An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

I recently came across a journal entry I wrote 25 years ago. At that time, George and I had five teenaged kids, two jobs, and never enough money. George was at the peak of his earning. I was working on a master’s degree to up my teacher pay. Our time, money, and energy were stretched beyond endurance. Perpetual stress created conflict between us and health problems for George. I wrote in my journal: “The only solution to our problems would be a $500/month pay raise—or to quit paying our Church obligations.”

Twenty-five years later, I shake my head to think I had identified a solution to our problem but refused to act upon it. At that time I, not George, insisted upon paying full tithing on gross, not net, income—not because of expectation of blessings. Life experience had relieved me of that illusion. Nor did I fear punishment from God for not paying. Rather, I believed God needed that money. I believed the Church was fulfilling God’s purpose of preparing the world for the 2nd coming of Jesus when peace would reign. No sacrifice was too great to rid the world of war, turmoil, famine, and every kind of human suffering.

It never occurred to me that my thought of forgoing Church obligations might have been personal revelation from God. I had been taught that personal revelation which contradicts the counsel of Church leaders comes from the wrong source, so I never acted upon my inspiration.

Yes, George and I and our kids survived those difficult years—but with a few scars. Did our financial sacrifice bring relief to the suffering peoples of the world? I haven’t noticed an increase of world peace and prosperity since that time. I suspect most of our donation—which was a minuscule part of the Church budget—helped a trifle in building and maintaining temples and meetinghouses, in supporting seminaries, and in missionary work. Some people’s lives were no doubt benefitted through these Church programs. But, was it worth the cost to our family?

I think God sent me a message which my blind obedience failed to recognize and act upon.

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Comments on: "Missing the Still, Small Voice" (2)

  1. There were a couple of times in the early years of my marriage when family members (a brother and sister) were really needing help financially, but to my everlasting shame I paid tithing rather than giving that money to them to bless their lives. When I think about it, the bile of self-loathing rises in my throat. I was so determined to be obedient that I forgot to be Christ-like.

    • Megan,

      I love your statement, “I was so determiend to be obedient that I forgot to be Christlike.” There are many ways we can return a tithe to the Lord without giving it to the Church. In my mind, helping family members certainly qualifies as a way to tithe–but no Mormon bishop could acccept that in a temple recommend interview.

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