The law of tithing (part four)


Continued from part three.

Inevitably, when talking about the blessings that come from paying tithing, a speaker will quote the following scripture:

Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3: 8-12)

In fact, so pervasive is the use of this scripture, that I’ve heard tithing talks where it is the only scripture used. It is practically a guarantee that these verses are quoted, even if D&C 119 is never mentioned, at all. We are taught on every level, that Malachi contains the expected blessings that come from paying tithing. But does it?

Normally, the Lord puts the blessings that come from obedience to a law in the same area as where the law is stated. For example, the modern charge to keep the Lord’s day (Sunday) holy is found in D&C 59: 9-14. Then in verses 15-19 of the same section the Lord details the expected blessings to be received upon obeying this law:

And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. (D&C 59: 15-19)

Likewise, the Word of Wisdom, written in D&C 89, contains the promised blessings that will be received, blessings that are enumerated in the very same section:

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. (D&C 89: 18-21)

The revelation on tithing, section 119, follows the same pattern. Written in the 6th verse of the revelation are the promised blessings that come from obeying this particular law:

And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you. (D&C 119: 6)

The purpose and blessing of living the law of tithing, then, is to sanctify the land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto the Lord, that his statutes and his judgments may be kept on the land, and that it may, indeed be a land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto us. That is the stated blessing. That is the stated purpose. Sanctification of the land upon which we live.

Additionally, the Lord mentions two penalties for not living the law of tithing. One is mentioned above in verse 6, namely, that the land of Zion upon which we live (or the stake of Zion to which we pertain, see verse 7) will not be a bona fide land of Zion and will not be a bona fide stake of Zion. In other words, it will be the land of Zion in name only, having no sanctification and hence no power. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS—H 1: 19.) And the unsanctified stake of Zion in which we live will also be a stake of Zion in name only, with no godly powers attending it.

The second penalty for not living the law of tithing is mentioned in verse 5:

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)

There are only two punishments a religious society can inflict upon its members: disfellowship or excommunication. (See D&C 134: 10.) Regardless of whether this particular penalty means excommunication or disfellowship, we currently inflict neither penalty upon non-exempt people who do not pay tithes.

All of this brings me to the following questions: Why do the leaders never mention the Lord’s stated purpose and blessing of the law of tithing, found in D&C 119? Why do the leaders never enact the penalties associated with non-payment of tithes for those who are not exempt? And why is Malachi 3: 8-12 the scripture of choice when talking about the importance of tithing and the promised blessings upon the people who obey this law?

I have my own ideas as to why I think the leaders speak the way they do in relation to tithing. But they are only ideas, speculation. I do not know the real answer, but I still find it awfully strange that this section is virtually avoided.

Now, one last thing. Malachi 3: 8-12 is talking about a different law of tithing, which existed under the Mosaic law, which has absolutely no relation and nothing to do with our present law of tithing, found in D&C 119. This was a tithing known as the “whole tithe,” which in our KJV of the Bible is translated “all the tithes,” which was collected once every three years, stored at home, and used to feed the Levites and the poor. For a detailed understanding of Old Testament tithing, visit the following online web page:

The Truth About Tithing—Old Testament Perspectives

The blessings associated with that particular law of Moses were specific to that people, just as the blessings associated with our D&C 119 law of tithing are specific to our people. Why the mix-up by our priesthood leaders?

Admittedly, the language of Malachi 3: 8-12 is so powerful, that it is natural for a person (who wants to instill a desire in people to pay tithing) to lay hold on it and assume (and teach) that it applies equally to the law of tithing stated in D&C 119. In my own opinion, though, I find the blessing of D&C 119: 6 quite appealing, as I desire that my land is sanctified.

In conclusion, I want to bring one more thing to your attention. I quoted Malachi 3: 8-12 and D&C 59: 15-19 in their entirety because both promised blessings appear similar and I wanted to show the similarities. The Lord promised his latter-day saints “the fulness of the earth” for keeping his day holy. He essentially promised the same thing to the ancient Jews for paying the mosaic “whole tithe” law. Why do we need to resort to a law of Moses blessing when we have already been promised the same things for fulfilling a law of Christ? It is strange, indeed.

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

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

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12 Comments

  1. You’re missing the bigger picture. The church was given the celestial law. The law of consecration wich requires ALL. We were unable to live that law, so we were given the lesser law. The law of tithing or 10%. If we hope to live in the celestial kingdom, we must be able to abide by a celestial law. This life is the time for men to prepare. Rationalizing ways to give as little of your money as possible to building up the kingdom of Zion and still feel good about yourself might not be the best way to strive toward perfection. Just a thought.

  2. Great post. You’ve definitely given me a new perspective here. I stand corrected.

  3. I have been a full tithe payer my whole life. I had a testimony of what I believed was the law of tithing. Over the past several weeks my eyes have been open. I’ve read and reread your series of articles and they were very helpful.

    It has been revealed to me through the scriptures and prayer that I have not been living what the Lord wants me to live. It is actually really upsetting.

    Anyway, my study went from what are we supposed to live to who is supposed to live it. Basically, I started out trying to figure out if we were supposed to be living the law of consecration and then began trying to figure out who was supposed to cosecrate and tithe.

