Zelophehad’s Daughters

Tithing Workaround

Posted by Apame

I love the idea of tithing.  It reminds me that money is just money–and if I can’t give it away then I don’t own it, it owns me.  It’s a wonderful reminder to set aside a percentage of my income to help those around me who are in a rough patch.  It makes me a better person to think outside of myself and fight any latent financial greediness that might creep up on me in the long term.

At the same time, I’ve had a complex relationship with tithing the past three years.  

Some background: I have told my husband that the money he earns can be tithed in whatever way he feels is right, and that I would tithe my own income according to my own convictions.

Usually, during these past three years, my conviction has been that I would not give my tithing directly to the church via slip and envelope–mostly because I felt uncomfortable with the possibility that my money could be used to financially support certain things that I find spiritually wrong and in much need of change.  Instead, I have been taking approximately that same 10% and donating it anonymously to a particular family who was struggling or a particular cause that I felt inspired to contribute to.

At first, I thought I would feel incredibly guilty about this, even though I knew I couldn’t bring myself to use the slip-envelope route anymore.  I was afraid that I would feel guilt if I did, and guilt if I didn’t!  Double bind!

However, to my surprise, I really haven’t felt guilt or shame at all (caveat: except for if and when my mother asks me pointed and specific questions that make me feel forced to hedge).  On the contrary, I’ve felt more in touch with the principle of tithing than I ever have in my entire life.   I think part of it is the knowledge that it truly is my very own absolute and very conscious choice–devoid of feeling obligated to do it because I have to or just because it was the thing that “is done”.

Also, I’ve really had some wonderful experiences in the process of finding worthy causes and this has made me more open, to use my native Mormon parlance, to “promptings of the holy spirit.”  I feel, often, that my money may actually be helping many people faster and more directly than it could have if I had given via slip-and-envelope.  It has been a good, humbling, bright three years.

Another interesting outcome of this system, for me, has been the realization that I no longer expect these donations of mine to give me any sort of “security” blessings.  (I’ll let you judge for yourself if you think that’s good or bad.  I think it was good for me, personally, for the following reasons.)  We often hear or read articles in the Ensign about how, if one pays tithing to the church, they will be given a (probable) guarantee that they won’t starve/lose their house/be unemployed anymore.  I am, in no way, trying to say that these miracles don’t happen–but I do know that they aren’t a guarantee either.  Not by a long shot.

I think that when I used to slip-and-envelope tithe, I always had that possibility in the back of my mind:  “I’m giving this, but I’m totally going to get it all back in some way–whether financially or “blessings”-y.  Maybe with interest!”     This, ironically, actually made me more selfish and greedy, I think, since I expected to not actually have to lose any “net” income/blessings in the long run.  Sometimes, I think, I even saw it as an investment plan.  This is an easy trap that I believe many can fall into with some of the rhetoric that can surround this principle.

Now, however, I find that my donations are anonymous and freely given and nothing more.  I don’t expect to get any tithing settlement pat on the back like I used to, for example.  This has been a good paradigm shift for me.  A difficult one at times, but a good one.

Again, if you feel like I’m trying to say that anyone who pays tithing the traditional way has these same faults that I did, then please know that’s not what I’m saying.  I’m sure that there are many people who pay tithing to the church and never get any sort of “I get a gold star” feeling when they run through their contributions with their bishop (like I did).  On the contrary, it probably makes a lot of really good people kind of uncomfortable, I’d imagine.  I’m just being honest about how I felt and thought and I think that perhaps I may not be completely alone.

I’m also not meaning to degrade anyone else’s experience with “traditional” tithing payment.  I can totally get how many people find it similarly enlightening, an incredibly good cause (perhaps even the greatest cause), and a spiritual practice that makes them stronger.  If the slip-and-envelope is your cup-of-tea, then kudos to you.  Really.

But, if you’re someone like me who has needed, at some point or another, to find a “tithing workaround,” then I’m curious about what your solutions and experiences were.  I’m wondering if I’m just a really, crazy-weird character or if this “personalization” might actually be more common.  So:

Have you ever “personalized” (for lack of a better word) your tithing practices?  How did you structure your tithe?  For what reason did you create a workaround from the official routes?  What was your experience with your workaround?  

