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Dear Gramps,

I have been a member for almost 4 years.   I even got my endowment a year or so after my conversion. I was living with my current husband unmarried and we had children when the missionaries taught us.  My husband did not join the church and does not want to. He does not feel its fair for me to pay tithing, because our money is also his money.   Therefore I had to turn my temple recommend in recently.  I felt uneasy about the situation and uncomfortable for having the recommend unworthily. I was very poor as a child and raised myself from the depths of poverty and even went to college.  However as soon as I became a member and I began paying tithing my health went down the toilet and for over 2 years I was unable to work.  The church had to help me in a few situations, and of course I didn’t have any tithing to pay because I had no income. Now I’m on social security and my old bishop said I should tithe that.  Our stake president said I shouldn’t because technically I had already paid the tithing or been forgiven for not tithing my wages in the past but my current bishop is unaware of this.   I’m HIGHLY CONFUSED.   I want to do what’s right but my family is also struggling to make ends meet. I’m an orphan and have no family support and my husband’s family are all very poor. So in my aggravation and desperation I stole some items from a major retailer.   I know it was wrong but I’m sick of not being able to give my kids stuff.  This is the second time this has happened in about a 9 year span.  I have only done this when I’m angry at not being able to provide nice things for my children. And only the one time since I’ve been a member. I know I should talk to my bishop but I’m uncomfortable and afraid he will require me to take the items back and I don’t want to go to jail.   I don’t steal as a rule and I was just very angry and made bad quick decision. Will the bishop require my repentance to be admittance? I can’t go to jail.  My kids need me.  What is the general rule for theft?

S Smith

 

Answer

 

S Smith,

One of the principles of repentance is restitution. This means that we make right what we did wrong by our actions.

I can understand your plight about being anxious about confessing to the merchant. Many merchants would choose to prosecute you, rather than just take the items back in order to make an example out of you, or even recover additional money that the merchant has lost.

My recommendation for restitution would be to get a money order and send it to the store anonymously. The money order should be for the total amount of the goods that you took at the price they were at that time. By using a money order, they will not have your identifying information as they would on a personal check. Send it with an anonymous note detailing what you took, and asking them to please accept these funds. Don’t forget to factor in your state’s sales tax, if any.

When the Bishop asks you in the temple recommend interview, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man,” if you have paid restitution, then you can confess it, and detail what you did to make it right. I submit to you that it will be a whole lot easier to have this conversation with your Bishop after you send the retailer your money order.

Will you have to endure any church discipline? That’s up to your Bishop to decide. You may be asked to not partake of the sacrament for a while, but that’s for your spiritual healing and not just for making things right with the retailer.

As far as being considered worthy for a temple recommend for your standing as a tithe payer, I would first resolve this matter, because your Bishop could revoke your temple recommend for a period of time for this theft. The doctrine of tithing is simple: pay 10% on your increase, meaning 10% of your income. You need to follow the doctrine in such a way that you can say to your Bishop and Stake President that you are a full tithe payer. The actual details aren’t their business, only that you can state with a clear conscious that you are a full tithe payer.

 

Gramps

 

 

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