1. Tithing is a lesser law and, by its nature, is temporary. The "standing law" of tithing is "forever" in the sense the law of Moses was "forever." It is a standing law from God, which means it remains in force indefinitely until it is fulfilled, or repealed, or replaced.
2. President Joseph F. Smith promised in 1907 that the day would come when we would no longer be asked to pay tithing, as soon as the storehouse of God had sufficient funds to meet the needs of the Church. Today the Church has over $124 billion dollars invested in financial markets.
3. Jesus did NOT teach tithing to the New Testament Church or to the Nephite Church after his resurrection; He did NOT instruct them to observe the law of tithing.
4. So how did we end up with tithing in this dispensation? Because in 1838 the Church asked the Lord to tell them how much tithing they should pay. Seriously.
5. So the Lord answered the Church according to their desires, like He did to the Israelites in the Old Testament. "You wanna pay tithing? Really? Well, here ya go."
6. Tithing is NOT part of the law of the gospel.**
** The institutional payment of tithing today is akin to what the Israelites practiced in ancient times, and is not to be confused with what Abram did, giving tithes to Melchizedek, which is a story for another day.
7. D&C 119 described three reasons for the saints to pay tithing:
a. To build the Far West Temple (never happened); b. To lay the foundations of Zion (ditto); c. To pay the debts of the First Presidency (mission accomplished).
8. The Church has not been in debt since 1907.
Does Tithing Mean 10% of Our Income?
A synonym is "a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language, for example shut is a synonym of close."
What are some synonyms for "tax?" Well, according to thesaurus.com, some synonyms include "duty," "expense," "levy," "tariff," "assessment," "dues," "tribute," and . . . wait for it . . . "tithe."
What is the difference between a tax and a tithe? If we don't pay tax, they confiscate our home; if we don't pay tithes, they confiscate our temple recommend. Which is worse?
Now let's look at the official definition of tithing today. The Church says tithing is "a tenth of their 'increase,' or income, annually."
Now we have to decide if "increase" as used in D&C 119 is a synonym for "income." What do you think?
Witness: Edward Partridge
I call to the stand Edward Partridge.
Me: "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
Partridge: "I do."
Me: What is your calling in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Partridge: "I am the bishop of Zion, or what you would call the Presiding Bishop of the Church."
Me: "And were you entrusted with the financial affairs of the church under Joseph Smith?"
Me: "Were you present on 8 July 1838 when Joseph dictated D&C 119?"
Partridge: "Well, it wasn't Section 119 back then. The revelation was received after the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants was published, so it didn't make it into the scriptures until 1844 as Section 107 (which was after I had passed on).
Me: "I see. But you are familiar with the contents of said revelation?"
Partridge: "Oh yes, very."
Me: "Good. Tell us, then, was the "one tenth of all their interest annually" referring to a person's income?"
Partridge: "Oh, heavens no!"
Me: "Please explain."
Partridge: "Well, the saints were to donate their surplus property and then, as I told Newel K. Whitney just two weeks after the revelation was given, 'to pay annually one tenth of all their interest. that is if a man is worth a $1000, the interest on that would be $60, and one/10. of the interest will be of course $6.— thus you see the plan.'” (Edward Partridge, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, 24 July 1838, in Reynolds Cahoon, Far West, MO, to Newel K. Whitney, Kirtland, OH, 23 July 1838, CHL.)
Me: "Hold on. Why would interest on $1000 be $60, of which you only paid one-tenth, so $6.00 total on $1000?"
Partridge: "Because in 1838, the laws of Ohio and Missouri fixed the interest rate at six percent (6%). Everybody knew that." (See, footnote 7 on the Joseph Smith Paper's annotations of D&C 119.)
Me: "So you, and everyone else at the time, understood that "one tenth of your interest" was, actually, one-tenth of six percent, which is . . . "
Partridge: "0.006 percent."
Me: That can't be right. That would mean tithing on $100,000.00 would only be . . . "
Me: "That's a major difference! 0.10 vs. 0.006."
Partridge: "Why are you bringing up 0.10?"
Me: "Because that's what we are told to pay today as tithing."
Me: "Because on August 15, 1844, six weeks after Joseph died, Brigham Young and the Twelve issued an epistle stating members were required to pay 'a tenth of all their property and money . . . and then let them continue to pay in a tenth of their income from that time forth.'"
Partridge: " . . . "
Who Cares How Tithing Was Calculated in the Old Days?
Someone says, "So what? Yeah, they did things differently back in Joseph Smith's day. But we have modern prophets and apostles. And they've told us that tithing means ten percent of our income, period."
However, that question is speaking about the prophetic prerogative, which is a wholly different subject than the one we are currently addressing. So stay tuned.