The law of tithing (part two)


Continued from part one.

The Lord, when talking about who is required to pay tithing, speaks of three groups of people. Those who already are in the land of Zion, those who are gathering to the land of Zion and those who are in the stakes of Zion:

“…my church in Zion.” (D&C 119: 1)

“…those who gather unto the land of Zion…” (D&C 119: 5)

“And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion.” (D&C 119: 7)

The law of tithing has only two parts to it. The first part requires the donation of our surplus property:

“I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop…and this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.” (D&C 119: 1, 3)

“Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties…” (D&C 119: 5)

The second part requires the payment of one-tenth of our interest (income) annually:

“And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually…” (D&C 119: 4)

The second part is known as the standing law:

“And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever…” (D&C 119: 4)

“Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law…” (D&C 119: 5)

Only those who pay the first part are the ones who pay the second part:

“And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually…” (D&C 119: 4)

Both the first and second parts must be paid:

“Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.” (D&C 119: 5)

All of the above requirements apply equally to the saints who live in the stakes of Zion.

“And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion.” (D&C 119: 7)

It appears to me that we LDS are not fully complying with the law of tithing. Even those of us who give 10% of their income annually are not fulfilling the requirements set forth above by the Lord. Tithing is begun with a donation of one’s surplus properties, but we don’t do this.

I’ve been taught that when section 119 was first received and presented to the saints, that hardly anyone donated their surplus and so the leaders just stopped asking for that part of tithing and instead focussed on the standing law, which is 10% of interest (income) annually.

Now, some people are fine with giving only what the leaders are asking for (the 10%,) but I have a hard time pushing aside the rest of this revelation and feeling good about myself. The revelation is, after all, still canonized and therefore binding upon us. So once I realized that tithing came in two parts, that the leaders had been ignoring the first part for decades and that I had been paying only the second part since my baptism (as that was what I was taught to pay by my leaders,) I made a personal correction and began paying tithing as the revelation defines it. In other words, I took an inventory of my surplus property, converted it into cash (the Church will not accept payment in kind anymore,) and anonymously donated that to the church as tithing.

Some might consider this unnecessary, but I’m not so sure. The Lord requires both the letter and spirit of the law. If he didn’t require the letter of the law, why even have section 119 written before us? Why even give the definitions of the law of tithing that he did? If the first part of the law of tithing wasn’t important, why even mention it in the first place?

My feeling is that the Lord will deal with his priesthood leadership in his own due time. If they are not doing a proper regulation of the church and teaching the doctrine he has revealed and canonized, they will be corrected by him when he is ready to clean up the church and leadership. But we members do not covenant to follow every whim of the leadership. We covenant to obey the commandments of God, which laws are written and canonized in the scriptures.

I’d rather use the CYOA* principle of the gentiles and follow the letter of the law, as that is what the letter of the law is for. (It is written down so that we can follow it.) Only if we don’t have that law before us are we not required to follow it. I just don’t know that the excuse of “I was just following the orders and counsel of my current priesthood leadership and since they never said I had to pay the surplus, I never paid it!” is going to be sufficient to justify my ignoring the written law in section 119.

I suspect that at the last day (the day of judgment) the Lord is going to point to section 119 and ask me if I followed his words as they were written there. I am reminded of 2 Kings 18 when the book of the law was discovered (verse 8.) When the book was read the king rent his clothes (verse 11) because he realized that God was angry with his people because his written words found in the book of the law had not been followed to the letter.

So, I ask the reader, since the leaders have stopped even mentioning the surplus part of tithing, are we off the hook in paying it? Or, is the fact that the revelation is still canonized going to condemn us at the last day, despite the fact that the leaders don’t care whether we are complying with the first part of tithing or not? What do you think?

I, personally, believe that the Lord is going to use the Standard Works to measure both us and the leadership. And if we are found to be partially complying, it will be the same as not complying, at all. The truthfulness of our answer to the temple recommend question of, “Are you a full tithe payer?” will be judged by the Lord according to whether we complied with the entire section of 119, and not just a portion of it.

That is my opinion. What’s yours?

There’s more to come in part three.

