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« Facts about Millionaires: Most Make a Bundle, Went to College, and Are Married | Main | Giving Away Part of Your Life »

February 11, 2007


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Personally, I have no belief in God or religion in general. However, I do feel it is important to help those who are deemed less fortunate or in need. Not just in instances of catastrophes (Katrina) or life taking illnesses (AIDS, cancer, etc..), but also those that just need a helping hand. They have been kicked down, not really getting breaks, etc... and need a little lift to help change their outlook and make their life better.

My wife and I have spent the past 2 years paying off everything but our house. We are actively working towards that at an accelerated rate. In addition we were just blessed enough to have a healthy baby girl just weeks ago (our first child). We have made a commitment to be more generous than in the past with our donations. Targetting more specifically child driven community centers/events. I can't say that we will hit that 10% that seems to be held in high regard. However, I can say no matter what we give is appreciated by someone and is sure to help people in need. Isn't that all that matters?

I think you should stick to matters financial.

I don't know your religious demonination, nor do I care. When you give money to your particular religious organization, it's not going to "heaven," or to "god," or some bankable "eternal reward" to be redeemed when you die. The absurdity of some omnipotent god needing American dollars is contradictory and ridiculous.

What's more, equating dollars today with "eternal rewards" tomorrow sounds exactly like the confessional "indulgence" fraud the Catholic Church used to engage in. Notably, Martin Luther railed against this "money for forgiveness" abuse.

Merely because you believe, or have "faith," about these things doesn't make it so. In fact, I know for certain where some of this money goes, and it ain't heaven. Nay, this money is being used to settle lawsuits brought by the victims of priests, these so-called men of god, who raped young children and covered it up for years, even decades. And you don't need to take my word for it -- you're free to visit any courthouse and retrieve publicly available settlement documents. These "houses of religion" have agreed to pay thousands of victims hundreds of millions of dollars because of rampant sexual abuse against minors. Oh, don't believe me? Here's just ONE settlement from ONE archdiocese: Over 500 victims of abuse, $85 million to atone for priests' sexual abuse. Gee, perhaps Martin Luther was wrong about "indulgences": I guess forgiveness does have a price. Wonderful.

Guess who's footing that bill? If you donate to the church, YOU are.

I believe in God. I was raised in a Christian family but I have trouble believing that God would spread his message through Jesus in the way it is described in the bible. I believe that God makes his presence known not through Jesus but through the world itself. That said, I don't believe much in the theology of the bible but I do believe that it is important to give.

I think it is more important to give to someone personally who is in need, and not just monetarily. It is far to convenient to tithe money to a church or other organization and let them take care of it. It is almost as easy as passing your money on after death. You are essentially leaving the love and care up to someone else.

Money after all is not love and care it is a means to an end. If you are letting others do the caring for you, then your aren't truly experiencing God. It doesn't matter how much you give or when. What matters is that you care and share in others suffering in order to help them overcome it. I think the whole world would be a better place if everyone tithed their time instead of their money.

Well, despite other commenters detracting remarks I think you are spot on in this one!

If you are giving to God why give to organized religion--the 10 percent figure is just a made up number by leaders of organized religion--what if everyone at church said I will donate 10% of my time to you--what would they say--you keep focusing on money and religion--by the way shouldn't it be a progressive tithe--the poor pay 10 percent but so do the rich--what 10 percent gift impacts whom the most--right there you can see the 10 percent figure is flawed--I can see your church now--it is located in an outer suburb of a large metropolitan area--very large and growing--filled with young families that will move on as soon as they get a minister they don't like--of course they need 10 percent

You can smell the putrid rot from these comments. Any excuse will do if it justifies hoarding money instead of releasing it for greater good. All of these commenters should know better, instead of sermonizing on about why they need to hang onto every dollar that floats their way.

Very very interesting. I love your point about how it doesn't matter the amount you give, only matters that you are giving and putting God first... I believe in tithing...

One could argue that, if you don't tithe you won't have that money in the future to have a lump sum. "You give therefore you receive." So if you never give you won't amass a fortune 9 times that in which you would of tithe to give away. But I guess we'll never know...


Keep up the good posts about faith and finance. They are more related than many people will admit and I appreciate you sharing your learned perspective on the matter.

