I thought I had so I would be free to understand truth, no matter what it looks like?

4. Have you been following me around to see if I raised my hand during conferences or if I've said ill about the apostles?

5. Do you know how I've experimented to see how "the Lord works with revelation?" Are you aware I've tested out, in sincerity, the methods published in the church and even mentioned in lessons and talks?

6. Are you tapped into my thoughts and can tell me exactly what I do and don't believe?

7-8. What exactly was said that is a half-truth? What philosophy of man am I espousing? How, specifically, am I digging a pit for others and leading them astray? Examples? Witnesses?

9-10. See #5

11. I take this as a compliment to be put in the company of the author of this blog.

12. What exactly are the "doctrines of the gospel"? Can you cite scriptures to help me understand?

13. Again, please give me examples of how I am putting evil for good.

14. See #11 for my response to being misled by Satan (I'm assuming you are referring to Rock as one of the "minions").

15. It was a problem, that I relied on my own wisdom for many years, I'll admit. But again, you don't know what I've been doing lately, which is more like coming to a knowledge of my untruth and unbelief.

16. Please use quotes when referring to what I said. I do not believe the word "wrong" was ever used (but I could be wrong. There, I said it.)

17. You're the first to accuse me of "preaching falsehoods," but you cite no specific examples, so I would have no idea what to change, other than perhaps to get out a church handbook and start reading the rules. And thanks for calling me "friend," that was nice of you to say.

Since it seems you know all my beliefs, actions, thoughts, motives, and history then I guess it is appropriate that you call me to repentance (whatever that is). Hey........ is this God? Am I being punked?

Anon 23 said...

All I know is that Rock Waterman is the best gospel doctrine teacher I ever had. I have learned more from him on this blog about the true teachings of Christ and true prophets then from all the so-called 'prophets and church leaders' since Brigham Young.

Thanks Rock for helping change my world and eternity for the better. And for bringing me truth which has given me such peace & happiness & joy & enlightenment, and the ability to find even more truth in my own study.

Through the years I could see more and more things and leaders that I knew were amiss in the Church but I just couldn't put my finger on why it was so, until I found your blog, which lead me to the real truth, the missing pieces of the puzzle, that explained everything perfectly.

The truth you have taught on this blog has set me free to believe in Christ and him only.

I now don't listen to or trust anyone who preaches or practices 'contrary' to the teachings of Jesus Christ (like all the LDS leaders seem to sadly do today).

I can never thank you enough Rock, for being willing to give so much of your time to share all your hard earned knowledge and research with others who are searching for the truth but knew not where to find it.

Anonymous said...

I just truly want to say Thank-you for this article and also to those posting to this forum, for yours & their opinions/advice/corrections/testimonies & follow up data.This particular subject, "Tithing", is close to my heart. In fact, most times the subject weighs "heavily" on my heart. I do not take lightly what is written in Luke 12:48 ; For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. I give freely to those in need, especially to my family first...after doing these things, I have often found that I simply cannot afford to commit a full tenth of my "Gross" income to tithing. (Did you know you can lose 47 lbs in three months eating Ramen Noodles at 33 cents a cup? It is true!!) You and your readers have given me many articles to research, digest and pray for revelation about. Wow, I believe I can now, tithe my portion without guilt and still provide for those, whose needs are right here, right now. Much Peace and Respect...Thank-you for the infinite wisdom, it is powerful good stuff to find out that I am not the only one in search of truth concerning this subject. :-) With Respect, Spring Greene

Nathan said...


Thank you for this fantastic post.

Help me out with my attempt at literally interpreting D&C 119, since the first few verses still have me confused even after reading your post and all the comments.

Verse 1 requires turning over all our surplus property to the church, or our profit as you indicated in your post. So in your example, you'd be required to give your $700, right? If that's right, how do I interpret verse 4 when it states "And after that" I pay one tenth of my profit? So after we give our entire profit to the church, we then figure out some other profit amount and pay one tenth of that too? It just sounds like the surplus in verse one is separate from the interest in verse 4.

Verse three states that the surplus in verse one is just "the beginning of the tithing of my people". That makes it sound as if there really are two offerings: the surplus, and the one tenth of interest that follows.

