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Recently our Bishop (Pastor) got up in church and said there were many in the congregation who were suffering financially due to a loss of a job or other circumstances.  He asked us to pray for them and also to give extra money in our fast offerings that upcoming Sunday to help some of them pay for their housing expenses.

I will outline the principle of paying tithing and fast offerings for those not familiar with the LDS faith.  Members of the LDS congregations are asked to pay both tithing and fast offerings. 

The most direct definition I’ve found on what tithing is comes from a statement from the First Presidency (the LDS prophet and his counselors) which states:

The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this. (First Presidency letter, 19 March 1970.)

Other LDS apostles, such as  Robert D Hales have stated that paying tithing is “part of a celestial law which we must live if we are to attain eternal life and exaltation in the celestial kingdom.”

Clearly, paying tithing is something taken seriously by the LDS church and ultimately the Lord as outlined in the scriptures.  From what I understand, the money given to the church in the form of tithing goes to building up churches and temples and keeping the church operational throughout the world.  It is important to note that the LDS church operates with a lay ministery and therefore, there are no paid clergy.

In addition to paying tithing, LDS members are also asked to fast from two meals once a month on the first Sunday of the month.  This is called Fast Sunday.  The funds given to through fast offerings are the ones that are given to help the poor and needy within the congregation.  The description of this and definition according to the LDS Handbook of Instructions is as follows:

The Lord has established the law of the fast and fast offerings to bless His people and to provide a way for them to serve those in need (see Isaiah 58:6–12; Malachi 3:8–12). When members fast, they are asked to give to the Church a fast offering at least equal to the value of the food they would have eaten. If possible, they should be generous and give more. Blessings associated with the law of the fast include closeness to the Lord, increased spiritual strength, temporal well-being, greater compassion, and a stronger desire to serve.

Understanding the definitions of both tithing and fast offerings, I mentioned to my wife that perhaps this month we could put all of the money we would normally pay for tithing towards the fast offering fund in order to help more people, rather than sending it to the general tithing fund, which is used to build churches, etc.  I figured that since the Bishop got up and requested more funds that it would be o.k. for that month. 

She didn’t like that idea and also when I asked my home teachers what they thought about doing that, one of them told me I was on a “slippery slope” if I did that.  We went ahead and paid both tithing and then more than we normally would for the fast offerings.

A week or so later, I was talking with a close family member who had a similar situation happen in their congregation.  He had opted to not pay tithing for that month.

It got me curious, so I did some more research and came across an interesting story, which I’ll share below. 

President George Albert Smith taught a very important lesson on the disposition of tithes. He told of inviting a boyhood friend, whom he had not seen for some time, to accompany him to a stake conference. This friend had achieved success in the financial world. As they were driving home from the conference, he told President Smith about his method of paying tithing. He said that if he made ten thousand dollars, he would put one thousand dollars in the bank for tithing. Then, he said, when someone needed money for a worthwhile cause, he would write them a check. “Little by little I exhaust the thousand dollars,” he said, “and every dollar of it has gone where I know it has done good.” Then he asked President Smith what he thought of that plan.

President Smith replied: “I think you are a very generous man with someone else’s property. You have not paid any tithing. You have told me what you have done with the Lord’s money, but you have not told me that you have given anyone a penny of your own. He is the best partner you have in the world. He gives you everything you have, even the air you breathe. He has said you should take one-tenth of what comes to you and give it to the Church as directed by the Lord. You haven’t done that; you have taken your best partner’s money, and have given it away.”

About a month later, the two men met on the street, and President Smith was happy to learn that his friend was paying his tithing as the Lord has directed. (See Improvement Era, June 1947, p. 357.)

After reading this, I can understand why people including my hometeachers and wife were emphatic about paying tithing over fast offerings.  It is a commandment to pay that money and it isn’t up to us to decide how to use the Lord’s money.  I can also understand why someone would still decide to do whay I had proposed since tithing (according to the aforementioned definition) is “annual” income and not monthly income.

What are your thoughts?

 Recently I had a close family member get married in the temple to an awesome guy.  This young man was the only member of the LDS church in his family and it was an uncomfortable situation (to say the least) for the bride, groom, and family members involved.  Although there was a ring ceremony for those who couldn’t attend the temple, from what it appeared, there was an unpleasant taste in their mouths so to speak about the LDS Church and their policy with not allowing them to watch the wedding ceremony. 

