Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

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SilentDawning
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 13 May 2011, 06:45

doubtingthomas wrote:I agree. I believe this is what we do as a Church, with perhaps the exception of giving what you can afford. 10% is just the going rate, and the Church considers tithing a commandment even for the destitute (as I read in an Ensign article).
Do you remember approximately when that article came out? I'd like to read it.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 May 2011, 07:14

The destitute "tithing" amid their destitution is a Biblical concept, personified most notably in the story of the widow's mite.

The key, imo, is the accompanying admonition that those who are NOT destitute not "grind the faces of the poor" and the idea that those who sacrifice like the widow in that story be supported and helped by those who have excess. Iow, the idea is that tithing is a command for all, but those who exhibit the most faith are those for whom that tithing is a real, practical sacrifice - and that such faith and sacrifice need to be honored and "validated" by the generosity of those for whom it is not such a real, practical sacrifice. In our current "system", that means that those who can should pay a generous fast offering so that those whose tithing leaves them needing assistance can receive it without shame or guilt of any kind.

I believe in the LDS Church's institutional stance in this regard. I absolutely LOVE that concept and principle, especially since it values the widow's mite exactly as the millionaire's millions and allows the truly destitute to feel like active contributors despite their destitution (which I believe is extremely important) - and I really wish as a people we acted that way to a greater extent than we do. If we really lived that ideal (or even came much closer to it), our world would be a much different place - a true Zion.
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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SilentDawning
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 13 May 2011, 08:09

Ray Degraw wrote:The key, imo, is the accompanying admonition that those who are NOT destitute not "grind the faces of the poor" and the idea that those who sacrifice like the widow in that story be supported and helped by those who are have excess. Iow, the idea is that tithing is a command for all, but those who exhibit the most faith are those for whom that tithing is a real, practical sacrifice - and that such faith and sacrifice need to be honored and "validated" by the generosity of those for whom it is not such a real, practical sacrifice. In our current "system", that means that those who can should pay a generous fast offering so that those whose tithing leaves them needing assistance can receive it without shame or guilt of any kind.


See, here is where I get hung up. There are two principles at work here. One is the principle of self-reliance. This gets preached constantly whenever we talk about the Church welfare program. However, when there is a value conflict between paying tithing or meeting expenses, tithing trumps self-reliance every time.

In fact, the person who pays tithing, and then comes to the Chuch indicating they need assistance will often be asked to undergo a rather invasive financial needs analysis, financial counseling from their priesthood leaders, etcetera, or cut out even the smallest of comforts (I know this, as I have advocated it to others right alongside my Bishop in the a number of cases). The recipient will likely be expected to do some form of service around the Chapel for the sake of their self-esteem or self-respect, or be expected/ encouraged to work at the storehouse because they are receiving assistance. This is based on my experience with two Bishops as a leader in more than one Ward (and by the way, I have never been on Church assistance, have never asked for it, and hope to always avoid ever being on Church assistance).

I feel, at times, this is an example of organizational interest going a bit too far for my liking. The person who makes the sacrifice for paying their tithing complies with the law of tithing. Then, as a consequence of this, they also have to also give service due to the fast offerings they have received. This doesn't seem equitable, in my view. It's a basic principle that you have to look after your basic needs before you can be of much use to others.

I'm not sharing this to sway anyone to my way of thinking. More to see what responses you might have to this. This little conundrum does bother me, however.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 May 2011, 08:37

I agree that the way the concept is implemented too often isn't ideal - but I still think it's important for those who wouldn't be asked to contribute "naturally" be asked to contribute anyway, as long as they then can receive assistance in their need.

The financial sitation analysis is something with which I don't struggle at all - again, as long as it is done properly as an attempt to help people become more self-reliant. Seriously, I have known situations where people were receiving church assistance without having to budget carefully - situations where the assistance wouldn't have been needed if the person or family would have made some simple budgetary changes. The financial analysis allowed them to do so - which kept them from taking assistance that could have been given to someone who really needed it.