Your post seems to say "and after that" should be read to mean "and of that aforementioned surplus of $700, pay one tenth". The wording has got me all kinds of confused.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

My reading of verse one indicates that the surplus of all the saints in the church AT THAT TIME was to be given to the bishop. That was a one time deal requested of those who were already in the church. They were asked to contribute the surplus they had on hand. That is, the goods, produce, and property above and beyond what they required for their needs.

Now keep in mind, the roughly $700.00 I gave as my personal example does not really reflect my own surplus. That just represents what I have left after paying my fixed expenses. I still have to eat and buy gas out of that sum, and if anything unexpected comes up, like the need for clothes or car repair, the $700 is further reduced. So if I had lived at the time section 119 was revealed, I would have been fooling myself if I called that $700.00 my surplus. If I gave that up, I would have not yet have come close to covering our living expenses.I would be entitled to take care of all those needs before I could ascertain my surplus. What I had left over after food, gas, and all the sundry other needs would have been considerably less, but that tiny amount, whatever it might have ended up being, would have been given in its entirety. Not ten percent of it in that particular case (the situation being had I lived at that time), but the whole surplus, however meager.

It really was a poor example, because I really don't have much surplus after we have fed ourselves and gassed the car. I simply chose to use that as an example for simplicity's sake.

Anyway. The Lord says that would be the beginning of the tithing of His people, that first collection of all the surplus of the Saints that one time up front. AFTER THAT, it would be one tenth of the surplus annually.

That "annually" is important, because you really don't know what you have left over at the end of the year until the end of the year. The Lord does not ask us to pay tithing as our paychecks come in; only after our paychecks have been used to cover our costs of living. And that includes especially food.

Although I have not seen the revelation Lorenzo Snow claimed to have received, the plan he re-instituted was consistent with section 119. There was no longer any First Contribution of all one's surplus; presumably he understood that as a one time contribution only required of the Saints who were there at the beginning. So from Lorenzo Snow's time forward, tithing was simply a straight ten percent of a family's leftover funds/crops/produce (interest) at the end of the year.

So you can ignore that request for all of one's surplus in verse one. That does not apply to anyone living at this time. That was, as the Lord said, "The BEGINNING of the tithing of [His] people." It has nothing to do with the beginning of your personal tithepaying. All you are expected to do is tally up what you have leftover at the end of december, and then donate ten percent of that for the operating expenses of the church.

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Nathan said...

Thank you. That clears it up for me.

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Robin Hood said...

I looked up Webster's 1828 dictionary and can find no reference to the word "interest" which matches or even equates with the definition you quote in your article.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Unfortunately not all online Webster's dictionaries are created equal. Even some of the online versions are abridged, so if you looked up the word "interest" for instance, you might see only the definition that comports with "I have an interest in agriculture" or "I'm interested in going up the mountain. What you want is to get your hands on a photographic replica of Noah Webster's original publication. You can find them on sale for a reasonable price, and I feel it's essential for understanding the meaning of words as they would have been used by Joseph Smith and his contemporaries.

Give me a minute and I'll see if I can't reproduce all the definitions for the word "interest." My computer is acting real slow, so I'll produce all the definitions for that word below after I reboot.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Here's the full definition. You'll note there are two sections for the word, the first being the verb form, i.e. having a passion for something. Scroll down to the second definition, the one that defines the word as a noun and you'll find definitions 2 through 5 pertinent to this discussion, particularly number 5. That one -number 5- would be the meaning most compatible with section 119 of the D&C.

Since the definition given in number 3 mentions the word "profit," it would help to look up Webster's definition of that word in the same dictionary, and you'll see it is synonymous with income, interest, and surplus. And as "advantage" is used in definition 5 , it's a good idea to look up the actual use of that word, too.

Just as an aside, even today the word "interest" is thought of primarily as a smaller sum of money rather than the larger amount, as money earned on a principal sum, such as interest you might earn if you had a savings account in a bank. Your interest is not the larger sum of money you placed in the bank, it's a much smaller amount derived from the principal. So it is with tithing. You don't pay on the gross, the Lord asks only payment against the small amount of interest. Anyway, here's what Webster says in full:

IN'TEREST, verb transitive [Latin inter and esse.]

1. To concern; to affect; to excite emotion or passion, usually in favor, but sometimes against a person or thing. A narration of suffering interests us in favor of the sufferer. We are interested in the story or in the fate of the sufferer. We are interested to know the result, issue or event of an enterprise. It is followed by in or for. We are interested in the narration, but for the sufferer.