50 Responses to “Tithing Workaround”

  1. 1.

    By donating to a family in need, isn’t that more in line with what a fast offering is for?

  2. 2.

    Interesting idea. How do you handle tithing settlement? And taxes?

  3. 3.

    jm: I’m treating my contribs as both fast offering and tithing–as according to how I understand tithing (money used to help good causes). interested in your experiences though!

    annegb: I’m honest in tithing settlement. I claim the donations I make to organizations that are tax deductible. Pretty straight forward. Though, my tax deductions have never actually mattered since the standard deduction has always been more than my itemized deduction. (If we had a child, we would be, what is technically called, “impoverished.”) So goes the life of the academic. ;-)

  4. 4.

    While I still feel happy with my tithing money going to the Church, I have become more comfortable in using my fast offerings for other causes.

    We had a wonderful experience with our bishop at tithing settlement in December. For some reason, I felt the need to explain something I found weird about how we paid tithing this last year, and the bishop shushed me and said, “I have never actually looked at the amount or frequency on the tithing sheets of individual members, and I never will. All I want is for you to tell me if you believe you have given a full tithe.”

  5. 5.

    Ben: I totally love that! (Your fast offering idea and your bishop’s response.)

    I really hope to someday go back to paying tithe direct to the church, but I think I’ll think about the fast offering thing as perhaps a more flexible option too.

  6. 6.

    I don’t have anything to contribute, Apame, but I really like how you’ve outlined the potential benefits of not tithing to the Church. (Somewhat of a tangent, but it seems like tithing is exactly the type of commandment that’s most likely to get warped by the Church. The money itself is crucial to the organization, so the organization naturally focuses on it a lot, regardless of how important a commandment it might be for our own development. I like how your approach pulls the two aspects apart.)

  7. 7.

    Thanks Ziff–I think that the potential for warping is a very important topic that really needs to be talked about too. I could understand someone who chooses to not tithe to the church for that reason only. It’s a very fine blade for a spiritual organization to walk.

  8. 8.

    “mostly because I felt uncomfortable with the possibility that my money could be used to financially support certain things that I find spiritually wrong and in much need of change. ”

    What are these things?

  9. 9.

    interesting. we have converted to online tithing payments this past year directly to headquarters, and i’m much more comfortable not having the ward clerks handle/know payment amounts. another nice thing is that through LDS philanthropies, you can designate exactly how much of your contribution goes to well-water initiatives, newborn healthcare, etc, instead of the more vague categories on the slip.

  10. 10.

    Ooh, I love this topic because I required a ‘workaround’ as well. During a desperate time when God seemed to disappear, I thought that if I became extremely ascetic, God would notice my devotion and break his silence. One of my methods was paying 15 % tithing, plus fast offerings. It actually made me a little crazy, and also very judgemental. When I’d hear about people who only paid tithing on net, I’d feel angry that they didn’t need to sacrifice as much as I did but still had evidence of God’s presence.

    I do realize I didn’t *have* to do this, but at the time I was very orthodox and had always gone along with the ‘a followed commandment = blessing’ mentality, like you describe. This caused some problems (like a faith crisis!) when, surprise surprise, my asceticism did not bring what I expected.

    Now, I give money directly to charities, families in need, or even my siblings at university instead of to the church. I too love the idea of setting money aside for others as a way to open our hearts because I really think it changes how I view money. However, I do hope we shift away from the ‘guaranteed blessing’ mentality as a way to encourage tithe payers.

  11. 11.

    Anita, that is an excellent point.

  12. 12.

    Apame, thanks for posting this. My husband and I have been talking about tithing lately. I want to talk to him about maybe doing something similar to what you’ve described, but I am not sure how to find organizations to donate to where the money will do the most good (won’t go towards administrative salaries, etc). How did you go about finding “causes” that won’t waste your money? If you’ve found some organizations that are good, would you mind telling what they are?

  13. 13.

