Over the weekend, Mormons held their biannual General Conference. One of the elders, Valeri V. Cordón, gave an eye-opening speech in which he claimed that if you have to choose between feeding your family and giving money to the Church, your family can wait.
When I was young, I worked in my father’s factory during vacation. The first question my father always asked after I received my salary was, “What are you going to do with your money?” I know the answer and responded, “Pay my tithing and save for my mission.”
After working with him for about eight years, and constantly answering his same question, my father figured he had taught me about paying my tithing. What he didn’t realize was that I had learned this important principle in just one weekend.
Let me tell you how I learned that principle.
After some events related to our civil war in Central America [Cordón grew up in Guatemala], my father’s business went bankrupt. He went from about 200 full-time employees to fewer than five sewing operators who worked as needed in the garage of our home. One day, during those difficult times, I heard my parents discussing whether they should pay tithing or buy food for the children.
On Sunday, I followed my father to see what he was going to do. After our Church meetings, I saw him take an envelope and put his tithing in it. That was only part of the lesson. The question that remained for me was: what we were going to eat!
Early Monday morning, some people knocked on our door. When I opened it, they asked for my father. I called for him, and when he arrived, the visitors told him about an urgent sewing order they needed as quickly as possible. They told him that the order was so urgent that they will pay for it in advance. That day, I learned the principles of paying tithing and the blessings that follow.
Because starving your family to feed the Church has a 100% success rate…
Besides the obvious logical fallacy in play here, what a horrible message to teach people: Put the religious institution ahead of your loved ones. It’s also counter-intuitive. A well-fed family could lead to healthier children who become working adults who have more cash for religious leaders.
Giving money that you don’t have to a Church that doesn’t need it? That’s irresponsible parenting.
I’m actually surprised by how the story ended. I thought Cordón was going to say the Church members understood their plight and came to their house with enough food to carry them through the rough patch… because isn’t that what a tight-knit community does? Instead, the story’s climax involved a large sewing order that came through at the last possible moment.
Cordón never explained how those five employees managed to fulfill an urgent order in record time.