Without Purse or Scrip

To those hurt and confused,

So, there has been some harsh conversation about the recent "outing" of the LDS church leaders' living-expense stipend/salary (whatever you want to call it).

The tones of conversation have been harsh on both sides. Some people are angry that they were lead to believe all church leaders paid their own way during their service, like missionaries or bishops do, and some are angry at the people who are angry about feeling misled, calling them faithless or accusing them of shallow testimonies.

I'm a little shocked at how mean and condescending most people are being about this issue. Any previously unrevealed piece of information about the church, past or present, seems to quickly get under everyone's skin.

Yes, it should be discussed considering how many people didn't know. And no, it's not "gaslighting" for members who already knew to say they've known for awhile now because they probably have. I found out about this when I was a missionary 8-9 years ago.

I was a bit surprised when I found out that the apostles and first presidency are given money (and let's not kid ourselves, it's not an unsubstantial amount, regardless of how much they were used to making before their call--don't be insensitive, some of us have to live, barely getting by on much, much less, so calling a six-figure allowance "not much" is ignorant and rude).

After some thought and consideration, the money ultimately made sense to me. Granted I didn't have to learn about it from social media outbursts or a newspaper article with the information being presented as a scandal uncovered, so I had some time and space to mull it over.

I know the news on the subject doesn't make sense to everyone and most people don't get the space and time to mull it over before everyone throws their harsh and unforgiving opinions into the ring (damn social media, ruining lives again!). I'm not trying to minimize or demean the struggle and frustration with feeling misled, I'm just offering up how I came to terms with the information, which didn't seem to line up with how I previously understood church organization.

First, may I say that I don't think it's right to accuse anyone of a weak or shallow testimony for being thrown, they have their reasons, many of them fair and understandable. Second, may I say that it isn't kind to accuse those less than shocked of "gaslighting" or making excuses for the brethren. The world is a tough and dirty place and we all have to trudge our way through it. No one gets out unscathed. The very least we can do is be kind and supportive, regardless of how you feel about all of this.

So, here is how I think about the general authorities receiving money.

Yes, we Mormons consistently tout the wonder and majesty of our unpaid clergy. That is undeniable. We use it as some sort of proof that we're holding some holier ground than those who do have paid clergy. This sort of us-versus-them mentality is unkind and a bit ignorant. We really have to stop that, in all the forms we do it. But, in some small defense of this particular "fact", we are usually talking about local ministries. "Local" meaning bishoprics, ward and stake Relief Society presidencies, stake officers, Sunday school teachers, nursery leaders, missionaries, etc.

Most of the quotes people have been throwing around to show that the general leadership has been lying typically have the word "local" in them. So, in all fairness to that, they are unpaid and they do all of us a great sacrifice.

So, how do I look at the money given to the general authorities?

In the New Testament, when Jesus was establishing his church he called 12 apostles. He asked them to leave behind their livelihoods and serve God in the building up of His kingdom.  Later, in Luke 22:35 Jesus said,

"When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing."

His ancient apostles went forward with nothing, no money, no jobs, no income. So, how do we excuse our modern day apostles for accepting money from the church? Well, consider those ancient apostles experience. As far as I am aware (and I'm no scriptorian so I could be wrong), there are only two food miracles in the New Testament: 1. Jesus turning the water to wine at a wedding and 2. The multiplying of the loaves and fishes. 

Now, the water to wine didn't really have anything to do with sustaining anyone and Jesus didn't multiply the loaves and fishes for his apostles' benefit, but for the congregation. I'm sure the apostles ate the bread and fish, but it was not for their physical sustainment. 

So, then, how did they survive with no purse, no scrip, no shoes? How did those men honestly say they lacked for nothing? The answer is pretty simple: the disciples of Christ and the new members of his church. 

The ancient apostles survived because the believers gave them food, shelter, and took care of their needs. This is particularly spelled out in the various writing of Paul. He praises the new members for bringing the ministers of the gospel into their homes and caring for them. 

The members. 

We know that we are the hands of the Lord. We know that God works His mighty miracles among His children largely through the kindness and generosity and charity of His children. We are responsible to carry forth the work of the Lord. We are called and have covenanted to make provisions and buoy up those who dedicate their entire time (and lives) to the furthering of the kingdom. It's on us.

And yes, nowadays this is accomplished through the money that's brought in through the church's vast investments. And yes, those investments were initially made through tithing (and other donated) funds.  But if it's up to us to make those provisions, to help further along the work, then doesn't that explain the use of tithing funds? 

I know that, to some degree, this is just my opinion, and I'm just a nobody in South Jordan, Utah sitting at a computer speaking softly into the great void of screams and harsh accusations that is the internet, but all the same, this is how I reconciled what I hadn't previously understood. 

I hope that all of you, however you feel on this particular subject, give yourselves the time, the space, and the quiet to truly think and feel so that you too can come to the conclusion that works for you. 

With love,


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