Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 04 Jun 2013, 18:12

I understand, church0333. I really do - and it's cool.

A little background and observation to explain why I don't get upset much about it:

I've been responsible for fairly large budgets at various times in my life, so I am willing to cut people slack when I think they are sincerely trying to do the best they can - especially when opponents AND supporters complain about their choices. It really is a no-win situation, in many ways - and since I recognize that, I don't sweat it as much as I might otherwise.

I also am fine with the LDS Church running both a church and a corporation, even though that makes it much messier in some ways - and I have done enough research to know that the LDS Church gives WAY more in actual humanitarian dollars than any other church of comparable size, not even counting its non-monetary giving in the form of fast offering in-kind assistance and the service mission work of many senior members and couples. Many people who complain use really frustrating, bogus arguments / comparisons, but I've done the research.

The worst / best example is the claim that the Methodist Church gives a higher percent of its total donations for humanitarian relief than the LDS Church does from its tithing fund, even though they are roughly the same size. There are SO many holes in that argument that it makes my head spin, but, in reality, the LDS Church gives over 10 times as much in actual monetary aid each year than the Methodist Church does. It takes either a conscious, intentional distortion of the facts or ignorance of simple stat analysis to reach the anti-Mormon conclusion, but I read it repeated by members enough to pull out what little hair I have left.

Again, if I was in charge, I might make different decisions, since I am a different person with different perspectives - but I might not, since I don't know how much is available and how it is invested. I don't care enough about total financial transparency to spend time or energy calling for it, since I am certain it would be far more divisive than its lack is now. (I really mean that. It would be a ****storm of the highest order no matter how the Church used the funds, imo.)

Therefore, how the Church uses its money is a matter of faith for me - hope in what I can't see clearly.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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wayfarer
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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by wayfarer » 04 Jun 2013, 18:50

church0333 wrote:Fair enough. Jesus seems not to care about money at all. It helps when you can turn water into wine and make seven fish and two loaves feed thousands, but it does take money to put in a well in the middle of nowhere Africa. I don't care what other churches do with their money but sense I pay tithing to the LDS church I do care how they use their money. Ray, I do say that in all respect to you.
Some of the funnier parts of the new testament are in the handling of fairly mundane logistics around this newfound idealistic religion called "Christianity".

The saints had created a united order structure, and they sat together at a common table. Some of the widows complained that they weren't getting enough service at the daily ministration (dinner), and as it turned out, the apostles were waiting on the tables. Perhaps they took too literally the charge that they ought to serve the saints (washing of the feet as an ensample). So they had to appoint seven (the beginning of the seventy) to take charge over this minsitration -- this "business".

It would seem to be, based upon a rough and perhaps interpretive reading of Acts, that the purpose of the tithes is to manage the business of the church. The early saints certainly did not know how to do this well, and made all sorts of mistakes. I don't think the restored church is going to be any different in this matter -- anytime we deal with money, someone is going to be unhappy, i would think. Thus, tithing, literally, is a leap of faith -- we hope and trust that the funds are used to the right purpose, but we simply don't know, and even if we did, we probably wouldn't agree regardless of how the distribution is made.

Given that i cannot change the church's transparency, I simply am going to have to have faith -- trust -- that it's being handled properly. At the same time, I'm going to ask the church to trust me that I'm paying what I feel right about, and I have no idea if that is net, gross, or whatever -- it's the amount I feel good about. To me, what i give is entirely dictated by my spiritual understanding from within me, and that constitutes a 'full tithe', without any regard to what is said in section 119, malachi, or in the 1970 FP letter.

that's what works for me for now.
"Those who speak don't know, those who know don't speak." Lao Tzu.
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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by ogie5263 » 20 Nov 2013, 18:57

This thread has been wonderful in helping me sort out how I feel about tithing.

I'm still unsettled about everything church-related, and feeling worn down from all the questions and studying and realizations. So I don't feel I have a lot of resources to devote to finding a nuanced way of looking at tithing. And whether or not it is right, I also feel a little burned from paying on gross for so many years.

So I've (dh & I have) decided to land somewhere between 10% after reasonable expenses and 10% net.

I think because of shear mental/emotional/spiritual exhaustion, I've decided to decide for myself, even if that means paying less than "I should." And I'm not worrying about whether it is enough, because then I get caught in the "give more get more blessings" spiral.

We have many commandments to obey: I stay home with my kids, DH doesn't work on Sunday (he's self-employed and could earn a lot on Sunday), we pay fast offerings, we want to stay out of debt, save for a rainy day, have food storage, etc. And paying 10% on gross isn't a delineated commandment, so we are going with as much as we feel we should give - probably more than 10% after reasonable expenses, but probably not 10% of net.

