Monday, November 25, 2013

JST Gen 14

Dear Josten,

I've been pondering and studying tithing for a very long time.  I don't know what has possessed me to be so fascinated with the topic.  Perhaps it has something to do with the law of consecration, feeling poor, and lots of complaints I hear from people about our church building a shopping mall with their for-profit arm.

The other day I read something for what felt like the first time.  It's the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:25-40.  I won't cite it all, but a few verses are particularly applicable to tithing.

Before I proceed, let me share the traditional narrative and counsel.  We pay the Lord first, correct?  We receive income, we pay one tenth, and then spend the rest as we need.  I have heard this lots over the pulpit, and remember sharing those thoughts myself from time to time when asked to give talks in the past.  Yet the account we generally reference never really made complete sense, as there were always for/against arguments on tithing gross or net income from various parties.

The narrative is that it is a lesser law.  The law of consecration was not able to be fully followed, so the Lord kind of gave us a break and allowed us to live this lesser law.  When we get it right, I suppose we believe we'll step up into the higher law.  Although in essence, we agree to this law at baptism: to bear one another's burdens.

Anyways... at the end of Genesis 14, there is a set of Joseph Smith Translation verses which are truly phenomenal to the doctrine.  Do we believe it, or our rational and tradition?

36 And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.
37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God;
38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.
39 Wherefore, Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.
40 And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him.
The highlighted verses struck me.  Tithes are for the poor, according to this revealed scripture.  Because we interpret it differently now than what is declared here, do we feel we can change the scripture to fit our current beliefs?  Or do we need to change our current beliefs to fit the scripture?

Yesterday on my Facebook wall, someone was well researched enough to copy and past the following.
"I tithe because I strive to be obedient and it is a covenant I have made as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My “task” is to be obedient – I give the Lord my tithes. Once it leaves my hands, someone else’s stewardship is to use that money wisely. It is the Lord’s money.

Tithing funds are used to support five key areas of the church: (1) Provide places of worship (2) Provide education programs including universities, seminary and institute (3) support the world wide missionary program; (4) Build and operate temples and support the family history programs and last but not least (5) support the church’s welfare programs and humanitarian aid programs – these service people all over the world whether they are members or not. (Source: )
Tithing funds are not used to build shopping centers. The church has an arm of the church that is “for profit” – and the church pays taxes on those businesses. For more information, please see, or or

There are many good organizations that can use our time and our money and we are blessed to be able to support them. How fortunate we are to have some “extra” to share with other children of our Heavenly Father."

So... tithing funds are used to provide chapels (and other places of "worship"), education programs, missionary work, temples, family history projects, and finally support the poor.  In that order?  I don't know.  Apparently it is (once again) not my reponsibility to question.  However I am commanded to give (or not give) common consent.  ("And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen." D&C 26:2)  Is it more imperative that I agree with what the living oracles of the church newsroom decide?  Or what a man who communed with God revealed through scripture?  And if those in the church newsroom and the powers that govern tithing funds decide that they can distribute offerings to whichever funds need them the most, who is to say where or how my tithing will be distributed?  But does it matter?  Am I supposed to believe, as my friend commented, that it is the Lord's money, once it leaves my hands?

Point #2:  Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need.  Which God had given him more than that which he had need.  This hit my heart.  This is not "pay the Lord first".  This reads to me as "take care of your needs, then tithe of the excess".  IF each member knew this scripture, would there be any trouble whatsoever in members having any problem paying their tithing?  If there was no excess, there is no payment.  If there is excess, it is no struggle, no question of faith to pay a tenth.  It is, in fact, very, very generous of a loving God, to allow us this privilege.  It warms my heart.

Josten, this is a very simple way to better keep the commandments of God.  With this much leeway, if you had such excess after meeting your needs, would you not feel more inclined to give to other charities as well?
This scripture was so exciting to me that it brought me joy.  For a very long time I have deliberated this principle.  I've read others' takes on it, read the Ensign and Conference Reports.  But this is scripture, and I believe it.  I worship no man but God, and oh, what a blessing!

Next step: better understand the law of consecration.  Working on it!

Love you,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Has this post affected you for good? Please share your thoughts.