Your blog only accepts 300 words and my answer was 3x that long. So here my is comment on your previous blog.
Matt, you have brought up some interesting points with regard to the Aaron/tithing issue. The one point I would like to address is about self esteem within the church.
The MLM business system in a way relates to the way the church is governed, which is the Prophet or other leaders at the top, filtering down to the members at a lower level. If you work at keeping the commandments or following the leaders, then you are conforming and adding to the strength of the church. The MLM system is basically the same thing.
You buy into a product that has a social network and you become one of the group. This group mentality derives its power through convincing other people of its superiority. I wander if the church would be as popular today if it had started in this century rather than in the 1800s?
The only reason the church has become so powerful is the members that contribute to its upkeep. Any business that started out 178 years ago and is still flourishing today has got to have some amazing business strategies.
People generally buy into ideas that promise a better way of life, if they are unable to figure things out in their own lives. Imagine having 13 million (not sure of those exact figures) people doing the same thing.
Pay your tithing and you will be blessed. The church relates so many stories about the positive aspects of this principle, yet when you experience loss of income yourself and ask the church for support, you begin to understand how the church really works. We want your money, but no you can't have our money, you must go and earn it yourself. There are no dividends paid to members. At the very most you could hope for is a couple of weeks food and rent. Other than that you have to fend for yourself. So where does that leave you?
You begin to question yourself as to whether you have conformed to an ideology that only exists in some peoples mind, because they only want to look at the bright side of things, and deny the negative side of life altogether? Or as some leaders are quick to point out that you are suffering financially because you are not living the laws of the church.
If you were living the 10 commandments and in the case of Mormonism another 10 more commandments, you would surely be blessed. The doctrine isn't wrong, you are wrong they are quick to point out. Does this help your self esteem? I think not.
Realistically no person on this earth can live all the church laws all the time, but only some of the laws, some of the time. So believing you have no money because you are not living the laws of God and laws of Mormonism is silly and practically impossible.
As Mormons you are expected to not only pay 10% of your tithing usually on the gross income, but you are also expected to pay into the fast offering, missionary fund, humanitarian fund and temple building fund also.
This is way above what it says in the bible that Jesus said we had to pay. However, we could also be misled, believing what 250 quarreling Christians Bishops decided to included in the bible in the first place. This whole thing could have been a hoax to start off with, and in reality the bible could have actually put words into Jesus' mouth.
My premise is that we should follow our own head and heart and not follow the crowds, not matter how convincing they may sound. Any organization that takes your money, and promises you spiritual salvation when you are lacking physical needs is ways off the mark. Fear is used as a weapon to get the members to empty their pockets when they themselves need the money.
The problem with the church is that it does not educate its members as to becoming self empowered. The church needs the members, and their money to run the organization. It preaches honesty, but when some members mistakenly paid tithing, is the church honest enough to refund the tithing? In my personal experience this is definitely, "No". So I question, why does the church not live by its own rules and commandments?
In my opinion, the church uses feel good examples when you pay tithing, to build up your self esteem to get you to pay tithing on the basis that you will be blessed. When you question the subconscious indoctrination, it is no longer a truth but instead you have learned to conform to something more powerful than yourself.
I believe that you feel good because you belonging to a group and you are part of something that is bigger than yourself. Believing you will always be blessed because you pay your tithing, is stretching the truth, when the truth is that the church needs and wants your money, and uses mind control to get you to conform. What if you decide to pay your 10% or more to another organization or even fund your own charity organization to help the needy, instead of paying it to a church? Why not become godlike yourself on this earth, without having to put up with someone else's rules and mind games?
The church does not want you to build your own self esteem with regard to using your own mind and logic, instead it teaches you self condemnation, because it wants you to conform to its teachings and logic. It uses feel good stories to convince you of its truth, but if you are off the mark and do not conform; it does not use those same feel good stories, instead preaches self-condemnation.
Feeling good is an emotion whereas self esteem comes from doing. Feeling good and having self esteem is not related, as self esteem comes from true things, and being part of something that is not true can never be self satisfying. We learn self confidence by following our own true path!
(MATT: Thanks Genevieve!)