New struggle with tithing

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DarkJedi
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New struggle with tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Dec 2021, 08:08

Generally I have not struggled with tithing and have willingly paid what I think is right (I currently pay on net). I am not opposed to paying my "membership dues" (I don't believe it's "fire insurance" and I don't believe I am particularly "blessed"). I suppose there have been some related things of late that are giving me some pause.

I have in general re-evaluated other things where I sort of pay dues. For example, do I use Hulu enough to make to it worthwhile? (I believe I do currently get enough bang for the buck with Hulu.) I don't expect to get anything back from the church, especially since I'm not currently attending (I don't believe my ward is practicing appropriate COVID safety). I do somewhat see tithing as covering my share of expenses (heat/AC, electricity, etc.) and things like the Christmas party (which I did not attend this year) plus subsidizing those who can't actually afford their fair share. But that's sort of where the rub has come in of late - I'm not benefitting from the heat, electricity or parties while still subsidizing others. My ward has even refused to stream for those who won't come out of concern for our safety (while saying they don't judge, but I don't see how they're following the prophet's counsel to be inclusive either). If only other people were using my Hulu account I would probably forgo paying for Hulu anymore.

I have also felt as though the church has been spending millions on things like a temple in Madagascar while people there are starving due to drought, and that's not right. How many could we feed with what's being spent on that temple? And that's just one example.

Then there's Jeff Green's resignation where he, apparently in a letter to Pres. Nelson, really ripped the church's spending https://www.thedailybeast.com/utahs-ric ... ion-letter.
Taking the church, Utah’s largest nonprofit, to task over its “more than $100 billion in assets,” Green demanded the organization do “more to help the world and its members.” Mormons, “often poor,” give to the Church “expecting the blessings of heaven,” he wrote.
“Instead, I think the church has exploited its members and their need for hope to build temples, build shopping malls, and cattle ranches… rather than alleviating human suffering in or out of the church.”
“The church leadership is not honest about its history, its finances, and its advocacy,” Green, a former Mormon missionary and Brigham Young University graduate, added. “I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights.”
I don't disagree with Mr. Green.

So what I'm really doing is considering redirecting some of my tithing to causes that I think are more worthwhile and helpful, including local food banks and human services. Have any of you had experience with doing this and how do you feel about it?
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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nibbler
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by nibbler » 21 Dec 2021, 09:16

DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 08:08
I have also felt as though the church has been spending millions on things like a temple in Madagascar while people there are starving due to drought, and that's not right. How many could we feed with what's being spent on that temple? And that's just one example.
I'm beginning to believe that spending money on temples is the only cause that church leaders feel is worthy enough to receive consecrated monies. They may be too afraid to spend it any other way.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 08:08
I do somewhat see tithing as covering my share of expenses (heat/AC, electricity, etc.) and things like the Christmas party (which I did not attend this year) plus subsidizing those who can't actually afford their fair share.
If we're talking pure operational expense (dues) vs. what members are expected to pay in tithing then it's not a contest. There's a surplus of multiple billions and you don't run a surplus like that when incomes are close to expenses. I think tithing payers are beyond subsidizing the church's current worldwide needs and are currently subsidizing the church's future needs. Meaning there's so much more money than what's currently needed that we're amassing money for bills that will show up years/decades from now. Consider those lilies.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 08:08
So what I'm really doing is considering redirecting some of my tithing to causes that I think are more worthwhile and helpful, including local food banks and human services. Have any of you had experience with doing this and how do you feel about it?
I'm perfectly fine with that plan. I know the church wouldn't consider it tithing, but as far as god is concerned...
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
You can’t run from all your problems, but it will help you lose weight.

Roy
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by Roy » 21 Dec 2021, 10:55

I am sure that you already know the following:

Your decision will impact TR status and Tithing Settlements.

If you consider the sum total of your charitable payments (either to the church or to other charitable organizations) to be a full tithe then the impact will be considerably less.

I have been in a TR interview after the stillbirth of our third child where I explained to my bishop why I was having trouble with tithing in my grief. He told me that I had his sympathy as a man and a friend, but as a church administrator it was his duty to confiscate my recommend. This was a decade ago but it seems to indicate that non-full tithe payers do not get recommends. I have not had a TR since.

Should you decide to go to tithing settlement and declare yourself as a less than full tithe payer, you may expect a similarly uncomfortable conversation.

