Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1131
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by dande48 » 19 Apr 2018, 06:14

Hi Everyone,

Nibs brought up tithing on surplus in one of his recent posts, and it's a topic I've been wanting to talk with my wife on a little earlier. During the first couple years or so of my "faith crisis", my wife was the primary breadwinner. We've always had the mentality that no matter who "brings home the bacon", we're both working hard to build a happy home, and everything belongs to the both of us, with a joint decision required for any major expenses. It's the way it should be. Still... since my faith crisis I've strongly felt that a 10% tithe on my income could be better spent elsewhere. It felt wrong to bring it up to my wife, when she was bringing in an income, to say, "Hey, how about you only give 5% your paycheck to the Church. I want to give my 5% to Doctors Without Borders."

Now, through an incredible reversal of fortune (that I do not deserve), I have become the primary provider, while my wife can fulfill her dream of being a Stay-at-Home Mother. And I started to struggle again with the fact that such a large chunk of our income was going towards the Church. I think this is mathematically true for most people, but paying tithing on my Net is giving the Church more per hour for the three hour Sunday block than I make before taxes (and a LOT more than I make after). Combine that with the fact that I don't particularly feel benefited by Church most Sundays, never receive help no matter how badly needed, and feel condemned more often than not, paying tithing has become increasingly difficult. In the end, I figured since my wife is a staunch TBM, our rather large contribution was like we were paying for my wife's psychological well-being. Which, as expensive as it is, I'd gladly pay for.

We've also recently been blessed with being able to buy a home. However, doing the math, if we spent the money we put towards tithing instead towards paying off our home, we could be done with our mortgage a full FOURTEEN YEARS sooner. Fourteen years of being 100% debt free. That's being out of debt by the time my oldest is 16, versus being out of debt when she's older than I am.

I REALLY want to transition to paying on Surplus, instead of Net like we do now. But I need a good solid case. How do you recommend approaching this with a TBM Spouse?
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

User avatar
Beefster
Posts: 487
Joined: 04 Aug 2017, 18:38

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by Beefster » 19 Apr 2018, 08:07

dande48 wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 06:14
I want to give my 5% to Doctors Without Borders."
DWB/MSF is a fantastic charity. I plan on giving my "tithing" to them during SGDQ this year. (SGDQ is a gaming marathon where they play through games as fast as possible and raise money for charity) It will do at least 100x as much good as my tithing ever did.

I don't really know how to approach it, honestly. The only way I can think of is pointing out alternative charities that do more good in the world than the church, but any TBM is going to be defensive about that.

You could also show scriptural and historical evidence that surplus is what Joseph Smith intended. The whole "pay on gross" thing is not scripturally supported at all.

I think your 5% split contribution is a solid compromise as well, especially if you want to go the route of not paying tithing at all.
Boys are governed by rules. Men are governed by principles.

Sometimes our journeys take us to unexpected places. That is a truly beautiful thing.

User avatar
nibbler
Posts: 3761
Joined: 14 Nov 2013, 07:34
Location: Ten miles west of the exact centre of the universe

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by nibbler » 19 Apr 2018, 09:18

Going in with the goal of convincing or expecting a specific outcome is probably a bad idea but that's just my reaction to the title of the thread.

Here's a link from the February 2008 New Era that I was going to share in the other thread:

Do I pay tithing on my income before taxes are taken out or on what I receive after taxes?
The First Presidency has answered this question in this way: “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” (First Presidency letter, Mar. 19, 1970).

In other words, the way you define your income, and consequently your tithing, is a matter between you and the Lord. Prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance on issues like taxes, gifts, scholarships, and other matters to determine what qualifies as a full tithe.
Of note: they don't answer the question. They underscore the importance of it being a matter between you and the lord. It says, "Prayerfully seek the Lord's guidance on issues like taxes...and other matters to determine what qualifies as a full tithe."

In the past I never prayerfully sought the lord's guidance, I just took someone else's prayerfully sought out guidance (payment on gross) as the answer. I think there's a lot of stuff like that at church, we take one person's answer and assume it applies equally to all. Doing that deprives us of the blessing of receiving personal revelation.

