Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Have you ever asked yourself how much Christ charged for his blessings, miracles, and ordinances? Not many people have thought about that, but we ought to, since a typical LDS member pays out about $500,000 as the cost of a lifetime membership in the LDS church. The truth is that Christ charged nothing for his services, which ought to make one wonder about the extreme expense of belonging to today's LDS church. But, even worse, the present arrangement almost precludes anyone from engaging in serious New Testament-mandated charity work, since all the money one might reasonably have available to do charity work is claimed by the church headquarters, where only about 1% of the money that is received there is actually used for humanitarian aid. So, when was it that Christ came back in person to undo and reverse everything that he did earlier, which included ending the law of Moses and beginning a New Testament charity-based gospel system? Did he or Moses personally come back to re-institute today's law of Moses-style highly profitable professional ministry where a single member might be expected to contribute $500,000 in membership fees in a lifetime? I know of no such momentous event being recorded of Christ reappearing to reverse all that he accomplished with his earthly life.

Christ completely ended the old law of Moses, and that included ending the old law of tithing, and the huge paid ministry of the tribe of Levites that was supported by that tithing. From then on, every man was to be his own priest, so there was no need to have a paid ministry. Christ also did away with any need for any expensive fixed Temple such as the Temple of Solomon or the Temple of Herod. Under the new church rules that took effect during and after the life of Christ, the church members had access to all the higher priesthood ordinances, including all the sealing ordinances such as eternal marriage, and yet they had no requirement to build any chapels or any temples. That meant that they could retain all of their personal resources and use them to actually live the New Testament law of charity by taking good care of their friends and neighbors. This also made them very mobile, since they had no need for any particular physical structure to fully engage in their religion.

As a practical matter, the church can have either charity or tithing, but not both. Charity was the only church welfare and finance system in effect for at least 300 years after Christ, as was also true at the beginning of this dispensation under the guidance of Joseph Smith. However, in 1896, Wilford Woodruff decided to begin using tithing for church leadership salaries, and all the current leaders (except one) began pressing very hard to reinstitute the old law of Moses version of tithing to increase central church revenue. It took a long time to become fully successful in that policy change as the church members resisted (but apparently offered no organized principled resistance), but now we have almost completely removed charity as a practical church activity and replaced it with the requirement to send 10% of our annual resources to the central church offices where it is poorly used or simply stockpiled.