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February 05, 2006


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I think tithing made a whole lot more sense when the church was the welfare system. The government does the majority of that work now.

I guess the real answer is that each should do what they want / what makes them feel good. For me personally, giving money to the church doesn't equate to giving it to god. What a convenient invention for the church to enrichen itself from the masses... Brilliant.

Thumbs up John!

Great Post! I think everyone should tithe. It is a biblical law, therefore, our responsibility as Christians. I don't care what the church decides to do with it. If I make a dollar, I'm not going to hell over 10 cents.

Question for you:

What do you think about people who tithe, then write it off on their taxes? Is it really giving to the Kingdom of God if you're getting it right back from Uncle Sam?

Whether or not you're a religious person, I think tithing is a good practice to follow. We've all heard the saying, "Some people gain from their wealth only the fear of losing it."
By constantly giving a portion of your wealth, you are reminding yourself that there are many things in life more valuable than money!
Yes, in the long run you may not grow your monetary wealth as much as you could have if you had kept it ALL. But you just might have a fuller, RICHER life because of it!
Just my $0.02

Steve --

It's not really about what any church says -- it's about what the Bible says. I think if you study it with an open mind, you'll come to the same conclusion I did. (That is as long as you consider it the inspired word of God.)

SingleMom --

First off, you don't get all of it back from the government -- far from it. You only get the tax savings which is dependent on your marginal tax rate.

I think it's ok to claim it as a deduction since the law of our land allows it. While you're called to tithe, you're also called to be a good steward and taking advantage of a tax break is good stewardship. If for some reason you feel guilty about it, you could always tithe 10% plus give back your tax savings gained from tithing. Better for the church to have it than the government.

Skott --

Many people would say that it's a "law of the universe" that if you give, you will get more back. These include author David Bach (Automatic Millionaire) and others. I've written on it before -- see the "giving" section (on the right) for details.

I find it interesting that one of the ads along the left side of your site is this one ( I think it is interesting how one can understand the same book in different lights. Just interesting.

FMF - Not that this is the place for the discussion and I certainly have no desire to disrespect your beliefs. However, studying the bible with the assumption it is the inspired word of god is not doing so with an open mind. You've already made some rather large conclusions.

I think that tithing is the Christian strategy for putting God in a box ... it is what we have figured out with our brains … it is what we are comfortable doing … after all, for Americans, it is tax deductible.

Ever wonder why we talk about tithing instead of generosity. I think that generosity challenges Evangelical America because generosity is of the heart and not the mind ... and living out of the heart is something we fear because we fear losing control – God might ask us to give more than we have ‘budgeted’.

You often cannot get a tax write-off from generosity ... a 20% tip to a waitress doesn't have a place on your tax return :) On that subject I have found some of the cheapest people I know to be Christians … just ask waitresses about the tips they get from people who pray before they eat :)

Wake up Evangelical America … it is not figuring God out with a biblical formula … it is living out of your heart … it is stretching past formulas to “being” philanthropists, benevolent and extravagant givers. When is comes to giving lets be liberals instead of conservatives.

Steve -- Then why else read it? As a "historical" book?

Kansas Bob -- So I'm assuming you give away more than 10% of your income to people at random as a form of generosity? I say that with tongue-in-cheek because the people who usually use this sort of argument end up giving 2-3% of their income away.

~Dawn, my wife and I looked at that website you commented about and it's pernicious. Much of what he says is very misleading. (I found that site as one of the contextual (Google) text ads on this site, for what it's worth.)

Regarding the federal deduction, I think of that as an Uncle-Sam bonus that he can take away at any time. If you would tithe even without the tax deduction, then it's not an issue.

As for the issue of deducting tithing on your taxes, I totally believe it should be deducted on one's taxes. In fact, I use a deduction bunching method where I will give my tithe for the year and before the end of the year estimate my income for the next year and tithe on that. If I don't do this I end up not much higher than the standard deduction in both tax years. If I do I end up way over the standard deduction in year one and then get to take the standard deduction in year two.