    Whitney there are web sites such as Charity Navigator that rate charities based on how open they are about their finances and how much of the money donated goes to the cause supported (and not to administrative overhead):

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/

  14. 14.

    Do you think that paying 10% towards sometime besides the Church tithing fund still allows one to keep their TR?

  15. 15.

    I would like to echo Ben P’s comments from #4. The first tithing settlement with my current bishop, he asked if I was a full tithe-payer. I answered “yes”. That was it. I had not made a single contribution through the ward envelope process that year, and my summary showed that. He had not looked at my slip, or if he did, he did not remember or care what it said.

    I know this because we have since discussed donating stock directly to the church (this is how I tithe) and he had no idea that it could be done like that. The bottom line: the bishop wants you to declare your tithing status. That is it. If the clerks help you reconcile your many donations at the end of the year at the same time, that is OK too.

  16. 16.

    This is sort of like when a single person stands up at the basketball game, it works great, she can see the action much better. But if everyone stands up at the basketball game, there is no advantage to standing up.

    So if a handful of Saints do tithing workarounds as a matter of principle, that’s fine. But if everyone does it, pretty soon there’s no more money to pay the utilities of the buildings that we use, etc.

  17. 17.

    My views have undergone a bit of a change over the last few years. I generally approach it this way – at the end of each year, if I have more in my bank account than I did at the beginning, the difference is my increase, and that’s what gets tithed.

    In practical terms, that difference is often negative, leaving me with no increase at all, so what I do is set a monthly allowance that I donate to a charity I feel is doing important work. (Love 146 is the one I currently donate to.)

    Currently, I have just stopped caring about numbers and percents, income and increase. I give what I can where I can and where it is needed. The only real regulation is that anything I spend on frivolous things shouldn’t exceed what I am giving to people in real need.

    I know that that might not work for everyone, but trading what (for me) was an obligation in favor of (again, for me) a truly free-will offering has worked wonders.

    As far as giving it to the church, I don’t. Closed book finances, 3 billion dollars spent on a mall and 130ish million spent on charitable donations, tithing being a temple recommend question – all these things lead me to wonder if the Corporation is really using sacred funds in the best way possible. I reserve the possibility that there might come a sudden need for massive wealth to effect a great good in the world, but my doubts outweigh that thought.

    Great post – glad to see I am not alone in seeking a creative and well-fitted approach to giving of one’s substance.

  18. 18.

    Anita, how do you pay tithing online directly to HQ?

  19. 19.

    “I have told my husband that the money he earns can be tithed in whatever way he feels is right, and that I would tithe my own income according to my own convictions.”

    Well, if that works for you. But I would not be comfortable married to someone who tells me something about where our money goes. We discuss it and agree to whatever. Maybe you did discuss it and agreed, but what was written for us comes across as a unilateral declaration.

    Also, the notion that one person has more right to spend the money that they happen to earn can be destructive to full partnership in marriage. Earning cash is just one way to contribute to the family’s net worth.

  20. 20.

    I have never done a tithing work around. Never been bothered with the idea of local members of the Church (clerks, counselors, Bishops, Stake Presidencies – if they wanted) knowing the amount of my contributions. I have no problem with people paying in ways other than cash or check (like stocks, bonds, real property, precious metals, etc.). I think it’s wonderful if people want to pay Church HQ directly.

    But, my reading of the scriptures leads me to believe tithing is paid to the Church; historically to Melchizedek (don’t believe he needed the money) by Abraham, or to the Levites under Mosaic law, or to the “storehouse;” or “put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion.”

    I think your experiences of finding others to help are genuinely beneficial to you. More of us should do that. But, I don’t think that meets the definition of tithing.

    I could be wrong.

  21. 21.

    Naismith: First, your comment isn’t in line with the questions the post asks. I’m interested in your personal experiences with tithing “personalization,” though.

    Second, though I can tell that you’re taking care to offer me the benefit of the doubt (for assuming that I rule my marriage/husband with an iron first…or something?), your comment initially comes across as being unfairly judgmental about the state of my marriage. An appearance of grasping at straw-sentences in the post to find something personal about me to critique. Whether you mean this or not, it’s how it reads.

