Tithing is a Blessing!


When I graduated high school I applied to a local university and was very blessed to receive a full-ride academic scholarship. I saw it as a mix between a gigantic miracle and a welcome pay-back for a lot of hard work and time spent doing extra curricular activities. It made going to college easy on me and my parents. As an expression of gratitude and obedience, I committed to pay a full, 10% tithe on all of that money. Some semesters it was hard! I thought of places I could travel, things I could buy, what I could do for my family and friends with some extra change in my pocket. . .

Even in those moments of hesitation I recognized that 100% of the scholarship came from the Lord and that he asks us to give up 10% of our increase for the building up of His kingdom. I have put the Lord to the test in paying tithing and I know that He blesses us with more than He requires of us. Not only did the Lord open the door of a college education for me, but as it closed last semester I walked away debt-free, at the top of my class, and with a conviction that the Lord will always provide for those who are willing to obey His commandments.

Tithing SlipThis is an image of the tithing slip we use in the LDS Church. There are several funds to which we can donate, but only Tithing and Fast Offerings are commandments. We use an envelope to give our tithing instead of passing around a donation plate or basket. The tithes are recorded by the financial clerk and a member of the bishopric of each congregation and then deposited in the church’s account. Tithing money is used in the building and maintenance of chapels, temples, and other church assets and in missionary work. At the end of each year, individual tithe payers are given a receipt that shows the total amount of their donations to help in filing taxes.The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as an organization, understands that tithing is the Lord’s money. Every year at General Conference, the Church Auditing Department makes a statement regarding the use of the money. For me, knowing that there is no misuse of funds, no skimming off the top, gives me confidence that this really is the Church of Jesus Christ and not a Church of men hoping to get rich off their congregation.

Although it may sound difficult or even impossible to live the law of tithing, the Lord promises that he will “open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10). Such abundant blessings are well worth the sacrifice. Take some time right now to consider God’s hand in your life and this Sunday offer him a tithe.

See also:

The Divine Law of Tithing

Tithing: A Test of Faith with Eternal Blessings

Is Mormonism a Cult?

You might have heard that the Reverend Robert Jeffress called Mormonism a cult a couple weekends ago. It’s nothing new to us Mormons: people have been calling us cultists for generations. It’s only news because someone connected to a presidential campaign said it, giving journalists the perfect excuse to write headlines combining the words “religion” and “politics.”

With accusations of bigotry flying in from all directions, the pastor has stood by his statement and made the clarification that Mormonism is a “theological cult,” which has a different denotation than a “sociological cult” akin to the small, controlling groups led by the likes of David Koresh and Jim Jones. The way that Jeffress describes it, a “theological cult” is a religious group that deviates from traditional Christianity significantly enough that it should be excluded from the realm of Christianity.

Now, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does deviate from traditional Christianity in some ways, so there may be some value in his assessment; it’s a question worth exploring through further research and education. My main objection to the term “cult” is its connotation: it conjures up images of brain-washing, living in barbed-wire compounds, restricting access to the outside world. Rather than opening the question, it closes the door on it. The intent of the word is to tell everyone, “DANGER! Don’t go near these loons!”

So, there’s a problem with the word “cult” itself: it’s pejorative. Rev. Jeffress’ relatively neutral definition is automatically charged by the fierce emotional context surrounding the word, and the message of that emotion is “REJECT MORMONS!” As Mormons, we feel that message unfairly replaces education with anti-Mormon propaganda.

This tactic is relatively commonplace in the public square. The well-known atheist, Christopher Hitchens recently summed up my religion as one led by “a supreme leader, known as the prophet [who can order Mormons] to turn upon and shun any members who show any signs of backsliding […] Word is that the church can be harder to leave than it was to join. Hefty donations and tithes are apparently appreciated from the membership.”

If Jeffress or Hitchens were my first introduction to Mormonism, I’d probably call the LDS church worse names than “cult.” Fortunately, I (as a Mormon) know more about my religion than these two combined.

While each of these descriptions is based on a small kernel of truth (we do have some theological differences with traditional Christianity and we do indeed have a prophet and we pay our tithing, etc.), they mislead you (we believe in the grace of Jesus Christ, we actively reach out to “backsliding” members, and we allow members to resign their membership freely). Without the necessary context it’s impossible to understand some issues the way Mormons understand them. If your goal is to feed your hatred for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints then stop right here. Just go find some anti-Mormon screeds and don’t be surprised when you develop strong feelings of disdain and disgust for us lunatic Mormons.

If you want to understand Mormonism, though, here are the main things a Mormon will focus on when introducing the Church:

  • God is our Father and He loves us,
  • Jesus Christ atoned for our sins,
  • the original Christian priesthood and apostleship have been restored, and
  • God speaks to us through His prophets and through the Holy Ghost.

I’m not sure why these don’t get the press’s attention as much, but they are the foundational principles of the Mormon religion (and my life). Start with these to better understand the frequent accusations and misleading descriptions that are thrown our way.

To get a true education on our religion, contact a Mormon friend or acquaintance; you can ask them your questions directly. We are always itching to tell our story to people who want to learn, especially if the focus is on the central themes I listed here. If you don’t know any Mormons, send me an email. I’ll gladly volunteer to be your first latter-day saint friend.

What Do Mormons Believe: Education

“The Lord commands us to ‘seek learning, even by study and also by faith’ (D&C 88:118). President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught: ‘We believe in education. This Church encourages education. There is incumbent upon every member of this Church, as a mandate from the Lord, to get all the education you can get. … There is incumbent upon the Latter-day Saints a dictum from the Lord Himself to educate our minds and our hands.5

“Gaining an education was the goal of Roberto Flete Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic, who enrolled in college shortly after returning from his mission. His father agreed to cover his living expenses so that Roberto could focus on his studies, but a short time later, Roberto’s father died, leaving the family in a dire financial situation.