That said, my views change by the week (or day, or hour) and I'm open to doing something else in the future. But for this year, this is what it will be.

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by Roy » 21 Nov 2013, 10:13

ogie5263 wrote:So I've (dh & I have) decided to land somewhere between 10% after reasonable expenses and 10% net.
[snip]
That said, my views change by the week (or day, or hour) and I'm open to doing something else in the future. But for this year, this is what it will be.
I think that this is a wonderful approach. You and your spouse have together decided what you feel comfortable donating to "charitable giving." What could be wrong with that?
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by mackay11 » 22 Nov 2013, 00:18

I think you've reached a good balance ogie. As the official instruction says... you decide what your "interest/increase" is... then pay 10% on that.

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by Heber13 » 22 Nov 2013, 11:53

ogie5263 wrote:I'm still unsettled about everything church-related, and feeling worn down from all the questions and studying and realizations. So I don't feel I have a lot of resources to devote to finding a nuanced way of looking at tithing. And whether or not it is right, I also feel a little burned from paying on gross for so many years.

So I've (dh & I have) decided to land somewhere between 10% after reasonable expenses and 10% net.

I think because of shear mental/emotional/spiritual exhaustion, I've decided to decide for myself, even if that means paying less than "I should."
I think it is cool that you are able to move beyond "shoulds".

"I've decided for myself" ... that's respectable.

I also think there is usually some growth and learning that comes from struggling through these things on what we decide to do. I appreciate the church allows me to declare tithing based on how I believe.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by nibbler » 02 Dec 2013, 13:16

I found and processed this tread in light of some of the more recent tithing settlement threads... since we are approaching that time of year.
2) The current general understanding of most active members and local leadership is that an honest tithe represents 10% of gross.
2) I wouldn't say most understand a full tithe to be on gross. It seems that net is widely accepted.
I don't mean to open the debate, just going on the record that in all my years of being a member I've only ever heard 10% of gross. If someone suggests 10% of net they are quickly and emphatically shot down. Over the years I've been in several lessons given on tithing and now, after looking back at some of the manuals, I notice that the definition of 10% on gross is never stated yet it is always a part of the lesson. Many of those lessons on tithing even came to a grinding halt to explain how tithing is really 10% of gross to someone that had stated that they have been paying on net all this time. Afterwards there's never any debate. It's simply gross, and people move on. Now this may be the direct result of the vocal few that wear the mantle of the seasoned member but for all intents and purposes 10% of gross might as well be the official position of the church. There's no discussion of opposing viewpoints, it's gross and that's how it is.
Ray Degraw wrote:If I never have the money, there is no way in heaven or hell I'm paying tithing on it. That's not just wrong, imo; it's stupid - and I don't care who said it.
Ha. Look at it this way. You paid your tithing on the money you received from your employer. If the government didn't pay tithing on the money it received from your employer that's their bad. ;)

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Dec 2013, 17:41

Fwiw, nibbler, I'm almost 50 and have lived in quite a few states - and I've heard net income tithing discussed and accepted pretty much everywhere I've lived. I know there are lots of people who can't accept it, but there also are lots of members who can.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by DarkJedi » 02 Dec 2013, 18:30

Ray Degraw wrote:Fwiw, nibbler, I'm almost 50 and have lived in quite a few states - and I've heard net income tithing discussed and accepted pretty much everywhere I've lived. I know there are lots of people who can't accept it, but there also are lots of members who can.
Agreed. Likewise, I know many members who are very comfortable not tithing FICA and retirement contributions with the rationale that they will be tithed upon withdrawal/payment. FWIW, I also know a couple the other way around who believe that because the tithed FICA they don't owe tithing on social security.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Tithing: a Costly Leap of Faith

Post by nibbler » 02 Dec 2013, 18:45

Well given my experience I will simply state that I find that amazing. You really have no idea how much gross has been pushed and net suppressed in this area.

I believe that the conclusion brought up in the tread is correct, namely that it is left up to interpretation of the individual. It is nice to not be commanded in all things and allow people to discover for themselves - still it seems like there is a wide disparity in belief on what constitutes a full tithe. Many people aren't ever going to question what they see as an authoritative statement that favors payment on gross and I'm sure people struggling with the principle of tithing in this area would love to know that there are other areas where paying on net would also be considered a full tithe. Maybe they wouldn't struggle as much if they paid on net. Maybe if they had been paying gross for several years and then moved to a "net ward" they'd become resentful for having paid on gross all those years and just stop paying altogether. Not saying this is me, but I certainly see the potential. Maybe those people deserve a little direction that a definitive policy would provide.

Maybe I have a new crusade. Not to declare "pay on net" from the rooftops mind you, but just to take a hard line with the 1970 letter and urge people to prayerfully come to their own conclusion.

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