You Aren’t Limited To Giving
Only A Tithe
But You Should Know How To Calculate It
Although many practice tithing they don’t all agree on how to calculate the tithe, or more specifically, on what portion of their income should be included in the calculation.
- Some give a tithe (ten percent) of their gross income (pre tax).
- Some pay tithes only on net income (after tax).
- Some exclude more than taxes, e.g. pension contributions, before calculating their tithe.
But the stated reasons for each approach are rarely substantial and mostly unconvincing.
- Those who tithe on their gross income do so either casually, “just because” (glib), or adamantly for unstated reasons (legalistic) and both justify the practice with emotional arguments: “do you want God to bless all your income or just part of it.”
They also point to people who are extraordinarily endowed with the gift of giving, such as Randy Alcorn who gives far more than a tithe, to make their argument. These examples, however, if not correctly represented, argue against tithing and suggest we should give much more, although we can’t be sure exactly how much.
Truth? If the millions of Christians in the world who don’t fit the “Randy Alcorn” mold would simply tithe, the impact would be much greater than that caused by the excessive giving of a few Alcorn types. No disrespect intended toward Randy. We applaud the Randy’s of the world but realistically can’t expect everyone to follow suit.
- Those who tithe on their net income suggest that because tax money is paid directly to the government – completely bypassing one’s bank account – it doesn’t qualify as “income” (semantics).
That isn’t an argument and the proof is the fact that the government doesn’t buy it. The amount on which taxes are calculated includes the money paid in taxes.
- Those who exclude retirement investments plan to tithe on it later. Of all the arguments this is the most reasonable.
The problem is, all these different approaches creates confusion for those starting out and generates arguments among tithers. Anti-tithers freely use the disagreement to fuel the debate over the relevancy of tithing for the New Testament.
For this reason, tithing is not an issue about which we can be superficial or casual.
It isn’t a vague concept and must be spelled out clearly if it is to be understood properly. That doesn’t mean it must be overly rigid but it shouldn’t be sloppy either. It must be defined with enough clarity and flexibility to be applied to every person’s financial situation.
It’s a long discussion. Too long for most blog posts, but the arguments are spelled out in Tithing For Today, which you can find at Amazon in Kindle format. And it’s reasonably priced to suit every budget.
In Tithing, Douglas Leblanc provides much more than a narrow discussion on a traditional issue. He doesn’t present the same old arguments, the same boringly technical way.
Instead, and probably because he is “no theologian or exegetical writer,” Douglas has found an intriguing way to cut to the real heart of the issue. He shares the experiences of eleven different couples and one lone Monsignor, all of whom practice tithing for a very similar reason: selflessness.