2. To give a share in. Christ, by his atonement, has interested believers in the blessings of the covenant of grace.

3. To have a share.

We are not all interested in the public funds, but we are all interested in the happiness of a free government.

4. To engage; as, to interest one in our favor.

To interest one's self, is to take a share or concern in.

IN'TEREST, noun Concern; advantage; good; as private interest; public interest

Divisions hinder the common interest and public good.

1. Influence over others. They had now lost their interest at court.

He knew his interest sufficient to procure the office.

2. Share; portion; part; participation in value. He has parted with his interest in the stocks. He has an interest in a manufactory of cotton goods.

3. Regard to private profit.

'Tis interest calls off all her sneaking train.

4. Premium paid for the use of money; the profit per cent derived from money lent, or property used by another person, or from debts remaining unpaid. Commercial states have a legal rate of interest Debts on book bear an interest after the expiration of the credit. Courts allow interest in many cases where it is not stipulated. A higher rate of interest than that which the law allows, is called usury.

Simple interest is that which arises from the principal sum only.

Compound interest is that which arises from the principal with the interest added; interest on interest

5. Any surplus advantage.

I've long felt having a copy of Webster's 1828 is as essential a tool as Strong's Concordance. Everyone should have one of these on their shelf if they have any desire for understanding scripture.

Gary Hunt said...

I have a Facsimile First Edition of Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language. I looked up the definition of the word "interest" in the context as explained by Rock and he is correct.

Anonymous said...

Did the Savior ever use the word 'interest' or 'profit' or 'surplus' or did he call for a 10% of anything as tithing? Just curious, for I'm not sure.

All I know is that no matter what Joseph may have preached, we are to compare it to what Christ taught, to see if it is right or not, for Joseph was wrong about alot of things. Didn't Christ teach us to give 'all' our excess (that we don't need to take care of our family with) to the single mothers around us (fatherless)?

The scriptures say that the whole pure essence & reason for religion is to relieve the suffering of single mothers who have lost or been abandoned or abused by their bread winner and thus who are made to have to earn money & neglect their more important duty as mothers & grandmothers..

The main reason we go to Church is to learn how to take care of these single mothers, otherwise our prayers and all else we do is in vain and will not save us.

To use tithing to build a church or temple or for church debts or businesses is useless, for going to that church building or temple will do us no good as long as we aren't using 'all' the tithing to take care of the single mothers & other poor among us.

As long as there are still poor among us there should be no churches or temples built, certainly never a penny should be given to church leaders for support, for the Book of Mormon is very clear that prophets & leaders are to support themselves while serving in the Church.

It would be the height of evil to use 'tithing money' to support a prophet or leader, when it should or could have gone to the suffering single mothers who have to leave their homes & children & go to work.

It appears that even Joseph still didn't understand Christ's teachings fully in regards to the fatherless & poor & tithing. God would/could never reveal contrary revelation to Joseph to build a temple before taking care of all the poor among them. Once there are no more poor or needy among us, THEN we can use tithing to build temples, for Sunday family church meetings, etc., as they were mean't to be used.

But bottom line, God never intended us to just give 10% of anything, for Christ asked for 100% of our surplus, so that there are no more poor among us. but we go away sorrowfully because that's too hard to give, it's hard for me too, while we all watch the many single mothers around us who have to neglect their families & work to pay their bills.

GIving money to the Church will not be an excuse either, for we all know the Church doesn't use it all on the single mothers & the poor, we all can see how they are still ignored & have to go to work despite how rich the Church is. Thus we will be accountable who we give our money to and how it is then used.

Best to give it directly to the single mothers you know so they can stay home with their children and grandchildren and not have to work to earn money. Otherwise, our religion, faith & prayer are all in vain and will do us no good.

Righteousness is measured by how we make sure single mothers don't have to work or suffer.

Allan said...

do you have any sources for Tanner conspiracy?
"no man has done more to stray the church"

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Allan, I presume your question is directed at Steven Lester, because I don't think I used the term "Tanner Conspiracy." What I know about Tanner I gleaned from several sources, and I'm not certain I remember all of them. Foremost would probably have been Michael Quinn's The Mormon Hierarchy, and I suppose I read some stuff about him in Greg Prince's biography of David O. McKay.

The Henry Moyle biography comes to mind. I tried reading Tanner's biography (I think the author was Homer Durham). That book was absolutely useless as a source for anything unfavorable about the man. It was a puff piece, and it smelled of something Tanner had hired to have written for him.

