I heard that Mormons pay 10% of their income to the LDS church; what is this all about?
What you’ve heard about is what we (and the bible) call “tithing.” Like any other church, the Mormon church operates through donations. In the bible, you can read about tithing in the book of Malachi 3:8-10, where it says:
8. Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10. 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.
“Tithe” literally means “tenth,” and anciently, followers of the bible were expected to give 1/10th of their “increase” (back then, it might have been sheep or crops, etc) to support the work of the Lord. Today, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, members are expected to donate in the same way.
Is tithing optional? Are Mormons forced to pay tithing?
Like all of God’s commandments, being “optional” is more about whether you choose to follow them or not. The Mormon church does not enforce any of God’s commandments; members are taught what is correct, and they choose for themselves. We are expected to pay tithing, just like we are expected not to steal, or just like we are expected to show love an compassion for others. There is no “enforcement” of the commandment to pay tithing. In fact, in a Mormon church meeting, there is no collection plate, and you’ll never hear any requests for donations from the pulpit. Tithing is something people do from their hearts, because they want to.
In fact, it is rather backwards to think about forcing individuals to live any of God’s laws. A more accurate way to look at it would be to consider the commandment, and then consider the benefits of following the commandment. When we love others, we are more patient and loving with our own mistakes. When we pay tithing, we are blessed to be able to serve and provide for others, we are blessed with wonderful places of worship. There are many blessings and benefits to living the laws of God, and those should be the real focus.
So, what is all that money used for?
One question people have a lot is “what is tithing used for?” 10% is a generous donation, and there are many things that the money is used for. The Mormon church has one of the most transparent accountings of any charity on the planet. Here are a few of the things that tithing money is used for:
- Constructing temples, chapels, and other buildings.
- Providing operating funds for the Church.
- Funding the missionary program (This does not include individual missionary expenses, the missionaries pay their own way in large part.)
- Preparing materials used in Church classes and organizations.
- Temple work, family history, and many other important Church functions.
Is tithing used to pay salaries? Are Mormon church leaders paid?
One unique fact about the Mormon church is that it has what is known as a “lay clergy,” which simply means that the leadership of the church is made up of regular working men and women, who are unpaid. The Bishop, organist, choir members, teachers, deacons, youth leaders, secretaries, clerks, and scout leaders are all unpaid. No tithing money goes to paychecks of church leaders. Church service in the Mormon church is voluntary; we work together to help make the church work, everyone has a responsibility and everyone helps.
Other questions about Tithing?
If you have more questions about tithing, or what it’s used for, please feel free to ask them on this site!