I may have mentioned this before, but my response to the "I'll let it compound for God and donate it later" argument is twofold:

1) As you point out, one purpose of the tithe is to change our hearts. While God has infinite patience I don't believe he expects us in this finite realm to commit ourselves only after we have stored up enough treasure on earth.

2) One can donate to foundations (faith based as well as secular) which build up an endowment. In this way your gift is perpetual and grows over time. The result is the same, but you make the commitment NOW to give.

I agree on the tithing. God has entrusted us with what we have - whether American dollars or whatever blessed. If we are faithful in what He asks of the few things He blesses us with, He will trust us with more. Donate to whatever God calls you to do - whether organized religion of your choice, missions, whatever charity. But the important thing to me is that it is not my money or time or blessings in the first place - they are His. They are on loan-out to me.

My personal religious views are irrelevant (as are those of the other commenters, imho), but your post is consistent with the teachings of most Christian denominations and is "right on the money" for those readers who choose to belong to a Christian denomination.

Additionally, not all faiths believe in a literal translation of the Bible, so those commenters taking issue with scripture should try to consider unorthodox interpretation.

I think you've hit the nail on the head (at least for those of us who are Christian). It doesn't matter how much we give (percentage or $$), but it matters that we give NOW, and from the heart. "God loves a cheerful giver" and I think that he'd rather have us give as much as we can cheerfully give, rather than giving more, but with a grudge. 10% is just a guideline.

Jack, not every Christian gives to the Catholic church. My (Baptist-influenced independent) church gives us a breakdown/budget each year to show us where our tithe is going. A fair amount goes to our 2 pastoral staff, but a lot also goes to our community locally, and to specific missionaries in India, Africa, and the US. If we want to earmark our tithes to go to certain ministries, we can do that whenever we give.

I agree and disagree with the comments, but I agree whole-heartedly with your post and find it refreshing to see a financial analyst take a Christian worldview and incorporate those beliefs into their financial analysis.

A couple things, Thomas A: The 10% is not a made up figure by religious leaders, it is a biblical number.

Jack: You obviously have a disdain for religion. I agree that the acts carried out by the Catholic church both by the priests and those who try to cover it up are reprehensible. The thing to remember is those are acts of PEOPLE, not GOD. The people are fallen with a human nature and are not acting for God when they act those ways. Not Christians are the same way. Besides, I think that there's probably plenty of corruption in non-religious organizations that people give their money to. Also, tithing is not for forgiveness, that comes from Jesus Christ alone.

Giving/tithing is not about winning favor with God. It is not about giving Him money...I think He's doing allright. It is about funding the spread of the gospel, and is used as such. I don't know why so many people see giving money to a church as bad. Sure, if you're not Christian you see it that way because you may see Christianity that way. But for Christians, if you go to the church regularly, you are receiving something monumentally more important than money. Why shouldn't you help fund that mission?

But, ultimately, you're right on that giving/tithing is not about the money. It's about the heart. It's about discipline. It's about showing God that you are grateful for what He has given you and showing that you trust Him.

Keep up the great work.

FMF, I also agree with you that we ought to give now than later. If we are truly fallen the way the Bible says we are, we would probably abstain from giving if we postpone it for later.

What's interesting about what Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:19-20 is that he isn't against the idea of us storing up treasures. In fact he encourages it. I think many non-Christians and even Christians miss this point and somehow believe that Jesus wants us to avoid money and treasures like the plague. There's nothing wrong with being financially blessed by God. Great! But we ought to live in such a way that those resources are being stored up in heaven instead of on earth. The question is what does that practically look like...

First off, this is a great post. The question is legitimate and the person asking is genuinely seeking advice, so I fail to see why some of the other commenters got their feathers ruffled. If they were the one with a question, I'm sure they would appreciate it being answered.

Anyway, just to elaborate on the purpose of the tithe, from an accounting point of view, you need to go back to the Old Testiment. The tithe was to be used to support the priests (Tribe of Levi), finance the feasts and festivals, and to support the widows and orphans. Some historians believe that these three categories each received it's own tithe while other believe that the one tithe was split three ways.

Now, from the spiritual point of view, I have to agree with what was already stated above. It's not about the amount, it's about obedience. If you walk into a room and tell your son to go mow the lawn you don't want him to wait until he's an adult to do it. The very nature of the statement implies now. Nor do you want him to go mow half of it. You expect him to mow the lawn. By not giving to God what is rightfully His (Matthew 22:21) you're stealing from Him (see Malachi 3:10).

