Svithe: The Mormon-Money Bomb


Disclaimer: This post has a number of problems. It overgeneralizes for one. It assumes something is true of one group of people that is not true of another. Also, I will make a number of statements that will feel very much like I am judging you or someone you know. I don't intend them that way, but it won't make you feel any better.

Since last week's svithe generated so much discussion on the righteousness of money, I thought we would revisit the topic today. I believe it has been established that money can be a force for good even if we don't always use it very well and I believe a lot of other points are still unsettled (and remained so as of 6am this morning; see comments).

Something that has bothered me for years is how people can casually dismiss the fourth commandment because their job requires it. I always made the gag that prostitution, by the same logic, is also fine. (And then I learned there is a play by Scott Parkin or Eric Samuelsen or Scott Bronson or someone [if you know who, please tell me in the comments] about a husband dropping his wife off at work, their everyday conversation, then they kiss goodbye and she walks into the Mustang Ranch.)

Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing the same thing with money. Some Mormons seem (seem) to have their spiritual set of ethics and their money set of ethics. And maybe their money set of ethics is excellent, but is doesn't quite live up to Sunday School standards.

I see it in other fields also. I'm now moving further into risky lines of inquiry as I hardly have that many facts, but the Mormon lawyer who approved torture --- is that part of his "testimony"?

Am I right in suspecting that many Mormons build fences around their faith and don't let it wander into their work?

Now, I have to close this post before proofreading if I want to shower before Church, so please be gentle with whatever idiocies stand in this rough draft. But let's have it: Money and Mormonism --- do we keep them fenced off?

(last week's svithe)


  1. I don't imagine a sweeping claim can be made that will apply very well to Mormons in general (which, to be fair, is kinda what you said in your disclaimer), and it isn't our place to judge individuals, so the point may very well be moot.

  2. (That said, this is a pet topic of mine that I have lots of thoughts on, but I, too, have to run off to church just now. Later, I'll draft my thoughts and judge whether I wanna hog your comment strand or just start a post of my own.)

  3. (I just wanted to make sure you knew my first comment wasn't proposing a boycott on the subject.)

  4. (And, really, I keep adding subsequent comments because I keep neglecting to get the follow-up comments to be emailed to me.)

  5. I guess I don't really get what you're getting at. What do you mean by their spiritual set of ethics and their money set of ethics?

  6. Yup, it was a post, and now it's on my blog--which is good because it didn't relate very directly to this discussion here.

    I will say, though, that I do feel like there is a lot of Sabbath-day justification. I once visited a ward in eastern Utah, and during an Elders quorum lesson on Sabbath-Day observance, one man got boisterously upset that the teacher had exempted law enforcers, firefighters, and doctors but not people working in the travel industry--"Some people have to travel on Sunday!" he said.

    I dunno. I'm all in favor of police officers and firefighters and doctors being available on Sunday, but I don't know how easy of a line it is to draw. Do some people have to travel on Sunday? In emergencies, I'd suppose--which is the same justification we give the others.

    It's hard to say. I guess it is (as I said in my first comment) fairly moot.

    As to the other point, I think some members of the church do divorce their faith and their employment far more than is healthy, but I don't feel like I have enough life experience to say anything more than that.

  7. Over many years of attending Gospel Doctrine sunday school classes and Elders Quorum priesthood classes, I've found people will justify anything they feel is more important than the Lord. We profess certain truths to be absolute as long as they do not interfere with those very things we are justifying in our hearts.

    Whether we profess conviction to Mormonism or some other religious sect, I don't think it matters. It is human nature to justify one's own actions. Not recognizing personal hypocracy is so very common. An example of this is a recent conversation I heard in the church hallway about the "ground zero" mosque. Certainly, Latter-Day Saints should understand how very wrong it is to persecute others for their beliefs.

    Though we might try to justify certain actions based on business, there is no real separation of ethics. They are all the same and will ultimately seethe into our whole life. It's true, the teachings of our Lord, that no man can serve God and Mammon.

  8. Interesting post schmetterling. And now I think I understand this post a little better. I have never in my 30 years come across a Mormon such as described in the post (to my knowledge), so I imagine it can't be crazy wide spread. Or I'm just not looking for it. Or am I a part of it?

    I am with the Mission Pres., though. The love of money is the root of all evil, but if you love God more than you love money, you can be a very helpful servant in the kingdom with money. I like the "middle class millionaire" description. I do think that some people are prideful in their lack of money, which is also a sin.

    Also, we're supposed to be self-reliant and that's really hard to do if we're living pay check to pay check, either because we're living beyond our means or because we chose a means that doesn't provide much of a living.

    Coming from a very similar family situation as yours (7 kids on a teacher's salary), I was always worried about money as a kid. I felt TERRIBLE when I broke my glasses at age 12 because I KNEW my parents didn't have money to replace them (my dad ended up welding them back together kind of). I remember thinking how odd it was that I, a 12 year old, knew that my parents didn't have money. I remember thinking, "This isn't something a 12 year old should have to worry about."

    I was a total miser, always worried about money and not having enough, yet after I graduated high school, I remember work calling me in on a Sunday. I told them I would only work if they didn't make me clock in. It was the only way I would feel ok about it. My parents taught me to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. It would then cease to be work and turn into service.

    So, in closing (at the end of this very long, rambling post), I think we ought to have serious self-reflection on a daily/weekly basis (Sacrament meeting anyone?) to examine our motives, our actions, and see what it is that we really love and how we're manifesting that love outwardly. Because if anything (including money, status, job, etc.) ranks higher than God on our lists, we need to do some repenting.

  9. Oh, and I also think the idea that "if you have no money you're useless in the Lord's kingdom" is a big load of [undesirable things]. "By small means the Lord can bring about great things." 1 neph 16:29

  10. .

    [Edit: Added "fourth" to clarify which commandment I meant.]

  11. .

    Schmetterling has better written up much of what I think.

    And I agree that the second we stop our self-analysis, we are on the verge of trouble.

  12. Alma 37:6

    Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.