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Gospel Doctrine Lesson 17: How We Taught This Topic in the Past

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 03, 2009

Lesson 17: The Law of Tithing and the Law of the Fast

1900: Deseret Sunday School Union Leaflets

Lesson 205. – Tithes.

Texts.

Abraham pays tithes to Melchisedek:

And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. (Gen. 14:20.)

For this Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all. (Heb. 7:1, 2.)

And it was the same Melchisedek to whom Abraham paid tithes: yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth part of all he possessed. (Alma 13:15.)

Jacob covenants to give one-tenth unto the Lord:

And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. (Gen. 28:22.)

The law of tithing to ancient Israel:

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, it is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it; and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. (Lev. 27:30-33.)

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. III Nephi 24:8-12.)

The law of tithing as revealed to the Saints in this dispensation:

Behold, now it is called today (until the coming of the Son of man), and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned (at his coming;) For after to-day cometh the burning: this is speaking after the manner of the Lord; for verily I say, to-morrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 64: 23, 24.)

It is contrary to the will and commandment of God, that those who receive not their inheritance by consecration, agreeably to his law, which he has given, that he may tithe his people, to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning, shall have their names enrolled with the people of God. (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 85:3.)

Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church of Zion; For the building of mine house, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion, and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my church; 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; and this shall be a standing law unto them for ever, for my holy Priesthood, saith the Lord. 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. 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; And this shall be an ensample unto all the Stakes of Zion. Even so. Amen. (Doc. & Cov. Sec. 119.)

Covenant made with the Lord by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, November 29th, 1834:

“That if the Lord will prosper us in our business, and open the way before us that we may obtain means to pay our debts, that we be not troubled nor brought into disrepute before the world nor His people; after that, of all that he shall give us, we will give a tenth, to be bestowed upon the poor in His church, or as he shall command; and that we will be faithful over that which He has entrusted to our care, that we may obtain much; and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant; and that our children and our children’s children may know of the same, we have subscribed our names with our own hands.

“JOSEPH SMITH, JR.,
OLIVER COWDERY.”

“The Lord loves us. … Because He loves us He has forgiven us our forgetfulness of this holy law in the past; but He will not forgive you or me any longer. I say it in the name of the Lord, He will not forgive this people any longer! Should we continue in this dilatory way of paying tithing, we will be scattered, just as the people of Jackson County were. It will be with us, and more so than it was with them, because we know more than they did. We are nearer to the Lord than they were. We have an education that they never had, and the Lord expects more of us than he expected of them. This is true, as God is true, as holy angels are true. Brethren, think of it!” – President Lorenzo Snow.

Notes.

Melchisedek. – The great high priest, who was king of Salem, and to whom Abraham paid tithes. The Book of Mormon gives many details of his life not contained in the Bible. Among other things, we are told “This Melchisedek was a king over the land of Salem, and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abominations; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness; but Melchisedek, having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the High Priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchisedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father. Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore of him they have more particularly made mention.” (Alma 13:17-19.)

Malachi. – An Israelitish prophet of whose personal history nothing is known. His prophecies close the Old Testament. As Malachi lived after Lehi left Jerusalem the Nephites knew nothing of the revelations he received. Our Lord Jesus considered a portion of these words of sufficient importance to be repeated to that people, and by His direction they were written. Hence they appear in the book of Mormon.

Abraham. – See Leaflets 68 to 72.

Jacob. – See Leaflets 73 to 76, 95 to 99.

Lesson Statement.

The law of tithing is a law of God – a law which He requires all his people to observe. One-tenth of all our increase is His. He claims it as His own. The Scriptures show us that this law was in force in the days of Melchisedek, the great High Priest, to whom Abraham paid tithes. Jacob covenanted to pay the Lord one tenth. This law was given to the Israelites in great detail by the Lord from Mount Sinai, and was observed by that people until after their destruction as a nation. Sometimes they neglected its observance, as in the days of Malachi, when the Lord severely reproved them and charged them with robbing Him. So important were the words uttered by Malachi considered by our Savior that He repeated them to the Nephites when He visited this continent after His resurrection; thereby confirming the law of tithing with its promises to that people. In this dispensation the Lord has restored this law to the Saints; and confirmed the promises of blessings to the obedient and of His severe displeasure to the members of His church who neglect to observe it. President Lorenzo Snow has warned the Saints in most forcible language that the protecting care of heaven will be withdrawn from them if they do not in the future more faithfully pay their tithes than many have done in the past.

What We May Learn from This lesson.

1. That the law of tithing did not originate with the Levitical law; it existed as a law of God from the beginning. 2. As examples: Abraham and Jacob paid tithing of all they possessed. 3. The law of Moses required that the Israelites should pay one-tenth of all their increase of every kind. 4. That it should be paid in kind, and not changed. 5. If redeemed, an extra one-fifth should be added. 6. That the Lord claimed this one-tenth of the increase of the people as His own, and charged them with robbing Him if they neglected to pay it. 7. That He promised the Israelites numerous blessings if they observed this law. 8. That the same law of tithing has been revealed to the Latter-day Saints as was given to ancient Israel. 9. If we do not observe this law the Lord declares that this land shall not be a land of Zion unto us. 10. That this law is to be observed by God’s people not only in the land of Zion, but in all her stakes. 11. That the law of tithing is the law of God.

Questions on the Lesson.

1. What is the subject of this lesson? 2. What is a tithe? 3. To whom do we pay tithes? 4. To whom did Abraham pay tithes? 5. Who was Abraham? 6. Who was Melchisedek? 7. What covenant did Jacob make with God? 8. What do you know of the law revealed to the Israelites in the days of Moses? 9. Who asks, “Will a man rob God?” 10. Who was Malachi? 11. State some of the things that the Lord has revealed in these days regarding tithing. 12. For what purposes can the tithing be properly used? 13. To whom will this land not be a land of Zion? 14. what else does the Lord threaten if the people of His church do not observe this law?

1917: Stepping Stones to Faith (YLMIA lessons)

Lesson 9: The Principle of Tithing

“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” – Prov. 3:9-10.

Introduction. The payment of tithes was a standing law in ancient Israel. Abram gave him (Melchizedek) tithes of all. (Gen. 14:20.) And Jacob said: “of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” (Gen. 28:22.)

