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I know that the Mormon church requires members to tithe regularly. Otherwise, their membership may be restricted, until they tithe. My question is, do members have to tithe in money? Are they allowed to tithe in food items? Maybe a Mormon has a garden of orange trees in his or her backyard, and decides to tithe 10% of the yield to the church. Would the church put a minimum requirement on the quality of the oranges, or is the mere existence of the orange sufficient? Maybe a Mormon is very good at cooking and prepares a wonderful dish of casserole for the church. Are prepared foods allowed? Can they serve as a replacement for tithing in money?

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2 Answers 2

As in the Bible, tithes in the LDS Church were once commonly paid in-kind, that is in livestock, crops, land, etc.

Nowadays, tithing is usually paid with money because (1) that is what most people earn (2) it is easiest to account for and (3) financial contributions are easiest to process/use. (You can't build a church out of oranges.)

That said, the LDS church does accept donations in kind.

LDS Church Donations-in-Kind Office

  • Address:

    Donations-in-Kind Rm 1514

    50 E North Temple

    Salt Lake City, UT 84150

  • Phone: 800-453-3860 ext 2-2554, or 801-240-2554

  • Fax: 801-240-2202

  • Email: donationsinkind@ldschurch.org

Most often, though, these these will be stocks, bonds, or real estate.

If someone wants to make a local donation (e.g. oranges):

  1. Give the donation to the local bishop.

  2. The bishop sends to the Donations-in-Kind office a letter stating the donor, the date, the description of the item, and the approximate value (for tax and accounting purposes).

As far as quality/quantity, it's the same as in the Bible: give God the best of what you have.

Genesis 4:4

And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering

Exodus 12:5

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats

Also, it's worth mentioning that the LDS Church has very little to say about the details of tithing (before or after taxes, personal business, etc), other than it is "10% of increase/income." No further statement or clarification has been made.

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Otherwise, their membership may be restricted, until they tithe.

Membership itself is not restricted in any way. See this question. However, it is true I believe that entering the temple requires that you be a full-tithe payer.

Do members have to tithe in money?

Today, it is generally and officially declared that tithing is ten percent of one's income, and has nothing to do with one's current posessions. In particular, this means that as long as your income is an amount of money, your tithing will also be an amount of money. I believe this is universal at least in the US (where you pay tithing by filling out a slip, and the slip allows only cash or check). The doctrine is of course open for interpretation, and it is possible the situation is different in poorer countries.

Historically and I believe biblically, tithing was much more based on property. In 1837 (1) tithing was 2 percent of your net worth, including property, and the Law of consecration was a more extreme, almost communistic law (which didn't work out too well) requiring members to give all their money and property, and have returned to them what they needed (2). The Law of consecration was discontinued but is still considered the highest law; in other words, if the membership of the church was perfect, they would follow the law of consecration.

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What if you are unemployed or in college or just graduated from college but have no work yet? –  Anonymous May 26 at 18:13
@Anonymous Typically, if you're not generating income, you do not owe tithing. Likewise, full-time missionaries do not pay tithing while they are serving. –  Matt May 26 at 22:58
@Matt So, does that mean, as a college student or fresh young college graduate, you can get free access to the Mormon church, since you may not have a steady full-time job during this time? –  Anonymous May 27 at 1:01
@Anonymous Well, anyone gets "free access" to the Mormon church. But how you determine what to tithe is a personal matter. If you have an increase, it should get tithed. It gets complicated quick though if you start enumerating what should and shouldn't be tithed. (Tithing is a higher law than the Law of Moses, which would have enumerated.) –  Matt May 27 at 1:04
@Anonymous Like Matt said "free access" is granted to all. Even in determining your worthiness to hold a temple recommend. You are asked if you are a full tithe payer. You answer yes or no. The Church does not send out auditors to determine if you are lying or not. It is up to you to determine what your full 10% tithe is. –  Nelson May 27 at 6:46
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