The Great Christian Scam: Tithing
A few quick stats: Annually, tithing brings the Seventh Day Adventist Church US $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion. In 1991, Catholic giving totaled $5.48 billion. A study looking at 30 mainline Protestant and evangelical denominations with 29.3 million members representing 100,000 U.S. congregations found that the denominations received $17.2 billion in contributions in 1998, compared with $2.7 billion in 1968.
A recent report titled "The State of Church Giving" was published by a Christian research group, empty tomb, inc. After reviewing the giving of 10 mainline protestant churches, and the Southern Baptist Convention it was found that the average church member donated just 2.6% of their income. This percentage is lower than the 1933 percentage, during the darkest hour of the depression. The report states that if a full tithe of after-tax income were given, the churches would have had at their disposal an additional $131 billion dollars for 1998 alone.
The report further states that "...$30-$50 billion would impact the worst of world poverty and $2.5 billion could end most of the 11 million under-5, global, annual child deaths."
The obvious question is: How can churches be wealther today then they've ever been before and still complain they don't have enough to shell out? The Catholic church alone is sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars, enough to make a significant impact in the global hunger problem but like every other mainstream Christian group, greed doesn't like sharing and so the wealth goes undistributed. (Imagine for a second if the top five churches in N.A. dolled out a billion dollars to fight the homeless problem in the five largest N.A. cities instead of spending it on constructing new churches...)
Another funny statement I found: "If U.S. church members had been giving an average of 10% of after-tax income in 1998, another $131 billion would have flowed into church coffers to meet the needs of the poor. Those funds would go far in a world where 30,000 children die each day." (LA TImes, Jan 2001) Apparently it's the fault of church members for not saving more children... If church leaders can't find the money to do half of the charity service they claim to want to do, then someone needs to take a good hard look at church spending practices because if a few billions dollars can't be scrounged up to solve some serious social problems, the question must be asked: where is all this money GOING???
Without a doubt, tithing is undoubtably the biggest scam in modern-day Christianity. Tithing is NOT a 21st century commandment.
A careful examination of Numbers and Deuteronomy will show there were a total of three tithes.
1st Tithe - Numbers 18:21-26
• The 'classic definiton' of tithing - The Israelities gave a tenth to the Levites (the priestly tribe) as a "reward for service" (vs. 31)
• The Levites would then give Aaron the high priest the best tenth of everything they received (see also Neh 10:38)
• The tithe which Aaron the high priest and his sons received was thento be eaten in the most holy place (vs. 10)
• 2 Chron 31:10 – the whole tithe wasn’t expected to be consumed, but enough to completely satisfy the appetite. The remainder would be then be used as food until the next tithe.
2nd Tithe - Deut 14:22-29
• Tithes eaten before God (in the city where the temple dwelt) by the individual, his family and his servants
• This is the only time money is mentioned in conjunction with tithing – goods were to be converted into cash and then spent on food and drink if the length of the journey was too long to carry produce, etc.
3rd Tithe - Deut 26:12-15
• 3rd year is the ‘Year of Tithing’
• Preceded by a journey to the Temple where a basket of the first of every fruit was given to the priest and an acknowledgement of their deliverance from Egypt (:5 - :10)
• Tithes were left at home (“within the gates”) for the poor, etc.
• After the tithes had been distributed, they were required to announce to God they had observed all the required laws, ending with a prayer for God’s continued blessing.
Going through these tithes, it's obvious why the Israelites were required to give:
1. Lev 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD;
2. People tithed so they would "fear God" (Deut 14:23) and understand all of their blessings were provided by Him.
Now, if anything, going by the letter of the law, only 1/3 of the tithes should be going to "priests" (pastors, church, etc.). The other 2/3 should be divided up equally between ourselves and the less fortunate. So if we've got $10 in our pocket on a Sunday morning, according to OT law, we should be dishing out $3 for the church, keeping $3 for ourselves and using it to celebrate God's blessings in our lives, and then giving $3 to a recently widowed friend, for example.
But churches don't tell you this because they want the WHOLE $10 for themselves.
Therefore, using Scripture as our guide and evidence, we know tithing WAS NOT
...a means to provide financially for priests
...a time to give money
...only for priests
...intended for anyone other then the recipients listed (Levites, Levitcal priests, fatherless, poor, widows, etc.)
By extension, tithing WAS:
...a means to provide sustenance for those who couldn’t or weren’t supposed to provide for themselves
...an opportunity to celebrate the blessings of God
So should tithes be collected today? Most definitely not.
1. First and foremost, the old law is of no effect, having been done away with by Christ;
2. The Temple doesn’t exist today. Therefore, the commandment to eat the tithe in the presence of God is impossible to follow;
3. The lineage of the Levites has been lost. Therefore, tithing to provide for the Levites and priests is impossible;
4. Only the increase of the field was tithable. Tithing with money is a foreign concept in Scripture, even in the NT.
5. Much like circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, fasting, etc. tithing was an OT commandment never repeated by Christ or the apostles in the NT.
Instead, our commandment today is to give freely what we're able. Whether this is 10%, 4%, $20 once a month or through the giving of clothing, food, time, energy, etc., it's entirely up to the individual. The mentality behind 21st century giving is this: 2 Corinthians 9:7 "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."
Any church or church leader who requires its members to tithe is a money-hungry, greedy power-monger. In looking at Scripture, there is absolutely no excuse whatsoever why anyone should be required to give a portion of their income to "help their church". It's disgusting behaviour in the worst sense possible because it's being done by people who know better in the name of God.