To Moses the Lord said: “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: It is holy unto the Lord.” (Lev. 27:30.) The Lord also said to Israel through the Prophet Malachi:

“Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me and I will return unto you,” saith the Lord of Hosts. “But ye said wherein shall we return? 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 store-house, that there may be meat in my 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 fields, saith the Lord of Hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Mal. 3:7-12. Also III Nephi 24:7-12.)

When the Gospel was restored the law of tithing was revived. In the year 1831, in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said: “Behold, now it is called to-day [until the coming of the Son of man], and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned [at His coming]; For after to-day cometh the burning: this is speaking after the manner of the Lord; for verily I say, to-morrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called to-day.” (Doc. & Cov., 64:23-25.)

The Lord further says that the names of those who do not keep this law of tithing shall not be enrolled with the people of God. (Doc. & Cov., 85:4.)

The Covenant of Tithing. The Prophet Joseph and his counselor, Oliver Cowdery on a certain occasion, were rejoicing and praising the Lord for financial relief which had been sent them, when they “agreed to enter into the following covenant with the Lord,” viz.:

That if the Lord will prosper us in our business and open the way before us that we may obtain means to pay our debts, that we be not troubled nor brought into disrepute before the world, nor His people; after that, of all that he shall give unto us, we will give a tenth to be bestowed upon the poor in His Church, as He shall command; and that we will be faithful over that which He has entrusted to our care, that we may obtain much and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant; and that our children, and our children’s children, may know of the same, we have subscribed our names with our own hands.

(signed) JOSEPH SMITH, OLIVER COWDERY

THEIR PRAYER

And now, O Father, As Thou didst prosper our father Jacob, and bless him with protection and prosperity wherever he went, from the time he made a like covenant before and with Thee; as Thou didst even the same night open the heavens unto him and manifest great mercy and power, and give him promises, wilt Thou do so with us his sons; and as his blessings prevailed above his progenitors unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, even so may our blessings prevail like his; and may Thy servants be preserved from the power and influence of wicked and unrighteous men; may every weapon formed against us fall upon the head of him who shall form it; may we be blessed with a name and a place among Thy Saints here, and Thy sanctified when they shall rest. Amen. (History of the Church, Vol. 2, page 175.)

A Word on Tithing from President Brigham Young. “In regard to this whining of the world about Brigham’s handling the tithing, I can say that he has put in ten dollars where he has taken one out of the treasury, and he has paid more tithing than any other man in the Church. Everybody should pay their tenth. A poor woman ought to pay her tenth chicken, if she has to draw out ten times its value for her support. It is all the Lord’s and we are only His stewards. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 14, page 45.)

From a Sermon by Apostle Franklin D. Richards. “The law of tithing is an obligation laid upon all the people of God. It has been so in every age, and we have no account of the prosperity and progress of God’s people without tithing being a standing law in their midst, which they continually observed. That is not all, my brethren. The church of the Lord had this among them before ever the Gentiles knew what it was to assess and collect taxes, and it is from this that they learned to do so. The law of tithing was in the household of faith, the church of God on the earth, before the old Babylonish nations were founded, and they as well as the sectarians have learned pretty much all they knew from the people of God at one time or another. Tithing is an institution which has prevailed from the beginning, and it looks to me as though it was the consideration required by the Lord – the Creator of the earth, from men who dwell upon it, as a material something by which they m ay acknowledge to him in deed and in truth, that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and by means of which they can restore to him, in the order of his appointment that which is his.” (Journal of Discourses, page 61.)

From the foregoing the Latter-day Saint girl may see that the payment of tithes is a requirement of the Church; and that great temporal, as well as spiritual blessings, are promised by the Lord to all those who observe this law. The valleys in the mountains, wherein most of our people live have been redeemed largely by the observance of this requirement.

“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; and this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion.” (Doc. & Cov., 119:6-7.)

Many Latter-day Saints believe that they owe their prosperity to the strict living of this law.

Experience of Bishop George H. Taylor. The following is told by a dear friend of the family:

“Bishop George H. Taylor and his wife, President Elmina S. Taylor came to Utah in the early days. Brother Taylor not being able to find work at his trade went to hauling wood or anything his hands found to do. On one occasion he succeeded in earning twenty-five dollars, and, of course, was correspondingly happy, as his family needed it badly. ‘But,’ Brother Taylor said to his wife, ‘we owe every cent of this for tithing.’ And so they decided that the money should go to the Lord and they would trust Him for the result.

“Shortly afterwards the way was opened whereby Brother Taylor became a partner in a prosperous lumber business which meant a continuous income.

“Brother and sister Taylor always believed that the blessing came because they gave to the Lord His portion.”

Help from a Friend. One of our well-known brethren, who lives in one of the city wards to-day, was building a house when the panic of ‘93 struck Salt Lake City. It literally shut things up for him, so that he could not proceed with his building. His house was in such a shape that it was open to the ravages of wind and storm. He was sorely perplexed and did not know where to turn for aid. One day as he was walking down Main Street, his head down, pondering over his difficulties, a friend slapped him on the shoulder, asking, “What’s the matter, old man? Can I help you? Is it financial trouble?” Finally the brother explained to him the situation.

“O cheer up,” said the friend. “I’ll loan you a thousand dollars and not charge you a cent of interest.” When telling this story the brother said: “It never would have occurred to me to ask this man to loan me money. The Lord surely must have sent him to me because I always pay my tithing.”

Spirit in Which Tithing Should Be Paid. Elder Levi Edgar Young says that while on a mission to Germany a few years ago, a certain sister came to him and laying some money on the table in a most disrespectful manner said: “Well, here’s my tithing.” to which remark Elder Young replied, handing her back the money, “Sister, you haven’t paid your tithing.” The sister went her way, but a week later came back and again offered her tithing. “Sister, do you really wish to pay this for tithing?” With tears in her eyes, she answered: “Yes, Brother Young.” The lesson had gone home – the sister realized that the Lord’s portion must be given with joy and gratitude for the privilege.

The Widow’s Mite. One sister, who was under the necessity of washing to support her children, put ten cents out of every dollar earned away for tithing, and took it to the bishop in just that form, and the bishop blessed her and so did the Lord.

And so we might continue to enumerate cases. There are thousands of Latter-day Saints who could testify that the Lord has blessed them in their basket and their store because they have honored His law; and many good people have said that they knew that nine dollars went farther for them than ten that had not been tithed.

