This video discusses a review of the Biblical foundation and teachings across Christianity regarding the law of tithing, yet from surveys and available statistics, it appears the Latter-day Saints are the only Christian body observing this law of God and this serves as another evidence of the fruits of the restoration.
n this video in the Evidences series, I want to talk about the faithful observance of the law of tithing. I think this is one of the great evidences of the Restoration, and this has gotten a lot of attention over the last 10 or 15 years, particularly in the 2012 presidential election. Mitt Romney was running in the United States for president. His tax returns were released, and they showed him paying a very large sum in tithing.
This brought it up, and if you look on the screen here, this was the thumbnail for the video representing how even other Christians recognize there’s a strong difference between Latter-day Saints’ observance of the law of tithing and most other Christians. I’m going to get into that. Arthur Brooks wrote a fantastic book in 2006 called Who Really Cares.
Arthur is a Catholic and he came and he spoke at BYU actually, in 2009 and he gave a great address. I’m going to link to it in the video notes down below, but he actually talked about Utah. Of the 50 states in the United States, Utah was the number one state for charitable giving and the next closest one to them was 50%.
Interesting statistic, but I’ll get to some of the things he shared in a minute, but I do want to talk about the biblical foundation for tithing, what some Christians use today as a rationale for not paying tithing, or maybe paying much less than a full tithe, talk about major denominations and their teachings on tithing, and then statistics on Latter-day Saints versus other Christians in the payment of tithing, and then finish up with some scientific research on the blessings of tithing.
First of all, biblical foundations. If we start with Genesis 14, keep in mind this was many, many centuries before Moses, before the Law of Moses, Abraham says that, “Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand, and he gave him tithes of all.”
Now, the biblical definition of tithe. If you look at Strong’s Concordance here, you can see there, tenth part. In fact, the Englishman’s Concordance, if you look at these other ways to read this instead of the King James Version, “He gave him a tenth of all,” or, “Your hand gave a tenth of all.” If you look at the Webster’s Dictionary of tithing, we used to use this on my mission. I would have them get their dictionary out to look this up. “A tenth part of something paid as a voluntary contribution, or as a tax, especially for the support of a religious establishment, or the obligation represented by individual tithes. Then you have a verb down there, at the very bottom, “to give a tenth of one’s income as a tithe.”
Genesis 28, this is Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. Again, it’s multiple centuries before the Law of Moses. If you look at verse 22, “Which I accept for a pillar shall be God’s house and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” That was Jacob saying he was going to pay tithing.
Then the classic, this is the best, I think, on tithing. This is the Lord saying to test Him, to see if He won’t bless us as we honor Him through paying tithing. He says, “Will a man rob God?” Think of the wording of this, it’s very unique in scripture in a sense, speaking through Malachi the prophet, but in first person to us. He said, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, ‘Wherein have we robbed thee?’ In tithes and offerings.”
He declares, that’s how we’re robbing him. “Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Then, if you go to, in the New Testament, Matthew 23:23, Christ himself talks about payment of tithes. He says, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone.” The critical nature of that in the sense of not to have left the payment of tithing undone.
A major theme was the Law. If you think about the Sermon on the Mount, was to take the Law of Moses and elevate it. If you recall the way that many of those things were said there. Here’s the verse that many Christians will look to say, “This is the new way.” The Law of Moses was fulfilled in Christ and tithing was part of the Law of Moses, which it was, but it was also a practice well, for centuries, many centuries before the Law of Moses as well, but they said, “This is the new way.”.
2 Corinthians 9: 6-7, “But this, I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
The challenge I have with this, I can understand this maybe in isolation, but collectively with all the other scriptures that we read, particularly with the intensity of Malachi, of robbing God and of thinking of the elevation of the Law of Moses. We are to give even more. All of the scriptures, there’s 29 verses in the Bible talking about tithing, over 100 talk about giving, so it’s hard to imagine that we are to give less from the Law of Moses being fulfilled here.
Okay, now one last verse in the Bible, in the New Testament, this was after the death of Christ, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses. Here it is in Hebrews 7: 1-4, talking about tithing again. Talking about Melchizedek, who Abraham met, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all. Verse four, “Onto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”
There, now, here’s a great resource, beliefnet.com does a composite of … and here I’m listing Catholics, Protestants, and the Latter-day Saints on the approach that’s used typically for tithing and what is taught there. If you look here, Catholics, it says, “Most Catholic churches suggest that parishioners contribute 10% of their income to charity, with 5% going to the local church and 5% going to the parishioner’s charity of choice.”
The spiritual component of this is, “The concept of sacrificial giving is very important to Catholicism, both to help those less fortunate and to show gratitude for God’s gifts. The source, “Catholics follow the Bible’s words about tithing and giving, active love for the poor is also emphasized in the catechism’s treatment of the commandment, ‘You shall not steal.'”
Now, protestants. “Many Protestant churches follow the biblical exhortation to give 10% of one’s income back to God. The tithe goes to wherever a person receives his or her spiritual teaching.” Spiritual component. It says, “Many Protestant churches emphasize stewardship as the path to receiving God’s blessings and both spiritual and material abundance.” Then they quote Malachi 3, of course, and many other biblical verses for the source.