    However, your point about the difficulties that may come up in a single-income family (who has the “right” to decide contributions, how could it be fair to both sides, etc. is valid) Jks refers to it below as well. This is an important topic.

    Please be careful about assuming the worst about relationships in my own family, though. It’s hurtful, misinformed, and definitely threadjackish.

  22. 22.

    American Eagle: I’m not going to go into my personal reasons because that isn’t the topic of this post. But, I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences with tithing.

    Anita: That sounds like an interesting possibility. I’d also like to hear more about how that is done.

    May: I completely agree that there is something a little circular/nonsensical about framing charitable donations as a guaranteed personal benefit. Kant wouldn’t be pleased. I really thought your above-and-beyond-the-norm experiences were eye-opening too. Thank you!

    Whitney: Katya’s link is a great resource. As for me, most of my donations have actually been anonymous and to families I knew personally, or my own city’s food bank. One month I gave my contribution to a Japanese earthquake fund. It seems to change every time.

    JohnE: I believe, like others have said before, that that’s a really personal thing. Also, not really on topic with the point of the post. Perhaps for another discussion on TR interviews?

    El oso: I really appreciated your comment. This has been my experience as well. I feel like perhaps I should specify that by “gold star” feelings, I meant that I would give myself that gold star. I’ve had bishops say “thank you” for claiming full-tithing, but never anything like, “Sister, A+ for you!” I think, though, that the A+ comment could actually happen in many other wards–the cultural and doctrinal pressure and baggage are there to make it possible.

    Kevin Barney: Interesting point. I don’t think that every member in the world would stop paying tithing to the church proper if suddenly given the option not to. They probably would continue giving traditionally because the church is so important to them.

    I also understand the idea of seeing tithing as a sort of infrastructure tax–if you use the roads then you should contribute to their upkeep. I’m still trying to parse that one out in my personal choices. I try to donate my time to cleaning our building, for example. But, I still feel uncomfortable paying via envelope for other reasons.

    prometheus: Well, hey thanks. And thanks for telling me about your experiences and thoughts. I agree that making monetary donations a requirement to saving ordinances is…fraught…at the least. I think this is something that really needs to be reconsidered or reviewed or reformed or something. It is unsavory as a concept.

    mondo cool: I appreciate your thoughts. I understand how you are reading the scriptural definition of tithing and I totally respect your choices. Thank you for contributing to the discussion.

  23. 23.

    So you have replaced tithing with general charity rather than the charity in addition to tithing or the tithing instead of charity that Christ condemned when he referred to the Pharisees who paid tithe of mint and other herbs but missed the weightier matters of the law.

    I’m still thinking on what you’ve had to say.

  24. 24.

    Apame, both your comments in OP and Ben P.’s resonate with me because I have had similar thoughts/conversations.

    Much like Kevin, although I too have some concerns about how the money is used I pay it to the institution primarily because (like you mention) it is important to me.

  25. 25.

    http://www.lds.org/manual/preparing-for-exaltation-teachers-manual/lesson-29-paying-tithing-with-the-right-attitude?lang=eng

    President George Albert Smith, eighth President of the Church, was talking to a longtime friend after they had both attended a Church conference. The friend explained to President Smith how he paid tithing.

    “‘Well,’ he said, ‘if I make ten thousand dollars in a year, I put a thousand dollars in the bank for tithing. I know why it’s there. Then when the bishop comes and wants me to make a contribution for the chapel or give him a check for a missionary … , if I think he needs the money, I give him a check. … Little by little I exhaust the thousand dollars, and every dollar of it has gone where I know it has done good. Now, what do you think of that?’”

    Had this man paid tithing? Why or why not?

    President Smith answered him: “I think you are a very generous man with someone else’s property. … You have not paid any tithing. You have told me what you have done with the Lord’s money. … You have taken your best partner’s money, and have given it away” (“The Story of a Generous Man,” Improvement Era, June 1947, 357; see also Sharing the Gospel with Others, comp. Preston Nibley [1948], 44–47).

  26. 26.