The Latter-day Saint girl should remember that, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof,” and should begin to pay tithing as soon as she earns money. If living in the country and she raises flowers, vegetables, or chickens or does any manner of work which brings her in a revenue, she should not forget that a tenth thereof is holy unto the Lord. He claims it, it belongs to Him. She should do it honestly, willingly, gladly. The Lord loves a willing heart and cheerful giver. Her blessing will surely come and she shall have the witness of the Spirit that the Lord is pleased with her.

Questions.

1. Repeat quotation at the beginning of this lesson.
2. What did the Lord say unto Moses regarding Tithing?
3. How may a girl prove the Lord?
4. What has the Lord promised to those who are tithed?
5. In the covenant that Joseph and Oliver made with the Lord, what did they say about the children?
6. Do you think a latter-day Saint girl should pay tithing? Why?
7. How should tithing be paid in order to be acceptable unto the Lord?

1924: Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association, Senior Course of Study

Lesson 12: Tithing

Tithing Defined. tithing is one of the laws of God relating to the temporal salvation of His children but contributing also to their spiritual development. The requirement of the law calls for the giving of one-tenth of that which each individual earns as a reward of his labor. It is a just law in that more is not asked of one man than of another. It makes no provision for a tithing that is less than a tenth, either in quality or in quantity; a part of one-tenth of one’s income is a part tithing.

The observance of this law is voluntary. It is free from all coercion, therefore those who obey it should be dominated by an overwhelming desire int heir hearts to fulfil the commands of God.

Ancient Observance. The law of tithing is not a new law. Abraham paid tithes of the spoil to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-22.); Jacob covenanted with the Lord at Bethel that he would give Him one-tenth of all that the Lord should give him (Gen. 28:22.); all Israel believed that God was most pleased when they performed this sacred obligation (Lev. 27:30-34.). After the payment of their tithes they called upon Him for a blessing, saying: “Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swearest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” (Deut. 26:15.) God then covenanted with His people thus: “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.” (Deut. 267:16.)

When Christ appeared to the Nephites after His resurrection He gave them the same instructions, promises, and blessings as he had given Ancient Israel. (Mal. 3:7-12; III Nephi 24:7-12; compare these two passages of scripture.)

Revealed to Modern Israel. In the early days of the church, an attempt was made to institute the practice of the law of the United Order, but the people were not prepared to live it, so it was taken from them, and the law of tithing was given in its place. Four years prior to the issuing of this law of tithing Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery made a vow before the Lord that if he would bless them, they would yield a tithe of all that they possessed. In the year 1834, the leaders of the church found themselves in very straitened circumstances; they hardly knew where to turn for help. Joseph says:

On the evening of the 29th of November 1834 I united in prayer with Brother Oliver for the continuance of blessings. After giving thanks for the relief which the Lord had lately sent us by opening the hearts of the brethren from the East, to loan us what we needed, after communing and rejoicing before the Lord on this occasion we agreed to enter into the following covenant with the Lord, viz.: ‘that if the Lord will prosper us in our business and open the way before us that we may obtain means to pay our debts, that we be not troubled nor brought into disrepute before the world, nor His people, after that, of all that he shall give unto us, we will give a tenth to be bestowed upon the poor in His church, or as He shall command; and that we will be faithful over that which He has entrusted to our care, that we may obtain much; and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant, and that our children, and our children’s children may know of the same, we have subscribed our names with our own hands.’

Signed

Jos. Smith, Jr.
Oliver Cowdery.

After making this vow they offered the following prayer:

And now, oh Father, as Thou didst prosper our father Jacob, and bless him with protection and prosperity wherever he went, from the time he made a like covenant before and with Thee; as thou didst even the same night, open the heavens unto him and manifest great mercy and power, and give him promises, wilt Thou do so with us his sons; and as his blessings prevailed above his progenitors unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, even so may our blessings prevail like his; and may Thy servants be preserved from the power and influence of wicked and unrighteous men; may every weapon formed against us fall upon the head of him who shall form it; may we be blessed with a name and a place among Thy saints here, and Thy sanctified when they shall rest. Amen.”

The following night, November 30th, Joseph says:

While reflecting on the goodness and mercy of God this evening, a prophecy was put into our hearts, that in short time the Lord would arrange His providences in a merciful manner and send us assistance to deliver us from debt and bondage – “History of the church,” Vol. II, p. 175).

As unto Jacob of old so was the Lord merciful unto Joseph.

At Far West, Missouri, July 3, 1838, Joseph’s heart was worked upon and he knelt in payer, saying: “O Lord, show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of the people for a tithing.” After which he received the following commandment: “Verily thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property, to be put into the hands of the Bishop of my church of Zion. * * * And after that those who have been thus tithed, shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my Holy Priesthood, saith the Lord.” (Read Section 119, Doctrine and Covenants.)

Value of Tithing. Tithing is God’s law of revenue for the church. Those who obey it not only put themselves in harmony with the requirements of God, through which they receive his favor and blessings, but they also assist in maintaining the temporal interests of His kingdom. The tithing fund enables the church to build Temples, meetinghouses, suitable offices for the handling of church business, and church schools; also to sustain missions and to assist in caring for the poor, etc. It is invaluable in the building up of the Church at home and in spreading the gospel among the nations. In the revelation given to Joseph pertaining to this law, the Lord said he required it “for the building of mine house and for the laying of the foundation of Zion, and for the Priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church.” (Doc. and Cov. 119:2.) the Lord has revealed how tithing shall be cared for and managed; namely, by a Council composed of the First Presidency of the Church, the Presiding Bishopric, and the Twelve Apostles.

Blessings Following Obedience. Great promises are given unto those who are faithful in observing this law. The Lord has said, “Bring ye all the tithes into the store house 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.” (Mal. 3:10.) and further: “Honor the Lord with thy substance and with the first fruits of all thy increase; so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and the presses shall burst out with new wine.” (Prov. 3:9, 10.) In modern revelation He says: “this is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at my coming.” (Doc. and Cov. 64:23.) He has promised that He will prosper His saints in the land of Zion, that wisdom and eternal life shall be theirs, that their names shall be placed upon the records of the Church, and that they shall be counted worthy to participate in the blessings of the House of the Lord. Latter-day Saints covenant with the Lord to do His will, but if they fail to contribute their part in the building of the kingdom they break their faith with Him. It will not profit them to hold on to that which does not belong to them. The Lord says, “Seek not for riches but for wisdom.”

