I’m going to delve a little into an area that I usually don’t because this is not a political website; it’s a religious/philosophical one. In all honesty, my two passions are religion and politics. I LOVE both topics. I could discuss them all day. So, it’s actually quite difficult to steer away from politics on this website at times.
Before I get into the meat, a little background on my political philosophy. If I were to classify myself as a particular type of voter, I would consider myself a libertarian. I believe there should only be four main roles of government, and outside of these realms, you risk corruption and demagoguery.
Government’s purpose is:
- Defend my life & my possessions
- Defend inalienable rights
- Maintain order
- Operate justice
You could combine some, add some, or subcategorize it, but in my mind, this is what I’ve come up with. I also believe that this philosophy is most beneficial for the Church and the expansion of God’s kingdom. Now that that’s out of the way…
I was reading an article on tithing, and a comment struck me in a way that I don’t think the author intended it to be translated.
The irony is that the Religious Right so often teach tithing but oppose social welfare, while the tithe, along with gleaning laws, Sabbath year and Jubilee were all part of God social welfare system for the nation of Israel, to care for the poor and immigrants.
The author comes across as trying to push public enforcement of social welfare, which I would not agree with (more on that later), but still makes a very great point. How can a group of individuals enforce a minimum tax for religious welfare; and yet oppose a tax for public welfare programs? What’s the difference between the Church’s welfare tax and the government’s welfare tax enforcement?
Most of the religious right would state that our individual liberty is the driving force in opposition to public welfare. But how can we raise the flag of liberty in opposition to public welfare tax, and yet tear down the flag when it comes to the religious welfare tax we call tithing?
The religious right would say that we are robbing God of tithes, and in the next sentence say the government is robbing us of our taxes? How can this paradox be?
I believe that one of the reasons that this country became so great is because Christian principles were embedded into the spirit of US laws. One of the tenants and foundations of New Testament, Christian values is the opportunity for liberty and freedom. There are dozens of verses in the New Testament referencing liberty and/or freedom.
The founders of this country didn’t emphasize liberty because they thought it was either a good corporate model, was going to bring an economic surplus, or because it was some sort of generational experiment. The founders emphasized liberty because they realized that liberty was a privilege that was endowed by God himself upon his followers. The more you suppress liberty, the more you suppress God’s kingdom. Look at China, South Korea, & Turkey. The countries with the least amount of liberty are typically the darkest.
You may also find it true that the denominations with the least amount of liberty are the ones that are the darkest as well. Maybe. Maybe not.
Liberty = Light.
Dependence = Darkness.
For the sake of social welfare, being pro-tithing and yet anti-tax is hypocritical. They are both a tax intended for the care of those in need, are both are ordained by God, and are both a law with unfavorable consequences.
Now, why am I against a publicly mandated welfare program? Because it means that the Church is either not doing their job or not being pressured enough into doing their job. Also, I don’t believe that taking care of the poor is more important than the enforcement of liberty. I know what you are thinking, but can you disagree with the logic of my upcoming explanation. Notice, I also didn’t say that liberty was more important either. Liberty and welfare are both equally important.
This brings me to say that the only way you can maintain the core foundation of Christian liberty and also enforce the care of the poor is to require free-will giving. In further reasoning, if welfare was more important than liberty then God would have quenched the use of liberty with the enforcement of a religious Church tax. Since I don’t believe tithing should be enforced, then we all know that there is no enforcement of a Church tax.
As I conclude, I do want to emphasize that it is the Church’s duty and responsibility to provide for the welfare of God’s creation. The fact that we have to rely on the government to provide for those in need and the fact that those in need run to the little ‘g’ first for help is a testament to how we have failed the big ‘G’. God left specific and direct instructions to take care of the poor around us.
I know it costs money to make disciples and to take care of our ministers, so I’m not trying to diminish that value, but somewhere along the way we’ve become complacent with the little ‘g’ doing our job. So, either fulfill your social responsibilities as the Church, speak up about the Church’s shortcomings, or quit your whining about the little ‘g’ taking taxes from you to do the job that you were supposed to do anyway. Either way, the job’s gotta get done; it just depends on which ‘g’ you want to get credit for it.
Libertarians, Republicans, Democrats, & Independents: Abolishing the enforcement of tithing would do very little for God’s kingdom if we don’t change our hearts. Let’s make sure we do that first and foremost.
Agree? Disagree? You have the freedom of speech. So, SPEAK UP below.
Buford Ness says
I don’t see God as being upset because we are robbing him of money or goods, but of robbing Him of the opportunity to bless us.
I call it the K.I.S.S. method of interpretation… Keep It Spiritually Simply
I teach it is better to err on the up side of giving than to err on the down side of giving.
Give 10% as a tithe (just in case it is still applicable); give another predetermined amount as an offering (just in case the 30/60/100 fold is for real); give alms to the poor (just in case it is true God give you the alm back so you can do it again); and make and pay vows (just in case that is something He still agrees to).
It is surprising how little one can live on when God keeps meeting all your needs!
Fight the good fight of faith and not the brethren.