    Anony Mous: Interested in hearing about your personal experiences with tithing…as I specified…in the original post…

    Also, please refer to our comment policy regarding thinly veiled, patronizing critiques of others’ personal righteousness. This isn’t the place.

    Aaron R.: Thanks for contributing! Appreciate your thoughts.

    Stephen M: I don’t really follow your question (sorry), but if you’re asking me to line out the doctrinal reasoning behind my choice, I’m not going to because that isn’t the point of my post (and I suspect others want me to so they can just have an off-topic mud-fight. Not that that’s you, but I’m just avoiding it in general). I’m interested in hearing about others’ experiences with tithing though, so please share. You’re welcome to continue mulling with us.

  27. 27.

    Note to all: comments which call Apame to repentance or question her righteousness are getting deleted. Have a nice day.

    (This public service announcement is brought to you by the letters, T, R, O, and double L, and the number 2.)

  28. 28.

    Whitney – #18: Instructions for paying tithing directly to church HQ can be found here: http://mormonlifehacker.com/pay-your-tithing-online/

    I pay my tithing to Salt Lake for convenience sake. I do all of my other banking online, so it’s just easier. I don’t really have a problem with the bishop or clerk knowing how much I make, but it’s a nice side benefit to keep that information private.

    I have started a workaround with my fast offering, though. I can’t fast because of a medical condition, so I never really gave a fast offering because I wasn’t fasting. Then I thought about it and realized that I should give an offering anyway. Now I give a monthly donation to the food bank. I’m going to observe Lent this year as an alternative to fasting. So I’m looking for a charity to donate to at the end of Lent. (This was inspired by my Muslim friends who do something similar at the end of Ramadan.)

  29. 29.

    I think this is a great idea and more in line with what tithing was originally intended to be. Think of all the good we could do in our communities if we all helped each other out where we could. I also like the charity navigator site to find out the facts about where the money is going. I will talk to my husband about this and see what he thinks. Thanks!

  30. 30.

    Apame – In reading your post I found it slightly problematic that you tithe your income the way you want and he tithes his the way he wants. This is probably working out.
    However, as a SAHM, I wonder what if my husband and I ever disagree and we split things up that way? In a way because I don’t work we have to view all of his income as ours. So if we disagreed we would have to to halvies.
    Many wives of husbands who don’t want their spouse paying money to the church get to be full tithe payers by paying a smaller amount (or none at all if their husband’s have that kind of power). Perhaps today is the same. So perhaps even two people with disparate incomes could do half and half and not stick with their actual income because the larger earner objects to something and doesn’t want the money he/she earns to go there.

    As for tithing. I love that I heard a talk when I was a kid about people who paid tithing instead of rent and got evicted. It gave me a testimony of doing what God wanted you to do even if you don’t get paid in “blessings.” So I think that helped with the guaranteed blessing payment mentality that people sometimes have.

  31. 31.

    Interesting topic, Apame! I hadn’t really thought about other people doing this, too. :)

    My relationship with tithing evolved a lot during my “leaving” period. I remember telling a friend some thoughts similar to yours in the OP, and that I was thinking of sending my “tithing” money to a charity instead of the church, but continuing to pay my fast offerings. She brought up the story in the NT about the woman that poured oil over Jesus’ feet (or something) and how he rebuked his disciples when they were shocked at the waste that could’ve gone to helping the poor.

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never really gotten that story. (Add it to the list of bible stories that leave me troubled, right?)

    We then had an interesting conversation in which (despite her best efforts) I became more and more convinced that subsidizing BYU tuition was NOT as important to me as making sure children don’t go hungry.

    I never felt confident enough to declare myself a full tithe payer after that (it still felt like a deception to me) and so that was the last year I had a temple recommend. And it was strange for me, because the principle of tithing (well, actually of sacrifice and the fact that none of it “belongs” to us anyway) has always been really important to me. I do think I lost a little bit with my decision. But I have to say, that I love the fact that the little hard pit in my heart that peeked out every time I wrote a tithing check is gone. Being true to yourself is liberating, even if you aren’t entirely sure you’re getting it right.

  32. 32.