The observance of this law is one of the greatest factors in making consistent, faithful Latter-day Saints, for it requires a living, increasing faith. The faithful discharge of this duty will contribute to a larger soul growth and to the building of a character, which will be strong in the crisis of temptation. The evil one has no power to overthrow those who are keeping the commandments of God. No one will ever lose his testimony or turn from the path of rectitude if he will keep in the full lien of his duty, if he will pay his tithes to the Lord. This is a wonderful promise that has been made time and time again by prophets, and is well worth serious consideration.

Those who are honest with God and pay their one-tenth can testify of the blessings that come to them, through the fulfillment of this law, and that they receive wisdom, whereby they are able to utilize the remaining nine-tenths.

Every Wage Earner a Tithe Payer. All who earn money come within the law. The law not only pertains to those holding the priesthood and to parents, but it includes all the members of the Church who are wage earners. All have this privilege and all its promised blessings. As young people receive their money they should tithe it. If they are paid by the week they should tithe it at the end of the week; if they are paid by the month, they should tithe it at the end of the month. Our obligations to our Heavenly Father should be met first.

Discussion

1. Give your understanding of the principle of tithing.
2. How old is the law of tithing? Tell something of its ancient observance.
3. Relate what you can concerning the vow and prayer made by Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
4. When was the law of tithing revealed to Joseph Smith?
5. What is the ethical value of tithing?
6. What is its practical value?
7. Enumerate the promised blessings for the fulfillment of this law.
8. Being a wage earner, what is your responsibility?
9. When is the proper time to tithe?
10. Tell of President Lorenzo Snow’s efforts to encourage tithe paying. (Brief History of Church, pp. 181-183.)

1936: gospel Restoration Themes: A Handbook for Missionaries and Other Students of the Gospel

Lesson 21: The Law of Tithing (by Stephen L Richards) and Fast Day and Fast Offerings (by Charles A. Callis)

These two tracts deal with two of the vital, practical principles of the church in such a manner as to bring conviction to the readers. Brother Richards and Brother Callis are both members of the Council of the Twelve.

The Law of Tithing

My subject is tithing. I can scarcely hope to contribute a single new thought to this matter, but I have felt that the importance of it would serve to challenge your interest, and I have hoped that some good might result from a discussion of it. For some things that I may say I acknowledge indebtedness to a little volume which has recently been placed in my hands called, “Dealing Squarely with God.”

The Relationship of Money and property to Christianity

“You can usually tell the sincerity of a man’s interest in anything by the way he puts his money into it.” Indeed it has been said that the measure of a man’s Christianity may be determined by the way he gets and spends his money. It is said that Jesus had more to say about money and property, strange as it may seem, than about any other subject. In sixteen of thirty-eight of his parables money and property are made His theme.

Money and Myself

After all, “Is not money myself? Money is the medium for which men exchange their abilities, ingenuity and labor. When a man gives his money he is giving himself, and the way a man gives his money is the way he gives himself. Money is myself. I am a laboring man, we will say, and can wield a pickaxe and hire myself out for a week at two dollars a day. At the close of the week I get twelve dollars and I put it in my pocket. What is that twelve dollars? It is a week’s worth of my muscle put into greenbacks and pocketed. That is, I have got a week’s worth of myself in my pocket.” So when a man gives the money that he has earned, he is giving literally of himself. Giving is worship. We are commanded “not to appear before the Lord empty-handed.” Not that the Lord needs the gift, but that man needs to give.

Test of Faith is Giving

The first principle of religion is recognition of God – faith. The real test of that recognition is giving. By that test we may judge with accuracy the religious attitude of our country. In a recent year statistics reveal the fact that more money was spent for face powders and cosmetics; more for ice cream, soft drinks and chewing gum; more for cigarettes, respectively, than the total sum expended to support all churches. May that not be a criterion by which we may safely judge the religious attitude, the deep-set religious feeling of the people of the country? Do not the words of Malachi seem pertinent:

“Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.”

Sovereignty of God

We do not rob God by withholding our gift in the sense that we deprive him of the substance of earth. He always has that substance, never relinquishing it. But we rob him of the satisfaction and the joy that he must feel when his children respond to his mandates and open their hearts in giving and in worship. Someone has said, “God never gives a quit-claim deed, he only grants a leasehold estate, and he who receives the lease must ever return the rental.”

Bought with a Price

Now the Lord has commanded that a rental be returned for all the substance and for all the blessings which he has given to his children. Christ bought us with a price, so we are told in the scripture. Is it to be thought that we are to gain salvation without a price, without giving and paying for it? When we speak of paying in this sense we do not mean that pay which is given as if in barter, but we mean the return of substance which is committed to our stewardship and which we hold in trust for the one who has so blessed us.

Partnership with God

I like to think of the Lord as a partner because the essence of partnership is a sharing of profits. It is however indispensable in a partnership that there shall also be a sharing of the burdens of the enterprise. The honor and the satisfaction that come to one in realization that he lives his life in partnership with God is to me a lofty and exalting thought. One cannot hope to realize the profits from that venture without bearing his portion of the expense – the giving which is requisite.

Payment of Dues

The church generally is probably the only society in the world where a man is not suspended from membership for failure to pay his dues. I think that in substantially every other organized body of men for social or material gain if a man fails to pay his stipulated contribution he is dropped. While the Church does not drop from membership those who fail to pay, I feel very certain that those who fail to pay their stipulated portion automatically drop themselves from the real advantages of Church participation and the blessings that inure from activity within it.

Thrift Habits

“Prove me herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven,” speaking to those whom he had admonished to pay their tithes and offerings. What comes from the windows of heaven? Both temporal and spiritual blessings. Temporal blessings accrue largely from the cultivation of thrift habits. The payment of tithes of necessity compels an orderly arrangement of affairs. Accounting is indispensable. Budgeting is necessary. Saving follows. All of which are necessary to financial success.

Economy

it was Victor Hugo who said: “Above all, teach the children to save. Economy is the sure foundation for all virtues.” I heard a banker say not long ago that if tithing served no other purpose than to secure an orderly adjustment of one’s affairs, a budgeting of the income and expenses, it would be invaluable. I feel sure that he who pays his tithes not only has a better conception of economy, but he is indulging in a practice which will bring him into better thrift habits and enable him to go forward toward financial prosperity.

Spiritual Power

Observance of tithing brings spiritual power, and after all that to me is the main thing. Religion is more than mere repose or relaxation. It is positive spiritual exercise. It makes for the growth of the soul, it cultivates all of the virtues. So one who is serious about religion will be willing to give to it the things which are vital to himself.

