Tithing the Widow’s Mites


It may be because tithing settlement is upcoming in my local ward, but I recently had my attention drawn to a particular story in the scriptures.  To be frank, I know that my position with how I relate to the church is idiosyncratic.  My opinion about the present order of things is far too critical for most of my mainstream peers [I admit they’re problems with how Mormonism is governed by the men in Salt Lake and I admit there are alternate ways for people to legitimately be “LDS”] — but I’m far too generous for any among the critical crowd [I believe that the LDS church is literally the true church of Jesus Christ and don’t support an “All is lost, corrupt-apostasy, JUMP ship” view of things].

In any event, this last week I was reminded of the story of the widow and her two pennies.  At a point when Jesus had already condemned the religious establishment of his day as corrupt,

woe unto you
scribes and
pharisees
hypocrites!

and when he had already tossed his hands up in derision at the apostasy he saw present in the management of God’s temple,

behold
your house is left unto you desolate
and truly I say unto you
you shall not see me
until the time come when you shall say

blessed is he
that comes in the name of YHVH

the scriptures say that:

he looked up
and saw rich men casting their gifts into the treasury
and he saw also a certain poor widow
casting in two pennies
and he said

truly I say unto you
that this poor widow has cast in more than they all
for all these have given
of their abundance unto the offerings of God
but she
out of her poverty
has cast in all of the living that she had

Here we see Jesus referring to what was obviously an abused receptacle of money as “the offerings of God”.  Here we see Jesus approving of an impoverished widow submitting what little money she had into the coffers of a corrupt and wealthy religious establishment.

To me, the same applies to the criticisms that people make about things like the encouraging of leader-worship, relying on the corrupt works of our own efforts, the lack prophecy and revelation coming from the men sustained as prophets and revelators, using the tithing funds to have sufficient for our needs and then investing the difference for usury, etc., etc.

Do I think such concerns are valid?  Absolutely.  But it is my belief that it is still the church of God that is doing those things.  We have not ceased to be the Lord’s people because of these condemnable works.  The church of Christ can remain “true” while being “dead” and “damned” [see D&C 84:54-57].

For the last couple years, there’s been a lot of attention on blogs about the “corporate Church”, [the “Church™” as opposed to “the church”, etc.] — and more especially since the whole City Creek Center things was announced, built, and opened.  Although it is true that none of us [except Thomas Monson] is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ corporation — it is my understanding that every latter-day saint was confirmed a member of “the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints.”

While we know how to spell the name of the corporate Church, including where the capitalization and the dash goes [it’s a trademarked letterhead and defined in the corporate charter] — on the other, the name of the Lord’s true church is never spelled, it is only spoken as hands are laid on a person’s head and they are confirmed a member of it and commanded to receive the Holy Ghost.  This latter church may, or may not, contain a dash and capitalization — we don’t know.

When the Lord refers to his “church”, it is always in reference to a living body of people — not to some non-existent, non-living, non-corporeal, legal corporate entity.  That’s why you see Jesus not giving a hoot whether the temple treasury where the widow was submitting her pennies was “corrupt” or not.

Of real concern to me, is not the corruption and break-up of the corporate LDS Church — but the corruption and break-up of the latter day church [meaning seeing the members dividing into a plurality of separate, wicked churches].  That is where my focus is, on the LDS church — on the people.  We cannot call the LDS church [people] out of the LDS Church [the corporation], because they were never a part of it to begin with [the Church President is always ever the only member].

We, like the widow that Jesus observed, must assert our rights as confirmed members of “the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints” and turn the tide in the Lord’s favor — allowing for the wicked and corrupt influences to be exposed in the open light, right smack in the middle of the church, where observant people can be influenced, so that they can make an informed decision as to who they will follow [whether that be Jesus Christ or other men].

Next Article by Justin:  Master, Master, We Perish

Previous Article by Justin:  Judging

Anarchy in action: congregational nullification


Jury Nullification

Jury nullification means making a law void by jury decision, in other words “the process whereby a jury in a criminal case effectively nullifies a law by acquitting a defendant regardless of the weight of evidence against him or her.”

Jury nullification is more specifically any rendering of a verdict by a trial jury, acquitting a criminal defendant despite the defendant’s violation of the letter of the law. This verdict need not disagree with the instructions by the judge concerning what the law is, but may disagree with an instruction, if given by the judge, that the jury is required to apply the law to the defendant if certain facts are found.

Although a jury’s refusal relates only to the particular case before it, if a pattern of such verdicts develops in response to repeated attempts to prosecute a statutory offense, it can have the practical effect of disabling the enforcement of the statute. “Jury nullification” is thus a means for the people to express opposition to an unpopular legislative enactment.

The jury system was established because it was felt that a panel of citizens, drawn at random from the community, and serving for too short a time to be corrupted, would be more likely to render a just verdict, through judging both the accused and the law, than officials who may be unduly influenced to follow merely the established law. Jury nullification is a reminder that the right to trial by one’s peers affords the public an opportunity to take a dissenting view about the justness of a statute or official practices.

(Taken from the Jury Nullification entry of the Wikipedia. See the entire entry for more information.)