“Roberto quit school and began working to support himself, his mother, and his sister. He wondered how he’d ever be able to finish school.

“Weeks later President Hinckley announced the Perpetual Education Fund (PEF), ‘a bold initiative’ that would help youth in developing areas ‘rise out of the poverty they and generations before them have known.’ 6 Roberto applied for and was granted a PEF loan, which allowed him to continue his studies. This opportunity not only helped with immediate finances, but it also helped Roberto have the faith to marry and form an eternal family because he knew he would be able to provide for them.

“Roberto finished medical school while serving as a bishop and became the first Church member on the National Board of Dominican Medical Schools. But the best results, he says, have been at home. ‘There have been changes in my family as we are now further removed from the cycle of poverty,’ he says. ‘I am grateful that my son won’t have to live the same way I did because we’ve stepped out of that cycle.'” (“Catching the Vision of Self-Reliance,” Ensign, June 2011)

“For members of the Church, education is not merely a good idea—it’s a commandment.” (“Two Principles for Any Economy”, Ensign, Nov. 2009)

For more information, visit the Education and Literacy section of providentliving.org and visit besmart.com , a website to help Latter-day Saint youth prepare for higher education.

Question Box: Does Sin Cause Disease?

What do Mormons believe about illness and causes of illness?

Simply put, Mormons seek to know, understand and believe anything that is true. We are encouraged to seek truth from all good sources. By-and-large, the origin of disease is not something specifically addressed by doctrine revealed through the priesthood. That leaves it up to individual members to decide what they believe personally, with the injunction to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)

Mormons tend to accept well-established scientific truths, including truths about pathogens, genetics, nutrient deficiencies and other well-established causes of disease. Throughout recorded history, a common belief has been that disease is a punishment for sin. This idea isn’t entirely refuted by revealed doctrine, but it isn’t completely accepted either. Because many of the natural consequences of sin lead to poor health or disease, it can be said that disease is a punishment for certain sins. For example, illegitimate sex is against the the teachings of Jesus Christ and His servants. Such behavior can lead to sexually transmitted diseases that one would avoid by righteous living. In this sense you can say somebody is “punished” for illicit sexual behavior when they contract genital herpes. However, most Mormons would simply say that the disease was a natural consequence of sin, and not that the sin “caused” the disease.

How do we ‘know’?

Today at church we had a testimony meeting.  This is a somewhat unique sermon style where the bishop invites the people in the congregation to come to the microphone and share their testimonies or personal witness stories.  They simply go up to the front if they feel like they should, and it is usually very uplifting and enlightening.  You can learn how the gospel impacts a person directly.

You’ll often hear phrases like, “I know that God lives,” and “I know Jesus died for my sins,” and “I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.”  Sometimes visitors come away from these meetings non-plussed by our uber-confident ‘knowledge’ of things.  It got me thinking.

Whenever someone says they know something, they are saying they have high confidence that their belief coincides with objective truth.  We do this all the time.  You say, “I just know the dentist is going to lecture me on flossing” because 1) he’s done it before and 2) you still haven’t been flossing.  Your previous experience and the evidence of your behavior lead you to this prediction.  There are many ways we gather knowledge; I’ll list a few here for illustration:

  • Personal experience (five physical senses,  sense of balance, pain, hunger, etc.)
  • Emotion and intuition (love, fear, instinct, etc.)
  • Experiences of others (advice, anecdotes, biographies, etc.)
  • Logical and mathematical proofs (a priori)
  • Found evidence (archeology, historical documents, paleontology, forensics, etc.)
  • Robust scientific experimentation that controls for all variables (physics, chemistry, etc.)
  • Scientific experimentation/observation that controls for variables where possible (sociology, political science, economics, etc.)

We all tend to have some level of confidence in these methods, some more than others, depending on many factors, but each of these can lead a person to say “I know…” if the learning method is compelling enough.  Even so, many would argue that none of the methods I listed above are capable of producing reliable knowledge of things as transcendent as God.  Archeological digs might lend credence to a religious belief, but surely not firm knowledge.  These critics have a point, so I would add one more item to the list:

  • Revelation from God

God speaks to His children in various ways.  He gave Joseph prophetic dreams that came true; He spoke to Moses from a burning bush (and also face-to-face).  He sent an angel to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus.  Joseph Smith saw and listened to the Father and the Son in a grove of trees.

To Joseph of Egypt, Moses, Mary, Smith and many others, those experiences were indisputable.  They had every right to declare, “I know” instead of “I believe,” and they did.

For most of us, though, the glorious visions and visitations of heavenly beings haven’t yet happened.  For us, God has promised another form of revelation: a personal witness of spiritual truths through the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is available to bear witness of the Father and the Son.  “By the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5).  This witness may be less dramatic or conspicuous than an angelic visitor, but its convincing power may be even more sure than a vision (see Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 2:151; 1 Nephi 17:45-46).  Because of His subtlety, it may take many prompts for you to hear the Holy Ghost and again many more before you trust them enough to say “I know.”  But it can happen.  This is how I know God lives and that Jesus is the Christ.

You can know, too.  Like other modes of learning, it won’t necessarily come in an afternoon of mild curiosity, but it will with dedicated seeking, knocking, and asking over the course of weeks and months and years.  Begin now and you will taste the deliciousness that is the knowledge of God.