Really a boring book. Tanner took this trip to visit a mission in that country, then he went to visit a mission in another country. Nothing that I could see about his financial dealings whatsoever.

There was a hint that his conference talk was written by a staff member, as he stopped in to read it over. It makes sense that anything theological would have had to be supplied to him.

I would work harder at locating my sources, but I'm under the gun to get some work done. Hope that helped a little.

Anonymous said...


You've been having a good discussion on FB with my wife regarding tithes. Thank you for your input! Here's the funny thing. I'm the ward clerk! My views on this have completely changed since last year when I was the one bullying people to make their tithing settlement appointments. I didn't really like bothering people to make appointments in the first place - but now I'm totally against tithing settlement in general. Since we're coming up on that time of year again, I was wondering if you have any thoughts on how I could go about my quazi-rebellion in a tactful way. My bishop literally has me call people until they submit to the meeting. If they refuse, he calls them and does settlement over the phone. It is excruciating even if you're gung ho in favor of the meetings.

Any ideas would be much appreciated.

Btw, I've loved reading all your articles ever since we met on The Daily Paul. I'm hooked on this stuff. Thanks for all the time you put into this blog.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Sounds like you're in a tough spot allright. It wasn't long ago that tithing settlement was a time set aside by the bishop so that those who WANTED to have a few minutes to settle things could. It was never intended to be mandatory at all.

I guess the only thing you can do is point this out to the bishop and ask him why we feel it necessary to hound people to come in who don't have any proclivity to do so? And this is important: Ask him for the scriptural justification for tithing settlement. If all he can show you is something out of the CHI, tell him you would rather follow your promptings in this matter and stop bothering people about it. After all, why would anyone need to be pushed into a tithing settlement situation? Either they have paid a full tithe or they haven't. It isn't the bishop's place to play daddy.

The worst he can do is get upset with you and release you. And I have yet to meet a ward clerk who wasn't desperate to get out of that calling.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. That sounds like something I can do. The idea of being released because of it makes the idea even more attractive!

I imagine his response will be something like, "it gives people the chance to sit down and talk with their bishop once a year." I've heard him say something like this before. I suppose he is correct if he defines "gives people the chance" as "all but forces people". I mean, people constantly have "the chance" to sit down with him throughout the year. One phone call gets them an appointment for as long as they desire.

Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes.

Ryan Nickel said...


This was eye opening to me. However a few things didn't sit well with me and I wanted to look them up and have references for them.

To quote you:

"And though he did speak about tithing, Snow exhibited no dramatic revelation received in the middle of his talk, and he did not promise rain if the people would pay their tithing. In fact, contrary to the main message of the movie, there was no connection made whatsoever between the drought and tithing. Good thing, too, because it would have been embarrassing. There was a little bit of rain here and there over the next three years, but the drought cycle didn't end in St. George until 1902."

I'm not sure how he received the revelation, nor care. I do know that he referred to it on several occasions as a revelation.

However, what I wanted to find out was just when did rain fall and how much. I get your point that the film makes a clear distinction between paying your tithing and precipitation where President Snow never made any such promise.

In fact this is what he said and the resulting rain fall in response:

"President Snow had repeatedly assured the Saints that they would be blessed individually, both temporally and spiritually, as they obeyed the law of tithing. (See, for example, Deseret Evening News, June 24, 1899, 3. Contemporary transcripts of President Snow’s discourses and contemporary newspaper articles about his travels show that while he promised the Saints that they would be blessed temporally as well as spiritually as they obeyed the law of tithing, he did not specifically promise an end to the drought in southern Utah.) That promise was partially fulfilled in August 1899, when the people of St. George enjoyed temporary relief from their drought; their faith was rewarded with 2.93 inches of rain, more than they had received in the previous 13 months combined. (See Western Regional Climate Center, http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMONtpre.pl?utstge)"

I do find it miraculous and faith promoting that the saints in southern Utah were blessed temporally for their faithfulness. I believe the same can be said for those that pay an honest tithe, whatever that may be.

Ryan Nickel said...


This has been a very thought provoking article. While the video Window of Heaven might mislead others to think that the prophet promised rain to those that paid and honest tithe.