Jury nullification occurs when a jury judges both the facts of a case and the law it is based upon. In modern times it doesn’t occur very often, perhaps because juries are not aware that they have this common law right or power due to modern judges not informing them of the entire jurisdiction of a jury. In fact, judges often do the opposite and give them instructions that they must apply the law. However, the truth is that juries do have this power regardless of what a corrupt judge may say.

Congregational Juries

Our system of church government consists of judges, courts and councils, with witnesses and advocacy, but apparently without juries. However, as all appointments/callings must be approved by the congregation through common consent vote before an appointment/calling is solidified, in reality and practice the congregational members are the juries of the church.

Again, any calling in the church needs to be ratified by the congregational jury. A name is read and a call to ratify is made to the members, who raise their hands in approbation or in opposition, or who do not raise their hands, at all. A count is made and if the voice of the people (the majority) is for the appointment, it goes through. If the voice of the people is against it, it does not go through. In this way the congregational jury renders a verdict of their approval or disapproval of the various appointments/callings. We call this vote sustaining. Nothing in the church happens, nor can happen, without a sustaining vote of the members of the congregation, as that would be tyranny and a usurpation of powers, because all things must be done with the consent of the congregation.

Congregational Nullification

There is, however, another way that the congregational jury renders a verdict. Sometimes policies or instructions are handed out to the members from their leaders without taking a vote. For example, recent First Presidency letters read in sacrament meeting contained instructions to the members concerning the passage of a constitutional amendment on marriage (for California saints) and sacrament meeting behavior, specifically, not using visual aids or asking the congregation to turn to a scripture while giving a talk. These instructions are similar to those received by trial juries from the presiding judge concerning how they are to apply the law to the case. In both instances, neither jury is instructed that they can pass judgment upon the judge’s instructions and discard them if wisdom so dictates.

Many saints get offended when instructions they feel are overbearing or tyrannical come down from their leaders. To prove their point, they’ll sometimes take actions that end up pitting the church against them, such as taking a public stand against the church. This is not the wisest course to take and may lead to their being disfellowshipped, excommunicated or even them just leaving on their own.

The Lord has given us the means to nip all tyranny in His church in the bud via the law of common consent. Just as trial jury nullification exists as a common law right, it also exists as a right of the congregational juries. Simply ignoring all instructions deemed to be unjust, unwise, overbearing, tyrannical or humiliating nullifies the instructions. End of story.

Most instructions given today by leaders are called “counsel.” When members are asked to do something, usually that is the very word used: ask. Anybody can ask anything they want of you. Asking you to do or not to do something does not rob you of your agency. It also does not obligate you to do the thing asked. Like trial juries, congregational juries have the choice to obey instructions received by them from the leaders without another thought, or they can render the instructions null and void by ignoring them.

Anarchy in Action

Both congregational nullification and the raising of the hands in approval/disapproval during a sustaining vote is anarchy in action. Ultimately, always, the people decide all matters of the church. The leaders can do nothing without the consent of the people.

Taking the two examples given above, for those saints who agree with the First Presidency letter on the marriage bill, they can sustain the letter’s instructions by donating time, means and effort to that cause. For those saints who disagree with the letter’s instructions, they can ignore the petition entirely and donate no time, means or effort to it. Just as during sustaining votes, members do not campaign other members to sway votes in favor of or against particular church callings, campaigning need not occur for non-voting uses of the law of common consent. Everything remains peaceful, ordered and anarchic, each man, woman and child of the church casting a verdict on the instructions by their actions.

In the second instance mentioned above, congregational nullification can also occur, should the people think the instructions are unneccessary or unjust. Or, congregational ratification can occur should the people think the instructions are wise and timely. All that is necessary is that each speaker either obey the instructions and stop using visual aids or asking the audience to open their scriptures, or disregard the instructions and use visual aids and ask the congregation to turn to such-and-such a verse.

The bishop or other leaders may attempt to correct a single person who ignores counsel or instruction, but if that person continues to ignore the counsel, or if more than one person ignores the counsel and it becomes apparent that the congregation has passed a verdict against the counsel, by ignoring it, then congregational nullification has occurred and that counsel is now null and void. There is nothing a leader can do with a group of people who refuse to ratify an instruction by obedience to it.

In my own experience, eventually even the most power-tripping leaders will throw up their hands in frustration because peaceful, ordered, anarchic congregational nullification cannot be stopped. No one can be tried for ignoring counsel or petitions. There is no law against it in the church. There are only laws against sin.

Use of Common Consent Stops Tyranny

Jury nullification drives leaders up the wall with frustration, as it limits their power and control over a congregation, but it is one of the means the Lord has set up to stop tyranny in His church. Used as a proper check to usurpation of power, it properly balances the church and puts all saints, leaders and members alike, on equal ground.

So, the next time you receive instructions from your religious leaders you do not agree with, even after prayer and fasting, instead of publicly fighting them and becoming an apostate, instead of striving to get other members in your camp and pit member against member or member against leader, or instead of trying to win the leader over to your cause (which never works), just apply the principle of congregational nullification and ignore the instructions.

Next Anarchism/Anarchy article: Anarchy in Education

Previous Anarchism/Anarchy article: The dissolution of the corporate LDS Church via “gay marriage”

Next Common Consent article: Apathy is not a problem, it’s a symptom and a solution

Previous Common Consent article: Power of the Law of Common Consent

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