    After lots of study, heartache and prayer I am positive that the Lord never intended poor and needy people to pay tithes. They are to receive them! The Lord requires the SURPLUS first and then a tithe on those who consecrated the surplus. The poor and needy would receive of the consecrated properties.

    Yes, the law of consecration requires we give ALL to the Lord. And then he gives us BACK all that we need for our family as a stewardship. Those who have only what they need get back everything in the form of a stewardship. If you have less than you need you get back MORE than you consecrated. If you have a SURPLUS then you get back that which is needful and the rest goes to the Church. How is it that we don’t understand this?

    Why would a LESSER law require poor and needy people to give over 10% of their earnings to the Church??? Aren’t lesser laws supposed to be easier and more outward than the higher law? The only people the lawof tithing as currently practiced by the Church is easier for is the rich.

    D&C 42
    30 And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support….39…for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Isreal.

  4. Thank you Truth Seeker Too for this comment.

    My wife made the observation several months ago that it just didn’t seem right that we pay tithing when we have no well, nor electricity; in other words, not adequate living conditions. So we stopped paying. Something seems to be missing in the concept of tithing that the Church espouses. And you seem to have hit the nail on the head.

  5. […] Four part series on Tithing from LDS Anarchist – Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 […]

  6. My husband and i have been pondering this and talking of this for years. thank you for all of this. it is exactly how we have felt. My father on the other hand sees it as JoJo put it.
    My Father said to me “Are you looking for a way to justify paying the least you can get away with and still be justified?” My husband and i are in no way doing this. those of us who search ponder and share our feelings of this are not looking for an easy out.

    If my surplus and the 10% of increase ended up to be more than 10% of my annual income i would in no way complain or start looking for another answer. We are not trying to cheat the Lord or ourselves we are meerly trying to understand his law and follow His teachings to the best of our ability. We are doing what we have been taught to do by the Lord, Study for ourselves, search, ponder and pray.

    it is such a shame that so many members of the church either become inactive, or give up their temple recommend because they cant fulfill the 10% net or gross tithe. The scripture explains clearly that the poor are exempt, how many do you think could be comforted by understanding that basic principle? My husband knew a man who felt so guilty after hearing a talk in GC about paying your full tithe. Being as poor as he was, he had no extra, no surplus, so he cashed in his retirement so that he could catch up on tithing and have the blessings of heaven poured upon him, like so many talks promise.
    The Lord never intended for that man or any of us to put ourselves in that situation just to pay our tithe. He never intended for My husbands friend to have NO retirement.

    An example of cashing in your surplus for us would be; Selling our extra chicken eggs and giving the money to the lord. Since today you can’t stand on your bishops door steps with extra eggs as tithe. Thats just my idea of cashing in my surplus.

    Again thank you for these 4 posts about tithing, it has helped us in so many ways.

  7. Who decides who is needy?

    I love that you are justifying not giving anything to the lord because you declare yourself to be “Needy”

    That is one of the most evil things I have ever heard. Taking from those that work, earn, create and labor and giving it to those who don’t because they say they “Need” it.

    In that system all of the incentives are wrong. You are benefited by not producing or creating and punished when you do. Eventually you will run out of other peoples money.

    I have been in the bishopric a couple times and one of the most beautiful things you will every see is a tithing check from somebody for just a few dollars. When the same day you are writing them a check to take care of their rent and food.

  8. Follow up comment

    I liked this posts a lot

    all of you “I am too ‘needy’ to give back to God” people should read it.

    http://www.bloggerofjared.com/2008/11/09/is-it-fair-to-tithe-the-poor/

  9. For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be
    fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my
    gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of
    Israel.

    what is this guy a socialist? Seriously this is the type of talk that would get you into big trouble in Elder’s Quorum. Who said that? Oh it was God himself…that trouble maker, always stirring up controversy among the saints. Wouldn’t you agree brother “Superstar” Carr?

  10. Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

    Ok now thats more like it. Theres somthin we can see eye to eye on. I hate welfare bums too. They are in the words of Josh Carr the Superstar, the most evil people ever…and he oughta know…he’s been in “The Bishopric” a couple times. (This said as i sit at home on a friday afternoon fixing myself a sandwich with bread made by a man who has to work 7 days a week to barely get by…and as I kick off my 80 dollar, [on sale] shoes which were manufactured by a woman who works for 15 hours without so much as a bathroom break and makes mere fractions of a cent per hour before retiring for a few hours of “rest” to her over priced spot in a south east asian slum…) “Stinkin needy folks get on my nerves…I think I’ll watch a little Glib Neck on Sly Fox News to put me in a good mood again!”

  11. Acts 4:32-35 also gives us a more accurate picture of what true saints will do with their money.

    32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that bought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
    33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
    34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
    35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

    It really WORKS! Because it is of God.

  12. I got an email from someone, who has a contact in the Yucatan, who says the “Church” is piloting a program that would phase out Welfare, and substitute a more liberal lending policy (with interest) under the Perpetual Debt-U-cation Fund. Has anyone else heard anything pointing towards this type of thing? All info welcome. Thanks.


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