Showing posts with label blessings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blessings. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blessings & Tithing

                As far back as I can remember, the leaders have promised that if a person has the faith to pay tithing, then “the Lord will open the windows of Heaven and pour out his richest blessings”.  Leaders repeat this promise over and over, in different permutations of the original revelation on tithing made by the leader Lorenzo Snow, who promised that if members had the faith to pay tithing, then rain would come to rescue the crops from drought.  Leaders talk about how you can’t afford not to pay tithing.  They give examples of people who paid tithing and were miraculously able to make ends meet.  They promise - over and over - that having the faith to pay your tithing will result in blessings.
                And since Mormons tend to be literal when interpreting the promises of their leaders, this creates an odd dynamic.  As we repeated, over and over, “The Church is perfect.  People aren’t.”  Since the Church is perfect - and the imperfection of people provide such an easy scapegoat - a lack of material blessings is assumed to be correlated with a lack of faith. 
                My parents were poor for many years.  For them, paying tithing was an extreme act of faith, as often the money that was paid to the Mormon Church was needed to feed the family.  And yet paying tithing didn’t result in more material wealth.  My parents struggled along, trying to make the pennies match up, while performing the requirements of Mormonism with diligence.  The faith of my parents - to pay tithing even when tithing was a struggle - is an awe-inspiring testament to their commitment. 
                If you look at the members that rank higher in hierarchy - bishopric, stake presidency, General Authorities, Presidency - you will notice that these leaders are notable more for their professional and financial success.  Thomas S. Monson, the current President, was an advertising executive and eventual general manager for Deseret News Press.  His first counselor, Henry B.Eyring, is a graduate of Harvard Business School and was a professor at Stanford, as well as the president of Ricks College.  His second counselor, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, was a German aviator and airline executive.  These men were part of the middle to upper class, with significant professional achievements, when they were recruited for leadership.  I have no doubt that there are many good and faithful men from modest backgrounds; however, these men do not seem to be reflected in the makeup of the authorities that are responsible for guiding the Mormon Church. 
                Within my own ward, the leaders who were never from the “ragged” families - the families that worked blue-collar jobs while following the command to have lots of children, even if you couldn’t afford them.  Most of the leaders selected were either college professors or white-collar professionals.  I didn’t notice much of a difference between the leaders and the poorer families in terms of their character or faith.  But I did notice a difference in which families were called to leadership positions. 
                For what it was worth, I don’t think the stigma was applied to me, even though I was from a poor family.  I was a bright student and enthusiastic about my studies.  There were a number of wonderful women that stepped in to support and guide me.  But with the oft-repeated promises of receiving blessings if you are faithful enough, there is the mindset that a lack of blessings correlates with a lack of faith.