Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

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Tyler Goodman
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Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by Tyler Goodman » 10 Nov 2018, 22:25

I haven't gone to church in months to avoid paying tithing. I used to always pay it happily before having kids. I've had 1 kid for 3 years now and my second was born just this week.

I would like to give my new son a baby blessing in sacrament meeting just like I did for his older brother. But I've attended church less than 10 times this year due my own guilty feelings for not having paid tithing (more on that later). My temple reccomend has expired and I haven't tried to renew it due to my lack of tithing payments. Is it possible/likely that my bishop will allow me do bless my new baby son in sacrament meeting still?

Now for why my tithing hasn't been paid.

In March my oldest ended up in the emergency room overnight due to a illness that caused him to have a hard time breathing. They helped him and he's happy and well to this day, but even after insurance we still owed around 3 thousand dollars in medical bills. We've been paying it off in monthly increments since then and as such a large portion of my monthly paychecks disappear to that. While this is a big financial challenge sometimes I pay it happily because that visit to the ER saved my son's life.

Due to this my wife and I decided to put tithing on hold until those Bill's have finished being paid in April 2019. This was after attempting to tithes on 10% of our surplus (net paycheck after mortgage payment and monthly medical bill payments). My bishop told us that paying tithing that way was wrong and told us that if we wanted to pay an honest full tithes we needed to start paying 10% of our gross paycheck before any bills including our mortgage payment and the unpaid medical bills. Though we told the bishop we'd try to pay that or st least consider paying that way, the result ended up being that we started not paying anything and we stopped going to church almost entirely. My bishop since then has made two attempts to contact us in the last 3 months via the ward clerk, presumably to ask why we aren't coming or paying tithing anymore. One time we just ignored the text messages and the other the ward clerk called us so we just made noncommital excuses.

To put it simply, I haven't gone to church to avoid being cornered by my bishop into a discussion on tithing I don't want to have.

So presumably to do this baby blessing I need to go to church and try to schedule it with my bishop as well as get his permission to do it.

I will not start paying tithing again minimum until the medical bills are paid off in April. As the sole provider for my family I feel I've made a good responsible decision to take care of my family first and not pay tithing. Why should I pay tithing and risk putting my family into debt and a forced dependency on the church for paying my family's bills and food costs. Isn't it more responsible to be self sufficient at taking care of my family rather than burdening someone else with my family's needs? I don't think God would count my actions or my intentions evil over that.


Anyway sorry for the long post. I just want my kid to receive a baby blessing from me, as well as to maintain the image that our family of 4 is still a good faithful family. If my all LDS extended family (parents, siblings, uncles, grandparents, etc.) ever found out we weren't 'worthy' temple reccomend holders I fear the falling out, scorn, and accusations that would follow.

As an aside: the Relief Society started bringing dinner today to my wife aftera checkup visit yesterday. Now I feel inclined to go to church tomorrow to show appreciation for that. But the thought of it terrifies me...

Any thoughts or similar experiences please?

Edit: Blessing Performed Successfully
Tyler Goodman wrote:
27 Jan 2019, 00:09
Well I'm happy to report that everything went well! It turned out to be a great experience! I have to admit I was a little nervous but it went by without anyone saying anything negative.

I've done pretty well at attending since the start of the new schedule in January. Which ended up revealing that I now have a new Bishop. The bishopric was changed back in July, and since I've only made it to Sunday school or priesthood the few times I went last year I never noticed. So this new bishop tried to contact me through his clerk twice during the end of last year, and I came up with any excuse possible for my wife and I to not meet up with him due to busy schedules (which was only true to an extent). The truth was I thought it was the previous bishop still and i was scared I was being called in with my wife to meet and get scolded for poor attendance and lack of paying tithing.

I was probably scared for no reason.

So I have a new bishop now and I'd like to try and get a current reccomend maybe by my birthday in April. But that means paying tithing again and I'm scared that no matter how I pay it might still be a problem that I'll get cornered over.

