How did the church set up tithing? What did Jesus teach about tithing? Why does the church still collect funds when it told the members that someday, they would no longer be asked to pay?

Tithing in the Old Testament

Genesis 14:18-20

13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.

14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.

15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.

16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

Summary: My understanding is that Abram gave tithes only of his spoils of war to Melchizedek because Melchizedek was of the tribe of Levi. 

[Genesis 14:13-20]


Leviticus 27:30-34

30 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.

31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.

33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

34 These are the commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

[Leviticus 27:30-34]


Deuteronomy 14:21-23

21 Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.

22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.

23 And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always.

[Deuteronomy 14:21-23]


Malachi 3

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10 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.

11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.

[Malachi 3:8-11]

Tithing in the New Testament

Matthew 23:23

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to have the other undone."


Luke 11:42

"But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone."


Luke 18:12

"The Pharisee stood and prayed... I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."


Hebrews 7:2-9

"Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. ...They that are the sons of Levi, ... have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law. ...And here men the die receive tithes. .. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham."

Priestcraft in the Book of Mormon

1 Nephi 22:23

23 For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power over the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea, in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet.

[1 Nephi 22:23]


2 Nephi 10:5

5 But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.

[2 Nephi 10:5]


2 Nephi 26:29

29 He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.

[2 Nephi 26:29]


Alma 1:12

12 But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction.

[Alma 1:12]


3 Nephi 16:10

10 And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them.

[3 Nephi 16:10]


Mormon 8:32-41

32 Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.

33 O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain? Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls? Behold, look ye unto the revelations of God; for behold, the time cometh at that day when all these things must be fulfilled.

34 Behold, the Lord hath shown unto me great and marvelous things concerning that which must shortly come, at that day when these things shall come forth among you.

35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

36 And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.

37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.

38 O ye pollutions, ye hypocrites, ye teachers, who sell yourselves for that which will canker, why have ye polluted the holy church of God? Why are ye ashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that misery which never dies—because of the praise of the world?

39 Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?

40 Yea, why do ye build up your secret abominations to get gain, and cause that widows should mourn before the Lord, and also orphans to mourn before the Lord, and also the blood of their fathers and their husbands to cry unto the Lord from the ground, for vengeance upon your heads?

41 Behold, the sword of vengeance hangeth over you; and the time soon cometh that he vengeth the blood of the saints upon you, for he will not suffer their cries any longer.

[Mormon 8:32-41]

Joseph Smith's 

12 May 1838

Saturday 12th. This day Prests Smith & [Sidney] Rigdon together with myself, attended the High Council to Lay before them it, some buisness pertaining to themselves directly, and individually.

The presidency laid before them high Council, their situation, as to maintaining their families in the situation & relation they stood to the Church. spending, as they have, for eight years, their time and tallents & property in the service of the Church, and are now reduced as it were, to absolute begery, and still were detained in service of the Church, and it now become necessary that something should be done for their support, or either by the Church, or else they must do it themselves, of their own labour, labours, and if the Church said help yourselves, they would thank them, and immediately do so, but if the Church said serve us, then some provisions must be made for them.104 The subject was taken into concideration, by the Council (who acts for the Church), and thouroughly investigated. Whereupon 

Whereupon the Council voted to authorize the Bishop, to give or to make over to Prests. Joseph Smith Jr & Sidney Rigdon each an eighty of land [i.e.: eighty acres of land], situate adjacent to the city Corporation which land is the property of the Church. Also voted that a committee of three, be appointed, of the council, to contract with said presidency to their sattisfaction, for their sevices, this present year, not for preaching or for receiving the word of God by revelation, neither for instructing the saints in richteousness, but for services rendered in the Printing establishment, in translating the words ancient records &c. &c. The Committee, which consisted of Geo. W. Harris, Elias Higbee & Simeon Carter, who agreed that Prests. Smith & Rigdon should be entitled to, & receive for this year [blank]as a just remuneration for their Services.

Footnote: JS and the church faced not only limited economic resources but also the dilemma of financially supporting church officers while avoiding scriptural proscriptions against priestcraft. Prior to JS’s and Rigdon’s arrivals in Far West, the Missouri high council decided to financially support other church officers, including high counselors, the clerk of the high council, the patriarch, and the church agent. The council minutes, like the present journal entry, do not record an agreed-upon amount of remuneration. However, Ebenezer Robinson, the council clerk, recounted years later that the committee made a later recommendation to the high council of an annual stipend of $1,100 for each of the presidency. Robinson further recounted that when word of the action became known, “the members of the church, almost to a man, lifted their voices against it” and the resolution was revoked.  (Minute Book 2, 6 Dec. 1837.bMinute Book 2, 12 May 1838. Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” The Return, Sept. 1889, 136–137.)

[Joseph Smith's journal for 12 May 1838]

Minute Book 2

12 May 1838

5th Resolved That Elias Higbee, Simeon Carter, & George W. Harris be a committee to converse with Joseph Smith jr and Sidney Rigdon, to agree upon some particular price or wages for their services in the printing office & their saleries for the coming year.