    To each their own. I have serious issues with forking over money when I don’t know where it is going. It is a widespread legit concern. I do not think that paying your tithing that way is “taking from the Lord”. That sounds more like a jab at your righteousness for not giving the Church your money. It is actually very odd, because you would think that a truly charitable organization would just be glad you were giving so much to charity..nitpicking that it must go to their bank account or (dun dun dunn) you won’t get to the celestial kingdom by way of the endowment/temple is just…emotional/monetary blackmail.

  33. 33.

    I’m not doing this instead of tithing, but I have started setting aside a small amount of money every month for some charity or worthy cause that comes my way, from food banks to Kickstarter campaigns. I try not to plan ahead what I’m going to do with it—thus far it’s been more fun and rewarding to be a little surprised by what I come across.

    One thing I do find frustrating about Mormons and tithing is that many Mormons won’t make charitable contributions beyond tithing and other Church contributions. Tithing and fast offerings do support some good causes, but there are a lot of other worthy causes in the world that need support.

  34. 34.

    After the whole Prop 8 thing, I realized that I was boycotting Target, Chick-fil-A, and Salvation Army because of political reasons, and still giving to the church that was spending resources working against civil rights and other things I hold dear. Later, I realized that because the church is an all-male financial decision-making body they probably don’t really want female-earned dollars anyway. I just feel I’m not called upon to contribute to that segment of the church. I do tithe in charitable contributions to the LDS humanitarian fund, Partners in Health, Rising Star Outreach, Village Health Works, Safe Homes for Children, the Liahona Foundation, Doctors Without Borders, and other worthy organizations. I tend to place feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick before other good causes, even those very dear to my heart like the hero-rat people who clear land mines, Shelter Box who provide tents for disaster relief. Those other causes I only give to from time to time when particularly moved. I’m very picky about effectiveness and low overhead in my charities, favoring those who cover their overhead by other means than my donations. I tend to pick charities who help those most vulnerable, in extreme poverty or hit by disaster or war. I do as much as I feel I can manage responsibly, and then a bit more, and some extra still. But it never does feel like enough when I contrast the state of global hunger with our own lifestyle. I started fasting one day a week and giving the savings to feed the hungry, too, because it feels more meaningful for me to do something constructive in addition to just sending money.

    Here’s the Partners in Health page for Friday Fast to Feed the Hungry: http://act.pih.org/page/outreach/view/personal/Tatiana

    Here’s our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Friday-Fast-to-Feed-the-Hungry/238040732907793

    Anyone who would like to support us or join us in our fast is welcome.

  35. 35.

    Last year I got disillusioned by how little of tithing money is estimated to go to the humanitarian fund (the estimates I have heard are between 1 and 4%). With “caring for the poor and the needy” now being a mission of the church, and being so convicted that our generation has the potential to end global poverty, I wanted to see more church funds go to that life saving work. I really want to see the church live up it its potential of being “the Lord’s kingdom on the earth” and don’t see that being possible without more of the church’s efforts going toward making sure that people are not dying the world over due to injustice, famine and disease due to lack of resources. However, I also recognize the tremendous good that the typical church programs have for helping people be sufficient and self-reliant and to get everyone involved in the work of meeting the needs of individuals, families and communities. I decided my personalized approach to tithing would be to pay half of my 10% to the general tithing fund and the other half to the church humanitarian fund. I’ve been using the online payment system and appreciate feeling like I’m tithing with conscience.

  36. 36.

    jks: Super good point regarding the way income should be seen in a one-income family. For the way things are with us now, this was the best solution, but in the case of a SAHF/SAHM, this could be a complicated and perhaps sometimes painful situation. When your money becomes moralized this can bring up really important questions regarding family finance and assumptions of ownership.

    I already know what we would do, as a couple, because we already talked about it. And, I think that other couples would need to come to some agreement as well that honors both sides. How that would be done would be up to that couple, I think.

    At any rate, I think your point about single-income “politics,” to use the only word I can think of, is extremely important, complex, and can affect a vast spectrum of aspects in a marriage. I’ve read other posts that discuss this point in more detail, but it’s good to bring it up regarding tithing as well (doing an FMH search on “finances” is a good place to start). Thank you for your comment.