Any advice on getting the courage to pay tithing again?
Last edited by Tyler Goodman on 22 Feb 2019, 00:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by nibbler » 11 Nov 2018, 07:04

Tyler Goodman wrote:
10 Nov 2018, 22:25
My bishop told us that paying tithing that way was wrong and told us that if we wanted to pay an honest full tithes we needed to start paying 10% of our gross paycheck before any bills including our mortgage payment and the unpaid medical bills.
Your bishop is wrong, against church policy wrong. Before I get deeper into this point I'll put it out there, people tend to entrench when challenged so be warned. From the church handbook of instruction:
Handbook 1; 14.4.1, Definition of Tithing wrote:The First Presidency has written: “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; see also D&C 119:4)
I don't see the word gross anywhere in there but I do see, "no one is justified in making any other statement than this."

Now, since the individual gets to define tithing that means your bishop gets to define tithing for himself too. A trap we fall into in church culture is making the assuming that the definitions and rules we govern ourselves by apply to everyone else as well, meaning if your bishop believes tithing is on gross he may define tithing for everyone else as being on gross.

The quote in the handbook is not complete. If you go to the actual letter cited, the letter continues after what appears in the handbook. It adds, "We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly."

That's the policy. Not gross, not net, not after necessary living expenses are paid... it's between you and the lord. That's it.

tl;dr; - your bishop is wrong but convincing him of that is another matter entirely.
Tyler Goodman wrote:
10 Nov 2018, 22:25
Is it possible/likely that my bishop will allow me do bless my new baby son in sacrament meeting still?
Technically you don't have to be temple worthy to bless a child. If your bishop is hard-nosed about tithing being on gross... hard to say what he'd do. Here's the official policy on baby blessings, I'm citing the location in the manual too, in case you want/need to point it out to leaders (emphasis added):
Handbook 1; 16.1.1; Worthiness to Participate in an Ordinance or Blessing wrote:As guided by the Spirit and the instructions in the next paragraph, bishops and stake presidents have discretion to allow priesthood holders who are not fully temple worthy to perform or participate in some ordinances and blessings. However, presiding officers should not allow such participation if a priesthood holder has unresolved serious sins.

A bishop may allow a father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to name and bless his children even if the father is not fully temple worthy. Likewise, a bishop may allow a father who is a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to baptize his children or to ordain his sons to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. A Melchizedek Priesthood holder in similar circumstances may be allowed to stand in the circle for the confirmation of his children, for the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood on his sons, or for the setting apart of his wife or children. However, he may not act as voice.
If you don't have access to handbook 1 this policy is also mentioned in handbook 2 in section 20.1.2, which is accessible to the public. The policy creates a mile of wiggle room to let bishops do whatever they want to do.

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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by dande48 » 11 Nov 2018, 08:31

Unfortunately, I'd say you lost on the leadership roulette. The Bishop is wrong about tithing (as Nibbler pointed out), but there's not much you can do about it. Bringing up "the handbook" against him will most likely work against your favor; it'd be like arguing company policy with your boss... even if you're right, it's only a matter of time before you get fired for "your work not being good". Church policy is too ambiguous, and leaders are too prone to acting "under the Spirit" (i.e. However they feel like), that it makes things difficult for someone in your position.

If you have good connections with your EQ president, or even stake president, it might be worth talking things over with them. The EQ President could soften the bishop and let you bless your child.The Stake president could be more convincing, but usually defaults to the Bishop's decision unless he strongly feels otherwise. It's not a good idea to get into a power struggle.

TBH, I fully get that it feels like a big deal to give your baby a blessing in Church. But here are a few things to consider:
-It's not a saving ordinance. No one "needs" the official baby blessing.
-The only difference between the in-Church baby blessing and a father's blessing, is that the in-Church baby blessing sticks your child's name on Church records, effectively making them a member before they are baptized. Other than that,I'd say it's 99.9% tradition.

If you wanted to, you could hold the line by saying "the only way my child is getting blessed in Church is if I'm doing the blessing." Try not to get into a power struggle, but the Church wants your baby blessed in Church more than you do, and really it's not benefitting your child more than if you gave the blessing at home unofficially on your own.
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by Roy » 11 Nov 2018, 11:23

I can only share from my own experience. Your mileage may vary.