*Note: CYOA=Cover Your Own A__

Next Tithes and Offerings article: The law of tithing (part three)

Previous Tithes and Offerings article: The law of tithing (part one)

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

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20 Comments

  1. Doesn’t following the letter of the law exactly contradict the philosophy behind anarchy?

  2. Sheesh, yet one more thing I need to repent of…thanks. Seriously though, church leaders aren’t infallible and it is our responsibility to search the scriptures and live according to our understanding. Like you said in an earlier post, much of what goes on today in the way governing and so on is tradition. How many of the leaders actually realize they are doing anything wrong? I would say the number is very small. I didn’t even realize it until I read this post. It gives me a lot to ponder.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Kullervo, I would say no to your question. I’ve entered into a covenant with God to obey his commandments. These commandments are written in the canonized scriptures. If I don’t comply with the terms of the covenant (which is just an agreement or contract between him and I) I won’t receive the benefits that he offers me. I freely entered into the covenant and I’m free to break it or annul it, altogether. Contracts are in line with the principle of anarchy.

  4. i feel this is something i was finding on the web . thanks!

  5. I have noticed this before but never put much thought into it. I assumed that as the church morphed with society, the surplus part sort of faded away (as well as paying your tithes in kind). After reading your posts, I started to put a little more thought into it.

    President Lorenzo Snow gave a talk and quoted Section 119, piece by piece, explaining it as he went in the October 1899 General Conference. His explanation of “surplus property” did not help me much so I looked around a little more and found that Orson Pratt in an 1875 General Conference explains “surplus property” as the decision of the Bishop. (See JD 16:157) I also came across other GA’s saying essentially the same thing. Basically, people are suppose to go to their Bishop and say here is what I have, what do you think is surplus, then together they decide on what is surplus and it becomes consecrated to the church. After that, they pay 10% of their increase. When was the last time that happened? I wonder…

    I was looking through church manuals to see what is said about this and in the Brigham Young manual, on page 155 it quotes him from the History of the Church 7:301, the interesting thing is this, here is the quote in the Brigham Young manual:

    “…It is the law to give…one-tenth of his increase”

    Here is the actual quote:

    “It is the law to give one-tenth of what he has got (which would be his surplus property), and then one-tenth of his increase or one-tenth of his time.”

    Hmmm, the plot thickens. The writers of this manual had to have read the whole quote and had a discussion on this, did they question why this has faded away and whether or not they should include it, or did they just leave it out without giving it much thought. The revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants is quite clear, as you quoted in vs. 5, it says:

    “…all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and they shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you.” emphasis mine

    Does that mean most of us are not “worthy to abide”? Now my curiosity is really getting the better of me, I have a hard time believing the church would stop teaching something that has the potential to damn us because it is inconvenient. Although I have looked through a lot of manuals put out by the church, and none bring up the surplus property topic. The mentions of it pretty much disappear at the turn of the century.

    If this were necessary for salvation, would the doctrinal committee allow for it to be ignored? I suppose so, maybe they are only concerned with the insertion of false doctrine, not the leaving out of doctrine essential for salvation.

    So you ask for our opinion, I had one (as I mentioned in the first paragraph) but it has been challenged and will probably change with more study and prayer. I do plan on asking my Bishop though, I am interested if he would be willing to assess my situation and declare what is surplus and what is not.

    By the way, I am interested in how you came up with a dollar amount for your surplus?

  6. I just sold it to get as much money as I could from it, then donated that to the church.

  7. Does that mean most of us are not “worthy to abide”? Now my curiosity is really getting the better of me, I have a hard time believing the church would stop teaching something that has the potential to damn us because it is inconvenient.

    That verse refers to “the land of Zion”, not stakes of Zion or wards and branches the world over. I think the Church realizes that on so many more levels we are not worthy to possess Zion, so consecrating our surplus property isn’t absolutely necessary just yet. Even if we did consecrate our surplus, there are other things stopping us from abiding in Zion (Mormon communist aristarchy) in the land of Zion (Kansas City in particular, Missouri in general, and eventually the entire Midwest will be encompassed by Zion’s “great and high wall, with twelve gates”).

    That said, I am purchasing property in Kansas City (near the location of the Colesville branch, which came here to establish Zion). I intend to consecrate the property some day for my eternal inheritance. If it does not occur in my lifetime, I will Will the properties to my issue to consecrate. KCMO is one of the cheapest cities in the United States in terms of real estate prices and the cost of living expenses (we have the cheapest gasoline in the country). You need not wait for the word of the First Presidency to do what my friends and I are doing in KCMO’s Old Northeast.