To me it is not about getting back my tithing, it is about managing my money the best way I know how while still fulfilling my obligation to God. Anything that keeps the government from stealing more of my money to waste on bloated programs and to support many principles that most Christians would disagree with is good in my book.

Think of it this way. If you tithe, the Church gets the same amount whether you deduct the donation on your taxes or not.

My church teaches "cheerful giving" as described in 2 Corinthians 9:7.

Make up your mind to give, and then give it, and not in a resentful way.

Steve makes a good point that any given church may or may not be equivalent to giving it to God. Some churches out there say "Give, because God will cause money to rain down on you when you give to us!" They're not appealing to piety but to greed. (Although Luke 7:38 is true)

I think what it comes down to is motive. If your heart really has been transformed (call it whatever you want to e.g. "born again") you should *want* to give of your resources, just like you should *want* to make a public declaration of your faith.

If you are tithing on your pre-tax income, the tax deduction becomes a moot point, since you have already applied the 10% before you even consider tax deductions. If you are tithing on your post-tax income, just figure out what your deduction due to tithing is, and put 10% of that in the offering plate when you get your refund (assuming you get a refund).

I know there are some examples of wealthy churches, but the vast majority of them are not wealthy at all. I'm responsible for getting the bills paid (as an unpaid volunteer) at our church, and I can guarantee nobody's getting rich there.

Kansas Bob,
Generosity is addressed in the quote from Augustine in the original article - 10% goes to tithe, then alms/generosity (tax-deductible or not) is expected on top of that as God makes needs apparent.

FMF: I read the bible for the first time as part of an english class in college. We also read the Koran (now Qur'an). It was intended to be a study of religious texts as literature. I've since read the bible again (or at least most of it), mainly in order to take more time doing so. I find it fascinating that many of the stories in the bible have obvious parallels to much older Egyptian stories. It seems religions tend to get reinvented.

Michael: Did not intend to imply that all churches are wealthy, greedy or anything of the sort. I am positive that the intentions of the vast majority are honerable.

mbhunter: I fail to see how that site is harming anyone. Simply exposing some of the contradictions within Christian doctorine is not going to affect anyone who has true faith in their beliefs. Harmful in a Christian vs other ideas point of view, possibly, but open discussion is a great way to find the truth in things.

Sorry FMF - for digressing from the topic of your blog... back to the topic at hand.

As for the topic of giving and generosity, I doubt anyone here would argue that it is not a good thing. I am a big believer in intentions (and as such agree with jrr7) but what really matters is that each of us does something to try to make the world a better place. Giving money in my opinion is just a proxy for doing this work ourselves, like paying someone to clean your house... I'd ask each of you, what have you done personally to make things better for another human being (or animal as I see them as worthy causes too)? I would say that I judge myself to be lacking in this regard. I'm very much a selfish person. That doesn't make me a bad person, it just means I can be better.

Steve --

No need to be sorry -- that's what comments are for, to have a discussion.

Here's something else for you to ponder. I've heard the teaching that your money represents your life. Someone in your family gets up, goes to a job, and gives their time (part of their life) to get money for the family. So when you give to help worthy causes, you're actually giving away part of your life to help others.

It's an interesting concept to consider.

FMF: Regarding people who usually use this sort of argument end up giving 2-3% of their income away

Probably safe to say that, percentage-wise, I outgive you.

Michael: Regarding "10% goes to tithe, then alms/generosity (tax-deductible or not) is expected on top of that as God makes needs apparent."

Okay to follow Augustine's teaching if that makes you happy ... I'm sure he has a lot of good stuff to say. For me I get concerned about having these kind of rules to guide us when we have the Holy Spirit to lead us.

When tithing to your local church I hope that you really ask very hard questions about how your church spends money. Statistically most of your tithe dollar goes to building expenses and very little actually goes to 'ministry' and people in need.

Kansas Bob -- I doubt it.

You're probably right FMF ... whatever we do do we should do heartily unto the Lord and not wrangle words. Sorry if I wrangled a bit. Blessings to you.