I paid tithing in the past because I believed that it would serve as a protection for my family. When our third child was stillborn my faith was shattered and I came to realize that tithing does not magically stop bad things from happening. I have not paid now for almost 10 years.

I have been allowed to baptize my children. The thread that details how that happened is found here:


If I were you I would set up the meeting with the bishop. In the meeting I would tell the truth... that you could not pay tithing and cover your bills and the shame of it made you stop attending church. Now you want to have your second child blessed in the church and want to come back to church.

He will likely try to commit you to start paying tithing again right away. I would likely respond that you are still struggling with your manly obligation to provide materially for your family and your duty to pay tithing to the church. You promise to work on it and make it the subject of study and prayer between you and your wife. In the interim, you want to come back to church and give your child a name and a blessing.

Then in april when your medical bills are paid off then you can start paying again. I would not say anything about the improved financial situation but rather pretend like you and your wife have achieved a spiritual discovery and decided to sacrifice and pay after much soul searching, prayer, and study.

Stuff I would not recommend:
1) ultimatums. Nobody likes to be backed into a corner.
2) oversharing. You may have a number of doubts on church doctrine or history - the bishop's office is not the time or place to share them. Likewise, most sins that do not rise to the level of official church discipline could also be resolved between you, the offended party, and the Lord.
3) blaming. It can be incredibly tempting to blame the bishop or the church for your not paying tithing and your inactivity. This will likely make your bishop feel defensive and feel that you are avoiding your own responsibility in making these decisions. He may feel that discipline will help you to take ownership.
4) contradicting. I would avoid contradicting your bishop. My own bishop gave several reasons to pay tithing. One was that it is the only commandment that I can obey with perfect mathematical exactness. In reality "full" tithing can get very messy but I would gain nothing arguing the point with the bishop. My bishop also stated that my wife would love for me to take her to the temple. In reality my wife has medical issues and anxiety that would prevent her from attending the temple. Instead I said, "That would be so wonderful." Once again, contradicting the bishop and/or shooting down his reasons for paying tithing would not benefit me and would probably make the bishop feel that I am arrogant and "unrepentant". Instead of contradicting I can agree without making commitments.

There is always leadership roulette but I believe most bishops would be very interested in helping you to return to church activity, in helping you to perform ordinances for your children, in helping you to eventually renew your temple recommend. Help them to help you (or at least help them to feel that you are open to being helped).

Stay humble, admit the internal struggle over paying tithing or providing for your family (most men should empathize with this), promise to work on it with prayer and study, ask that you be allowed to participate in the church (including performing the baby blessing) while you go through the process of nurturing and growing your faith.
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by mom3 » 11 Nov 2018, 23:00

Piggybacking on Roy's comment.

No one, including the Bishop, knows your income. If the blessing is important. Set up an online account (most tithing is done that way) - make a donation. Select an amount and pay it. You are now a tithe payer. That is all he is required to know.

Circling back to Nibbler - We don't take pay stubs or tax records in with us. All he needs is to know you are paying. Don't go into details. Just say you are working to fix it.

He may be a stickler. If that's the case, consider being the circle with your child and letting someone else do the blessing.

What is your wife's opinion of the baby blessing? What is her comfort level?
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by On Own Now » 12 Nov 2018, 10:21


It sounds like you paid tithing for part of the year. At worst, that makes you a "partial tithe payer" and it's hard to imagine the bishop not letting you bless your own child as a partial tithe payer. Your non-attendance may be a bigger issue to your bishop, but perhaps you can get around that.

I don't know your bishop, of course. I had two bishops that let me perform family priesthood ordinances and one that did not. I never tried after that. You may or may not be able to convince. Not knowing you or your bishop, I can only give general advice, but it would be this:

- Don't apologize for either paying less in tithing or for not attending. It's a fact of your present situation, not a fault of your character. On the topic of tithing, here's a phrase you might use: "I'm doing what I can right now."

- Try not to make excuses. These will only give the bishop opportunities to correct you.