Of course, if you believe in your mind and heart that you remain a full tithe payer then the impact is diffused considerably.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Dec 2021, 12:00

Roy wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 10:55
I am sure that you already know the following:

Your decision will impact TR status and Tithing Settlements.

If you consider the sum total of your charitable payments (either to the church or to other charitable organizations) to be a full tithe then the impact will be considerably less.

I have been in a TR interview after the stillbirth of our third child where I explained to my bishop why I was having trouble with tithing in my grief. He told me that I had his sympathy as a man and a friend, but as a church administrator it was his duty to confiscate my recommend. This was a decade ago but it seems to indicate that non-full tithe payers do not get recommends. I have not had a TR since.

Should you decide to go to tithing settlement and declare yourself as a less than full tithe payer, you may expect a similarly uncomfortable conversation.

Of course, if you believe in your mind and heart that you remain a full tithe payer then the impact is diffused considerably.
I haven't been to tithing settlement in decades, I think it's a silly outdated waste of time and I have said as much to my bishops. I have gotten the pushback of "I have to mark something on the form" a couple times to which I have replied they could mark whatever they want. I'm not at all trying to brag here, and this is actually part of the struggle, but my wife and I are among the more substantial payers in the ward (we're not rich but we have no wants and our ward is on the lower end of the middle class scale). From that point of view, if I saw my contributions as paying the bills of the ward, my own home costs are far less (and I heat with oil).

The temple is only slightly different. I do not currently hold a recommend but that's because I haven't gone to get interviewed. I can answer the questions. I think if I were to redistribute tithing I might still consider myself a full tithe payer. I suppose if the bishop went and looked and realized I was paying less tithing it might raise a red flag, but by policy if I say I'm a full tithe payer I'm a full tithe payer (and I know it's not always that way in practice)*. I currently have two unmarried children, one of whom has all but left the church and will not marry in the temple. The other probably will but he does not have anyone serious at the moment and is going to graduate from BYU in April and leave Provo (a menace to society). He would be the last of the temple rites I would want to be part of and I suppose I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Meanwhile the temple has no meaning to me and I have no desire to go and no need for a recommend.

*I am looking at retirement in 2022 so there will be a difference in what I pay anyway.
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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Roy
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by Roy » 21 Dec 2021, 15:40

DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 12:00
*I am looking at retirement in 2022 so there will be a difference in what I pay anyway.
I too have wondered about how retirement might change the tithing equation.

On one hand, my income will be almost zero since I would be living of the "income" of previous years.

On the other hand, my children would likely be grown, out of the house, and likely married. I would not really need a TR to perform/attend those milestone moments.

It would be easier to meet the TR requirements but also much less pressure to have a TR in the first place.

I imagine it to be a much more "chill" co-existence with the church.
"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

TinSoldier
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by TinSoldier » 21 Dec 2021, 18:15

Roy wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 15:40
DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 12:00
*I am looking at retirement in 2022 so there will be a difference in what I pay anyway.
I too have wondered about how retirement might change the tithing equation.

On one hand, my income will be almost zero since I would be living of the "income" of previous years.
That's where I am now. I retired on SSDI and, even though I can't claim I was always a full tithe payer, with my cancer I don't expect to be around long enough to get back more than I paid in over the years. I've mentioned here in the past why I have other challenges getting a TR so I doubt it will be a factor, but if asked I would answer that I am in compliance with that commandment.

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PazamaManX
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by PazamaManX » 22 Dec 2021, 09:51

I suppose I'm the wrong person to chime in here as I actually like paying tithing. I look at tithing as a way of expressing gratitude to God. Though there is a thing or two that I raise my eyebrow at with how the church uses its money, I figure they're the ones eventually answering for how they spent the Lord's money and I needn't worry beyond doing my part. I know that mentality isn't for everyone though, but it works for me.

Admittedly, another thing making it easier for me to believe in tithing is that our financial prosperity/difficulties have pretty well correlated to our tithing payment and non-payment. Though I do understand why others would have their own reservations. My FIL was denied a TR for not paying tithing. Now he's mad at the church because he feels like he has to buy his way into the temple and he's not exactly wrong.