Honesty

One who is honest with God is apt to be honest with his neighbor and with his employer. The need of honesty is attested everywhere and particularly in our own communities by defalcations, the extent and magnitude of which make us all blush with shame, I can scarcely conceive of a man who is honest with his God not being honest with his fellow man, and I can well advocate the payment of our tithing in a straightforward, square, honest way as being a safe foundation 9on which to build those principles of integrity that shall make honest men and women in the community.

Need of the Tithe

The need of the tithe in the prosecution of God’s work must be apparent to all of you. There are so many avenues in which sums may be expended to promote the work that I can scarcely take time to mention them. Not long ago I had the privilege of traveling in one of the missions of the Church. I was delighted to observe that in many rural sections which are not in the van of our progress and civilization the Church has caused to be erected inexpensive but beautiful small chapels. I could well conceive the influence that these chapels might exert not only in the furtherance of our religious views, but in their effect on the home life, the community life, the habits and practices of the people. These little chapels were clean and orderly, and I am sure they will bring an inspiration to many hundreds of home-owners to clean up their establishments, to live in an orderly and more beautiful way. If the church were endowed with sufficient means these little chapels could be extended throughout the whole land and would bring wonderfully beneficent results.

Use of Tithing Funds

With our temples large sums of money are required. Think of the great work of redemption there performed. Our whole missionary cause is, in large measure, dependent upon the financial support that comes to the Church and also that which comes to those who are called on missions. There is a very definite relation between the finances of our people and the propagation of the Gospel of Christ. There is a very definite relation between missionary work and debt. I propose this constructive principle of the Gospel embraced in the law of tithing as a solution for many of our financial problems, as a foundation upon which men may build to bring themselves in a position to accept the calls that come to them to spread the great truths which are committed to our custody.

Enjoyment of Tithe-Paying

Every man who pays his tithing should enjoy it. The Gospel of Christ is a gospel of enjoyment. “Man is that he may have joy.” When one pays his tithing without enjoyment he is robbed of a part of the blessing. He must learn to give cheerfully, willingly and joyfully, and his gift will be blessed. In order that he may receive more enjoyment he needs to pay more frequently. Why deprive oneself of the joy that comes from this voluntary giving until the end of the year, when by payments throughout the year we may increase and enhance not only the joy of our giving but the practice of it.

Monthly Payments

I have found it to be a very difficult problem in mathematics to pay one-tenth out of one-twelfth. I commend that thought to those who are receiving monthly stipends and who indulge the practice of paying their tithing at the close of the year. I am sure you will find it very difficult indeed to get the tenth out of the twelfth if your tithing remains for payment until the last month. I can heartily recommend to you the payment of your tithes as your funds come into your hands, not only because it will be easier, but because greater blessings will inure to you.

Consecration

We consecrate our lives in this Church to the advancement of the cause of God. There is no higher evidence of that consecration than this giving which has been enjoined upon us by the Lord. “He who gives himself with his gift feeds three – himself, his hungering neighbor and me.” So the law of tithing is the epitome of the Gospel. It is genuine worship and true recognition of the sovereignty of God. It is real consecration, the giving of the muscle and energy of life to the cause, and it begets the abundant life of love and service for which the Christ came. It is a measurement of true religion. By the extent of its observance every man may determine for himself the vitality of his own faith and love of God. A prophet has said, “the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” It will be holy unto you, men and women of Israel, if you give it lovingly, joyfully, willingly, to the great cause. God help us so to do, I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Fast Day and Fast Offerings

“Remember the poor,” was the counsel Peter, James and John gave to the Apostle Paul, “the same which I also was forward to do,” he said. (Gal. 2:10.)

The Worthy Poor

The duty is laid upon us to imaprt of our substance to the worthy poor, and this duty will continue, “For the poor always ye have with you.” (John 12:8.)

The Fast Day

“The Saints are instructed by the authority of the priesthood, which directs their activities, to hold the first Sunday in every month as a fast day. Fast meetings are held on that day in every ward in the Church, to which the Saints gather, fasting and praying, and testifying before the Lord, of His goodness to them. On that day, every member of the Church is requested to observe the fast. The biblical fast was from sundown to sundown. This fast of twenty-four hours in entirely satisfactory to the Lord, but the Presidency of His Church has instructed all members that if they do not fast for that full length of time, that they should at least abstain from eating two meals on the first Sunday of each month. This requirement may be easily kept by the weakest of the Saints, or of those who can be called Saints. … The instruction from the Presidency of the Church to its membership is, that on each fast day they should abstain from eating at least two meals, and that the value of the food which would be consumed in these two meals should be contributed as a fast day donation for the benefit of the poor.” – President Charles W. Nibley.

Fast and Pray

By fasting, which produces a craving and a desire for food, the soul is drawn out to the hungry. The desire for food and the weakness that follows hunger causes us to keenly sense the needs of the poor. It brings us into close sympathy with the needy and moves us to help them. “Give yourselves to fasting and prayer.” (I Cor. 7:5.)

A Religious Duty

The practice of abstaining from food, at least from two meals, on the fast day, which usually extends from the evening of Saturday to the afternoon of Sunday, should be regarded as a religious duty. The fast day meetings should be held regularly. The Saints will receive spiritual strength in standing on their feet, bearing testimony of the truth of the Gospel and testifying of the blessings which they have received from the Lord. These fast meetings are blessed by “the pure testimony poured forth in the Spirit.”

A Whole Fast

To drink water on fast day to satisfy the craving for food is breaking the fast; but the partaking of the sacrament in the Sunday School is not regarded as breaking the fast.

Paying Fast Offerings

The Saints who are members of an organized branch of the Church should pay their fast offerings to the branch president, or the one whom he has appointed to receive this free will offering. The members living in the country, outside of organized branches, should send their fast offerings to Mission headquarters, or give it to the elders to send in, if they are there.

Open Thine Hand Wide

We are told in the scriptures that the Lord heareth the poor. (Ps. 69:33.) He will satisfy the poor with bread. (Ps. 132:15.) he that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord. (Prov. 19:17.) The poor have complained before him. (D. and C. 38:16.) When we impart of our substance unto the poor, we do it unto the Lord. (D. & C. 42:31.) We must remember the poor. (D. & C. 42:30.) “Thou shall open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” (Deut. 15:11.)

How to Fast

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. 6:16, 17, 18.)

The Proper Fast

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry l.. And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day.” (Isa. 58:6-10.)