- Don't make promises to do better in the future. This will serve only to enhance your guilt.

- Don't beg. Don't cry. These will make it look like you acknowledge deficiency or sin, which implies you must repent of something.

- Don't argue. Ask. Say things, like "I would appreciate" "I hope to be able" "I would like for my child to receive a blessing in the Church at my hand". The key, in my mind, is not to put him on the defensive. If you make him have to react, then I doubt you will get what you want. If, instead, you are both working toward the best interest of the child as members of the same team, I think your chances improve.

- Hold onto your chips. The one lever that you have to get what you want is in not letting anyone else do the blessing. I don't mean to hold this as an ultimatum, but if he brings up the possibility, just express a desire to perform the ordinance yourself and don't acquiesce to letting someone else do it. The Bishop might prefer for the child to receive a blessing at your hand than not to receive one at all.

On a different topic, I suggest using the term 'net' rather than 'surplus' if you ever have another conversation about tithing. What you described in your post, could easily be termed paying on your 'net' income. I mean, it sounds like the only difference between your gross and the number you use for tithing is taxes, retirement savings (which you can pay tithing on later), mortgage and medical bills. I think that falls under 'net' (although somewhat loosely). In my experience, most everyone who doesn't really want to pay tithing loves the idea of paying only against 'surplus', because that would allow you to deduct everything from hair cuts to movie tickets. Using the term 'surplus' with your bishop, therefore, sends a signal about your commitment. FWIW, it is debatable whether paying 10% of surplus is what is meant either in D&C 119 or in the above excerpt from the HB. My own view is that there is absolutely no historical precedent for paying 10% of surplus; others see it differently. I pay no tithing, but I pay my 0% on net personally ;-)

Good luck. And welcome to this site. I hope we hear more from you.
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by DarkJedi » 12 Nov 2018, 12:10

I really have nothing to add, this situation is the epitome of leadership roulette. Other than that I'll throw out there that not attending church just because you don't pay tithing is kind of silly. Despite appearances the majority of the people there don't pay tithing.
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by Minyan Man » 12 Nov 2018, 14:46

This is my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.
I would take control of the conversation & say to him something like this:
As you know, we have new baby in our family & I would like to bless him (or her) on this particular day. We would like you
to be in the circle along with....
I know that there are members in my ward who pay their tithing once a year. They aren't asked to be current when there is a
major event like this or during the renewal of a TR. There are times when we are way too hard or critical on ourselves. This
maybe one of those times.

Try to relax & enjoy this experience. They don't come very often.
Please report back & tell us about your experience.

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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by Heber13 » 12 Nov 2018, 20:14

There has been a lot of good advice for you to consider.

I would just add...have the conversation with the bishop in a matter of fact way, assuming you can do it and just asking him which date, and if he says he is not sure then maybe point out stuff above that says the handbook says it's ok to and fathers are encouraged to be involved and you don't have to be perfect.

I guess, my point is...don't assume it will go bad. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best and have the conversation before assuming it will be the worst. You may he surprised at the outcome by testing the waters.
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Re: Inactive for months due to tithing. Can I still give my newborn a baby blessing with an expired reccomend?

Post by Old-Timer » 12 Nov 2018, 20:57

I can't add much to what has been said already, but I do want to say three things:

1) I am sorry you have to worry about this. Leadership roulette really sucks sometimes. However, ultimately, you are in charge of what happens. A bishop can keep you from blessing your baby in a formal church setting, but he can't keep you from blessing your baby.

2) If it means a lot to you and your wife, and if he won't let you do it at church, do it at home. It is a father's blessing. Period. Doing it at church simply is a way to involve the entire church community. If you do it at home, invite some close friends to be there and join your celebration. Be open with them. Tell them you aren't allowed to do the ordinance as a formal baby blessing at church, so you want them to help you celebrate a special father's blessing at home. Don't make it any kind of a protest; just stress blessing your baby is important to you.

3) The other option has been mentioned, but I will add an element. Ask someone close to you to give the blessing at church - then do your own blessing at home, again, with a few close friends. Two blessings isn't a negative thing, if it means a lot to you.
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