So you could possibly approach it that way. Let's ask the lord what we should pay to the church for tithing. Then use those early section D&C scriptures, "you took no thought save it was to ask me" as a way to introduce various options you've thought out. Payment on gross, net, surplus, charities, etc.
You can't just have your characters announce how they feel... that makes me feel ANGRY!
— Robot Devil

User avatar
Mr. Sneelock
Posts: 23
Joined: 19 Sep 2017, 08:06

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by Mr. Sneelock » 19 Apr 2018, 09:59

My wife and I have also always considered any income we receive to be "ours" because we are partners in raising a family and we couldn't do what we do without one another. When I decided that I wanted to stop paying a full 10% to the church I assumed it was going to be a major sticking point or trauma to my wife so I approached her with the concept of her using 5% of my salary (I am the sole breadwinner) to pay tithing if she wanted to. I was pleasantly surprised when she actually turned down the proposition and just wants to pay on her own income (which is hardly anything). She did not explain her decision but I gladly accepted it!

So you never know dande, she just might surprise you!
. . . beauty for ashes . . .

Roy
Posts: 5129
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by Roy » 19 Apr 2018, 10:03

I believe this to be tricky.

My honest opinion is that any attempt to convince her based upon some sort of historical calculation will just come across as selfish justification.

I believe that the best course of action would be to stop paying tithing entirely based on your increasing feelings of bitterness and "being taken advantage of". You cannot reach a place of balance and peace if you are feeling that the church is bleeding you dry. This must be a step that you NEED to take in order to maintain sanity and your relationship with the church. I am sure that this will not be without its pitfalls and trauma - beware and tread cautiously.

If you can successfully transition to not paying tithing then, I believe, at some point in the future you could more easily transition to paying "tithing" based on surplus. This for you would be more sustainable, would be in line with some interpretations of early church leaders, and would at that point reflect an increase on what you would have been paying. Your move to pay a form of tithing at that point may be received very positively.

As always, this is just an idea. Because it could potentially hurt your marriage - I strongly advise you to carefully consider and personally own whatever your next steps may be.
"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

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3660
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by mom3 » 19 Apr 2018, 11:08

In our marriage we came to an agreement but it took time. We did baby steps. I value tithing. I think it has great merit (I am talking scriptural). Take the time. Don't try to convince someone of your belief. It never works.

Share your concerns then step back and wait.

Like Mr. Snee said, you may be surprised.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

Roadrunner
Posts: 876
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by Roadrunner » 19 Apr 2018, 15:12

mom3 wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 11:08
Don't try to convince someone of your belief. It never works.

Share your concerns then step back and wait.
I second this advice and I'll share what happened with me and my wife. A few years ago I floated the idea of changing how we tithe and I talked about that there's no formal definition of tithing. My wife disagreed and we just put it on the backburner. Over the course of a year or two she gradually changed her position and there was no forcing or anger involved but it took time.

I will share an unintended consequence though. My father in law and brother in law are both accountants and they together prepare tax returns every year for a large number of clients, including my wife and me. They must have noticed a charitable contribution figure different than what they expected and they sent us a letter trying to gently tell us to pay our tithing. In their defense they probably sent the letter to all of their kids and grandkids.

This letter really bothered me so I threw it in the trash and told my wife we were changing accountants (which we did) because it's none of their business. I just assumed they would be professional about it, but behold my disappointment was great.

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1654
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by On Own Now » 20 Apr 2018, 12:49

Beefster wrote:
19 Apr 2018, 08:07
You could also show scriptural and historical evidence that surplus is what Joseph Smith intended.
As was just discussed on the RMN in Africa thread, that is... well, let's say... debatable.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16137
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by Curt Sunshine » 20 Apr 2018, 18:43

With fear and trembling - and generally to be avoided (attempts at "convincing"). :P

Frankly, I don't believe in tithing surplus, unless you are willing to donate everything to the Church first - as On Own Now has mentioned. Donating only on surplus without the initial, comprehensive donation never has been a practice of the LDS Church, and it is not supported scripturally anywhere of which I am aware.
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

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1131
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Best Way to Convince Spouse of Tithing Surplus

Post by dande48 » 20 Apr 2018, 20:09

Curt Sunshine wrote:
20 Apr 2018, 18:43
Frankly, I don't believe in tithing surplus, unless you are willing to donate everything to the Church first - as On Own Now has mentioned. Donating only on surplus without the initial, comprehensive donation never has been a practice of the LDS Church, and it is not supported scripturally anywhere of which I am aware.
I gave an initial, comprehesive donation; I was baptized when I was 8, paid tithing on every earning/gift beforehand and since, and devoted two of my best years serving a mission, which literally took every cent out of my bank account. I don't think either way is supported scripturally. The exact definition of what constitutes as 10% of your "annual interest" left open to interpretation.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

Post Reply