No problem. I'm a wrangler too. (Maybe it's because you're from Kansas and I'm originally from Iowa -- good wrangling states.) ;-)

There is not one scriptural requirement that can be quoted in support of mandatory tithing outside of the Mosiac law code. Even under the law code God required tithing in this case only because the Levites were a priestly class and were not given land as were the other tribes.

Today tithing has become a scam that cannot be justified any more than multiple wives or gay marriage.

James -- Matthew and Luke are in the New Testament. See the references above.

The references in Matthew and Luke are applied to Jews who were still under the law. Of course Jesus recommended they tithe - it was the Jewish thing to do at that time.

The point of both passages is to rebuke the pious Pharisees who were very proud of their tithing record (as are many a good tither today!). To interpret these passages as examples of Jesus requiring Christians to tithe is to read the passages backwards and miss the actual point.

Ken --

I understand the point of those passeges. My question to you is: do you think Jesus would have said, "without leaving the former (tithing) undone" if tithing was something he didn't commend?

He certainly wasn't bashful about speaking out against other parts of the law that he thought were outdated/his coming was changing. Why would he be on this one?

Rich executives at religious corporations teach tithing simply because they are predators - they aren't Christian at all.

They know it's a scam. Reread about the whore of Babylon in Revelation. They are drinking your life's blood in the name of Christ.

Satan tempted Christ by demanding He prove Himself by "Stepping out in faith." Christ told Satan to go study his Bible because he (Satan) was illiterate.

Likewise, Satan's Christian ministers today tempt believer's to "step out in faith" by tithing their children's food money away.

Tithers should take Christ’s words to heart and study their Bibles. The truth will set them free (of tithe scammers).

Don't give money to rich executives. If they believed in their own work, they would give all their money to support it, wouldn't they? They wouldn't be living in mansions. Wake up people. Study your Bible!

Why is it that those pushing the tithe only talk about the 10% that went to the Levites? They never seem to advocate setting aside the 10% that the people themselves were to consume. Further, they never seem to advocate setting aside another 3.3% per year to give to widows and orphans. Also, there is never a discussion that demonstrates that Christian ministers today have inherited the Levitical priesthood. They certainly have not taken on the task of providing for the widows and orphans, and aliens[immigrants] among us. They are, in fact, ignoring the weightier matters of the law by stressing tithing and not providing for the poor from that tithe!

What church is currently accepting bushels of grain? What church is letting anyone drop off cattle and sheep? What minister is offering up a tithe by fire to God?

Appealing to Abraham and his tithe to Melchizedek to support the modern concept of tithing to the church is laughable. By that example, I should give 1/10th of the spoils of war to the church and give the rest back to the Sodomites! Read the story! By the was a one time gift.

When the Church council met in Jerusalem [Acts 15]and determined the requirements to be made of new gentile believers...they made no mention of tithing. Paul and Barnabas worked day and night at making tents to support themselves so as to not be a burden on the believers. They did not preach for monetary profit!

Should we support the ministry? Yes, and YES again! We should be generous and give willingly. Ministers who demand a tithe are workmen for hire and they fleece the sheep.

George --

How do you explain Jesus's endorsement of the tithe?

FMF - "Jesus's endorsment of the tithe" in Matt 23 was to Jews living under the law. The point of the passage was not to teach about tithing, but to affirm the principle that the entire law should be kept. And most Jews who became Christians continued to do this and continued to support the temple (see Acts 21). That's where their tithe went to. There is no indication at all that they "transferred" the tithe over to the church. That wouldn't have made sense, since the church was more like a synagogue than the temple. Furthermore the tithe back then was understood as livestock, grain and spices; it was not money. There is no indication anywhere in the Bible (OT or NT) of anyone tithing money.

The NT record and early church history has plenty of examples of Christian generousity, espcially to the poor and for the support of those in Christian ministry. However this was freely given. There was nothing like the idea of the local church elders "requiring" 10% of people's money in a legalistic way, as some churches do today.

All of Jesus's comments were to Jews living under the law. Does this mean that everything he said applies to them but not to us?

Just to be clear -- what is your position on New Testament giving? And can you be specific about it? (is there a minimum people should give? a maximum? etc.)