Okay, Latter-day saints “…are required to tithe 10% of their income to the church. The tithe is used to pay for the operating costs of the church, as well as the funding of new temples, missionary programs, and more. Latter-day Saints consider tithes to be sacred money and tithing is seen as a duty and a test of faithfulness.” The laws of tithing are outlined in the Latter-day Saints’ Doctrine and Covenants.
Okay, now some statistics. This is if you go to nonprofitsource.com you can see these statistics yourself. I’ll link to this in the video. First of all, and I’m going to show you the Latter-day Saints next, but to give you an idea, only 5% tithe, and this would be at a full tithing level of 10%, and 80% of Americans only give 2% of their income to charity. Christians are giving at 2.5% of income. During the Great Depression, it was 3.3%.
Only “4% of Americans, who give to their local church, do so through regular tithing. Yet when surveyed, 17% of Americans state that they regularly tithe. Okay, for families making 75,000 or greater, 1% of them gave at least 10% in tithing. The average giving by adults who attended US protestant churches is about $17 a week. 37% of regular church attendees and evangelicals don’t give money to church. 17% of American families have reduced the amount that they give to the local church this last year.”
Okay, now let’s look at the Latter-day Saints. This is the Pew Research National Survey of Latter-day Saints. The last they did on, where tithing was mentioned, is 2011. Question, “Do you pay tithing?” Those surveyed responded, 79%, “Yes,” 19%, “No.” Then, look at this, “Yes, but not a full 10%,” 1%. In other words, those that said, yes, meant that they paid 10% officially. That’s how they viewed that question and then those that refused to answer the question, 1%. Powerful.
Now, Pew actually broke down the statistics a little bit farther for the Latter-day Saints. If you look at the screen here, they actually said those that were the most active paid 96%. Those that were less active paid 41%. Also, correlated with educational attainment and income, higher education, higher income led to actually more faithful tithe paying, which is the opposite of the religious health video that I did.
If you look at that, religions that have higher income levels on average in education attainment actually have lower religious devotion. It’s a great video to watch, but the Latter-day Saints are going the opposite in that respect. I want to finish with some great thoughts on the blessings of paying tithing.
Greg Trimble is a blogger than I like to read. He’s got a great book recently, talked about, one of the chapters was on tithing. I love the way you put it. He viewed it as an investment, both the short term and the long term. Short term, the great feeling you get as, when you’re sitting in a chapel or a temple, feeling that you’re part of the contribution that built that.
God does not need our money. He needs our heart, and where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. This is part of laying up our treasures in heaven and that’s the long-term investment Greg talks about. Really fascinating.
Now, Malachi, he does use that language, prove me. Or in modern-day language, it says, test me. There’s some great links I’m going to share for the video on some scientific studies showing charitable giving increases happiness, it increases well-being, contentment, reduces stress and increases overall health. Fascinating things. Nothing to do with financial.
Spiritual blessings, I view, one of the great things in my life when I think of the blessings of paying tithing is the confidence that I get that I’m right with God when I go to pray and ask for things and blessings. That feeling of confidence from being a full tithe payer, but Malachi does say that, he has mentioned some things about fruit, that we’ll have food to eat basically, and we will not die, we will not starve to death and that we’ll be provided for, for sure.
There maybe a lot of blessings that are spiritual nature, but absolutely some will be temporal nature. If you think about it, I’ve never seen somebody starve that’s paying tithing. They will always be taken care of by God somehow. The Church will not let them starve.
Also, Arthur Brooks did this study in his book, and he talked about this at the devotional at BYU. 30,000 families were studied, and they were evaluated and analyzed. Trying to keep all things equal in doing comparisons, both race, gender, education attainment, number of kids, neighborhoods, et cetera, and then trying to just level out seeing those that were charitable, those that weren’t, and if there was a subsequent difference in income increase. They found there was a statistically significant difference that came out of this. A fascinating study. I’ll refer you to that in the notes.
The last quote I want to share is Elder Oaks in his talk on tithing. He said, “During the Great Depression, some of our bishops observed, the members who paid their tithing were able to support their families more effectively than those who did not. The tithe payers tended to keep their employment, enjoy good health, and be free from the most devastating effects of economic and spiritual depression.”
I thought that was a great quote here to finish with. I hope you enjoyed this video. Click for more. Thanks.
Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide by Arthur Brooks
Arthur Brooks (Catholic) speaking at a BYU Devotional- Why Giving Matters https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur…
The Christian Century Article on Latter-day Saints observance of tithing: https://www.christiancentury.org/arti…
LDS Living Article – Science Links Paying Tithing with Happiness, Success & More http://www.ldsliving.com/Science-Link…
Christian denominations religious teachings on Tithing (beliefnet.com): https://www.beliefnet.com/Freeform/Lo…
Studies & Statistics:
National tithing donation statistics: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-g…
Pew Research Study/Survey of Latter-day Saints Religious Beliefs & Practices: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/01/12/mo…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.