You wrote:

And though he did speak about tithing, Snow exhibited no dramatic revelation received in the middle of his talk, and he did not promise rain if the people would pay their tithing. In fact, contrary to the main message of the movie, there was no connection made whatsoever between the drought and tithing. Good thing, too, because it would have been embarrassing. There was a little bit of rain here and there over the next three years, but the drought cycle didn't end in St. George until 1902.

I'm not sure how he received the revelation and really don't care. Someone took creative license.

However, it should be noted that the payment of their tithing did result in temporal blessings and that SHOULD be focused upon as faith promoting if not building in the principle of tithing.

This comes from the LDS website under the Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow chapter 12 on tithing.

President Snow had repeatedly assured the Saints that they would be blessed individually, both temporally and spiritually, as they obeyed the law of tithing.(See, for example, Deseret Evening News, June 24, 1899, 3. Contemporary transcripts of President Snow’s discourses and contemporary newspaper articles about his travels show that while he promised the Saints that they would be blessed temporally as well as spiritually as they obeyed the law of tithing, he did not specifically promise an end to the drought in southern Utah.) That promise was partially fulfilled in August 1899, when the people of St. George enjoyed temporary relief from their drought; their faith was rewarded with 2.93 inches of rain, more than they had received in the previous 13 months combined.(See Western Regional Climate Center, http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMONtpre.pl?utstge)

While agree with most of what you wrote, I don't want the lesson and blessings to get lost from paying tithing... Whatever those who read deem it to be.

Again, thanks for challenging a currently held belief.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post !!..I totally agree with most of what you said. The current definition of tithing has been misinterpreted causing many members to fall away or not join the church. They cannot progress in the priesthood or receive temple blessings. Being unable to pay they feel like second class citizens and guilty. Like the Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 14 about Abraham paying tithing to Melchezidek of all he possesed that the Lord gave him more than his NEEDS. As a person gets more of a testimony of tithing they will strive to live more prudently and reduce the costs of their needs. The beauty of the law will surface meaning, I want to give the Lords more money so I don't need to drive a BMW I can drive a Ford Taurus, I don't have to live in a five bedroom house we can get by in a 3 bedroom house , I don't have to buy fancy clothes or eat steak and lobster when I can eat spaghetti . Get my drift.? Some people have unusual expenses like paying alimony to an ex wife or supporting aged parents on disability. Some have more mouths to feed .more medical expenses. .Can you imagine what will happen when Obamacare kicks in?. Some live in expensive cities where housing cost are high or extreme weather conditions where heating and air conditioning costs are high A strict across the board 10 percent no matter what your expenses are is not what the Lord intended. It's common sense! I'm just sorry there appears to be noone in authority who is willing to correct the problem. It would be embarrassing for the church after all these years of misinterpretation of the law.. May we all pray for the Lord's intervention to correct this massive error .. May I say I believe the church to be true but I also believe that those in authority can make mistakes. SW Anonymous

Anonymous said...

This post is a blessing. I have literally just been sitting here at my desk crying over my checkbook (it's christmas and I don't have enough money to even finish shopping for my kids) - if I pay my tithing right now (I've never missed - ever and have always paid gross on my paychecks) - I wont have enough to even buy groceries. My dilemma for the last hour has been "do I pay tithing and trust that God will provide for needs" or "do I pay the other bills sitting here" - I have been trusting in God for the last five years that our business has suffered and we are NOWHERE! In fact, we just filed BK and I am sure the Trustee is thinking "what the hell are you spending $590 a month on 'tithing'?" Tithing has let me down. This church has let me down. At great personal sacrifice (almost losing my home and now in BK) - have I paid tithing! At one point, when we had to let go of our bookkeeper (we eventually had to let all of our 28 employees go and our office - we are hanging by a thread now) - I started taking over the books and saw that there was an account in QB listed as "loan to shareholders" - that would be my husband and myself. Apparently, any monies we took out of the business were being booked as "loan to shareholder" - this made me realize that we had not paid taxes on these, nor had we paid tithing!! (this was obviously not going to get paid back by us ever since it was approximately $300,000 (over a 10year period of time) - I literally wrote a check to the church for $30,000 to cover this money so that I could feel like I was being honest in my efforts to tithe and not "rob" God. This $30,000 came at a time when our business was failing and we were letting employees go. Where was this post in 2008? I could sure use that $30,000 right now. This post was a needed blessing in that - I just voided my tithing check for $590 and changed it to $116 - 10% of my surplus. Thank you. a huge burden has been lifted. huge.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I'm very happy to hear stories like this, because the Lord does not want us to give our all to the Church to the detriment of the well-being of our families. I'm only saddened that you suffered so long giving your money to the Corporate Church under the false belief that you were giving to the Lord. Imagine the good you could have done with all that squandered money had you funneled it into alms for the needy instead of supporting priestcraft!. And imagine the actual blessings you would have received by now had your donations actually been used for the Lord's true purposes by providing for the needs of others!