"All of Jesus's comments were to Jews living under the law."

Great point. And of course Jesus's comments also apply to us.

The issue is to determine in what way they apply. So, for example in Matt 10:5-10 Jesus says "Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel [and not to the Gentiles and Samaritans]." If you say that ALL of Jesus's comments apply literally to us today, then you would have to say that we are not allowed to preach to anyone but Jews! But if you understand the context of his teaching, you can see why he gave them that command in that way, and why only part of what he says literally applies to us.

I am not foolish enough to say that there is a totally foolproof cut and dried method of Bible interpretation.

But in the case of Matt 23:23 you have Jesus talking to Pharisees. So this right away puts it in a very Jewish and legalistic context. You certainly don't want to apply everything in the same literal way to all of us today, at least I don't think you do.

Taking things literally you could only say that Jesus was telling Pharisees not to neglect their tithe of little spices. That's all you have there, so you have to do a lot of interpretation.

What was Jesus trying to teach? Is the surrounding context about the tithe or giving? Obviously not! There is a different passage about giving (Matt 6:1-4) but it does not mention tithing. The context here in Matt 23 is about the Pharisees, hypocrisy, and internal and external righteousness. The teaching here is that internal righteousness of the heart is what really counts ("the more important matters of the law"). The point of v. 23 is that, although the external practices are less important, they ought not to be neglected. Jesus could have made essentially the same point using any other custom, e.g. Sabbath regulations. He just chose tithing as an incidental example appropriate for his Jewish audience. It is not the main point of this passage.

But even if you think that Jesus meant to teach us something about tithing in this one verse, what was he trying to teach us? Literally he says "mint, dill and cummin" which are spices. If we extend this to normal Jewish practice it would include food given to the Levites and/or the Temple. It would not resemble anything like the "local church tithe" of today.

"What is your position on New Testament giving?"

Just read the passages in the NT. There is no minimum of maximum specified. From 2 Cor 8:14 there is a principle of "equality", so in general the rich should give more than the poor. IMO, most people in the US ought to be giving much more than 10%. There is no "special reward" from God to bless a rich person who gives 10%. And there is no specific command to give any certain percentage to the local church. The local church should be given what it needs, and very generously, but it should also be obligated to explain very openly and honestly how it is spending its money.

Robert --

Ha! We're on the same page on point #1. I just thought I'd ask so you'd have to do the explaining -- I was too busy to do it yesterday. Thanks.

Of course context of the passage is very important -- both context with the surrounding text as well as context throughout the Bible as a whole. And while Jesus didn't blatantly recommend the tithe in the Matthew passge, he didn't pan tithing either (which would have been easy for him to do -- or even easier to ignore it altogether. Yet he gave a positive endorsement of it.)

Anyway, I'm not sure we're going to find common ground on point one other than to agree on the principles of interpretation and context. How those principles get applied are the things denominations are made of. ;-)

Not that I'm pro or con any one denomination, but certainly there are valid differences in how one group interprets scripture as opposed to another.

On point #2, I agree with the spirit of what you're saying. In fact, I'll post more on it (using your comment) in a later Sunday post (probably not this Sunday, but maybe the one after that.) Stay tuned and see if you agree with my thoughts there.


Well perhaps we are in agreement with most everything. I agree that the tithe is a wonderful idea and wholeheartedly endorse its practice. I agree that the tithing principle is taught in the OT, and the NT does nothing to discourage it. The point in question, and perhaps we do not agree 100% here, but perhaps we do agree, is how it is to apply today.

The OT had several kinds of tithes, primarily related to agriculture and support of the Levitical system. There is no indication that EVERYONE tithed, e.g. people in trades or those too poor to own any land, animals or crops. There is nothing anywhere in the Bible of anyone tithing money. In the NT (as well as the first few centuries of church history) we have no instuctions about how to tithe, nor any record of the church collecting a tithe. The Scriptural examples relate to giving to the poor, supporting travelling missionaries, and supporting local elders, with no fixed percentage given to any of these categories.

