The Tithing … Ellipsis

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Punctuation Lesson

An ellipsis (…) is used to omit unnecessary detail from a quote. It usually indicates an intentional omission of a word, sentence, or whole section from a text without altering its original meaning. (It also functions to indicate that the speaker has trailed off and left a sentence or thought unfinished. Like here… )

Consider the phrase:

“The sky is blue today and the grass is green.”

Example phrase

and the same phrase with ellipses:

“The sky is blue … and the grass is green.”

Proper use, does not change the meaning of the phrase

“The sky is … green.”

Improper use of ellipsis

Tithing Lesson

The church requires tithing from it’s faithful members. Tithing is currently interpreted as giving ten percent of one’s income, though originally it was ten percent on one’s surplus and was not required). It claims this has always been and is the law of God. It claims that all this money is put to good use by those in the know and we don’t need to worry about it. It urges members to pay tithing first, before feeding children, paying for bills or even rent. It even suggests that those in poverty will stay in poverty until they prove their faith by paying tithing. Once they do, their cup will overrun with blessings from the Lord. They use quotes from the scriptures and from church leaders to reinforce this.

Should pay tithing or buy food for the children? Pay tithing.

They will do anything to prove a point, even misrepresenting quotes. They in effect rewrite the message to mean something different than the original. Case in point, Lorenzo Snow and tithing:

“…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…”

Conference Report Oct 1899

Compare the actual quote to how the church uses this quote in lesson manuals today:

“….I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing….”

Teachings of Lorenzo Snow manual, page 160

By replacing those three little words, with an ellipsis they successfully change the meaning and intent of the original.

The use of the word every completely changes meaning when we leave off the conditional “who has means”. In the days of Lorenzo Snow, tithing was not a requirement like it is today, but the correlation committee doesn’t want us having to puzzle about that. They seem to be “sanitizing” and rewriting church history for the sake of simplicity (at best). Don’t be surprised – this is not the first time they have rewritten history. In this one lesson from the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow manual, there are 18 different ellipsis in use. Eighteen! Here, we have only looked into one of these eighteen ellipsis used in this lesson.

Who has means removed with a clever (but improper and dishonest) use of an ellipsis.

Say what you will about tithing and how it is spent, but this practice of rewriting history is not honest. It is fundamentally changing how we understand the world and how our religion fits into the world. They use punctuation, even the ellipsis, to find any quotable content to backup the version of history and reality they currently promote. Misleading us and taking advantage of trusting members, who remember and understand that an ellipsis is for an intentional omission of a word without altering its original meaning. We assumed that the original meaning was not tampered with. We trusted the church, our church, to be honest in its dealings. We should have known that the church was more a Corporation where we should know to read the fine print.

Tithing is a shelf item for many, and when we find these omissions to be deceptive it is not strengthening the case to keep to the faith. Do you or did you struggle with tithing as a shelf item?

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1 Comment

  1. When I believed the Church’s claims, this wasn’t an issue for me at all. Of course, being a middle-class person in the US makes tithing less challenging than it is for many.

    Now, as a former believer, I just want my money back 🙁

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