I am a recently (May 2007) Baptized member of the Mormon Church, and my new husband has paid tithing all his adult life… except for last year when he was separated from his previous job and the company he helped to create. Then he started his own business and did not pay tithing during this time as he did not have an income….however there was plenty of money that he had access to until the last eight months. He started another company and is now completely in debt. So he has taken a new job making what most people would consider really good money….but it does not even cover his present debts. Now, when the electric people come to shut off the power are we suppose to tell them I’m sorry but we gave “your” money to the Church because it’s demanded? Does God really want us to starve or not pay for our needs to give to the church that has more than they need? I am very upset, and have repeatedly asked him to wait until we have extra, but our needs and feelings are not first. Why would the church or God want us to suffer
more than we already have over the years and put our children second? I’m losing faith. Please help!
You and your husband are not in financial trouble because he pays his tithing. Quite the opposite is true. Tithing is not an invention of the Mormon Church, designed to engorge itself on the income of its members. It is a law of God, given with a wonderful promise for obedience long before the Mormon Church was started. It is found in the book of Malachi in the Old Testament.
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 (Mal 3:10).
But you would state, “Where is the blessing? Look at our great financial need, and at my husband’s failed business. We don’t have enough money to pay tithing.” Two things to consider– You did not wait long enough for the Lord to pour out the blessings that He promised you? You may not realize that His blessings are not always cash rewards, but blessings of the Spirit that have inestimable value. Do you really believe that the Lord does not fulfill His promises? We learn from the scriptures (that also are the word of God)—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another–I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you (Mosiah 2:21-22).
But we also must remember that the blessings of the Lord are tempered in such a way as to require the application of faith in the Lord for their fulfilment—
And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith (Ether 12:6).
Now, concerning the practicality of paying tithing. Actually, the payment of tithing does not even require the application of faith. For instance, if you are a wage earner, let’s say that you receive a pay check once a month. When it comes time to pay the bills, you order them in terms of priority–the most pressing bill first, the next most pressing second, etc. With this arrangement the tithing payment would be on the top of the stack. Could you imagine giving your obligation to the God of Heaven less importance than to your gas company, for instance? Now you make out a check for tithing to be sent to the bishop of your Ward. That takes no faith whatsoever. You always have plenty of money to pay your tithing, since you pay it first. Where faith comes in is in trying to live for the rest of the month on what you have left.
There is even a church procedure for the contingency that you don’t money left to make it through the month. You request an interview with your bishop and take with you all your financial information, and with the determination to follow his counsel, as he is the Lord’s representative to you. Here’s what would likely happen—
1. He will help you organize your payments so that you will be able to meet all your obligations.
2. If that isn’t sufficient, he will ask you to contact other members of your family to solicit their help. For those people, who out of false pride or false shame, would rather not contact their families, the bishop will volunteer to do it for you.
3. If assistance from your family won’t quite do it, he will have the Relief Society President visit with the wife of the family to give you assistance by providing what food you may need from the Bishop’s Storehouse.
4. If that won’t do it, he will volunteer to pay from the fast offering fund some of the bills that you are unable to pay. To do so, he will have you give him the statement for him to pay directly, rather the giving you the cash to make the payment yourself.
5. Next, the bishop will ask you what you are willing to do in terms of accepting some work assignment to earn what you will be receiving from the fast offering fund. The equitable arrangement for this assistance is that you provide work in the Welfare Program as directed by the bishop that you and he agree that you are able to provide, and the bishop provides the assistance needed. So you are not accepting the humiliation of a dole, but may hold your head up because you will have worked for what you receive.
There is yet one more point that is germane to your situation. It sounds as if your husband was running his own business. The tithing required from a business man is different than the tithing required of a wage earner. The business man pays an honest tithing on the profit that earns from his business, not on the total business income. The money that he takes from the business for personal use–the payments of monthly bills, food for the table, savings that he may put away, etc. This is the Lord’s program, it works and it’s honorable, and it calls down the blessings of heaven on the faithful who abide by it.