    Keri, Mammamia, Katya, Enna, Drft23, Descent: Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

  37. 37.

    I left the church many years ago. And I never had much of a testimony of tithing. For a long time, I was a) a poor college student, b) a poor sahm, and c) a bit selfish. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to donate to charities, I just…didn’t. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be in that regard. So, I started making changes. Every year, I evaluate myself in terms of what I’d like to do charitably, what I can do, and what I did the past year, to see where I can improve. One year, I made it my goal to donate blood as often as possible. Most years, I don’t have a set goal or plan, tho. I donate my time and resources to causes I believe in, through many different avenues. My main contributions go to my child’s school, through the PTO and other fundraising. This year, I’d like to do even better, so I made the goal to donate to a “priority” cause each month. In November, it was for victims of a local disaster, which repeated in January, so my donation repeated. This month, it was to a cause near and dear to a friend that died. Next month, who knows? It will be to whatever cause pops up and makes itself known.

    I do know that I have become quite disillusioned by the church’s financial practices. Any so-called church or charitable organization that spends more on consumerist practices (City Creek Mall) than on truly charitable aid gets a lot of skepticism from me.

  38. 38.

    I have a background in psychology and sociology and it has been increasingly difficult to ignore the part of me that automatically notices advantages to the organizational/institutional church in various policies and mandates, especially financial ones. Wasn’t tithing, as explained in the Old Testament, instituted to provide a living for the priests working full time at the temple? We have limited numbers of ‘full time clergy’ (ie GAs) to support and the church depends on some sneaky (to me) ‘volunteerism’ to cut costs (e.g. having Stake Presidents host visiting authorities in their homes to save on motel and restaurant bills, etc. etc. etc.), so why do they need a full 10%? Then there is the often huge issue of whether to tithe on gross or net, but that’s another post.

    Apame, your post really hit home for me because this year I have been considering donating 5% to church and 5% to well researched charities, or even donating all of my personal income’s 10% to those charities. DH is the primary earner, a former bishop, and very committed to 10% tithe to the church so from my own very different perspective, the church gets plenty from us for buildings, temples, ward upkeep, and everything else. On a related topic, I frankly resent the near mandate (BOLD font on tithing slip) for fast offering since the church surely has sufficient money to help our own poor. Wouldn’t it be better to have us donate fast offering funds to the nonmember poor in our own towns? The response a reader made about church investments in shopping malls and the like underscore how rich the church is [other examples and associated rant deleted]. I believe that the church should be open with members about the church’s finances. The secretiveness makes me wonder why those in charge feel a need to hide the financial records.

  39. 39.

    My personal experience with tithing is that I don’t. For political reasons, for selfish reasons, and frankly, if I had continued to pay tithing, I never would have paid off my student loans if I had.

    jks said, “In reading your post I found it slightly problematic that you tithe your income the way you want and he tithes his the way he wants. This is probably working out. However, as a SAHM, I wonder what if my husband and I ever disagree and we split things up that way?”

    My mom was a SAHM mom and my dad was utterly against paying tithing (we were very poor, and he was not LDS), so he refused to let her pay tithing. However, she found other ways to donate her 10%–in doing extra volunteer work for the church.

  40. 40.

    Erin, I was good friends with a couple in a situation similar to your parents. The wife always brought lunch to the bishopric and clerks that stayed after on Sundays to count tithing or for other meetings as her “offering”. I thought that was sweet…

  41. 41.

    1) We paid “tithing” by giving it to a family member who had lost her home and job in the recession. She was denied any welfare support from the bishop. (Long story, difficult and hopefully rare situation.) We prayerfully gave what we could, which ended up being our tithing money. We lived on the brink ourselves and had nothing else to give. This was the way we paid “tithing” for a few years until they got back on their feet.

    I didn’t know you could e-tithe to SLC. As a result of not turning in the grey envelopes, we lost our temple recommends and the rest of our family thinks we’ve essentially fallen from grace.

    Getting back on the saddle since this episode has been very difficult.

    Q: If you e-tithe directly to SLC, do you still get a year end summary for tax purposes, or e-receipts/confirmations? How does that work?

