After reading your answer to Shiloh regarding tithing I felt compelled to write to you. I have been a member of the Church for 4 years and I have a strong testimony and love the Church and everything about it. Before I was baptized I had a session with the bishop of the branch I was joining. I was completely honest with him regarding my financial situation. I am totally and permanently disabled. I receive a small disability payment from SSI monthly and nothing else. Needless to say I live way below the poverty level. Month to month I struggle to keep utilities turned on and pay rent. I own nothing. My bishop in California told me that I need not pay tithing on non-taxable income. I did pay what I could at the end of each month but it was not much. Since I moved to another state to be closer to family I am in a new branch with a new bishop. He tells me my last bishop was wrong and I must pay 10% of my disability. He offered help from the storehouse, but I have to call twice a month and ask for food and explain why I can’t manage. I can’t stand to beg. I look at my peers in the ward and I can see that they own homes, they own cars, they have decent clothing and food, none of which I have. Why would this bishop tell me to go without food or clothing or utilities. If I could work I would feel privileged to pay my tithing. But for me it means I can’t survive. Because others in my Ward are able to generate more income than I can, they are able to receive the full blessing of the gospel, they are able to have the blessings of a Temple Recommend. They are not better or more worthy than I am, they have the money to survive, and I don’t. I feel more and more Isolated from the church I love. I feel like a sinner, left out, unwanted as if cold hard cash is more important than my immortal soul.
Cheryl, from Louisiana
I believe that your new bishop is trying to help you to feel good about yourself rather than feeling like some sort of a second class citizen. I have never heard in my life that we do not need to pay tithing on non-taxable income. All the members that I know that are on Social Security pay their tithing on that income.
But to your own situation. You mentioned that other people in your ward are better off than you and that they enjoy all the amenities of life. I can understand how difficult it may be for you to receive welfare help from the Church, but I believe that that difficulty comes from a misunderstanding. You seem to feel that you are accepting charity, saying that you hate to beg. Not so! The law of the gospel is not like the law of man. The law of the gospel is that a person is to contribute into the Lord’s storehouse what he or she is able to contribute and is to receive in return what he or she needs. The welfare plan is not a dole, it is an insurance program. Would you feel ashamed to receive an insurance indemnity if you had paid the premiums? Why should you feel ashamed to receive welfare benefits if you pay your tithing? I simply cannot believe that your bishop would tell you to go without food or clothing or utilities. Rather, I’m sure that he would help you with food, clothing and utilities, as necessary, if you were a tithe payer.
Because of your physical condition you are undoubtedly required to do much less for what you receive than all those others in the Ward who seem to have so much. Rather then being required to make a few phone calls to state their needs, they all have to work all day, every day. If you were to pay your tithing, and were compliant with the other principles of the gospel you would be worthy of a temple recommend and would be able to benefit from the unspeakable blessings available to the faithful in the House of the Lord. Hopefully you will have the faith necessary to comply with all the laws of the gospel and allow the Church and the Welfare System to do their part as a source of the things that you need. I’m sure that in doing so you would be much happier and would feel closer to the Lord.