Bible References About
For some reason, the principle of tithing tends to be a controversial issue with people who are not members of the church. This is ironic because they aren't the ones paying it so why should they care at all? They probably just have misconceptions about how tithing works in The Church. Maybe to them it just seems like people are throwing 10% of their income away to some church for no good reason. However, to members who pay tithing, this couldn't be further from the truth.
Tithing is a commandment that goes back to Old Testament times, and was never rescinded. By definition "tithe" means a tenth or 10%. Therefore, members are only required to pay 10% of their income to The Church. Remember, the Church is not the IRS. Members are not audited, bishops don't ask for financial information, and no one has ever been shaken down for tithing money. If a member for whatever reason quits paying tithing, there won't be any leaders hounding them like a collections agency.
Members discreetly place their offerings in an envelope and hand it to the bishop or one of his two counselors. Collection plates are not passed around in meetings. At the end of the year, the bishop asks each member if he or she is a full tithe payer, and people simply say yes or no. It's all based on people's honesty, not a financial review.
To members who obey and keep the law of tithing, the blessings are easily counted, and not just in monetary units. I definitely speak from personal experience on this one. Plus I think it helps that members know that no one is getting wealthy from their donations. Since the church has a volunteer clergy, and tithing funds are spent to benefit the members, no one is getting rich off tithing donations - no, not even the Apostles and leaders of the Church. Apostles and full time general authorities are paid stipends, and are employed by church-owned businesses. Tithing money goes to build churches, temples, produce church books and supplies, church programs and funds the renowned welfare and humanitarian programs of the church, just to name a few.
Here are the bible citations that support the principle of tithing.
Genesis 28: 20-22
"And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."
Jacob is acknowledging and giving thanks for all the Lord has given him, and ends off by basically saying, the Lord has given him so much the least he can do is give Him a tenth, or tithe. As the Lord blessed Jacob for his offering, so too will He bless us for ours. Whether we notice or not, or whether we want to admit it or not.
"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. These are the commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai."
The Lord is explaining that a tenth of everything is His, and tithing is holy to Him. During this time the people didn't have money so they were commanded to offer up 10% of their seeds, their crops and their herds. In the last verse the Lord confirms that tithing is indeed a commandment, not a suggestion.
"And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:"
Jesus is once again reaffirming the obligation to pay tithes and give offerings.
2 Chronicles 31:5-6
"And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the first fruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the Lord their God, and laid them by heaps."
The background of these verses was King Hezekiah overthrowing idol worship in his kingdom and reinstating the worship of the God of Israel. As part of this reinstatement of the faith, he commands people to start paying tithes and making offerings again. Notice is says that the tithes and offering were brought in heaps. Through the ages, whenever the people of God have been on the earth and are being faithful, tithing has always existed among them. When the people become wicked, tithing is one of the first thing to go.
Malachi 3: 7-10
"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
This passage has a very strong message from Jesus concerning tithes, and is the most definitive on the subject. First, it affirms my point in the previous paragraph about when the covenant people become wicked they quit paying tithing or make offerings. More importantly, Jesus blatantly says when we don't pay tithing we are robbing Him. I don't think I would want to be counted as a thief against God at the judgment bar.
Furthermore, it is a good example of the principle that for every obligation there is a blessing attached when we are faithful. Jesus is assuring, almost challenging, us that if we are faithful in our tithes He will bless us more than we can imagine. This is just as true in our day was it was back then. I have a first hand testimony of this. I'm not rich by any means, but I have definitely been blessed.
"And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."
Jesus uses the occasion of the widow donating all she had to teach that it is better to give generously in faith, then it is to just give what your comfortable with. I am certain the this widow did indeed receive the blessings promised her in Malachi.
As a Side Note:
"It should be recognized," said President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1985, "that all of these [churches, temples, 3rd world schools, seminaries, printing scriptures, etc] are money-consuming assets and not money-producing assets. They do not produce financial wealth, but they do help to produce and strengthen Latter-day Saints. When all is said and done, the only real wealth of the Church is the faith of its people."
And for all of you tithing critics out there, here are other things tithing goes to for you to keep in mind:
- LDS Employment Services: In 2003, Church employment centers placed 87,092 people in jobs in the United States and Canada and 88,306 internationally.
- Volunteers operate 113 Food Storehouses for the Poor, 105 canneries and 18 food processing and distribution plants for the food The Church produces on 63 welfare farms.
- LDS Family Services, an independently operated nonprofit corporation, receives a grant annually from the Church to provide adoption, foster care and counseling services in 65 offices across the United States.
- As of 2005, the Perpetual Education Fund, created in 2001, has assisted 18,000 students in 27 countries receive college educations and job training.
- Since 1986, The Church has responded to 155 major natural disasters across the globe, supplying food, shelter, clothing, and medical equipment to people of all nationalities and faiths.
- Since 1985, supplies that have been distributed include 45,247 tons of food, 5,943 tons of medical equipment, 57,227 tons of surplus clothing and 5,011 tons of educational supplies.
So what's in your wallet?
Read more information on the LDS Church's Humanitarian Programs.