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BONNIE - Where does it say in the scriptures that people should not be paid for serving in the church? At what point in the church was it decided that
people would serve "callings" and that nobody would be paid?
JOEL - As to the professional clergy, Paul warned,
"Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:11).
That's not to suggest that all paid ministers fall into this category. There are many who have faithfully dedicated their lives to their ministry and accept a salary to take care of their
needs as they serve.
Actually there is a scripture that tells us that the LDS Bishop and his counselors in the early days of the church should receive financial support:
"And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is
consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned; Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a
stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop. And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his
services in the church." (D&C 42:71-73)
Any member who dedicates his life to serving in the church to the degree that they have no time to earn a living in some kind of profession, have been granted some kind of
living allowance from the church to provide for their needs if it is required. This has been called the law of remuneration. They are not paid a salary, like a hired employee for
their services(such as is the case with ministers in other faiths); but they have been given what they need to sustain life while they serve. In the early days of the church this
included the Bishops and their assistants, because back then they truly gave all their time and personal resources to serve the saints and the community, with no time to
provide for themselves or their own families. Members were spread out over larger distances, so it took a lot of time and personal effort to minister to them all.
Joseph Smith said:
“The Twelve and the Seventy have particularly to depend upon their ministry for their support, and that of their
families; and they have a right, by virtue of their offices, to call upon the churches to assist them.” (TPJS 75)
Today, for the same reason, this includes a few of the General Authorities of the Church and mission Presidents, who receive a modest living allowance from interest on
investments the church has made in the past. But this is not what you would call a salary and nobody could get rich from it.
As the LDS church became settled in Utah and continued to grow the organization developed to the point where Bishops, who now live closer to their members, could
delegate many responsibilities to others, such as home and visiting teachers; thereby giving them the oportunity to make a living, no longer needing to be remunerated for
their living expenses. Except for what I have described above there has never been a "paid ministry" or more correctly a "professional clergy" in the Church from the
begining. The church has always been ministered by members who have accepted callings to serve. No Bishop has ever been "hired" nor has one ever aspired to such a
calling in order to make a living of it. It has always been through callings.
What has turned people off over the centuries about professional clergy are those very few unscrupulous local ministers who have taken advantage of their position and influence
over people and have gotten rich off their position in their church.
Even though this difference between our church and other churches exists, it is certainly improper for anyone to condemn other Christian churches for compensating their
ministers who dedicate their entire lives (like our General Authorities) to serving their local congregations. It all comes down to what is in a person's heart and his attitude
about the work he does. Is he only doing it as just a job that earns him a salary and the praise of man (ie "filthy lucre"), or is he doing it to give unselfish service to God and those
he ministers to?