Thank you for adding your testimony here, and as you are able to put what little you can toward serving others, I'm sure you will begin to finally see those promised blessings, and your family will finally begin to prosper. Most of us have been doing it all wrong for years, ignoring the needy (and our own family's needs) in favor of supporting an institution that refuses to be accountable to the members for the money it has already received. But that's what repentance is for. We can all start doing the right thing from here on out.

Good luck, and may God be with you!

Anonymous said...

Very well done. I am curious what you think about:

1 - Why didn't they write surplus in the D&C instead of interest. I suppose they could have concerned with overuse of the word, conscience of their grade school English class. But i don't know.
2 -When they tried to clarify it in 1970, does the phrase - which is understood to mean income - actually mean they only want the interest only from your income, and not other sources. I think they were trying to clarify it, but instead - interest of income isn't familiar.
3 - If they did change tithing, and it looks like they have done so many times based on one of your sources, after the reset in 1970, does it matter? That standing law forever seems to get in the way. But i think that 1970 statement is definitive now.
4 - Does it seem from the statement, that there isn't revelation involved? The phrase: We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly. Those instruction are totally void of receive direction / inspiration.

I have a copy of the statement by the way. My Bishop has me make a batch of them every year as people as what tithing is.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Anonymous, I'll try to respond to your questions in the order you asked them:

1. You ask "why didn't they write surplus instead of interest?"

Well, in the first place, the word "interest" was commonly used and understood in early America in a way that we don't use it today. These days we think of "interest" primarily as the extra money we pay on a credit card, or the extra money we earn from a savings account. That is a valid way to think about "interest" -as something we receive or are paid -or that we owe- that is "extra." Above and beyond what we normally need to live on.

Although the words "surplus" and "interest" are virtually synonymous and often interchangeable, there are subtle shades of meaning to each word. You'll notice that in translating God's intent, Joseph Smith used each of those words in section 119 in different places And indeed, he seems to have used them precisely right to convey what the Lord intended.

In verse one, the Lord says he requires all the surplus property. That was the extra property, goods, produce, crops, and money that was existing among the Saints at that time. He states that was the beginning of the tithing of His people. So that part's over; it was a one time deal. The giving of all our surplus is no longer required. We don't join the church today and turn over all our extra property. That was a kickstarter to get things going.

Then the Lord says "after that" the Saints were to pay 10 percent of all their "interest" annually. Why not simply say "surplus" again? Because "interest" denotes money or property accrued over a specified period of time. That's why the Lord specified it was to be paid yearly. At the end of the year Americans -at least in the old days -annually took stock of what they earned, what they lost, what they required to live on, and what gain they had left over.

The money left over beyond our needs and minus our losses and expenses is our "interest." We pay 10 percent of that for the operating expenses of the church. It's supposed to be just a little bit from every member, and when the Church is operating within its means, all those little bits added up should be just enough to cover the administrative expenses of the Church.

(Continued Below)

Alan Rock Waterman said...


2. The 1970 statement on tithing was a response to many questions that arose from members who were not clear about what they should pay tithing on. Should it be their gross paycheck, or their take home pay? Were they allowed to deduct child support, alimony, etc? What about their mortage? Grocery costs? There were a lot of questions, because some bishops were telling their members they had to pay on their gross, or that they should pay tithing the first thing when they receive their paychecks, and some bishops were advising something else. So the members wanted the straight scoop. Exactly what were they supposed to pay on, and when were they supposed to pay? It didn't help that section 119 used the word "interest" at a time when the only thing most members thought that could possibly mean was interest on their savings accounts.

So a number of local leaders asked for clarification, and the Brethren responded by saying "the simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income."

Now, some feel that the First Presidency didn't clarify anything at all when they used the word "income" to define what was meant by "interest," since by 1970 most Americans had come to believe that "income" meant the same as "gross income," or "everything that comes in."