As is the case with MANY things, there is a huge difference between the ideal and the practice in too many situations - and this is one of those cases.
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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Tom Haws
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by Tom Haws » 13 May 2011, 08:55

SilentDawning wrote:Tom, how does getting rid of the money for the sake of getting rid of the money produce happiness? Wouldn't getting rid of the money for the sake of self-actualization (being a selfless person) AND knowing your funds are being put to a productive use that is meaningful to you accomplish the same thing, but on an even grander scale? (By the way, I ask this question simply to understand your perspective, not to challenge it).
Well, I think you are pretty much in agreement with Jesus in what you are driving at in your proposition sentence. Where I see a potential pitfall is in my getting attached to the idea of accomplishing something with money. Jesus clearly said (assuming we have the record straight, and if we even care what he said) that 1) it doesn't take money (the widow's mite was the biggest gift), 2) it isn't about the poor (his rebuke of Judas cranky gripes about the treasure spent on expensive ointment in an alabaster box), 3) if you sell all and give alms you will have eternal riches. My take away is that giving to the poor is commendable mainly because 1) they are very good at making money disappear and 2) it is slightly preferable to burning the money.

Again, the danger is in attachment. Am I attached to my possessions? Am I attached to the "strings" of my giving? Am I attached to "helping"? Am I attached to "results" and "stewardship"?
doubtingthomas wrote:James 1:27 states that pure religion is to help widows and orphans."
Not to quibble, DT, but I think it's significant that James doesn't say help. IMHO, it's about ministering/visiting (maybe even "serving") and not about "helping". This is easy to be misunderstood, so I'll say in the same breath that we are condemned when we retain our goods from the widows and orphans.
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

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SilentDawning
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 13 May 2011, 09:09

Ray Degraw wrote:I agree that the way the concept is implemented too often isn't ideal - but I still think it's important for those who wouldn't be asked to contribute "naturally" be asked to contribute anyway, as long as they then can receive assistance in their need.

The financial sitation analysis is something with which I don't struggle at all - again, as long as it is done properly as an attempt to help people become more self-reliant. Seriously, I have known situations where people were receiving church assistance without having to budget carefully - situations where the assistance wouldn't have been needed if the person or family would have made some simple budgetary changes. The financial analysis allowed them to do so - which kept them from taking assistance that could have been given to someone who really needed it.

As is the case with MANY things, there is a huge difference between the ideal and the practice in too many situations - and this is one of those cases.
So, why, philosophically, are you OK with the principle of self-reliance being subjugated to the law of tithing?
Last edited by SilentDawning on 13 May 2011, 09:38, edited 2 times in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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SilentDawning
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 13 May 2011, 09:15

Well, I think you are pretty much in agreement with Jesus in what you are driving at in your proposition sentence. Where I see a potential pitfall is in my getting attached to the idea of accomplishing something with money. Jesus clearly said (assuming we have the record straight, and if we even care what he said) that 1) it doesn't take money (the widow's mite was the biggest gift), 2) it isn't about the poor (his rebuke of Judas cranky gripes about the treasure spent on expensive ointment in an alabaster box), 3) if you sell all and give alms you will have eternal riches. My take away is that giving to the poor is commendable mainly because 1) they are very good at making money disappear and 2) it is slightly preferable to burning the money.

Again, the danger is in attachment. Am I attached to my possessions? Am I attached to the "strings" of my giving? Am I attached to "helping"? Am I attached to "results" and "stewardship"?
The part about giving money to the poor as a good way of getting rid of one's attachment made me laugh (in a good way) since they are "pretty good at making it disappear". I think there is something to that.

But, back to your comment -- so, it appears to me that you think the ultimate goal of paying tithing is to get rid of setting your heart on having wealth. However, the BoM indicates that we shall have riches if we seek them, and our intent will be to do good with them. So, for me, this implies that it's OK to have your heart bending toward wealth acquisition, provided the ultimate motive is to bless the lives of others with it -- which means not only through the Church, or through fast offerings, but through other means. This also contradicts what you are saying a bit, as it implies that seeking results, or to do good with the funds IS something that is approved by God.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 May 2011, 09:34

So, why, philosophically, are you OK with the principle of self-reliance being subjugated to the law of tithing?


Because I believe self-reliance is a secondary goal in this discussion - in that financial self-reliance is critical to being able to aleviate poverty for those who can't be self-reliant. "Zion" is the ultimate goal - or, "communal self-reliance" is more important than "individual self-reliance". The poor always will be with us (meaning there always will be those who are not financially self-reliant), so those who are able to contribute to their care should do so - ideally to such an extent and degree that "poverty" vanishes even though "the poor" still exist.

How does that relate to tithing?

To me, in theory, tithing (or any other system that does the same thing, specific amount notwithstanding) is the great equalizer - in that it allows ALL to be active contributors in the community toward the building of the community and in that it provides others an objective motivation (even if they lack it instinctively) to help those who are helping the community.