Gives Us Humility

Fasting in the season thereof improves the health speedily. It humbles the spirit and gives humility of mind by undoing the burden of pride. It helps us to break every yoke that oppresses the spirit and which prevents us from drawing near to the Lord. And when we are humble we are in a state of mind to receive the favor of God. Remember the poor.

1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley

Chapter 42: THE LAW OF TITHING (Section 119)

Why Instituted

We know of no better statement as to why the Lord revealed the law of tithing than that made by President Joseph F. Smith at the general conference of the Church in April, 1900. “Why the Law of Tithing Was Instituted – The Lord revealed to his people in the incipiency of his work a law which was more perfect than the law of tithing. It comprehended larger things, greater power, and a more speedy accomplishment of the purposes of the Lord. But the people were unprepared to live by it, and the Lord, out of mercy to the people, suspended the more perfect law [the law of consecration and stewardship], and gave the law of tithing, in order that there might be means in the storehouse of the Lord for the carrying out of the purposes he had in view; for the gathering of the poor, for the spreading of the gospel to the nations of the earth, for the maintenance of those who were required to give their constant attention, day in and day out, to the work of the Lord, and for whom it was necessary to make some provision. Without this law these things could not be done, neither could temples be built and maintained, nor the poor fed and clothed. Therefore the law of tithing is necessary for the Church, so much so that the Lord has laid great stress upon it.” (GD, p. 282.)

“The law of tithing, is a test by which the people as individuals shall be proved. Any man who fails to observe this principle shall be known as a man who is indifferent to the welfare of Zion, who neglects his duty as a member of the church, and who does nothing toward the accomplishment of the temporal advancement of the kingdom of God. He contributes nothing, either, towards spreading the gospel to the nations of the earth, and he neglects to do that which would entitle him to receive the blessings and ordinances of the gospel.” (GD, p. 283.)

Promises Made

Quoting President Joseph F. Smith again: “No doubt, a good deal more could be read from the scriptures in relation to this principle of tithing, which God has revealed to us in this dispensation, and which he requires at our hands, that we may sanctify, by obedience to his law, this land that it may become indeed a land of Zion unto us; and the promise is, that if we will obey the laws of God, if we will put our trust in him, if we will draw near unto him, he will draw near unto us, and he will reward us with his favor and his blessing. He will rebuke the devourer, and he will cause that the earth shall be fruitful, that it shall yield in its strength to the husbandman, the tiller of the soil, and to the herder of flocks. He will increase his kine, and will prosper him upon the right hand and upon the left, and he shall have an abundance, because he puts his trust in God; he draws near unto him, and he is willing to prove him, to see whether he will not open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings upon him that he shall not have room to contain them. Let every man who has received the gospel of Jesus Christ receive this saying, and harken to these words, for all they are worth. Some men may esteem them lightly, and those who do will, without doubt, fail to draw near, they will neglect to prove the Lord, they will not fulfil the commandments that he has given, and they will never know that God tells the truth, and that he is able to fulfil his word and promise unto his people when they are willing to obey and keep his law. While they who appreciate these promises, who obey these laws that were given anciently, and have been renewed again in the dispensation of the fullness of times, for the blessing of the people, for the building up of Zion, for the feeding of the widow and the orphan, or the spreading of the gospel of Christ to the nations of the earth, and for the gathering of the people from the four quarters of the earth, those who harken to these words, prize them as the truth, and apply them in their practice throughout their lives, will come to know that God is a rewarder of those who diligently serve him, and that he is able to fulfil his promises unto them.” (GD, pp. 283, 284.)

A Measure of a Man’s Faith

The foregoing are the comforting and encouraging words of the mouthpiece of the Lord, and all who read them with a humble heart will feel the force and influence which marks the truth. We say without reservation that the conscientious tithe payers of this Church are not or never have been distinguished for their poverty, and we all know that there are blessings which are far greater than any material blessings. Tithing is a good measure of a man’s faith, his confidence in the word of the Lord. The Lord does not say that if you will give him one dollar, he will give you ten. If that were the case, the least deserving would be the first to see the bishop. However, he does promise that those who observe this law will be blessed, that he will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings which they will not have room to contain. The payment of tithing increases one’s faith in the Almighty, it enlarges one’s soul, it helps one to overcome covetousness, greed, selfishness and all those sins which were so abominable in the sight of the Savior. It contributes to spiritual growth. It brings a sense of security and peace. One feels that he is in partnership with the Lord whose word never fails. The man who neglects to pay his tithing is not cut off from the Church, but he denies himself blessings infinitely greater than material things.

To ancient Israel the Lord said through the prophet Malachi: “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.” (Malachi 3:9, 10.)

It is important for parents to teach their children this principle. It is also important to pay one’s tithing in the season thereof. Some defer it to the last month; and, as a banker once said, it is very hard to pay one-tenth of one’s income with one-twelfth of it.

“One thing is required at the hands of this people, and to understand which there is no necessity for receiving a commandment every year, viz.: to pay their tithing. I do not suppose for a moment, that there is a person in this Church, who is unacquainted with the duty of paying tithing, neither is it necessary to have revelation every year upon the subject. …” (DBY, p. 269.)

Prosperity Comes to Those Who Obey the Law

“The law of financial prosperity to the Latter-day Saints, under covenant with God, is to be an honest tithe payer, and not to rob the Lord in tithes and offerings. Prosperity comes to those who observe the law of tithing. When I say prosperity I am not thinking of it in terms of dollars and cents alone, although as a rule the Latter-day Saints who are the best tithe payers are the most prosperous men, financially. But what I call as real prosperity, as the one thing of all others that is of great value to every man and woman living, is the growth in a knowledge of God, and in a testimony, and in the power to live the gospel and to inspire our families to do the same.” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 58.)

“The history of ancient Israel, as given in the Old Testament, evidences that the law of tithing was in force from Abraham until their destruction as a nation. That it was a perpetual law of the Priesthood, and did not pertain, exclusively, to the Mosaic dispensation, is apparent from the fact that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20) and that Jacob covenanted to give a tenth to the Lord. They lived before Moses.

“In the present dispensation, the law of tithing was revived, and the keeping of that law is one of the first duties of the Latter-day Saints. September 11, 1831, about eighteen months after the organization of the church, the Lord, through Joseph, the Seer, made this important declaration. Speaking after the manner of the Lord, he called ‘today,’ from the giving of the revelation until the coming of the Son of Man, and said, ‘Verily, it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at His coming. For after today cometh the burning,’ that is, at the coming of the Son of Man, ‘for verily I say, tomorrow’ – that is, at the Lord’s coming – ‘all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts.” (D&C 64:23, 24.)