  8. Did not get to talk with the Bishop, but I talked to a counselor and my conversation went something like this; I read the passage and asked what it meant when it talked about “surplus property” and why it isn’t common practice today. He was very familiar with the passage and mentioned he had wondered himself…below were his answers

    First Response: When that was given most members were new and this was a way to pay tithing on all their property acquired prior to joining the church. Now days many members are born in the church and pay it their whole lives and don’t need to donate surplus.

    I didn’t really buy that, pressed a little harder and asked why Lorenzo Snow talked about it in General Conference at the turn of the century and with all the new converts still today wouldn’t the law remain in effect?

    Second Response: The Law of Tithing is a step down from the Law of Consecration, and the way we live the Law of Tithing now is a step down from as it was originally given.

    I asked when it changed and why. Why did they talk about it all the way up to the turn of the century and then it just disappeared, no closing comments, no official change, just gone. Are we damned (so to speak) for not living it?

    Third Response: The world is not set up now like it was then, it would be much more complicated to do transactions like that now days. The church can use monetary donations much quicker and more efficient that other kinds of donations that might fall under the regulatory eye of some government agency.

    Still not convinced…

    Forth Response: Imagine the poor missionaries who would have to teach that lesson to investigators. People have a tough enough time with tithing as it is, imagine if we told them they had to donate all their surplus before joining as well, nobody would join the church, people would leave in droves and lawsuits would abound.

    By this time his patience was running thin and I did not see the need to carry it further. What a great way that would be to cleanse the church, not as good as the Law of Concecration, as the LDS Anarchist has said in another post. But I suppose that will all come in the Lord’s time.

    Hopefully I will be able to catch the Bishop and get his take, it is his responsibility after all.

    As far as moving to Missouri, I have no desire. Not all will be called there when the time comes, only those needed. I feel there are places much more befitting of Zion than there (that may all change when the earth receives its paradisaical glory) and I would rather live somewhere else. If I am called, I will go, if not, I will be in a place I like better. Having said that, I would not discourage anyone against going, I know a few people who are planning to go or have gone. I hope it is all they expected.

  9. In St. John’s Revelation, John visits the city of Zion and “he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs.” A Greek/Attic furlong or stadia is 185 m or 607 ft, so assuming ((607 * 12000) / 5280), Zion is 1,379.54 miles square.

    1,380 miles is about the distance from Mexico to Canada (or Grand Forks, North Dakota, to Houston, Texas), or by width it is from the west end of Colorado to the east end of Indiana. This is roughly the eventual size, shape, and placement of Zion, with Jackson County, Missouri, marking “the center place”. If I counted right, that’s about 23 states from which you have to choose if you wish to abide in Zion in the land of Zion. (Sorry, Utah, you’re out [just by a hair]!)

    Consecration will begin in Jackson County, Kansas City & Independence, Missouri. So keep an eye on KCMO if you wish to consecrate your surplus. It is the bishops in Jackson County that will first begin to consecration property to the establishment of Zion.

  10. I asked when it changed and why. Why did they talk about it all the way up to the turn of the century and then it just disappeared, no closing comments, no official change, just gone. Are we damned (so to speak) for not living it?

    A “dam” blocks the flow or progress of a river. To “damn” a people is to halt their progress. So, yes, in that respect, we are damned, our progression is halted, until we establish Zion! This is not an eternal damnation, for the Lord will put hooks in our jaws and bridles in our mouths, and he will lead us astray for his own purposes, and then it is for him to judge; but the establishment of Zion is definitely a dam or obstacle in this life, our terrestrial progression. Because of our lack of Zion, we are damned temporally, not eternally.

    As far as moving to Missouri, I have no desire. Not all will be called there when the time comes, only those needed.

    I seem to remember childhood folk stories about “all the saints” being called to Zion, and that wagon trains and handcarts will again be used to bring the majority of the Saints into Jackson County, Missouri. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out. But I suspect the “callings” will occur in stages before “all the saints are called to Zion”, and that much of the work will be done outside of the Church (by those who are “called out”, etc.).

