Tithing & SSA: Our Offering

You're probably already asking what tithing has to do with same-sex attraction.  I love relating SSA to seemingly unrelated topics, because then it grabs others' attention and forces them to think outside the box a bit.  To rule out a few things, however, let me just start with the first point.  We all know that paying tithing requires faith, not money, because faith is what makes it happen.  Because faith is such a broad term and because I am saving such a discussion about faith and SSA for later, I am focusing on other areas in which tithing is correlated.  In addition, tithing commonly refers back to perfect obedience.   I legitimately laugh at this, because perfect obedience and same-sex attraction certainly do not mix.  Moving on, then, let's press forward into the actual topics at hand.

To start, think to yourself how many times you've heard the net income vs. gross income debate about paying tithing in the Church.  The Church, though it has not come out with some formal declaration about tithing, has surprisingly provided some amazing clarifications about how we pay tithing.  Elder John A.Widtsoe once remarked, "...Tithing means one-tenth of a person’s income, interest, or increase. The merchant should pay tithing upon the net income of his business, the farmer upon the net income of his farming operations; the wage earner or salaried man upon the wage or salary earned by him. Out of the remaining nine-tenths he pays his current expenses … etc... Tithing should be given upon the basis of our full earned income."  Based on this statement of an apostle, I feel it appropriate to say that we should pay on our net income.  Brigham Young also said, "...all there is on this earth that we have in our possession is the Lord's and he requires one-tenth of this for the building up of His Kingdom."  The key phrase is "in our possession".  So, we ought to pay on our net income.  Now, what link is there between this and SSA?

You see, some people choose to pay gross income and in so doing will often sacrifice more than God is actually requiring of us.  Now you can understand why I had to establish my position with the prophets and apostles first- I can't say what God thinks unless it has been revealed.  Anyhow, getting back to the principle- how often do SSA members think they have to give more to God than is required of them?  For example, some members believe that it's an absolute requirement of God for them to get married in this life.  Not true.  God expects us to put forward our best efforts in that regard, and for some, that goes as far as making friends with the opposite sex.  As a result, members with SSA then take that knowledge into the afterlife where their SSA is resolved.  How about with repressing the attractions themselves?  Did God ever require of us that we should just push those emotions deep down, to let them fester away?  Hardly.  In fact, it is my personal opinion that God is opposed to such behavior because it fosters an unstable, volatile internal environment.  This, in turn, could potentially lead to acting out in sinful behavior.  I believe God is a proponent of expressing those emotions healthily or simply entertaining them with plaintive regard until they leave.  Never could I imagine my Heavenly Father expecting me to be passive or passive-aggressive with my feelings, regardless of their potential to lead to sin or not. 

Members with SSA make other sacrifices, too, and the list is more extensive than I have time to write about.  But I think it best if I cover some of the more common and unhealthy kinds.  For instance, some men deprive themselves of physical affection and healthy male friendships.  This may be a result of fear for their spiritual welfare, paranoia about increasing SSA feelings, etc.  Personally, I have discovered in my life and observed in those around me that if kept within proper spiritual and emotional boundaries, healthy touch and friendships actually serve as a healing, stabilizing catalyst in the journey with these attractions.  The former First Presidency (with President Hinckley) counseled, "Good friendships can and should be formed at every age", and this is true.  Friends create a marvelous connection by which we can draw closer to God, feel His love, bask in the joy of life, and more.  Friendship is a gift from God.  Physical affection, too, is something that Christ exemplified His entire life, particularly with John the Beloved and His other apostles.  And two of His beloved sons, David and Jonathan, enjoyed a very beautiful, sacred friendship in which they were physically affectionate as well.  Please, brothers and sisters, do not sacrifice beauty for ashes in the journey of SSA.  I know that God is willing to take our ashes and transform them into spiritual diamonds for all to see.

The other insight I have gained from tithing comes from us all paying different amounts of tithing.  The incomes of a single working mother vs. a CEO in the Church are going to be vastly different, but neither is greater in the Lord's eyes.  What matters to Him is how the gift is given, not how large the gift is.  As the scriptures say, "God loveth a cheerful giver."  Now, how about us?  Do we judge ourselves by "how much" we can offer up before the altar of the Lord, how well we're doing, the amount of progress with repentance we're making, and so on?  Or do we judge ourselves by how our heart is changing day to day, the motives that push us to serve and love our Savior and our fellow brothers and sisters, and more?  God is not so much interested in how much we give, although He is glad we have much to contribute, I'm sure.  Rather, I believe with all my heart that if we offer up what we can in our journey, doing what we can to draw nearer to the Lord, He will receive our offering with joy and a blessing upon our heads.  We can give so much from day to day...and sometimes what we can give will differ on a day-to-day basis.  But thank goodness the same God who said we would be judged according to our works also said that we should only think about today.  One day at a time, we can make today a heavenly day- and give God our offering. 

No comments:

Post a Comment