It should also be noted that the tithe is just a starting point. There are also scriptures that show that we're suppose to give over and above the tithe (offerings). Most Christians theologians seem to believe that the tithe is to go to the church that you attend, while the offering can be given elsewhere to help with other needs (missions, etc.) which is a view that I agree with.

Because I'm not giving to the local church, I'm stealing from God? What kind of nonsense is that? Pretty funny that someone recommended donating time, and out come the posts about donate now now now. Not a few years from now, not from future invested proceeds, but now. Or you're stealing from God! Because God needs to get his hands on that money, right? LOL.

I'm not buying any of this garbage. You know, sometimes I consider donating to charities and relief efforts. I'll give a little something to the people who come 'round for causes. But looking at the bible-thumping, fearmongering responses, I want to puke. You should be ashamed. Go try to scare up business elsewhere.

I am not a Christian in the sense that most Christians would recognise, and I certainly don't tithe. But I do donate money, and giving money away now (rather than when I'm dead) helps me feel richer. i think it would be the same for most people.

Money that is invested in good causes now, kind of has its own investment return. Whether thats in the lives saved or monetary benefits, thats a good thing.

I'll readily admit that I'm not objective about this issue, but as I peruse the responses there is a marked difference in attitude among those who have committed a first portion to charity and those who haven't.

When one says that not giving is "stealing from God" it is a message directed primarily to people who wish to follow God's. The context of this topic is for Christians, but charity has practical benefits even for secular minded people. Therefore I hope that non-believers will see that this isn't meant in a judgmental, but rather instructive, tone.

Thank you for your insight in this post. As a Christian, who also wants to make financially sound decisions, I often struggle with this issue. Naturally, it would be easy for me to use my money for entertainment, buying the latest gadgets, and adding 0's to my portfolio balance. But, as I have begun devoting a larger percentage of my income to tithing/offerings it has changed my perspective.

I have several relatives who are millionaires, but they are the most unhappy people I know. You want to know why? I think it's because they've spent their entire lives growing and hoarding wealth, and in the process, made it the measure of their existence. As they reach the ends of their lives, their inward focus and preoccupation with their bank statements has alienated them from family and friends and brought them zero joy in life. I think they've bought into the same lie that many, including myself, could easily buy into.

Don't get me wrong...I want to make wise financial decisions that will secure my family for life. And I do enjoy having nice things! But, I've come to realize that we are here on earth for much more than plasma tvs, BMW's, and McMansions.

I don't want to Bible-thump anyone, as I've been a victim of it before, but I would encourage everyone to find an outlet for your financial and time gifts. For me, it's my church and Christian organizations reaching out to college students. You'll find that the more of your money and time you let go of and give away, the less you'll miss them. You will also find that it is very satisfying to know that your helping other people out.

I apologize for the long post, but this struck a chord with me. FMF, thanks again for work on this blog and for your courage to write about your faith, even though it's not always politically correct. Keep up the good work!

1) Tithing comes from Babylon - Look it up if you do not believe me.
2) Tithing from a Biblical sense is based on the increase from your land and is given to the sons of Aaron Only. This does not fit in New Testament teaching nor will you find it there.
3) Certain Clergy members tell you to tithe, but they don't ask you to bring a sacrificial animal. Why not?
4) Put your Faith in God not Money. God will handle your needs. I wished more people in leadership positions would trust less in scare tactics and more in that which created all things.

I personally am a Christian and believe in giving what you can joyfully, remember the 2 mites. I have been personally blessed and give more than 10 percent. This certainly does not make me a better person or Christian than anyone else.

We all have a different purposes and gifts that can benefit all. My only thought about not giving now is what if Christ Returns now; just think of all those who could have benefited now.

Actually, the 10% of tithing was required of the Israelites. Also, God never required 10% of their money, only of their goods. It is never mentioned in the Bible that this requirement is also for Christians. That being said, I do not believe 10% is required for Christians to give; however, Jesus spoke greatly about giving to those who truly need and not to do it in front of others as a public show, because that will be your reward. If your goal in giving is earthly praise, that will be your reward. If your goal in giving is treasure in Heaven, you will receive it, but I think the goal should be simply out of love of helping people who need help. God doesn't need your money, but you can demonstrate your love by showing God that you do love Him by helping others.

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