If you have no interest in having a TR, then I'd just say use your money as your consience dictates. Paying it for the sake of good standing in the church is an expensive use of that money.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 08:08

I have also felt as though the church has been spending millions on things like a temple in Madagascar while people there are starving due to drought, and that's not right. How many could we feed with what's being spent on that temple? And that's just one example.
Joseph Smith set that precedent when they prioritized building the Kirtland temple while still having homeless saints that needed a roof over their head. I guess the church can be given points for consistency.
DarkJedi wrote:
21 Dec 2021, 12:00

I haven't been to tithing settlement in decades, I think it's a silly outdated waste of time and I have said as much to my bishops.
My previous bishop would have agreed with you. He said he only liked doing it because it gave him a chance to talk to a lot of the members and see how they were doing.
"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness, even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." ~ Thomas Jefferson

Roy
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by Roy » 22 Dec 2021, 10:32

PazamaManX wrote:
22 Dec 2021, 09:51
I suppose I'm the wrong person to chime in here as I actually like paying tithing. I look at tithing as a way of expressing gratitude to God.
I disagree. You are exactly the right person to chime in because multiple viewpoints expand our perspective. I also feel that (of all the reasons that I have heard for paying tithing) the tithing as an expression of gratitude mindset is probably the most resilient.
PazamaManX wrote:
22 Dec 2021, 09:51
Though there is a thing or two that I raise my eyebrow at with how the church uses its money, I figure they're the ones eventually answering for how they spent the Lord's money and I needn't worry beyond doing my part.
For me, not paying tithing allows me to have a similar mindset. I think it helps that nobody in the church is getting personally rich from tithing donations. There is no televangelist type mega-pastor. You can disagree with President Nelson but it wouldn't make much sense to claim that he would ask for tithing donations to fatten his own finances. The church, by and large, spends its money on things that further the mission of the church. It might not be what I would spend the money on but it does at least seem rational and completely above board. I similarly do not stress with what Amazon, Microsoft, or Tesla choose to do with their money.

Because I do not pay tithing, I am more easily able to say "The church can do what it thinks prudent with its money." The money belongs to the church and I do not feel a connection to it at all. My feeling of disassociation from the church's money decisions is helpful to me in my effort to StayLDS. It helps me to stay balanced and at peace.
"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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DarkJedi
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Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Dec 2021, 06:12

PazamaManX wrote:
22 Dec 2021, 09:51
Admittedly, another thing making it easier for me to believe in tithing is that our financial prosperity/difficulties have pretty well correlated to our tithing payment and non-payment.
I don't think you're the wrong person, I appreciate the perspectives offered here.

The interesting thing to me about the above outtake is that I've pretty much been a full tithe payer since joining the church 40 years ago. Even during times when I have been inactive I have paid tithing (my wife actually did it while I wasn't active but I didn't mind because she and the kids were active, going back to the bang for the buck thing). But during that 40 years we have had financial and career ups and downs regardless of being tithe payers. No correlation between down times and not paying. :think: This observation is likely affected by my long term thinking that we are not blessed for paying tithing (or anything else we do).
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."

My Introduction

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DarkJedi
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Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: New struggle with tithing

Post by DarkJedi » 23 Dec 2021, 06:21

Roy wrote:
22 Dec 2021, 10:32
Because I do not pay tithing, I am more easily able to say "The church can do what it thinks prudent with its money." The money belongs to the church and I do not feel a connection to it at all. My feeling of disassociation from the church's money decisions is helpful to me in my effort to StayLDS. It helps me to stay balanced and at peace.
I think that's part of why I'm struggling. I have also had the mindset that I am freely giving without expectation of return and since I freely gave it's not my money it's the church's and they can do with it whatever they choose. I have given to food banks in the past and feel likewise. I'm confident nobody is getting rich off our local foodbank donations and I gave them the money to use how they see fit (it just happens that it appears they spend the vast majority of it on food and that's why I supported them to begin with).

I'm not going to blame Jeff Green for altering my thinking, I have been having this concern for several months. I really am having trouble with the way the church is spending its money when I think they could be doing so much good. I do know they give a lot that goes unseen to humanitarian causes, but I also believe they can do way more. I think Jeff Green has encapsulated and succinctly stated what I think as well, and he has done so very publicly. I believe this could have some of the same effect the whistle blower announcement about the church's $100 billion nestegg had - it will cause some people to pause and think (I was already thinking).

I think what has brought this all to a head is really more localized though - my own ward's total lack of accommodation relating to my very legitimate COVID concerns.
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."

My Introduction

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