In Part 1 of this series we explored what it truly means to know the Lord. We discovered through scripture that doing things in His name does not necessarily mean that any one of us knows His character–that the only way to know Him is to do the works which He did, especially with regards to the poor and the needy among us. This is His pure religion.
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
We also learned that condemnation rests upon those who profess his name and yet fail to know Him. Continuing with that theme there are many scriptures which condemn the leaders of God’s people for actually stealing from the poor.
O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err and destroy the way of thy paths. The Lord standeth up to plead, and standeth to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof; for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye that ye beat the people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor saith the Lord God of hosts. (Isaiah 3:12-15, 2 Nephi 13:12-15)
Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their churches have become corrupted, and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads: yea and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men. (2 Nephi 28:12-14)
The ancient prophet, Moroni, was shown in vision our day and had this to say:
Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing. And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts. (Mormon 8:35-36)
He then goes on to list their sins:
For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.
I used to think that these scriptures only applied to other churches. Certainly, Moroni was not talking about the LDS church, right? Through my study of scripture and the historical record I have come to know otherwise. It is hard to avoid the descriptors “all gone astray” and “even every one have become polluted”.
When the Lord brought forth His law of consecration in Section 42 it was a perfect economic law under which those who were in need received consecrated (tithed) donations from those who had a surplus. These properties were placed in the Lord’s storehouse for distribution under the direction of the bishop. This allowed the disadvantaged the basic necessities of life and the ability to develop their talents and abilities without worrying about the constant imperative to put food on the table or provide shelter.
Under the Lord’s law there was never the requirement to pay one tenth of one’s income if means were insufficient to cover basic living expenses. The poor were never called upon to show their faith by paying tithes and offerings in anticipation of the Lord stepping up and blessing them directly. Rather it was up to the leaders of the people to bless them by “bringing all the tithes into the storehouse.” In fact, Malachi 3:10 can be read as a rebuke of the priests for not placing the tithes in the storehouse for the poor. It is a rebuke for the people not living the law of consecration — they have “gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them.” They have rejected the Law of the Lord which requires consecration and are therefore robbing God by not living his sacred laws which provide generously for the poor.
What few understand is that the Law of Tithing found in D&C Section 119 is really just a restatement of the Law of Consecration. After consecrating surplus properties, you are required to continue year-by-year to cast one-tenth of your SURPLUS into the treasury of the Lord. No surplus means no need to contribute. If you can’t put food on the table you don’t go into debt in hopes of blessings from the Lord.
And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually, and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. (D&C 119:4)
Websters 1828 dictionary defines interest as “surplus advantage” and “personal profit”. This was the understanding of the word in Joseph’s day. Nowhere in the definition is “income” the equivalent of interest.
Yet that is exactly how this scripture has been interpreted by those who rule over us. We are led to believe that we should tithe one-tenth of our gross income without regards to taxes, or basic living expenses. By interpreting the scripture in that way the poor are deprived of the means to support themselves. They are being robbed and spoiled.
Instead of placing money in the storehouse for the poor, tithes are used to adorn our churches and temples with the finest of materials and workmanship. The gold leaf, the fancy designs, the expensive marble are all testament to the fact that we don’t recognize what the Lord truly sees as important.
Do we “know” the Lord more by participating in a masonic-based temple endowment ceremony in over-the-top ornate buildings or by easing the burdens of the poor and needy among us? Does the Lord really require us to build all these impressive structures in order to worship him? The greatest spiritual blessings since the restoration were poured out in the relatively plain Kirtland Temple. Those spiritual blessings haven’t been matched in subsequent generations. Does anybody not wonder why?
Our fine sanctuaries and our fine clothing testify against us. Our system of tithing has become wholly corrupt with spiritual blessings withheld from those who do not “pay” the required price in cold, hard cash.There are reports of baptisms being denied until an investigator actually pays tithes and offerings. The spoil of the poor is in our houses (temples). The priests have eaten up the vineyard and they grind upon the faces of the poor by how they their appropriate tithing funds. In Part 3 we will examine how the authorities are violating the Lord’s directives in the scriptures by withholding financial information from church members.