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In a recent article highlighting Mitt Romney’s charitable giving, the New York Times shared a graph that outlines the amount of giving major religions in America contribute.  The LDS, or Mormon Church’s members give nearly twice as much as the denomonation in the number two spot.

Here’s the breakdown of the average percentage of giving per member of each denomonation:

  1. Mormon: 5.6%
  2. Assemblies of God: 2.9%
  3. Nondenominational Evangelical: 2.6%
  4. Baptist: 2%
  5. Lutheran: 1.5%
  6. Jewish: 1.4%
  7. Orthodox: 1.3%
  8. Methodist: 1.2 %
  9. Episcopalian: 1.2%
  10. Presbyterian: 1.2%
  11. Catholic: .7%
  12. Muslim/Buddhist: .6%

Since paying tithing is a requirement for Mormons to attend the temple, I can understand how they could have a relatively high percentage.  Also, regular church attendance for Mormons is usually around 50% and since the tithing requirement is 10%, I can see how the Mormon church members are at around 5%.

For other Christian faiths, I’m actually pretty amazed how low the charitable giving is.  My understanding was that tithing is a law for all Christian faiths, but evidently I’m wrong about that.  Also, I’m amazed that giving isn’t up for Christians merely based on the fact that Jesus taught about giving to those in need.

Last week’s article was about how to develop Charity (which we identified is the pure love of Christ) in one’s life.  This week, I thought it would be appropriate to share how you can measure the extent that you have Christ’s love in your heart.  These suggestions were given by members of our Stake Presidency on how to measure if one has pure love, or charity in their heart:

1. You feel a sincere desire to help others

2. Praying daily for charity

3. Looking for opportunities to serve, first within your own home and then with your neighbors

4. Being kind and patient in word and deed (even when it is hard)

5. Thinking about others’ needs

He had about 4-5 more that he discussed, but he talked so fast I couldn’t write them all down!

Some additional ideas I considered afterwards include:

1. Willingness to forgive

2. Not judging others

What other ways would you suggest as a good way to measure if on has the pure love of Jesus?

Mormon churches meet in congregations organized geographically called “wards”.  8-10 wards combine to make a “stake”.  Every six months the LDS, or Mormon Church organizes a meeting where the stake called “Stake Conference”.   At the stake conference, leaders of the stake (the Stake Presidency, organized by a president and 2 counselors) addresses the congregation on matters they feel that are necessary for the members of the stake.

The theme chosen by our stake presidency was charity.

Typically, when we think of charity today, we think of giving money or means to people suffering.  This is charity, indeed, but the scriptures show that charity is deeper than that.

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 13 (KJV), Paul states that charity is the greatest gift to have, even greater than that of knowledge, prophecy, and faith.

In the Book of Mormon, in the book of Moroni, chapter 7, the prophet Mormon shares some thoughts on charity that are similar (almost verbatim in some parts) as Paul.  Some key differences are that he includes a definition of what charity is (it is the pure love of Christ see v. 48) and that we should pray daily that we can be filled with that love so that when we come before Christ we are filled with His love.

With these thoughts in mind, I’ll share some points one of the counselors of the Stake Presidency shared with us in how we can develop Charity.  He told us there are 10 ways, which include:

1. Daily Prayer

2. Daily Scripture Study (preferably in the beginning of the day)

3. Attending Sacrament Meeting (Communion)

4-10.  He said to fill these ones in according to what we feel moved to do.

Therefore, for a fun little activity, I thought I could enlist some help from those of you who stop by and read frequently.

What would you list on 4-10 on how we can develop christ-like love in our lives?

P.S.  One thing that stood out to me from his talk was to begin within the walls of our own home.  Sometimes it’s very easy to be kind to others and serve others but difficult to be nice to our own family.

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve heard conservatives within the LDS and without the LDS church openly denouce homosexual relationships.  As most of us also know, the LDS or Mormon church has taken a political stance to openly support groups in favor of not legalizing gay marriage alongside the Catholic and other predominantly Christian faiths.

As an LDS member, I’ve seen the church’s stand divide members.  Historically, the Mormon Church’s leadership has advised its membership not to mix religion and politics, but in this case it is evident that the LDS Church puts aside that advice and has pushed for political action.

Although I feel the intentions of the LDS church are not to be anti-gay, I have sensed that some members of the LDS church may view the Church’s actions as being anti-gay, or promoting intolerance, etc.  I’ve even heard some members who have said they would never allow a gay person in their homes so their kids wouldn’t be corrupted.

I personally do not condone homosexuality, and I feel that I’m a pretty tolerant person.  However, I’ve wondered myself how I would react if one of my children, relatives, or close friend were to come into my home with their significant other.

The opportunity knocked on my door late in the evening recently—literally.  We were having a birthday party for my oldest daughter and family and friends were gathered around our home.  It was about 7:30 p.m. and we heard a knock.  The party had been going for a couple hours already so we joked it must be someone late to the party.

When I opened the door, I was surprised to see a relative of mine, who was a returned missionary but had since left the Mormon faith and come out that he was gay.  He had felt unwelcome by our family in recent years and had chosen not to participate in reunions and such.

My first reaction was a bit of surprise, but then I felt a genuine excitement to see him.  All thoughts of him being gay were gone and I remembered how personable and nice he was.  I saw his partner (also a former elder of the LDS church) coming out of the car as well and again, I didn’t feel any sense of judgement or hesitation to let them both into my home.

They both sat down and I introduced him to everyone in my wife’s family.  We sat down and had a very good discussion, catching up on life in general and how each of us were doing.  As they explained the efforts they had made to come visit, I even felt more appreciative that they had stopped by.  On the way through our town, he had remembered the name of the town and called my uncle for our address and phone number.  My uncle only had our address so he and his partner turned around and back-tracked about 45 minutes to get to our house, not knowing if we would be there, but willing to take the time to stop by.

Our evening together was very pleasant.  Our discussion was a very normal conversation and not once did I feel like taking my kids and hiding them in the back room as they both interacted with our kids.

It wasn’t until they had both left and I started thinking about our conversation that I remembered they were gay and that I had wondered within myself how I would react if someone who was gay were to come by with their other half in front of my kids.  I was glad for the experience as the official words from the LDS church’s position on homosexuality became a reality for me:

…we reach out with understanding and respect to people with same-gender attraction.

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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