“In this declaration we are assured that all who call themselves the Lord’s people, and do not pay their tithing, will find their portion among the wicked at His coming, and will share their fate. In section 85:3, the Lord reiterates the fact that it is necessary that His people shall be tithed, ‘to prepare them against the day of vengeance and burning.’

The Names of Those Who Do Not Keep This Law of Tithing Shall Not Be Enrolled with the People of God

“‘Neither is their genealogy to be kept, or to be had where it may be found on any of the records or history of the Church. Their names shall not be found, neither the names of the fathers, nor the names of the children written in the book of the law of God, saith the Lord of Hosts.’ (85:4, 5.) …

“The law of tithing, as embodied in the revelations referred to, [in Sec. 119], is an immutable decree of Jehovah to His people, and admits of no evasion by those who would enjoy the blessings of the faithful on the land of Zion, or be classed among the righteous, and avoid the burning at the coming of our Lord.” (Principles of the Gospel, pp. 174-177.)

Joseph Fielding Smith states: “In the stead of this higher law [the law of consecration], the Lord gave to the Saints a schoolmaster, as he did ancient Israel to teach them and bring them to the fulness of the gospel of Christ. This is the law of tithing. But it should be understood that the law of consecration has never been abrogated or set aside, which is, that we shall love him above all else and be willing to lay down our lives or forsake all that we have or hold dear for his sake, if it should be required. …

“Tithing, the lesser law given instead of this united order, is just as much a requirement of the Saints as any other law, if we would obtain exaltation. No man is forced to pay one-tenth of that which he receives, but no man is entitled to the blessings of the celestial kingdom who refuses to pay his honest tithing, and who has tithing to pay. …

“Does any man think that he can violate the law of tithing – the paying of one-tenth of his increase or income, and do this year after year, and then be prepared to enter into the ‘united order’ and accept the full law of consecration, when Christ comes? Verily no! If a man will not pay tithing he shall not have the privilege of entering into the higher law which belongs to the celestial kingdom. (D&C 64:23.) The parable of the ten virgins presents the condition which shall prevail in the kingdom of heaven (Church) when Christ comes. Some will be ready through the performance of good works and obedience to the words of the Father, others will not be ready because they have failed, and they shall be shut out, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (WP, pp. 276, 277.)

1950: Parent and Child, by Edith Bowen

Lesson 36: Tithing

The philosophy of progress inherent in Mormonism is among the things that make it a great religion. In its plan it comprehends advancement. Even the Eternal Father is a progressive Being. He has advanced from the stage in which man now is to stage of perfection almost incomprehensive to man. The hope is held out to man that through intelligent effort he may become as God is.

As man is God once was; as God is man may become. (Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, Vol. 54, 1892, p. 404.)

Jesus thought of perfection as a goal toward which man may aspire:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48.)

His great Sermon on the Mount is a recital of some of the means by which man may move toward the goal – giving the spirit ascendency over carnal desires. When we consider the opposite dominance at birth, which has been discussed in earlier lessons in this course, we know that the striving to change some of our natural inclinations is a gradual process covering a life span.

If we take seriously a striving toward perfection, one of the things we have to tackle is overcoming the selfishness to which we are prone. Nowhere does man show less ethical sensitivity than in clinging tenaciously to his childhood propensity to want all for self. Could it be that God instituted the law of tithing in the Church to provide a situation that would help to educate man out of selfishness into more concern for others?

This law touches man in a spot where he is most vulnerable. It is almost the acid test of his desire for membership in the church. It is on this point that man can make more alibis, perhaps, than on any other. “The Church is rich; why should I pay tithing?” “I need it worse than the Church does.” “I don’t approve of the way the money is spent.” “I have too many places to put my money.”

Personal education of the spirit is primary in keeping the law of tithing. Man can get so penurious that his soul becomes pinched. He can pay his tithes and offerings and still have a pinched soul if he does so grudgingly, assuming that he is benefiting only someone else. True he is doing that, but he is cheating himself if he gets no expansion of heart.

A material bargaining attitude actuates some people to tithe-paying. The commandment spoken through Malachi states:

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 the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10.)

A narrow interpretation of this scripture as a mere exchange of material gifts, with man getting the better of the bargain is, to say the least, beneath the dignity of man. Blessings do indeed follow upon tithe-paying. But they need not be material to be of great worth. A blessing is none the less real that ministers to the soul, enlarging its capacity to include others in its concern.

This brings us to the secondary purpose of observing the law of tithing – “That there may be meat in mine house,” says the commandment. No organization can get along without means to run it. Tithing is the source of revenue for the Church. Almost everyone would concede that the tone of a community is raised by the churches it supports. Religious influence does more for more people than any other influence outside of the homes. Even those who do not attend church themselves would probably not willingly choose to live where there is no church – its cultural contribution is too well understood. Those who do not accept its services directly are indirect beneficiaries of them. All church members should willingly pay for the benefits they receive. The law of tithing is a just law, since each is asked to pay only according to his income; the mite discharges the obligation as fully as the large amount.

As is the case in the formation of any habits we wish to perpetuate, that of paying tithing should be begun in childhood. It is a relatively easy principle to teach to children. Give them the word of God on it both in former times and in the present day. Help them to sense that it is not a gift to the Church, but a debt they contract for when they become members of the Church; that man is the recipient of all the bounties of creation; that a small portion of his earnings is required to build the kingdom of God; and that he may be a partner in this great cause. The child will be impressed with this forceful language:

Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and in offerings. (Malachi 38.)

Verse 10 from the same chapter would be a good memory acquisition for a child when this question is discussed. An adult, who has a broad conception of the value of tithing, is grateful that she was introduced early in life to this scripture.

Bring to children’s attention the many services offered by the Church that we would be unable to have but for our willingness to be tithed.

“Mother, will you put this 35 cents away for my tithing?” asked a ten-year-old boy when he had been paid for some work he had done.

“I must pay $10 for tithing today; I got the $100 for my summer’s work yesterday,” said a boy in his teens. These boys had been taught the principle of tithing and also the time to pay it – the first fast day after it has been earned.

What has been said of the personal value and the institutional need of tithe-paying, can be said with equal force in the paying of fast offerings. There are these differences, however, that should be taught to children: tithing is paid out of what is earned through work or received by gift, while fast offerings are paid through what is saved by foregoing a meal or meals, depending upon the age and state of health and the purpose for which the contributions are made.