So, although I thoroughly agree with tithing, I cannot see how anyone can state dogmatically how it is to be done. As I said earlier, most people in the US should be able to tithe and more, and I would say gross income, but this of course is just an opinion. But if someone has major financial problems, perhaps due to health problems or caring for relatives, etc. I don't feel it is proper to lay a guilt trip on them; the church ought to be helping them.

But I do find it especially odious for someone to say that you are obligated to pay the tithe to THEM. This is an incredibly self-serving doctrine, and is what I believe is the nub of many of the objections posted in this thread. If someone persuades you to give them 10% of your money, claiming that God said so, it is essentially fraud (unless God actually said so). If the pastor of the local church says dogmatically that you must give THEM 10%, claiming that the Bible says so, then it is essentially fraud (unless the Bible actually says to give 10% to the local church). And if the Bible is not totally clear on this point, then the pastor ought not to be so dogmatic.

Robert --

I think we are generally in agreement, though I do think that the tithe goes to the local church. (Based on it being the modern-day equivalent of the storehouse mentioned in Malachi.) Generally, I don't think people should have a problem with this (tithing to their church), but if they do, then my advice is for them to find a church they can trust with their money. See this link for more thoughts on the subject:


This analogy of the "storehouse" is interesting, since from Neh 10:37-38 the tithes of the crops went to the Levites, and then a tenth of the tithes went to the storehouse. This is a wonderful analogy for someone who tithes his income to a Wycliffe missionary (a counterpart to the Levite). The missionary then gives a tenth of his tithe (1% of the donor's income) back to the central organization (a counterpart to the storehouse). As I understand it, several Missions organizations are run this way, and beautifully mirror the OT concept of storehouse giving.

However, under this system, only 1% of the donor's income goes to the "storehouse". That is the OT concept of storehouse giving. So it appears to be a lousy analogy for churches who want to collect 10% of their parishers' income. IOW, if the church is "the modern-day equivalent of the storehouse mentioned in Malachi" then it ought to get only 1% of the members' incomes.

But I'll grant that this is a technicality. You've already stretched "storehouse" to equal the "local church" and stretched "crops" to equal "all monetary income", so I suppose stretching "1%" to "10%" isn't such a big deal.

The larger point is, how can you create church doctrines or binding practices based on analogies and creative interpretations of these analogies?

Surely you will agree that there is no direct teaching in Scripture that "the tithe goes to the local church", nor any evidence from the NT or early church history that the local church in fact collected a tithe. That is pure speculation, based on ideas like "the local church is like the storehouse", whereas most historians would say that the local church functioned more like a synagogue than anything connected with the temple or Levitical system.

Do you believe that, if a preacher teaches tithing to the local church, he can honestly say, "Thus says the Lord"? Or is it better if he only says "it is my opinion that you ought to tithe to the local church; there is no definite scriptural teaching on the matter."?

Or do you believe that "the local church is equivalent to the storehouse" qualifies as a definite scriptural teaching rather than just an opinion?

Robert --

If you want to talk about what the Bible says about giving to and among the local church, check out Acts 2:42-47:

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Or Acts 4:32-35:

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

So, if we use the Bible and the early church as a model, then 10% is waaaaay short.


I agree entirely -- the Bible and the early church should be our model. 10% is waaaaay short; the wealthy gave generously without worrying about any fixed percentage; those who were poor received the gifts, without any (recorded) teaching about them having to give a legalistic 10% to anyone.

In Acts 2, we see that the believers gave to each other. In Acts 4, we see that they brought the donations to the apostles, who distributed them to those who had need. But by Acts 6, we see that the apostles felt that they should no longer handle this task, since they must "give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word". So they appointed seven other men to do this task. In Corinthians we see that Paul had appointed a few trustworthy men to be responsible for the gift to Jerusalem to help out because of the famine.

There is no pattern here pointing to the "church elders" as the only (or primary) stewards of finances, or anything remotely suggesting that they should collect 10% of the members' money whether they need it or not. It seems that the pattern was that competent and trustworthy men would be in charge of handling the distribution of finances when group offerings were done. Otherwise gifts could be given individually.

