Friday, September 18, 2009

Pay Tithing First To Put God First???

So, I was thinking about tithing a bit this week.  Rather a theoretical commandment for me, at the moment, till I actually start having "increase" again that isn't due to a massive influx of debt. My wife and I have talked about the "pay the Lord first" concept before, but it came up again this week.  I really don't understand the justification of those teaching this position.  It surprises me to see it taught as if it were the "scriptural" way of doing things... often citing references to the Old Testament, and commandments to bring the "first fruits" as offerings.

The reason this bothers me is that all these passages referring to first fruits are most certainly not referring to tithing.  The ancient Israelites were commanded to offer many different sacrifices, for different reasons.  But in an agrarian society, paying tithing using the first fruits is a real impossibility.  Tithe literally means tenth.  It's a percentage.  It cannot be calculated until the total is known.  If I have 100 cows that are pregnant, I'm not commanded to bring the first ten calves and pay them as tithing. Why? What if 10 cows abort? Stillborn calves.  Calves dying shortly after birth.  Twins born. Etc.  My debt to the Lord would change significantly.

So that isn't the case today.  We can, with relative certainty, predict the size of our "harvest" and number our "flocks" without waiting to see for sure.  But that doesn't change the fact that the commandment to tithe had nothing to do with first fruits.  This is a modern conflation of tithes with other offerings.  Now, I know the point people are trying to teach, that we need to place priority on serving the Lord, and on obeying him... but I don't think we can say that just because we do something first we're putting it above him priority wise.  I generally get my homework done before recreating with my wife, but that doesn't mean I think that homework is more important than she is.

Is the Lord angry with those that pay their tithing, before their other bills?  Perhaps not.  But I also can't imagine that he would be the least bit displeased with those who pay their mortgage, car payment, insurance, etc. first, then hope they have enough left for tithing. This isn't a net vs gross issue, which I also find interesting.  It's a chronological first vs last.

Honestly, I imagine it's the reason we even do tithing settlement. So we can pay up once we've been able to calculate our interest from the prior year.  This has got me thinking too, and I've decided that there's really no good reason we have to use the calendar year for our obeying the "anually" part of the commandment.  Why not have our own personal tithing settlement every July, or something.  It seems December is the worst possible time, for a lot of families, by the time they pay for Christmas related expenses, to come up with extra cash they realize they ought to pay as tithing.  Why not do it right after we file taxes, or better yet, receive our tax returns?

So, any thoughts on why we need to pay tithing first, or why December is good time for tithing settlement? Or anything else tithing related, I suppose?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer’s Over

It’s been a short summer, if you ask me.  Too short. So sad, too, to be going back to school already. There were still so many things I’d planned on doing this summer (like posting more on this blog – sorry, ended up spending most of the time at my in-laws… sans internet)

But what can you do.  Try to do better I guess.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Testimony or Conversion

Visiting my wife's family has caused me to think about things a bit differently. Some background. I grew up in a partially-active family (dad's only been to church a few times in last 15-20 yrs... mainly missionary farewells) in a very Mormon community. My wife grew up in a SUPER-active family in VERY non Mormon community. I've noticed some differences here compared to where I grew up. When my wife talks about friends who joined the church, then stopped coming, they "left the church." For me, that term was reserved for excumunicates and those who had their names removed.

Now, something that's bothered me a bit, is her family's tendency to judge others based on testimony. It's a regular subject of conversation when talking about others. "Does he have a testimony?" etc. I'm not necessarily condemning them here for unrighteous "judging," but rather questioning their measuring stick.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Gospel vs. Science - Automatic Victory?

So I was listening to a talk on the radio the other day... it had the feel of a BYU devotional or CES fireside. I don't know who the speaker was, but they quoted (I hate when people do this, so I'm trying to track down the quote) Elder Maxwell on the subject of conflicts between science and religion. He said something about how the gospel embraces all truth, and that true science never conflicts with the gospel.
The speaker then went on to point out that our understanding of science is limited, but that the eternal gospel is unlimited. That, for him, when there is a conflict, it doesn't bother him for they will one day be reconciled.
All well and good. But here's my problem with the idea: While it's true that our knowledge of science (both individually, and collectively) is quite limited and imperfect. And it is true that the eternal gospel is limitless and complete and perfect. But, since when did we believe that our understanding of the gospel is complete and perfect? We don't! Continuing revelation is not just about establishing new quorums of Seventy and calling new Apostles. It's about revealing the Christ didn't, in person, actually go to the spirits in Prison, despite the fact that the Bible says he did. It's about eternal damnation not really meaning damnation of an eternal duration, but rather of an Eternal kind (being God's - where one of His chosen names is Eternal).
So revelation has, can, and will continue to change our understanding of the doctrines of the Eternal Gospel. So why, when a conflict arises, is there an automatic victory for the currently held belief in the church? Isn't it just as likely (ok, maybe the odds are not the same. They could be higher or lower) that the prophet will later reveal a change as it is that the scientific evidence will be overturned by newer research?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Future of Medicine

I was having an interesting conversation the other day with a Family Practice doc. He works in a rural community. He's one of those docs who does everything. He takes care of pregnant women, delivers their babies, takes care of the kids, and all the way up to the elderly in a nursing home. And he's struggling to make ends meet. It just really got me thinking about Obama's new socialized medicine plans. There's pretty much no way I can see that having an optional national healthcare plan will work in the long run. I think that if we are going to offer this plan to people, more and more companies are going to stop their health plans, or at least cut back on them. The program will just keep growing and growing. And here's the deal... some people think you can pay for this by (at least in part) cutting payments to doctors.
And here's what's going to happen. There are going to be more and more docs who decide that taking care of Medicare/aid (and whatever this new program will end up being called) patients is just too big of a hastle. I've talked to him a bit about how much trouble he has already, with medicare being one of the worst reimbursers out there. There will come a point, and I think that's going to be just as all these baby boomers are suddenly needing all this healthcare, when a decent number of docs are simply going to say, no thanks. Cash only, please. (or maybe private insurance if it's still around)
And then what are we going to do?

By the way, sorry about the delay. Finals, internships, moving, etc have really kept me from getting anything put up here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Giving Your Kids What They Want

It's interesting, as I've been reading Rough Stone Rolling, how my eyes have been opened a little bit as far as parenting goes. Let me explain. I was raised in a family where you were expected to work from a young age. I bought all my own clothes/entertainment (with the exception of some Christmas/Birthday presents) by the time I was in Jr. High. I never once expected my parents to pay for my mission. I knew I'd be paying for college, so I worked hard to get scholarships. I never even thought of asking them to buy me a car. That was my responsibility. I always felt like that was really an ideal way to raise kids, as it taught me and my siblings a great deal of responsibility, taught us to be good with money, to take care of and appreciate our belongings.
But, as I was reading about Joseph's predecessors, it seems that many of them struggled with feelings of complete inadequacy because they failed to provide each of their sons with a house and a farm when they came of age.
So I guess for me the question isn't so much of if it's a good thing to provide such things. I guess I'd always thought that the historical trend was going more the other way, toward giving them more things. But if back in the late 1700's parents were already not just giving their kids these things, but actually feeling bad if they didn't, is the whole "teaching your kids responsibility by not giving them what they want" thing a new idea? Or is my family just weird?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Delay

Sorry Everyone... School has just been really crazy lately. Hopefully I'll get a new post out in the next couple of days... I figure that last one was long enough for a few posts.