On Mormon tithing and a $100 billion investment fund

(RNS) — There is a story in Luke’s Gospel about a farmer who unexpectedly had the good fortune to harvest more grain than he had space to store. What should I do?

He had the answer, one that struck me as shrewd and forward-thinking in a century of subsistence farming and hand-to-hand living. will build! Very clever. That way, no matter how bad the wind blows, you can enjoy a worry-free future.

Except God had none of it. As an example of what Mormons call “wise living,” rather than praising a man’s ability to save or sustain him, the story has God condemning him as a fool. That very night God said that the man’s life would be claimed from him.

It’s an incredibly frustrating story. Luke is the only one of the four to say that, so perhaps the other Gospel writers did as well.

That means my husband and I contribute to the retirement plan every month. We have life insurance. And one glorious day, years from now, we will pay off our mortgage. Heck, our contingency plans also have contingency plans.

At the beginning of this column, I wanted to admit that I was not following what Jesus taught me to do with my money. I’m not going to sell everything I have and give all my money to the poor. I am writing this as I sit in the comfort of my living room surrounded by my favorite book and ornament-laden Christmas tree. I like the comfort of my life.

I know this makes me a hypocrite. The word hypocrite means I act under (you are not there) The role I should play (Cleanestai). We are hypocrites when we believe one thing and do another.

But my church has also been hypocritical when it comes to money.

It’s been almost three years since I made the decision to stop paying tithing to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and two years since I first wrote about it. As I explained at the time, I was shaken and even devastated by the news that my church had amassed his $100 billion+ investment fund and had no plans to use that money to help people. . That war fund is added to the Church’s vast real estate holdings and other assets. According to the Washington Post’s initial report, the only time assets were pulled from the $100 billion investment fund was to power two of the church’s for-profit ventures. This includes life insurance companies and luxury shopping malls. Salt Lake City.

Writing about my decision to stop tithing was a polarizing act. However, there was considerable backlash from readers—mainly to organizations such as Bountiful Children’s Foundation and Compassion International that feed directly to hungry children. from the Lord.”

The Old Testament references to the prophet Malachi are interesting. It single-handedly selects his one element of tithing—the idea of ​​usurping the Lord—and ignores the larger context of Malachi 3 about what God expects of us. Part of it is wrapped up in concerns about economic justice. For example, according to verse 5, some of the things the Lord “robs” are not paying workers enough, not taking care of widows and orphans, not opening their hearts to strangers.

In other words, tithing cannot be reduced to you helping a very wealthy institution with even more wealth and for that suddenly checking a box that says the Lord is right. However, it is not just acts of monetary sacrifice that make tithing holy. That’s how that money helps God’s children, many of whom are in great trouble.

I am not saying that the church does not do any charity work. Absolutely. Just last week I received a press release in his email that he had donated $10 million to help churches fight polio worldwide.

Such efforts are beautiful and important, but not enough. While $10 million is a significant amount, it does not compare to the billions of dollars the Church receives each year (estimated at about $7 billion, enough to cover the remaining annual expenses to continue investing). covered).

The parable of the rich foolish man in Luke 12 always comes to mind when you consider that the church has $100 billion in investments (and even more). I know many members have defended their vast reserves simply as a wise plan for the future. Perhaps that stockpile, they say, will serve in an apocalypse that will plunge the entire world into chaos. may help activate the

Except Jesus didn’t talk about saving for the future. It’s in the Book of Proverbs, so it’s not that thrift isn’t present as a positive value anywhere in the Bible.But it is clearly of no value to Jesus, and he is a man for us to imitate. straight away needs on straight away Basic. He doesn’t tell you that you need to save money now in order to be generous in an unspecified way for the distant, vague future.

I love The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It taught morality in so many basic ways. For example, the importance of being honest and not shielding any aspect of my life from Christ’s example. He taught me to search the Bible to find Christ in all things and to arrange my life according to what I read there.

So it’s especially demoralizing to learn that the church doesn’t seem to follow that pattern. Is money an exception to the rule about following Jesus? Should we do it unless it threatens wealth and acquisition?

Although the wording has recently changed to “tithing declaration,” it is an annual tradition in the church to make a “tithing payment.” (That the wording change from “reconciliation” to “proclamation” deserves a press release is perhaps a sign of the depth of the church’s bloated bureaucracy.)

So here is my apparently unresolved declaration. I pay my tithe. And I’m worried not because I’m no longer paying my tithing to the church, but because 10% isn’t enough when it comes to helping the poor.

Relevant content:

Why I Stopped Tithing the LDS Church

LDS Church Under Attack in Australia

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