At this entire website on "giving / tithing" I did not find one single mention or even the shadow of a reference to Jesus Christ's CLEAR and DIRECT teaching in Matthew 6:3, that you belivers "not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving." If we obey Christ at His word, we cannot "tithe" as heathens do, for "government kick-backs" such as "reduced taxation" which is achieved by giving to a 501C3 church or organization, in which case we are required to report to the earthly and secular government exactly what we are tithing / giving, in order to get a "tax write-off" for our giving. This is shameful at best. At worst, it is in direct violation with Christ's word which says, "Do NOT let your left hand know what your right hand is giving." How then do we feel the right to 'add' or 'tack on' our own words: "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is giving, ...but definitely and by all means do report to the earthly heathen government all that you are tithing or giving, and in permanent ink write it down for the record, so that they can give you an earthly reward called a tax reduction." If you are giving to a church or organization that has a 501c3 status, you can be sure that they have signed a contract with the government by which they have promised not to preach certain things and they have promised not to refuse employment of certain people with moral indifferences or who blatantly disobey God's Word. It's all there in the 501c3 written and legally binding contract. Check it out for yourselves. It infiltrated the church about 50 years ago. Can you say "end times" and "mark of the beast"? There are more passages in the Bible about money than there are about salvation! You do the math on that - the implications are obvious. Your eternal inheritance is at stake! You might be saved by the skin of your teeth or "as by fire", but what eternal "inheritance" will you have to speak of if you have already claimed your earthly reward from men? Christ posed the question some 2,000 years ago, not me. You answer to Him, not me. Matthew 6:3. Don't change or alter God's word to suit your own passions and greed. God is not mocked, ever. You change for Him. He doesn't change for you. His word is eternal, alive, and powerful. You obey His word, not vice versa. Don't be one of the "elect" who are deceived by Satan. It is NOT WORTH IT in the end.

Jennette;You made a comment on the 501c3. I'm interested to find out about the informaion you were talking about the churches singned in order to have a 501c3. Can you give direction on the study of the 501c3? (From your post 11/16/2007 -If you are giving to a church or organization that has a 501c3 status, you can be sure that they have signed a contract with the government by which they have promised not to preach certain things and they have promised not to refuse employment of certain people with moral indifferences or who blatantly disobey God's Word. It's all there in the 501c3 written and legally binding contract.)

Tithing or giving? Which is a New testament doctrine? To quote Jesus the way the author does is, I think, a little misleading. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for "tithing mint, anise, etc." and leaving the WEIGHTIER things of the law. Obviously the key lesson here is that there were, even for the Jews, weightier things than tithing. In today's churches, paricularly the televangelist types, tithing is the weightier thing (apparentlt it helps sustain a rather lavish lifestyle for these reverend gentlemen and women!) Jesus' condemnation of Pharisaic attitudes did not endorse tithing under the new covenant. He only commented that they needed to keep one as well as the other commandments OF THE LAW, which we Gentile Christian believers are not under.

Paul and the other authors of the New Testament were strangely silent about tithing... I wonder why.

By the grace of God, Ive been able to give a little more than 10% of my GROSS income - and I trust Him to enable me to do even more, but I won't put yokes which God has not commanded upon His people - and no pastor has the right to. The New Testament clearly says giving should not be done under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. If we rightly teach Christians to love God and give cheerfully, and if we did not spend so much on unnecessary church building projects and wasteful evangelists' mansions, people would be free from this huge burden of compulsion placed upon them.

When giving, don't forget the poor. And, yes, Uncle Sam has no right to know what I gave to the Lord. I would never again file this for a tax return. My left hand should not know what my right hand does; neither should Uncle Sam. I would rather lose a few dollars to the government than deprive myself of God's blessing upon my giving.

That's my $0.02.

Give, not tithe (unless you choose to give 10% based on what we have learned) to the poor not a megachurch.
Give freely, not tithe, to poor people and be blessed!

What can a person give as a tithe instead of money when a person isn't working or lost a job or the company closed and moved somewhere else like New jersey?

Bobby --

You can always give your time and volunteer to help others.

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