Christians Should Not Tithe: Part One

Christians are not supposed to tithe as presented in the Old Testament.

In fact, even if we wanted to, we couldn’t.

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The standard Protestant line is that we are to give 10 percent of our income to the church as a base. Anything above that is an offering, which might go to a building fund, a missions organization, or some other special need. This is simply not true.

The issue of tithing back in the old covenant is complex. Unraveling it only raises more questions. Not everyone agrees either.

In Deuteronomy 14 we read about the Lord giving His people some very practical commands for living a good life under their newly formed covenant—how to deal with indebtedness, various types of food, and teaching one’s children. In 14:23 we read about the tithe:

“Each year you are to set aside a tenth [tithe] of all the produce grown in your fields” Deuteronomy 14:23a CSB

Sure enough, here it is.

Keep reading.

“You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of the LORD your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the LORD your God.” Deuteronomy 14:23b CSB

Did I read that correctly? Were supposed to save a tenth of year’s produce, travel to where God dwells, and eat it ourselves?

How many churches do that?

There’s more:

“But if the distance is too great for you to carry it, since the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far away from you and since the LORD your God has blessed you, then exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place the LORD your God chooses.” Deuteronomy 14:24-25

Okay, so if the distance is too far, or if one is a watermelon farmer, one can simply sell the produce and bring the coins. Presumably one would buy the equivalent food upon arrival.

Now what?

“You may spend the money on anything you want: cattle, sheep… anything you desire. You are to feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice with your family.” Deuteronomy 14:26

Okay, so I’ve gathered up a year’s produce, traveled to where God dwells, and now we’re all to feast in His presence. Sounds great!

I seem to have forgotten something.

“You may spend the money on anything you want: cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or anything you desire. You are to feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice with your family.” Deuteronomy 14:26

We’re allowed to bring wine and beer to the party?

How many churches do this?

Zero.

Please understand that this is not a simple issue. So often I’ll hear someone say, “I don’t need any of that complicated theological mumbo-jumbo. I just open my Bible, read it, and do what it says.”

No.

Real life is always more complex.

Churches don’t ask members to save 10% of their yearly income in order to have a huge, lavish party, complete with beer and wine. Nor should they.

But that was just the first tithe.

See Part Two for more.

 

Comments

  1. Tithing is not bad. I do it because I love God and I return what truly belongs to Him.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Part One we looked at Deuteronomy 26, which describes a tithe given to support a yearly feast. Aside from […]

  2. […] Part One we looked at Deuteronomy 26, which describes a tithe given to support a yearly feast. Aside from […]

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