But the Brethren were technically correct. Both "interest" and "Income" mean, in this usage, surplus money left over after expenses within a a specified period of time. And that period of time was to be annually. Once a year, not once every payday.

A cynic might say that the Brethren hoped most people would interpret "income" in the way it is commonly assumed today, so that the members would contribute more than they were actually required to pay. I wouldn't know. All I can say is that when the leaders of the LDS Church issue a statement, you can be sure it has been very carefully crafted and gone over again and again. So yes, some members who are not aware of the proper meaning of "income" might continue to be fooled into paying tithing on their gross wages. I think this statement was carefully worded so that those who had eyes to see would see. They did quote the Lord as using the word "interest' after all. And they were also correct in saying that "interest" is understood to mean "income." It IS understood to mean income. It was understood that way in the 19th century, and it is today among those who understand the legal meaning of the word. Those who wish to assume something else are welcome to overpay.

3. I don't know what you mean when you say they changed tithing many times after 1970. Individual General Authorities have given talks in conference where they expressed positions that differed from God's word and from the 1970 First Presidency statement, but that doesn't change tithing any more than when some member of your ward gives a Sacrament meeting talk expressing his opinion on it. The law of tithing has never changed. Only some people's false understanding of it has.

4. Yes, it's clear from the wording of the First Presidency Statement of 1970 that no revelation was received or conveyed when issuing that statement. No revelation was claimed. They were merely reiterating the original law, making it clear that nothing changed in the law of tithing since the original revelation, and declaring that no one was justified in making any other statement about tithing than that originally issued by the Lord.

Anonymous said...

many thanks rock!

PNW_DPer said...

My turn to indoctrinate the 8 yr olds in Primary today in the Law of Tithing, interesting to review this blog entry, still not sure how I'll proceed (I want to at least leave a door open to the original doctrine, w/out getting into too much trouble). Anyway, thanks Rock for your time that you put into this.

kindfoodfarm said...

That was beautiful.

kindfoodfarm said...

Steven Lester, I'll just admire you and appreciate what you wrote, from afar. I hope that makes you feel more comfortable.

Rico S. said...

I am sorry if I didn't read all the previous comments but while I find the historical analysis praise worthy (history-making is my trade), I don't think that I can grasp any transcendental meaning to it. And I mean that I am not sure if you pretend to disqualify the faith that thousands of individuals put in paying a "full tithe." From your words it might seem that their stories of blessings, material and spiritual, might be product of a worldwide conspiracy or to some kind of physiological disorder (mass hysteria). I am curious to know whether you believe, according to the evidence that you have presented, that their accounts are false or misrepresented.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Rico, I'm sorry if you got the impression I disparaged anyone's testimony. What I said was there is nothing in the law of tithing that promises blessings to those who pay tithing.

That certainly doesn't mean God cannot pour out his blessings on whomever he chooses.

Although I hear the occasional story of a family who credits tithepaying with recent material blessings, I have seen far more stories of devoted members who paid more than a full tithe for years and years and their situations never improved. In many cases their lives grew more desperate. A typical example is the comment above from "Anonymous" dated December 13, 2013 at 11:58 am.

I do receive regular letters from readers who tell me that their lives have been blessed immensely more since they focused the bulk of their giving on fast offerings and alms to the poor. Many tell me they see the building up of a Zion society to be of much more importance than building up the earthly Church, and have found greater blessings in sharing their means unconditionally with others.

Anon 23 said...

I also feel far more in line with Christ's teachings when I give directly to the fatherless and poor that I know around me, instead of to a church that I see ignores those same fatherless and poor, and appears to use sacred money meant for the poor to instead build things like large and spacious buildings and malls and to fun colleges and missionary work, etc,. which may be nice things but if the Church puts those things ahead of making sure there are no poor among them, then all their other good deeds and service are in vain, as the scriptures say. For God will not hear the prayers or recognize the doings of those who neglect the needy and the fatherless.

Now that I am finally following the Savior's commandments to give 'all' my excess money and time to the poor, instead of following the commandments of men to give it to them to use on almost everything but the poor, I can see that we will be under condemnation if we do give our excess money to men in the Church who don't use all of it for the fatherless and the poor.

God will ask us why we didn't give our tithing directly to the fatherless as he clearly directed by his words, but instead gave our money/tithing to men, false men, who said give it to them, yet who gave only a small portion of it to the fatherless, or ignored them all together, which is what I'm seeing happening all around me in the Church.

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