6th Resolved That the Committee be authorized to instruct the Bishop to pay the First Presidescy J. Smith,& Sidney Rigdon, whatever sum they agree with them for.

[Minute Book 2, 12 May 1838]

Ebenezer Robinson

Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor," The Return, 1889

The above named committee reported to the High Council, at a subsequent meeting, but the sum agreed upon is left blank in the history, as printed. The amount they asked for was ELEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS each per annum.

The question was warmly discussed by the members of the Council until near sundown. George M. Hinkle bitterly opposed it, as the church had always been opposed to a salaried ministry. A majority of the Council however, favored the measure, so that when the vote was called, eleven voted for it, and one against it. But when it was noised abroad that the Council had taken such a step, the members of the church, almost to a man, lifted their voices against it. The expression of disapprobation was so strong and emphatic, that at the next meeting of the High Council the resolution voting them a salary, was rescinded.

[Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor," The Return, 1889]

Tithing Revelation

8 July 1838 (Far West)

A revelation

Question O Lord show unto thy servants how much thou requirest of the properties of thy people for a tithing?

Answer. Verily thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property, to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church of Zion for the building of mine house and for the laying the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood and for the debts of the presidency of my church 

and this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people and after that those who have been thus been tithed shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually and this shall be a standing law unto them forever for my holy priesthood saith the Lord. Verily I say unto you it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties and shall observe this law or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you8 and behold I say unto you if my people observe not this law to keep it holy and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me that my statutes and <​my​> judgements may be kept thereon that it may be most holy, behold verily I say unto you it shall not be a land of Zion unto you[.] And this shall be an ensample unto all the stakes of Zion even so amen

[Revelation, 8 July 1838]

According to this scripture tithing was put in place for four reasons:

  • Building of mine house
  • Laying the foundation of Zion
  • For the Priesthood
  • For the debts of the presidency of my church

It is interesting to think that tithing was never actually implemented for the purpose of helping the poor or feeding the hungry. That falls under the purpose of Fast Offerings. 

Another interesting aspect is that we are told to pay all of our "surplus" and our "interest". From Webster's 1828 dictionary "Interest" means "a share; portion; part; any surplus advantage."  Interest, surplus, and increase, are all synonymous with each other. "Surplus advantage" means "benefit; gain; profit; also interest; increase." 

Let's look at this in terms of a business. 

For a business, you can only figure out the gain when all expenses are covered. This "gain" is your increase. The total amount  of money the business makes is not the increase.

Now let's look at it in terms of personal living:

If a family or individual makes 60k a year they have to cover their expenses in order to figure out their gain. So they would need to pay for their mortgage, schooling, childcare, vehicles, food, electricity, water, etc. first in order to figure out how much they have gained -which also means "interest", "surplus" and "increase."

Instead, members of the Church have been paying tithing on either their net or gross income (depending on what kind of member they are) BEFORE they have covered their expenses. They don't know what their "interest" or their "surplus" is until those expenses are paid. 

Is everyone tithed?

No. As stated above, "those who have been thus been tithed" meaning that not everyone was tithed or will be tithed because they don't have any kind of increase or surplus. 

And in the 1899 General Conference, Lorenzo Snow spoke specifically about this topic. He said: "As I have said more than once, I know that the Lord will forgive the Latter-day Saints for their past negligence in paying tithing, if they will now repent and pay a conscientious tithing from this time on. But it would be woeful to think of the results if the Latter-day Saints had failed to listen to the voice of the servants of the Lord. It is God's truth that the time has now come when He will not look favorably upon our negligence of this principle. I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child who has means shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing."

[Seventieth Semi-Annual Conference, Lorenzo Snow, pg. 28]

However, in the church's Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual for Lorenzo Snow, published in 2012, the church conveniently scrubbed out those three words: "who has means."

[Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, 2012, pg. 160]

Brigham Young Junior, 1875

He then spoke on the subject of tithing, and said that neither himself nor any one else, either man or woman, had ever paid their tithing as it was revealed and understood by him in the Doctrine and Covenants. But however we might fall short of this and many other things, this people were the people of God and he knew it, and God would eventually bring us up to the standard he required us to occupy. There were at least three different ways that the United Order was being tried throughout the Territory. He hoped that ere long a system would be gone into, that all could unite and enter upon in earnest.

[Brigham Young Junior, October 1875, General Conference]

Overview of Tithing

What is the purpose of tithing and why are members still paying it?

Paying too much tithing

Members of the church are paying WAY too much tithing!

End of Tithing?

Apostle Boyd K. Packer reiterated a past teaching that the members would someday soon, no longer be required to pay tithing. 

We look better when we pay tithing?

Hartman Rector Jr. in April 1983

Tithing is not an option

According to David A. Bednar, we do not have the option NOT to pay our tithing. 

Tithing is a debt?

According to Jeffrey R. Holland paying tithing is discharging a debt.

Can't afford NOT to pay tithing

No bishop should hesitate to ask tithing from the poor?

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