There are two polarizing positions in this issue (applied to governmental disucssions, as well):
1) The Lord helps those who help themselves.

2) The Lord commands us to serve and give to others, regardless of what they do with our assistance - even if it doesn't "help" them.


BOTH of those positions can be and are justified through our canonized scriptures, but, again in theory, I believe the combination of tithing and fast offerings is a really good way to combine them and manage the paradox in a practical way. I like that we provide assstance also to those who do NOT pay tithing, but I absolutely would encourage those who need assistance to "tithe" what they have and receive assistance to make up what they gave.

King Benjamin's sermon is astounding to me in multiple ways, but the acknowledgment that "the poor" can be just as proud in their poverty as "the rich" can be in their excess is deeply, deeply profound, imo. Donating in destitute situations and then accepting help from others is a great way to mitigate and eliminate that natural pride of the poor - and I can say that, having been in that situation more times than I wish.
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: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 13 May 2011, 10:17

SilentDawning wrote:...I won't go into the details, but this TBM is having trouble sustaining this person because he's lied a few times and everyone knows it. Plus, he's not well-liked. So, this good, faithful member doesn't feel he can sustain the leader, and is letting the TR expire rather than have to say "Yes" to the sustaining local leaders question...So, he's going to let the TR expire. I asked about tithing -- would he continue to pay it? The answer was "No" -- why pay it if I don't have a temple recommend?...Why do we pay tithing? What is the right motive for paying tithing?
I continued to pay tithing for a while after my mission even though I didn't feel temple worthy simply because the way I thought of it was that God had given me everything I had so it wouldn't hurt to give something back. So I guess the "pure motives" were faith and unselfishness but that didn't last very long because all the guilt-trips about porn made me discouraged and de-motivated and I started to think that if God wanted to punish me then he already would anyway regardless of whether I paid tithing or not so then I didn't see the point anymore.

Once I got into the habit of not paying tithing it was hard to seriously think about going back to being a full tithe payer again because I made so much more money and had more bills to pay after I graduated from college and we bought a house, new cars, furniture and appliances, etc. so 10% of gross or net income sounded like a really tough pill to swallow. My wife would ask about getting married in the temple and I always thought maybe next year mostly because I didn't want to commit to paying tithing just yet. Now I think it just doesn't make sense or add up for the Church to continue to expect members to sacrifice this much and my guess is that they mostly do this because of the impractical teachings they have inherited not because it ever was such a great idea for anyone involved. I could see maybe giving the Church some money essentially as membership dues or charity but nowhere near 10% of gross income.
"Truth is what works." - William James

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SilentDawning
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Re: Pure Motives for Paying Tithing

Post by SilentDawning » 13 May 2011, 10:22

Ray:

You said a lot above, and I actually printed what you said and reflected on each paragraph, highlighting key ideas to try to internalize them. So, let me restate what I got out of your statements above. Correct me if I'm misrepresenting anything you said. I have posed some further questions, if you have a moment to answer them.

1. It's more important for the Church to be self-reliant (collective self-reliance) than it is for individuals to be self-reliant (individual self-reliance).

If I've portrayed this accurately, why is the Church's interest in self-reliance more important than individual interests in self-reliance? I'd be interested in the reasons.

2. Asking and requiring all people, whether poor or not, to contribute to the community is a form of equalization.

I'm not clear what you mean by equalization, however. It doesn't mean wealth equalization, because that logic would suggest the poor should keep their money to promote such equalization. Does it mean status equalization? Meaning, that a poor person has as much status in the organization as a wealthy person because that person has also made a sacrifice for the organization's aims? I don't think you mean that either because in our culture, the concept of status isn't well-accepted. So, if its not wealth or status equalization, then what is being equalized?

3. That putting people in a position where, after paying tithing, they have to go to an outside source for financial help, is a good thing because it mitigates pride. If I have this correct, what kind of pride do you mean?

Also, I want to place a disclaimer here, and trust that you don't see my point-by-point questions as confrontational or an attempt to win an argument. There will likely come a point when I will see the full-picture of what you are saying and will naturally draw my own conclusions. The discussion will either neutralize some of the beliefs I've developed, leave them unchanged, or lead to a hybrid as I consider your answers.
Last edited by SilentDawning on 13 May 2011, 10:38, edited 1 time in total.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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