I have been under condemnation, temple recommend revoked, reprimanded in a bishop’s council, because of the way I pay my tithing, anonymously. Yet no one questions the use of tithing funds used by our church institution. We are satisfied with two statements a year at general conference, by the accounting department, saying, “all is well” when it comes to the tithes and the finances of the church. However, anyone familiar with church owned businesses, academic institutions, or church-run projects will know that all is not well, and can bear testimony of the enormous waste of sacred funds that go on there. Rather than focus on the negative, lets consider the likelihood of any possible transition from tithing to consecration, given our current method of operation.
Current Modus Operandi: Recently, while working on the house project in Hawaii, I have had in-depth conversation concerning the direction of our country with one of our family friends. He mentioned how bad it is for us to support the refugee movement, because the refugees of today are much different from the refugees who helped build this nation. They don’t have the pure motives of the past refugees. The kind of refugees we face today will rape your daughters, and cut the throats of loved ones, once they get desperate enough, just as they are doing in their own lands. Because they have nothing to loose. He attributes the failure of our society and the increasing numbers of refugees to our governments “social justice” programs. These include welfare systems, unions, regulatory bodies, etc. And I agreed with him. SI added to his statement that social justice is one step away from communism.
However, he didn’t like my next observation. I told him that what doesn’t make much sense is, we can see how bad it is for government, but we cannot see how bad it is for our own church. The church operates as a social program too, and does not hold itself accountable for resolving the poverty issue among us. People can get a bill or two paid, some food, even find a job, but we don’t consider it completely our responsibility to eliminate poverty. Yet, million dollar church buildings keep getting built, more temples get announced, shopping malls and cultural centers get upgraded, academic institutions continue to burn through funds, while the poor get poorer, and the rich get richer.
Missing Light: Rather than looking only into the darkness, I plan to share my ideas about how I think it started out, and how we can repent, and take corrective actions to transition tithing into consecration. The original intent for tithing was to help the poor, so that there are no poor among us, therefore qualifying a people for Zion. Nauvoo was intended to bring about Zion, but their failings were exactly what our failings still are: Jarrings, malice, strife, envying, lusts, our hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men.
Each ward was independent from the next. The tithing collected in one ward was used for the needs of that ward. As one ward thrived and another lacked, bishops could lend help, on agreeable terms. And accountability was on the bishop to cover any debts incurred by borrowing from other wards. Accountability for the poor was localized. Accountability for the tithes were localized. If things weren’t operated properly, someone was held accountable for it. Likewise, when things were run well, there was abundance. Wards that experienced abundance were sought out, so that other wards could experience the same abundance. Abundance was tied to correct principles, and not regulatory control, as we see in governmental institutions.
Parallel Decay: The falling apart of our country is not very far from the falling apart of our church. Throughout the scriptures we see the fall of the church matching the fall of the House of Israel, Jews, or Nephites, but we cannot recognize it in ourselves. Consider the failure of our country by removing power from the state, as a parallel decay to the failure of the church for removing power from the ward to care for the poor among them, and you might recognize that we are in a truly “awful situation.”
Very few truly understand why this country is called the “United States of America.” A State is defined as an independent sovereign country. They were intended to maintain their independence, but BIG GOVERNMENT has chipped away at the core of the country and it’s independence, such that accountability is out of reach, just as it is within our church. The initial success of America was the success of the individual state. It was the power of the people holding their leaders accountable for their decisions. When the federal government was created, the constitution provided power to the state to keep the federal government in check. But in 1913, an amendment to the constitution was made that removed power of the state to check the federal government. And currently the states have no power to coarse correct.
Interestingly enough, 8 years later (1921), was the same time that church leaders removed the Lectures on Faith from our scriptures (the vote of ten men). The Lectures have Joseph Smith’s teachings of the Godhead, and a correct idea of the Holy Ghost and Faith for eternal salvation, including the necessity to have a personal visitation from Christ. But it was removed from our canon of scriptures by a vote of ten men. And our scriptures and ordinances have changed to match our manuals, and the opinions of those in office, subtly up until now. And no one is allowed, or has the ability to question or check and balance those on top, who hold all the power. Even though the stake high council is equal in authority with the stake presidency, the quorum of the 70’s, the quorum of the 12, and the first presidency. We still maintain and look to the hierarchy to run the show. And we wonder why the poor get poorer. Tithing in this fashion will never transition into consecration.
Conclusion: There is a difference between the gospel and the church, and it should not be so. The gospel and the church ought to be one, as we members ought to be one. Repentance would do us members and this institution well. Properly tithing among us is promised to eliminate the poor among us, but only as it is done correctly. Only as the windows of heaven pour out their blessing, such that we have not room enough to receive it, then it will produce as promised. Although we traditionally consider financial “windfall” (unexpected good fortune) as a fulfilling of this prophesy, it isn’t what it’s promising. It is further light and knowledge. It is light that comes from the windows of heaven, and that is what we lack in our darkened state of social justice government and church institutions.
When tithes are done as prescribed, locally, and to remove poverty among us, then we will witness abundance. It is because of the abundance that tithing will quickly transition into consecration.