8 Comments »

  1. Hi Ardis,

    For my class next week, I’d like to spend a little time on how tithing was observed in the 19th century. I’m interested in how the saints gave their surplus property and then 10 percent of thier interest as dictated in D&C 119. What did that mean for the saints?

    Also, I read in Arrington’s “The Mormon Experience” that Fast Sundays were the highest attended sacrament meetings of the month. That was surprising to me given the complaints I frequently hear from others.

    So do you have any additional info on that stuff?

    Comment by Easton — May 4, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  2. Easton, the expectation that a convert would tithe his existing property upon baptism was not a very long-lived practice. It ended before the move to Utah, the period with which I am most familiar, and I can’t tell you without researching (something i can’t really do right now) more about that.

    Fast Days for most of the 19th century were actually Thursdays rather than Sundays. That often comes as a surprise to people. (If Arrington actually mentions Fast Sundays in this context, then he is talking about the very end of the century.) A testimony meeting was held in the early afternoon, after which the fasting people went home to dinner. Farmers and other physical laborers saved their lightest work for that day, if possible, because, fasting, they didn’t have the usual strength for working. If Fast Day services were especially well attended, I wonder if that didn’t have something to do with their popularity — the day was already a kind of half-holiday. A cynic might say that fasting and attending meetings was a way of getting out of work; one more focused on a faithful living of Mormon life might say that the Fast Meeting was the culmination of the fast, turning the practice from a mundane skipping of meals to a sacrament.

    Fast Day was changed from Thursday to Sunday when Mormondom needed to accommodate the outside world to a greater extent — city workers, and workers of any kidn employed by others, had little freedom to take off on Thursday to attend to religious duties.

    Members who paid their tithing “in kind” by donating livestock or agricultural products or firewood or fodder without converting it into cash delivered their goods to their bishops in small communities, or to the Tithing House in Salt Lake (most small communities had some facility, whether it was a barn and stockyard or granary or other warehouse) to store such donations until they were distributed to the needy, used to pay church bills, spoiled, or otherwise disposed of. Tithepayers were given credit on the books for the dollar value of their donations.

    The preferred tithing donation for much of the 19th century was wheat — a bushel of wheat had a fixed value as solid as gold, and of course it stored well. You could pay your wheat into the storehouse in Salt Lake (not just for tithing, but as a form of paying into the bank) and withdraw wheat from the storehouse in, say, Cedar City.

    Caring for tithing occupied a huge amount of a bishop’s time, and bishops were allowed a sort of stipend for their own labors and those of a clerk in accounting for and caring for tithing donations.

    In a near cashless society, as utah was for much of the 19th century, you might pay or be paid by means of “tithing scrip,” paper receipts for a certain dollar value that could only be redeemed at the Tithing Office (well, you might also use them in other financial transactions, if you could get someone to accept them).

    You read some stories in church history about fathers, like David O. McKay’s, who insisted that the best of their hay or eggs or whatever be paid as tithing. That wasn’t always the case — people being people, just as you see today when people donate to the food bank all the dusty, dented cans of stuff they wouldn’t eat themselves, a lot of people in the 19th century paid their tithing with rancid butter, spoiled beef, or wilted produce. If I were teaching this lesson (my co-teacher is), I had planned to use this quotation from Ned Desaules, who was “donated” to the St. George Temple as a carpenter to work off the labor assessed to his United Order community. He wrote to his aunt in Salt Lake on April 25, 1876:

    “I work without pay, and I depend on the good Saints for my support and the means to clothe myself. At present my board is not of the best, and my clothes will soon be all worn out. But I am patient. Although it seems to me that when you work for the good Lord you work for a poor payer, seeing that he receives nothing for tithing except a little flour, some bad butter and a little meat. There are so few Saints who pay their tithing as they ought to. I have had to sell all my things for practically nothing in order to have lamp oil and envelopes. But after all, I need to have patience and keep up hope for better times when he will stir the hearts of the Saints and cause them to be more generous toward those who work for the glory of the Lord.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 4, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  3. Ardis – No additional research!? You so deftly saw right through my attempts to get you to plan my lesson. Thank you for that info, especially the final quote. What a great human touch.

    Comment by Easton — May 4, 2009 @ 1:58 pm

  4. Was there any indication that the brethren, or even the members had any misgivings about making tithing a requirement for temple entrance in 1881?

    I imagine that some in the Church might have seen this as placing a financial requirement for entrance to the temple, which would have been an affront to certain scriptural interpretations.

    Comment by Easton — May 5, 2009 @ 8:03 am

  5. I am unaware of any misgivings, Easton, among church members who were actually going to the temple. Of course, I haven’t read every private diary where a private misgiving might have been recorded, and certainly tithing was THE thing, second only to polygamy, which was attacked as unjust and unAmerican by editors and politicians, but I don’t know of any public dissent or discomfort by believing Mormons.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 5, 2009 @ 8:43 am

  6. Interesting. I didn’t know that tithing was considered unAmerican to the outside (Utah) world. Where would I find more info on that? How was that considered scandalous?

    As an aside, I apologize if I’m taking too much of your time. I seem to be the only one interested in this presently.

    Comment by Easton — May 5, 2009 @ 9:37 am

  7. I just wish I had better answers —

    Tithing was one of those things outsiders harped on as unAmerican because they pretended it was extracted by force from little people who couldn’t afford to pay it, and used to support despots and tyrants in luxury while those despots and tyrants plotted their treason against the U.S. For samples of the rhetoric, you can probably find some by going to Utah Digital Newspapers and searching for the word “tithing.” Go directly to the hits that come from the Salt Lake Tribune in the 19th century, and you’ll no doubt find some doozies.

    I don’t remember offhand where you would find this in published sources, but check your book indexes and google around for the story of the 1870 income tax fight between Brigham Young and the federal tax assessor John P. Taggart. Taggart calculated the value of everything produced in Utah Territory in 1869, figured one-tenth of that, and assessed it to Brigham Young as if he had received a full tithe of everything owned by Mormon and non-Mormon, as his *personal* income. Ridiculous as that was, it was a serious claim that had to be fought, and fought hard. Even when Taggart’s superiors in Washington told him he was crazy, he continued to try to collect tax on what he insisted BY must have received as tithing.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 5, 2009 @ 10:00 am

  8. Great stuff. Thanks again, Ardis.

    Comment by Easton — May 6, 2009 @ 9:38 am

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