The word tithing, or tithe, means a tenth part. The paying of tithing to the Lord and His church has been a commandment for thousands of years. The first record of tithing is found in Genesis 14:20, when Abraham paid tithing to Melchizedek. In the biblical days of the Lord’s church, the paying of tithing was not only a commandment but also a law of the land.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called Mormons by the media and those of other faiths) believe that paying tithing is still a commandment from God. Mormon beliefs teach that everything ultimately belongs to the Lord and that when we pay tithing, we are merely paying Him back in part for all that He has given us. Latter-day Saints pay “tithes and offerings,” tithes being one-tenth of one’s increase, and offerings being additional donations, especially to help the poor and the needy.
This concept is made clear in the Old Testament. Leviticus 27:30 records, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.”
Mormon tithing is a duty and a way to prove their faithfulness to the Lord. Church meetinghouses, where the congregations meet weekly, have a box adjacent to the Bishop’s office that contains receipts and envelopes, which members fill out and enclose their money in. They then give their envelopes to the bishopric, meaning the bishop of the congregation or his two counselors. The money is then counted and sent to the Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use tithing in various ways to help the Church grow and to serve members. Tithing money goes to building meetinghouses, temples, and other Church buildings; family history and temple work; and funding for missionary work all over the world. When one Latter-day Saint’s tithing is combined with the tithing of all members of the “Mormon Church,” it helps in innumerable ways and, since the LDS Church has no professional clergy, the money is not spent on salaries for church leaders. All those who serve are not compensated monetarily.
Mormons believe that it a blessing and a privilege to pay tithing, because it is a way to show gratitude to the Lord. It is important to members of the Mormon Church to know that they are helping the Church grow and to serve men and women worldwide.
Mormons believe that obeying the commandment to pay tithing is necessary to each member’s happiness and spiritual progress. Mormonism teaches that the spirit of willingness with which one gives tithing is just as important as the paying of tithing itself. Paying tithing teaches humility and shows obedience, and is founded on the same basic spiritual principle as the principle of sacrifice. Members should pay their tithing to the Lord cheerfully and with faith that the Lord will bless and protect his people when they pay tithing willingly.
In the Bible, the prophet Malachi said,
“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” (Malachi 3:10).
Mormons believe that when we pay tithing, the Lord pours out many blessings upon us. Former President and Prophet of the Church Heber J. Grant said that when the Lord’s people pay tithing, He blesses them with a greater knowledge of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, a stronger testimony, and an increased ability to obey the commandments (Conference Report, April 1925, p 10).
Mormons also believe the Lord will prosper those who pay an honest tithe, meaning they will be blessed with the material needs they require. That does not mean they will become wealthy or successful, but that they will have the things they need. God doesn’t bless everyone in the same way, but blesses them in the ways that are the best for them. Those who pay tithing can have the peace and assurance that comes from knowing they are obeying a commandment of the Lord.