Changing Thoughts on Tithing

I recently stumbled across a couple articles about tithing that got my mental gears turning. First, on Slate, I encountered this article in an advice column where a reader asked whether it was ok to suspend their tithing while they paid off a credit card. Then I further read about tithing on a more global and historical basis in an article on CBS Sunday.

This whole discussion got me thinking about, despite the protest of our most conservative citizens, that our Christian history and ethos informs and colors so much of what the US government does. For example, governments have never paid to much attention the health of their citizens. That only arrived on the scene with the progressive programs implemented during the Great Depression and are largely a post-WWII phenomenon. However, what idea is more fundamental to our Christian ideals than to care for the elderly (read – Medicare) or the infirmed (read – Medicaid).

I find it mountainously ironic, even hypocritical, that right-wing Christians are opposed to the expansion of government into these areas when we, as Christians, are directly told to personally do and support these kinds of activities. We, as Christians, are also told in Mark 22 to care for widows and children, those in jail, those in utter poverty. We could wait for Christian churches to do those things. But after 2000 years of history, the church universal has an abysmal track record in this department too.

How does this come back to tithing? Well, I just checked to see that I pay $87 per paycheck for Medicare, that is, medical insurance covering 36 million elderly Americans. I’d gladly pay another $100 per paycheck to care for uninsured Americans. And though many American Christians scoff at it, I think it’s a great idea.

It might come out of my paycheck as a tax, but I now count it a tithe.




  1. Please consider an alternative viewpoint on tithing.

  2. Christianity means that you personally try to take care of the poor and infirm around you because God laid it on your heart. This is why the first and the best hospitals are Catholic. Sloughing it off onto Big Government is no Christian act at all. It's apathy and self-delusion, an unearned self-pat on the back for doing nothing more than everyone else. It allows you to say, like Scrooge when asked for a personal monetary sacrifice from the heart, "are there no prisons? Are the workhouses still in operation? … I help to support the establishments I have named; those who are badly off must go there." You have essentially said the same thing, that the money taken from you by government force under threat of imprisonment or death counts as a gift from your heart simply because you don't resist paying it.

    Saul Alinsky said that it is a sin not to force others to give of their own wealth for the care of their neighbor, but that's not what Jesus said.

    "And if I give all my possessions to the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing." (1 Cor. 13:3)

    God doesn't reward you for paying your taxes like everyone else. It's not an act of love. It's an act of self-preservation. It is no tithe unless Big Government is your god. Unless you have renounced Christ and converted to Marxism then paying taxes is no tithe.

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