by Robert John Stevens, February 7, 2017
In Utah County, Utah, only 10k of 517k residents live in unincorporated areas and 290 pages of land-use ordinances restrict their rights. No or few new farms have emerged for decades.
We had a combined meeting at church two Sundays ago. The emergency preparation specialist and the Bishop announced that only 3% of families in our ward have their food supply—and we live in affluent NE Provo!
Sunday, I asked the Elders in my quorum, “Why don’t we hire teenagers to mow our lawns, rake our leaves or wash our windows?” Nobody had an answer but all were aware that it was common in their youth but rare today. I suggested that after paying tithing, dedicated families have little to nothing to spare.
This morning I woke up with the thought that tithing is the answer.
I don’t know how God would decree how tithing, or a portion of tithing, could be used for local use but I have a feeling that it could be done effectively in a manner that the church membership would see the wisdom and magnificence of it.
While I’m sure affordability might prevent some people from hiring teenagers to do their yard work, I don’t hire young men in my ward because 1) I want my kids to see me working hard in our home and 2) I want my kids out working with me in the yard. It’s a great laboratory to teach kids hard work. I did pay a college student to wash my windows.—Comments from a very smart friend
I watched my father work and I worked with him, but I earned the majority of my money by working for neighbors.
Without the ability to work for money, it is more difficult for children to develop ambition. Because neighbors took a chance and hired me in the 1970s and 1980s, I learned to meet and exceed their expectations, be honest, faithful, dependable, and trustworthy. I also learned the value of being an apprentice and the satisfaction my mentors/employers received. As I encouraged my youthful friends to get involved, I learned how to train others, delegate and treat them as co-workers or employees.
To put on my “Six Thinking Hats Black Hat” and play Devil’s advocate, no government is capable of efficient central management of money, whether tax dollars or tithing.
Ezra Taft Benson said a round trip dollar to the federal government loses much of its value. The notion that we give money to the government in hopes of getting some of it back is ludicrous and fraught with problems including force, waste, entitlement, manipulation, misuse of funds, etc.
A central-managed government, whether civil or ecclesiastical, will follow similar paths, for thus is the nature and disposition of almost all organizations.
Consider a few permutations for a solution:
1. A family withholds a portion of their tithing to buy food supply, employ neighbor’s children and to invest in a coop for local food production which may include purchasing local lands, buying or leasing equipment, planting, cultivating, harvesting and delivery.
2. A family pays tithing to the Bishop who sends it to Salt Lake who then reimburses families thru the Bishop.
3. A family pays tithing to the Bishop who then reimburses families directly as he follows prescribed guidelines.
4. A family doesn’t pay tithing in money; instead, they contribute via volunteer service as Jesus did. Actually, I prefer this model for those who can abide honestly.
I believe a heavenly system can be devised to use tithing to help members build their food supplies and employ youth. If I were living in Nauvoo in the 1840s, I’d bring up the subject with Brother Joseph and ask him to inquire of the Lord. Their tithing system was for their times. It doesn’t seem right to me today.
Today, financial pressures on familes are very different and the battle for emergency preparation and self-sufficiency is all but lost, not just temporary but to prepare for prolonged disasters that require sustained reliance on local food production for long periods of time.
I feel if trends continue, after just one more generation, the blessings of employing our youth will no longer be understood.
I hope that is clear. As an entrepreneur, I detect and sense problems. My BYU students and I may discover and validate a civil solution.