Picture is Worth a Thousand Words If we anthropomorphized Tithing, here's what it might look like:
If we anthropomorphized free-will, loving alms given to those in need, this is how it might look:
Whose lunch table would you rather sit at?
Would you rather sit with the stylish, rich, popular and handsome Tithing (with his beautiful buildings and wool suits and silks and scarlets) . . .
. . . or with poor Lazarus whose only companions are sore-licking canines?
(No way we're taking our tater tots near those mutts.)
Jesus was always getting into trouble for hanging out with publicans, prostitutes, poor people, and lepers, wasn't he?
Well, have we been courting the wrong crowd for the past 200 years? Maybe casting our lots with Tithing, and trying to be "friends with the mammon of unrighteousness" (D&C 82:22) has gone too far.
I say, the time has come to un-friend mammon for good.
Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man
Fun Fact: The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is the only parable where Jesus gave someone a name. Was it a coincidence he chose the name Lazarus?
Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
(Luke 16:15, 19-31)
Wanna bet the rich man paid a full tithe?
Why Won't Tithing Work?
Now I want to look at why Tithing will never produce the fruits of the celestial law. Because Tithing is not the Lord's way.
Take a magnifying glass to the following scripture found in D&C 104:15-18--
And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
Woah, that's a lot of possessive pronouns. This short verse makes three propositions to set up the Lord's law:
1. The Lord has a specific purpose (and there is nothing that the Lord takes in his heart to do but what he will do it). The Lord means it. His purpose is His plan, his mission.
2. And what is the Lord's purpose? "To provide for my saints." There it is. The Lord's temporal law: to take care of the needs of his children. He is possessive of them, isn't he?
3. Everything in this world is His. The cattle upon the thousand hills are his. All our possessions are actually his possessions. So we are not "owners" but are merely stewards of whatever he places in our hands.
But it must needs be done in mine own way . . .
Okay, here we see that we cannot do this on our own. Capitalism won't work. Communism won't work. Consecration didn't work, did it?
Why? Because it was not done in the Lord's way.
And behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints . . .
Here it comes! The Lord is going to reveal his plan for providing for his saints.
And notice that we cannot change "the way" because the Lord has already "DECREED" it. Remember, "the decrees of God are unalterable" (Alma 41:8).
That the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
There it is. That's it! Just 13 words. The IRS Tax Code is over a million words long. The King James Bible is around 800,000 words.
But the Lord only needed a baker's dozen. (Perhaps it was his way of throwing in a little extra for "good measure.")
But how are the poor exalted? How are the rich made low?
Does Tithing Accomplish the Lord's Purpose?
Hmmm. So now we come to it, at last. Does tithing accomplish the Lord's purpose of providing for his saints?
Not at all.
The rich who pay tithing are still rich and do not make themselves "low."
The poor are still poor because tithing is not used to exalt them.
So it appears that tithing has not, and cannot, accomplish the Lord's purpose.
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
The Lord cannot force us to participate in his purpose because we have agency. And we have to ask ourselves, who wants to use their agency to become equal? To become one?
As "agents unto ourselves" we are not beholden to a government or a church that makes us, taxes us, guilts us, or threatens us, to give.
The Lord's way only works if we are filled with the Lord's love. The only giving that matters is that which brings us together into loving relationship.
Otherwise, this is what we end up with:
If a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
As opposed to the law of the gospel, which requires:
I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother as himself.
(D&C 38:25) Wherefore Art Thou Romeo?
Why do the rich cling to their money in gated estates? Is it because the rich are greedy?
Why do the poor envy the rich and blame them for their woes? Is it because the poor are greedy?
Because we're all greedy?
Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.
Does that last part remind us of the rich man in the Parable who wanted Lazarus to relieve his suffering, when in life he had done nothing to relieve Lazarus's?
Notice that it says "according to the law of my gospel" -- NOT "according to the law of tithing." Tithing is not part of the gospel law (see, New Testament; Book of Mormon; Zion . . . )
Problem: the rich believe their riches are their own. They believe they've earned that money and it is a result of their industry, hard work and intelligence.
Problem: the poor believe the riches of the rich are theirs. They believe they are victims of systemic injustice and inequality.
How does the Lord solve this problem?
Heeeello, Common Consent. So glad you could join us. (To be continued)