    If you don’t want to wait around for the bishops in Jackson County, Missouri, to begin the process of consecrating surpluses, consider joining a branch of the United Order. From what I understand, the United Order has never ceased to exist. There is supposed to be an historic branch of the United Order in Humansville, Missouri, some hours straight south of Kansas City. But I also understand that most of the United Order settlements are further out west (or in Canada and Mexico).

  11. I realize I’m late to the party, but I think that Pallas’ bishop is right on here. I’m not sure why Pallas was not convinced.

  12. […] part series on Tithing from LDS Anarchist – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part […]

  13. Sorry guys, but I’m not going along with this. There are several proscriptions in the Old and New Testaments that we don’t follow anymore. If they were still in force, I’d be condemned for that pork chop I just ate. In fact, I’d probably not have reached my sixteenth birthday on account of not respecting my parents. I look at the current law of tithing as a higher law than the one originally practiced by the saints outlined in D&C 119. It’s unfortunate that there was no official declaration changing the policy from in-kind to cash-only donations as well as changing the definition of surplus property, leaving us to search in meeting minutes and memoranda for the reasons behind the change.

    As far as I’m concerned, paying tithing on one’s gross income, combined with taxes, health insurance, food, clothing, shelter, etc. is a huge sacrifice albeit one I’m willing to make. At this point, I don’t feel a need to give further beyond fast offerings and contributions to the ward missionary fund. And although I sustain him as a bishop, I doubt he’d want the additional burden of deciding which items owned by ward members like myself constitutes surplus property.

  14. Back then, the term tithing included money for helping the poor, etc. Now the Church excludes helping the poor from the use of tithing. As a result, the Church has so much money they don’t know what to do with it. Even without people paying their initial surplus, the Church still has so much money, they resort to building Hotels or 6 billion dollar shopping malls. I don’t know that I would give my surplus, because it wouldn’t go to a noble cause.

  15. Why do you (LDS anarchist) assume that “interest” means “income?”

  16. Gavin, see part three for the answer to that question.

  17. I don’t know if I missed it or no. But I think a key word here is “Zion”. Are we zion? Has Zion been declared? Have we been invited into Zion. I don’t think Zion is yet on the earth therefore what is this tithing to go to?

  18. Gary,

    It is true that Zion hasn’t been established, yet, but what about the stakes? Do you not consider the current stakes as “stakes of Zion?” If they are not “stakes of Zion,” then perhaps you have a very valid point. And if they are not “stakes of Zion,” then of what are they stakes of?

  19. I’m wondering about the revelation canonized in the D&C about paying tithing in both ways when they were given there. That was in a time where the church was indeed a group membership where now, since 1921, has been a sole propriety corp.

    I was wanting to pay my tithing and give also to the bishops storehouse but my dilemma is that the money goes directly to the corp now instead of where it can benefit. I personally don’t believe that God really wants me to follow the command to keep sifting the money through Salt Lake corp and hope that some gets passed along to those who might be helped. And I do think that tithing money IS for the poor.
    Not for the rich to get richer. I understand the letter of the law but it needs to be sanctioned personally before The Lord by each individual as to how to do it His way. Or my thinking is really skewed :/
    (And do you really think we live in Zion? I don’t. It doesn’t feel like Zion. We need to come to BE pure in heart before we can enter into where Zion is. It maybe future Zion but not yet. )

  20. I understand the letter of the law but it needs to be sanctioned personally before The Lord by each individual as to how to do it His way.

    Apply that same principle to the law of chastity. Do you really think that the law of chastity “needs to be sanctioned personally before The Lord by each individual as to how to do it His way”? How about the Ten Commandments? Do each of those commandments need “to be sanctioned personally before The Lord by each individual as to how to do it His way”? How about any of the laws of the Lord? There is a reason why the Lord was very specific about how to begin tithing and how to live its standing law, for this very reason that you mention, that there would not be 10 million ways to pay tithing, according to the fancy of each individual. Instead, there would be one standard, and each person would be judged as to how closely their life matched that standard.

    We do not keep the standing law of tithing because we are in Zion, instead we keep it that our stakes may become sanctified, and thus become stakes of Zion. Thus, departing from this law is not inspired of the Lord.


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