Jared Brian says
Me to. That’s why i make everyone in my house eat only clean meats. Just to be safe ya know.
Buford Ness says
Yes… another area Christians err in their lives. Fortunately God has protected my in the health area thus far. I will be 78, I take and need NO medications. Do my best to watch my vitamin and mineral balance… mess that up once in a while. Have to scold myself for not drinking enough water and pray “I receive this food with thanksgiving, sanctified by the Word of God and in prayer. In Jesus Name. Amen.” It is working so I keep up the same prayer over my eating.
Blessings to you and your family.
Winston Tiberius Frick says
Consider this. Under the law and before the law the earth and its fulness belong to Yahweh. In His benevolence He lays claim only the that part in which He gives increase (we till, plant and water, but He gives the increase. He also causes livestock to multiply). The tithe was required against the crops and livestock, those two things which directly multiply because of the existence of the land, which Yahweh reserved to his sole ownership. Biblical history demonstrates that He lets the land to whomsoever he chooses, including gentiles or in some cases to desolation. He never lays claim to the labor or invention of His people. When His people came into possession of His land He required a return for use of His land has His dividend. Yahweh did not charge a tax, but rather mandated a tithe dividend for His part. Pretty generous in terms of profit share by the principal investor. He also instructed how that dividend was to be dispersed. Why the mincing of words, tax vs dividend? Because Yahweh is not a liberal demokraut. He doesn’t take from those who have and give it to those who don’t for the purpose of gaining favor and creating class warfare. Under both covenants that which He reckons to be ours by our labor and invention is also ours to heap unto our flesh or give to the fatherless, widows, and needy. This results in either reaping death or reaping heavenly reward in the hereafter, and/or making shipwreck our faith or growing in grace and the knowledge of our savior. Todays Clergy does in fact, as you have well exposed, enforce a corporate tax because as members of the 501(c)(3 ) “church” they believe the laity to be debtors of their labor and invention if they embrace the automatic financial liability imposed by the “Jesus paid it all” sacrifice.
Not disagreeing with you, just clarifying that the tithe was, for the most part, a demonstration of Yahweh’s generosity to the land owner and His magnanimous foregoing of demand on one’s labor and invention.
“For the sake of social welfare, being pro-tithing and yet anti-tax is hypocritical. They are both a tax intended for the care of those in need, are both are ordained by God, and are both a law with unfavorable consequences.”
Agreed. But I believe “hypocritical” is a bit strong, and doesn’t withstand exhaustive scrutiny in that:
1. There is at least some hope that the church will obey certain moral standards in its use of the funds, whereas no such hope exists for the government.
2. The Tithe is capped at ten percent, whereas there appears no limit to the amount of tax which the government will choose to exact from us.
I am generally in agreement with the sentiment of this article, but as one who enjoys a good sparring session, I couldn’t let this one slip by…
Jared Brian says
In my opinion, a percent of our income, from either the Church or the state, for payment of the poor, has little to no differential purpose. Your first point is just hopeless (LOL, JK). Nah. i don’t see the ‘hope’ argument as a strong case. Your 2nd point, which has legitimate concerns about the accountability of the government is more valid, but could also be said about the Church. Still, voters have the liberty to change their representatives or their local church.
The question really comes down to what those who tithe actually believe about their duty. If they feel that it’s the Church’s duty to collect a tithe to help with the welfare of the poor, and yet, don’t feel that the Church is solely responsible for the welfare of the poor; then i feel that they are just being hypocritical complaining about welfare taxes. It’s our duty from God to take care of the poor, but when the Church isn’t doing our duty, complaining about another entity picking up the slack is hypocritical. I guess i would give it that label. Maybe lazy, contrary, staunch….are more suitable? A ‘hypocrite’ is a strong label, but it’s just my technical observation.
Daniel Stabler says
It has always been my belief that tithe was not because God needed food or cash to provide for His servants (Psa 50:9-12;Acts 17:25). It was rather for the purpose of teaching the tither, just as the offering of a lamb didn’t give God anything, but was a lesson for the offeror.
There are passages in which concern is expressed about the Levites not having food so abandoning the work of God to go work in their fields, but in Malachi God doesn’t say “ye have robbed the Levites ( or ‘social welfare system’ as you put it)” but rather “ye have robbed ME.”
My church doesn’t require anyone to tithe, because it is something between God and the individual, not the individual and the church, but we believe that the principle is still a truth that should not be live out in the abundance of the New Covenant (Matthew 5)
I largely agree with your stance on the role of government, and would like to point out the fundamental difference between modern government taxation, is that it is driven at the point of a gun. If you refuse to pay your tax, or gave it directly to those in need, the government will show up at your door with men with guns to force you to pay. Also any centralized welfare has losses to administration the closer you are to giving what is needed to the person in need the less there is that overhead. A continent spanning government is only better than a globe spanning one -and have you heard of how much corruption the UN based charitable organizations? Yeah it is nice to help those around the world from you, but it might be a dollar better spent to give the guy panhandling on a sandwich.