  42. 42.

    J.A.T., someone who’s actually used it would have to confirm this, but I think I’ve seen at least one person who’s done it say that yes, they do get the usual year-end summary for tax purposes. I’m trying it out this year, so I can tell you in about ten months. :) But seriously, I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t give you the summary. They want you to be able to claim the tithing as charitable contributions; it increases how much people are willing/able to pay.

  43. 43.

    J.A.T. – At tithing settlement, the form the ward clerk printed up was blank because I gave nothing to the ward. But I declared to the bishop that I paid a full tithe, and he marked his little box indicating that. (I did tell him that I paid to Salt Lake, but that really wasn’t necessary, since the only question on the subject in tithing settlement and in a temple recommend interview is “Do you pay a full tithe?”) I got a year-end summary from SLC which I used to do my taxes.

  44. 44.

    I do it all online and last month they sent me an email listing all donations

  45. 45.

    Kevin has a point—one of the great things about our church is that people pay tithing—more, I believe, than in others and so our bills are paid.

    I don’t have an opinion on what others do, I don’t think I would do that, but whatever floats your boat. I wasn’t asking if you were honest about tithing settlement (I assumed you were) but I was trying to figure out how it would work is all.

    We itemize our deductions, so it’s a big deal.

    I disagree with some people here in that I don’t have much problem with how the church uses the money. In fact, I decline to donate to a lot of charities in favor of adding to my donations, making it clear where we would like it to go. I had a bad experience with the United Way years ago. I think our church does a pretty good job of helping others and cooperating with other charitable organizations. I’m pretty proud of that.

    Before you rip my face off with examples of where we DON’T do such a good job, remember that we are all human. No organization, no church is perfect and the idea that our church should do it all, perfectly, is what gets people into trouble.

    I do think Bill and I should be giving more, though, to places like Kiva. On the other hand, as we near retirement, we’re pretty poverty stricken. We’ve donated cash to a few local organizations, like the homeless shelter. One thing I do, too, which is really small, but lots of people could do, is give the shampoos, etc I get at motels to the womens crisis shelter. They need stuff like that.

    I was actually a little bit surprised that Mitt Romney seemed to stick with a solid 10% for tithing. I know he gave large amounts to charities otherwise, but compared to how much he made last year and how much he’s worth, it seemed a bit niggling.

  46. 46.

    PS: “However, I do hope we shift away from the ‘guaranteed blessing’ mentality as a way to encourage tithe payers.” LOVE THIS.

    I think we need to shift away from reward/punishment messages altogether and focus instead on serving Christ.

  47. 47.

    “I was actually a little bit surprised that Mitt Romney seemed to stick with a solid 10% for tithing.”

    Unless I am misunderstanding you, it seems you are saying he should have paid more tithing than necessary. How much tithing do you think he should have paid?

  48. 48.

    My husband and I have a tithing work around plan. If the church contributes to prop 8 or it’s ilk again, our 10% will go to the humanitarian fund. We feel comfortable with that. We contribute an additional 10% to non related charities. So glad to hear others are finding ways to sustain without going against their conscience!

  49. 49.

    Just a thought or two – if you donate to the person/charity of your choice instead of the 10% to the Church, specifically as “slip-and-envelope” tithing:
    1. Are you really giving the funds, as tithing, to the Lord? It seems you are still maintaining control over the funds, trying to “have your say” about it. That would include donating, for whatever one’s personal reasons, what would be tithing money to the funds other than tithing (fast, humanitarian, missionary), which I’ve always understood to be for funds above and beyond tithing.
    2. Tithing is supposed to be for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth. How can an anonymous donation to someone, however kind and worthwhile, do this? Again, I would think that this would be something to be done above and beyond your tithing.
    God bless you for your generous heart and your desire to follow the commandments.

  50. 50.

    I really like this post. Tithing has been something that has been bothering me for a little while. This post has given me a lot to think and pray about. I like how you describe this as a very personal thing, which is why I feel comfortable bringing these different options indicated in the OP and by commenter to my Higher Power and us working that out.

Leave a Reply