This situation is something that is a sore spot for many people.  In fact, one blogger shares an example of someone who went as far to say that one of the main reasons why Mormons are not Christians is because they keep parents from watching their kids get married.

So what is the solution?

It appears that some people feel that a petition to the First Presidency of the Church to change the temple policy is the way to go as seen on this website.

Some people on the petition site express how in other countries a temple marriage is not counted as a civil marriage and therefore LDS couples are allowed to get married civily first and then go to a temple “sealing” shortly afterwards.  Currently in the United States, if a couple gets a civil marriage first, they have to wait a year before they can go through the temple to get “sealed” (or married).

Others believe that if you follow certain steps of preparing non-member friends and family, heartache can be avoided, as seen on this site.

Personally, I do not feel that anything one can do or say can reduce the hurt a non-LDS family member feels by not being allowed to watch their close relative get married.  However, I can also understand how people may feel that it lessens the purpose of the temple and maybe puts their commitment to the Lord in second place if they get married civily first.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Should the LDS church make exceptions for family members and allow them into the temple just for sealings?  Should they allow couples in the U.S. to get married civily first and then married in the temple shortly thereafter as they do in other countries?  Do you feel that if the LDS church allowed non-LDS people to participate in the temple that feelings towards the Church would be better and possibly a missionary tool?

Over the years I’ve heard rumors that the Star Wars character, Yoda, was patterned after the LDS prophet, Spencer W Kimball.  For those of you who are not familiar with Spencer Kimball, here is a picture of him:

Compare that picture with Yoda and you can see a slight resemblance (minus the green face!):

Recently, we took my niece, who is a huge Star Wars fan to the local Art Museum for a Star Wars Exhibit.  I learned there that this myth was false and that Yoda was actually patterned after Einstein as shown in the picture I took at the exhibit:

So next time you hear that rumor floating around, now you know the true story!

Mormons are known for the revelation given to Joseph Smith commonly called the “Word of Wisdom”, which is the law of health.  Part of the Word of Wisdom includes things that individuals should not consume such as alcohol, and “hot drinks”, which the LDS prophets have interpretted to mean caffeinated tea and coffee. 

I read a study on line from UC Davis that stated the caffeine content of some energy drinks can be as high as 294 mg/bottle, which is 50 mg more than the highest amount of your typical tea, coffee, or cola drink.  In addition, when you add the amounts of sugar to the drinks, they become something that definitely are more damaging to the body than any tea or coffee.  See the chart below for caffeine and sugar content in popular energy drinks:

Drink Serving (fl. Oz.) Servings per container Sugar per serving Caffeine per serving Kcal
Diet Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 0g 80 10
Full Throttle™ 8 2 29g 72 111
Go Girl Sugar Free™ 12 1 0g 150 3
Lo-Carb Monster XXL™ 8 3 3g 80 10
Monster Energy Assault™ 8 2 27g 80 100
Monster Energy XXL™ 8 3 27g 80 100
Red Bull Sugar Free™ 8.3 1 0g 80 10
Red Bull™ 8.3 1 27g 80 110
Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 30g 80 130
Rockstar Juiced™ 8 2 21g 80 90
Wired 294 Caffeine™ 8 2 26g 147 100
Note: This table does not include amounts of other stimulants found in energy drinks that can enhance the effects of
caffeine.          

With all that caffeine in all of the drinks, along with the stimulants found in many of them that enhance the effects of caffeine, coupled with sugar, an energy drink is far worse than a cup of Joe in my opinion.

In general, I think it is good to treat our bodies with respect and not put harmful substances in them.  I find it interesting though that coffee and tea are laid out specifically as things to avoid, whereas things like energy drinks are left to our own discretion.  I think we should avoid all of them, personally.

A point of discussion, however, is in regards to temple worthiness and the Word of Wisdom.  Mormons who follow the Word of Wisdom (i.e. don’t drink coffee, tea, alcohol, use drugs, etc.) can go into the LDS temples.  Those who do not follow the counsel to not drink coffee, tea, etc. can not attend the temple.   In theory, people could be putting down energy drinks that are much worse than coffee, yet be allowed to attend the LDS temples.

Do you think they should add Energy Drinks to the list for the Word of Wisdom?  Why or why not?

Also, if energy drinks are worse than coffee, if one drinks coffee and not energy drinks, do you think they are justified in saying they follow the Word of Wisdom?

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